In the Northwest corner of South Africa is a vast sector of land called Madikwe that backs up to the Kalahari Desert and Botswana border. The poor soil type was not suited to farming. Farming efforts soon depleted the soils and the tired land was then of little use. After extensive research, the South African Government found that this land would best be utilized as a national park. The study showed that wildlife-based tourism was the most beneficial option for this remote and economically depressed area.
In 1991, the government of the time initiated Operation Phoenix – the largest wildlife translocation to ever take place in the world. The demarcated area was fenced off, and by 1997 more than 8,000 animals of 28 species had been released into the reserve. Even before it had been officially proclaimed, work had begun to clear the many derelict farm buildings and structures, and the hundreds of kilometers of old fencing. Many alien plants were also removed. Like the mythical bird, the Phoenix, once thought dead, yet arose from its ashes to glorious new heights, Madikwe too has risen.
May I share a life lesson drawn from the Madikwe project? In over a half century of ministry, I have met many people who have depleted the landscape of their lives. Bad decisions and misuse have left the soil of the soul tired and unproductive. But, a cursory review of scripture will indicate that the Lord is in the restoration business. He delights in reclaiming a life that is brought to Him, no matter how abused and misused it has been. Like Madikwe, a person can ‘be born again’. The Lord has a plan to bring a weary soul back into productivity.
The Madikwe area that was not much more than a wasteland now teems with wildlife. It has not only returned to productivity, it is now better than ever. The success story for this land can be the same kind of success story for every soul that brings their tired exhausted life to Jesus. He is called the “Redeemer” because He came to buy us back, to reclaim us, to restore us. Hallelujah! His desire is that our souls be replenished (Genesis 1:28) so we can multiply His grace to others around us.
Create in me a clean heart – Renew a right spirit in me
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation – Uphold me with thy free spirit.
~ Brother Roy