My daughter and son-in-law, Lori and Rich, recently led an NHIM mission team to South Africa. They spent time visiting families in some tiny shacks in the sprawling slums where they are working. These areas, like Soweto and Kya Sands were made infamous during the days of Apartheid and Mandela. Since Mandela’s era, progress has been painfully slow in addressing the grinding poverty in these areas. For many who struggle to survive in these places, there is no running water, no electricity, no sewage and meager shelter. There is mainly a panorama of shacks, garbage, rats, and deprivation.
Returning from one of those desperate communities to the place where the team was staying, members were emotionally spent and in ‘shock’ at what they had witnessed. Some team members were asked what had made the greatest impression on them. One of the young men gave a moving response. The team had taken food to families where they were working. He said in one of the homes they had visited a man told him, “Having food here is not a right, it’s a privilege”.
While a short term mission team can do little to remedy the overall situation, they still have an extremely important ministry. They offer people the knowledge that someone knows, cares, and prays for them. The temporary relief the team can provide lifts spirits and the message of the Savior’s love gives a long term hope.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Its better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. The South Africa team was busy lighting small candles in these dark places. We need to know that as Jesus was welcoming believers into heaven, He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in I needed clothes and you clothed me…” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV). Believers then asked when had they ever ministered to Jesus in that way. He said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV). What a privilege to be able to minister to the Savior in such a way.
Prayer: Lord, may the ‘least of these’ hear you say, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1, NIV). And may we who are able be your presence to them.
~ Brother Roy