Sunday, October 14, 2007

Off to meet Christ in Zimbabwe

Note: this is the first of two "bookend" emails from my last two weeks which was composed of a journey to the nation of Zimbabwe. I had not the time nor inclination to miss a moment of my experience by writing, and I didn't have email access for my laptop anyway, but I wrote this piece on the way there and the next one (coming shortly) on the way back. To try to describe all things in chance. I love you all for sharing with me in my continued journey towards Christ, and hope to God it plays some useful role in yours. And for all of you who supported me in this through prayer, finances, and taking care of my family while I was gone...I am eternally grateful.
I'm on a plane, sitting between two mighty warriors of God, going with them and 3 others just like them to a foreign land that is thirsty with no water, hungry with no food, oppressed and in need of freedom, desperate and in need of hope.
I don't have enough water, food, clout or money to even touch the needs that I am about to see and touch.
But I'm going anyway.
In a way, I feel like a deceptive swindler. I have been asked to go to Zimbabwe to teach and proclaim Jesus Christ to others. But I know full well in the secret places of my heart that I accepted the assignment in order to have Jesus Christ taught and proclaimed to me. Truly, in a very real and practical way, I believe that I am going to Zimbabwe to do nothing less than see and meet Jesus Christ. 
I know I am going to have my heart broken...and I intend on letting it happen.
I know I am going to learn better what I mean when I preach that "everyone needs hope."
I know I am going to see more clearly what the word "poor" means in a land of little, to come home and see more clearly what the word "poor" means in a land of plenty.
I know I am going to have to leave part of my heart in this new-to-me land...and it will be for "me" much more than it will be for "them".
Ninety-something percent unemployment. Average death age of men is thirty-something. The number of orphans due to aids, sickness, and hunger is staggering. 5000 percent inflation in the last year (the next highest nation was in the 30's, I think).
I called my friend who is from Zimbabwe, and who is running a feeding program for hundreds of those orphans. It costs him his life. He gives every penny he can earn and raise to the single-minded cause of feeding hundreds of kids a small "survival meal" per day. In the winter, he has to use some of that money to get blankets for those kids so that he has kids to feed a survival meal to.
When I first met my friend, it was winter in Zimbabwe, and he told me of the dozens of orphans that crammed into the pews of a church building (where these kids received their daily meal) for a worship service on a Sunday. By the time the service was over and the kids filed out, two of those famished, freezing children fell over on the pews dead. Last night he told me of the news from a family who hung themselves rather than die the slow death of starvation that they have long been on and feel creeping in.
God help me.
God help me believe there is hope for them. God help me believe there is hope for me.
I took my two oldest kids routinely to school this morning with a little more attentiveness to the beauty of my routine - with a particular emphasis on "them". My youngest son and my sweet wife took me to the airport this morning. I was doing okay until the small gathering of friends that came to see us off surrounded us, and one of our shepherds tearfully prayed for us, and then I opened my eyes (I know, I know...I'm not supposed to do that when I pray) and looked down just in time to see a tear from the eye of my wife hit the ground next to my feet as she was loyally and supportively standing beside me.
I am so rich. I met Christ in who I left this morning, and will be meeting Christ in who I meet tomorrow, and on top of that, I am meeting Christ as we speak, in the people I'm traveling with.
I started this piece in Dallas, and I'm in Detroit now, where we will meet one of the additional members of our team, and then will leave for London, where we will meet up with two more members of our team (the veterans), and then we will go to Harare, Zimbabwe.
Pray for me. Pray for us. Pray for them. Pray for you.

1 comment:

craig said...

Amen. Eagerly and nervously awaiting the next entry.