We can build a house, but we can’t make it HOME.
Well, Carla can build a house. And Brett.
I cannot build a house.
I can help create colorful mosaics that proclaim God’s message of hope and family in those houses, but I cannot fill their residents with hope or adopt the orphaned into His Family.
|"Mndeni" means Family. Lizzy and Sifiso's house.|
We come with our hands and our feet, with our bricks and our tiles, and we do our part.
We pray that the Real Deal, the treasure Himself who abides within us is leaving a deposit in that house as we build.
We pray that while we work side-by-side with the ones the world pushes aside, a longing space and a meeting place is created within them.
We pray that as they dwell in that house, the One whose promises and love never fails will be invited to dwell in them.
We don’t always know, but we’ll always come in faith.
Last year, before Sifiso and Lizzy’s house burnt down, Lizzy was being counseled by family and friends to pour herself and her spirit into witchcraft. Into the darkness that swirls and oppresses communities here. Into a lifetime of bearing fear that masks itself as power.
We kept coming. We kept praying. We kept building. We kept living like family long after that mosaic that said “Family” was completed. But we didn’t know.
Lizzy has blown us away with her overflowing compassion for her neighbors. Sifiso continually pours out thankfulness and a desire to give as he has been given to. Lizzy has been co-teaching our new Family Skills class with me. They are living out the life we’ve beckoned to live. But we didn’t know.
Mama Charity, who is preparing to move into her newly constructed home, has stood on the outskirts for years, only daring to gaze from afar at hope and home. Even on the verge of moving into her new, beautiful home and after receiving guidance and education on her identity in Christ, parenting, finances and nutrition, her and her children are living in sickness and in filth.
|Lizzy teaching Mama Charity how she budgets her food money.|
We held our last day of class in Lizzy’s always-sparkly-clean sitting room. Her hard work in the yard, her home, and her value for herself and her family is always apparent.
You can tell a lot about a person’s sense of HOME in Christ by the way they manage their home on earth. A temporary gift that is our honor and privilege to give sometimes discloses how a homeowner is stewarding an eternal gift that He gave everything for so we could receive.
It was obvious on that last day of class, that Lizzy was grounded in something although she’s been in a spiritual cyclone. The people around her are telling her to turn to witchcraft. The people who built her a house are proclaiming hope in the Way, the Truth and the Life. She’d been reading along in the Bible with us and sending her children to church…
We kept coming, but we did not know.
But the stark contrast between Lizzy and Mama Charity could not be more obvious. Disheveled Mama Charity sat in silence, while poised Lizzy clearly had something to say.
The class topic was on managing your new home. So I took the backseat and then quickly began taking notes as Lizzy began speaking out her testimony.
After all this time, she had something to say.
“Even my heart, I think, is clean. My house burned, and my name, Lizzy, was more like Lonely. I was like an empty cup. Now my heart is full. I was wishing for my own salon since I was born, but thought my dreams would never come true. Now, this year, I think I will have a salon by the end of the year. I’m so happy. I’m going to teach Mama Charity about this. She can’t be scared. Because I love her; I’m here; I’ll help her.”
I thought my heart would burst.
Lizzy was coming with her hands, her feet, her voice, and her whole heart and she would keep coming. Mama Charity leaned in, head nodding and eyes bulging without her even realizing it. Sitting in a house like she was soon to own, listening to a woman who could understand her better than I could, something was starting to take root.
And then Lizzy looked at me, picked up her Bible, and let me know she wasn’t finished.
She was ready to speak because now it was time for me to know and for Mama Charity to know. It was time to speak out about her Home and let it go deeper in her, and pour out onto the mother beside her who needed it so desperately.
“To be at church is to have God inside your heart. It’s not about going to church with your Bible in your hand. It has to be in your heart. People can talk, but Jesus loves me and I love him.”
People can talk.
But Lizzy finally spoke.
Maybe it’s time for us to speak about our Home too.
It changes everything.