In June, she slumped into the churchyard when it was time to feed the children, her head and her very existence practically dragging through the dry, red dust. Ringworm was devouring her body, defenseless without an immune system. The baby on her back left her fragile frame hunched by the extra weight, but was the reason she was willing to take those shame-laden steps.
Adults don’t come to the kids program. Not unless they’re desperate.
Her name is Zinhle. She needed a family.
With her dried out heart and her dried out hope, she whispered desperate words onto the dried out winter soil. She was sick. So, so sick. And desperate. She was renting a room she couldn’t afford and sleeping on the cold concrete ground in that room. She had no food, and, as a result, couldn’t take the medication she desperately needed.
She was at her end. So we prayed. And, it felt like a firework show inside of me.
I knew God was just at His beginning.
We found Zinhle again, and we brought her people, prayers and provision. We asked if we could be family, knowing she’s bounced from abuse to abuse, never knowing a family she could trust. She said all she wanted was for her son to come home. He was living with a man who was abusing him.
There was no space, no food, nothing that said he should come home… except a mom who loves hard. How could this woman, broken in body, mind and soul, still love? Still long?
We all need family.
It’s our connection to each other that keeps us alive, even when there’s nothing else.
We made a way for her son to come home. Even in the not enough, there was love and happiness. The first time I met him, he snuggled his big body into my lap like a kitten, desperate to be held and full of joy because there was family.
|The only family photo I have. Her baby is tied on her back.|
A few weeks ago, Lizzy called me on a Sunday night.
“I’m just calling to tell you Zinhle’s baby is dead.”
Shock. Silence. Until I could finally say, “I’m coming tomorrow.”
The next morning at 7:30am, Lizzy calls again.
“I’m just wondering when you’re coming. Zinhle is still with her baby. She doesn’t know what to do. Can you come take the body? We have no money to bury her.”
Shock. Silence. I don’t think I can do this.
Soon after that, another phone call came saying an auntie had come to take the baby to the mortuary. There were tangles of shame, cultural traditions and broken family dynamics we waded through over the next week. Zinhle called me that evening and just wept.
She was considered and unwelcome financial burden in her auntie’s home, and she just needed someone to weep to.
I almost couldn’t bear the burden of a wailing mother on the other end of the line. I couldn’t even imagine…
Zinhle fell off the map for a while, hiding in old coping mechanisms and too consumed by the darkness to be able to stand the light.
This felt like the end again. But still, it was only the beginning.
It began with desperate dragging, a broken body, and a child leaving the loving arms of His mother to go back to His Father.
And when He got to the top… to the very bottom of death…
He said, “It is finished.”
That’s when it began again.
And it keeps on.
Zinhle was not the first and will not be the last to lay her child in a grave.
To weep and to wail.
To drown herself in her own depravity.
But there was one Child who rose from the grave.
And He said, “I will never forsake you.”
He said family is waiting at the ends of the earth and right here at this gravesite.
He said the Family has come, and the Family is coming.
It’s been finished, so now you can begin.
And so we began.
I’ll show you what it looks like in just a few days.
To be continued...