I am currently writing a few musings from my recent trip to Africa. Here’s the third.
When I first visited the Maskini 18 years ago it was in the city of Mwanza. This community would sleep by the water at night under makeshift then beg by day. As Mwanza developed over the years, their presence became a hindrance, until one day government intervened – they went to the city and forced the whole community into government vehicles and relocated them into a rural area miles from the city. Emotions of many were intense as this people group were uprooted without choice.
Shortly after, the river rose flooding the area where the Maskini once lived, they too would have been drowned if they hadn’t been moved.
We travelled to the Maskini – the poorest, this community of generations where the eldest had suffered from leprosy, having lost limbs, fingers and toes, worn fabric wrapped around bodies.
We arrived laden with donations of clothes we had collected from home and our Hope Centre at Willow Park. We also took huge bags of bulk food to distribute.
But first, we gathered the community in their hall.
Without sound systems and speakers, mics and perfect acoustics we experienced the most beautiful worship, I am sure heaven joined in with the harmonies from a place of poverty and brokenness.
Agricola asked me to share a thought. I looked at the few notes I had written and realized much of my Western creativity needed to go. What remained was raw truth.
I realized when all of my poetic quotes were removed our common language was the truth of scripture.
These people didn’t need clever words but encouragement that they were loved. Encouragement that we all belong to the same family, that God himself had adopted us, from the ends of the earth – the rich and poor. Encouragement that being adopted meant we could know an unconditional love often beyond our comprehension, yet somehow, their worship appeared to comprehend this love…
We had the privilege of praying for our new family, these outcast lives absent from touch were offered hands and hugs.
We enjoyed giving clothes to the children, replacing rags with our own kids clothes. Replacing babies bare skin with love.
Nouwen writes. ‘This is our great challenge and consolation. Jesus comes to us in the poor, the sick, the dying, the prisoners, the lonely, the disabled, and the rejected. There we meet him, and there the door to God’s house is opened for us’
We were created to touch. Yet so often, leprosy, whether actual or the leprosy of today, in all of its forms, prevents us reaching out and physically touching another person.
Let us change that, let’s keep the door to God’s house wide open.
Love, Michelle x
‘When did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? 38 When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find You naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison? I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me’ Matthew 25