Night had set in and we were sitting in the house when we heard "Make(Mahgay) Jen, Make Jen, are you home?" Our neighbors Zanele and Ntombie were calling from the gate. I went to greet them and see what was wrong. "Our neighbor Beatrice has died. The family is gathered at her home. We are going to see them. Will you come with us and pray for them?" So many emotions hit me at that moment. The community has embraced Justin and I, they trust us, they know who sent us, they are asking us to come to them. What an honor.
Out of respect, I changed into a skirt and wrapped my head and off we went.
Normally, heading out in the dark in the bush of Africa with only my two friends and a flashlight would seem crazy but the peace of God that night was palpable. We were on a mission to bring some peace to a grieving family.
Ten minutes later we arrived, took off our shoes, and entered the house. The family was gathered in the living room. They greeted us and we sat down. The family told stories of Beatrice and talked about how much they loved her. They spoke of her last days when she fell ill and passed away. They told me how honored they were that I was there and they had heard that I had visited Beatrice at her home before. They asked if I wanted to say anything. Deep breathe Jen, this opportunity is pivotal!
There is something that happens when someone dies in Swaziland. There is an unseen battle that sometimes happens with rural families. There are ancestral traditions and practices vs biblical truth that war as the family lays someone to rest. I had an opportunity to remind this precious family of who is in control and where our beloved Beatrice is!
I talked about meeting Beatrice for the first time. She was in a wheelchair all wrapped up in a blanket, hands consumed with arthritis with her weathered bible sitting on her lap. She spoke of our Lord and how much she loved Him. She said even though her hands were in pain and she could hardly turn the pages she read her bible everyday.
She saw the bible in my lap and asked me what I wanted to share. I shared scripture with her about strength and hope and prayed for her. I prayed for healing, peace and endurance to finish the race. She finished well and is in the arms of Jesus now. Because of her faith she is in heaven, dancing, no more pain. I told the family, take comfort in that! Believe in that! Rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus! Then we prayed, in English and Siswati. Two cultures, one heart.
As Zanele, Ntombie and I walked back home I pondered the magnitude of that moment. God has given Justin and I an opportunity to change a community, shine light in the darkness, one family at a time, one moment at a time.
Please join me in praying for our community, Mnyokane, as God deepens these relationships and gives us more opportunities to share the gospel.
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