We pulled up to the shack of one of my favorite families this morning - only to find that the mama and baby had gone to the clinic, leaving the 4-year old and 2-year old twins to play alone in the yard. The house was locked so the few things they had left wouldn’t get stolen. We had to leave, and the mama still wasn’t home. They clung to the crackers we left them with and stared longingly, then angrily.
Nandi keeps running. I keep finding her, and she keeps running.
This time I can’t find her.
I’ve been doing the social services shuffle. No breakthrough; no answers; no help. And now Nandi’s been gone so long people have stopped talking about it.
Yesterday I went to pick up her little brother and heard her mama inside, hiding from Truth and from daylight, refusing to answer the door even to let little Tommy come to the birthday party.
Sometimes it feels like the cycle is on repeat. None of this is new.
I found those babies unattended and unbathed… again.
I found those same rings of dirt around their mouths because they are eating soil… again.
I can’t find Nandi… again.
Nandi’s mama didn’t want to be found… again.
I had to leave that community on the moutainside with people still hungry, still hurting, still lost. Again.
It was one of those drives home where it took everybody a little longer to come up with 3 things they are thankful for. We scrounged for words and spat them out, hoping we’d believe them.
I heard the words come out of my mouth; “I am thankful that God doesn’t need us to meet every need because He already has. And that He lets us do what we can from where we are.”
Peace started coming. Again.
Then from Katja, “I am thankful that Jesus is in the yard with the kids that we couldn’t stay with.”
Truth started flowing. Again.
These families that I love and cry with are the families that you pray for, you know, and you love and cry with too.
And then I remembered.
In June, we celebrated Karabo’s first birthday.
The day of the party, her mama almost didn’t have enough energy to get dressed for church. Nandi had just worn out her welcome in the place of refuge we’d found for her and we were going to have to leave her with her mom that night. Everybody was tired, hungry and hopeless.
And then those arms of the Body of Christ stretched wide and long. As we blew out Karabo’s candle, Avelina and my friends from Citymark Church unfolded Kingdom generosity. A bundle of clothes – an entire wardrobe – for every single person at the party. Marked with their names! There was a fashion show, rampant giggles and real-life Heaven on earth.
His Kingdom Came. Again.
|Such pure joy as we passed out the gifts!|
|I don't think Nandi expected to get anything - she couldn't hide her happiness|
|Reading his name - This was my favorite part.|
|Over-sugared cheering section: Tshepiso and Lifa|
|Nandi modeling her new purple skinny jeans, shirt and jersey. A happy little girl!|
|Mama Charity beside herself - trying on TWO new pairs of shoes!|
|We emptied the entire bag - and then it became the playground for the best-dressed twins in South Africa.|
They’ll get hungry again.
She’ll run away again.
They’ll fall down under oppression and poverty again.
But He’ll stay in that yard with them.
He’ll run with her.
He’ll hold them up.
And, even if those stomachs get empty again, there’s one place in them that is full and sealed.
There’s something the enemy can’t steal away.
It’s that one place where that one birthday candle blazed.
That little handwritten piece of love, each individual name written down to give just the right-sized gifts.
The birthday song melody and the, “Hip Hip Hooray!” at the end.
His Kingdom came in a Sunday on a blanket in the yard.
And it’s going to come again.
He doesn’t need my hands, but He’ll use them.
He doesn’t need your resources, but He wants your arms that reach all the way around the world – because He loves when you reach.
He doesn’t need. He loves.
He loves again and again and again.