We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Rich Life Under the Same Son

Marginalised, rejected, cursed, stigmatised. So many people, so much pain. It is always hard to witness, always hard to know what to do, always hard to know how to help. The team visiting us from Canada has come face to face with it this week. This week was one of exposure for them, a time for them to learn and grow and see their worldviews develop and maybe change. And they have stepped out of their comfort zones and reached out in a way they never knew they could.

We have just returned from a visit with Dr Makori (and others) to Kome Island.  It is such a privilege and so exciting for us to be working alongside him in the work that he (and many other Christians here in Mwanza) are doing, sharing his vision for the transformation of the islands on Lake Victoria. He has named his project work “RICH” (Rural Island Community Health Initiative). This island is seen to be poor. But the island is already rich in so many ways with the resources it has in the fertile land and fish of the lake. But more significantly there is the need for people to see how “rich” are the people who have God’s Life!  We long to see people on these islands have life; healthy, hope-filled life now and also eternal life. We long to see the people of these islands place a value on life, ALL life.  
Walking through the rich, fertile rice fields on Kome Island
Life for so many people is given a stigma, a curse, a rejection. The life of Jesus was the same.
We went to the home of Abbas, a young man suffering severely from what we think may be cerebral palsy. He is considered by his family and villagers to be a curse. He is hidden away in a very small dark, wooden hut on the sandy ground near the lake. He lies every day on an old foam mattress, he is only ever taken outside on Christmas Day each year. We went in, our eyes adjusting the darkness and our noses to the stench and we talked and prayed with him for just a while. He was so delighted with the company and attention; he wanted just to hold our hand, to have his photo taken, to have a glass of water. As we prayed, his face lit up with the largest smile and the sound of laughter came bursting out. We left to his insistent cries that we must remember him. I just cried as soon as we got back to our rooms. 
Abbas
Jontwa, a teacher from the Mwanza International Church taught a seminar on HIV AIDS. People with HIV/Aids are another group extremely marginalised and stigmatised here in Tanzania. As I mentioned before, HIV AIDS is particularly rampant on the island, but there is so little knowledge about it, and so much stigma, that people will not get tested or treated. Friends of one lady suffering badly attended the day seminar on Wednesday and later asked Jontwa to go out and visit this woman. He rode out on the back of a motorbike and found her very ill, very much in need of testing and medicine. But her husband would not pay the 5000Tsh ($4 or £3) to get her to the hospital on the local bus and ferry.
Jontwa teaching on Kome Island
On the mainland last week, we visited “Under the Same Sun” a group committed to ending the deadly discrimination against people with albinism in Tanzania. It is a particularly serious problem here in the Mwanza region as albinos are hunted down and murdered for witchcraft purposes, their body parts sold in wickedness for fishermen’s “spells”. We heard the heart-wrenching stories of young children whose parents have just run away from them, leaving them alone and endangered.

One girl sharing her testimony with us

Taylor making butterflies (new creations) at Under the Same Sun
While on the island we heard the awful sounds of a woman being beaten in the common (and very public) act of domestic violence. We could hear the resounding hits from a raged man drunk and the screams and cries of the suffering woman. We could see the crowd of onlookers, staring, watching the gruesome scene yet doing nothing. All we could do was pray. So we did. And we saw God’s hand extended in mercy and love in a real and miraculous way as immediately the beating stopped.

Yes, there is so much pain, so much discrimination, as people created by God are stigmatised, marginalised, cursed. In recent days with the Canada team we have seen it over and over. Yet we have also seen that God is good. Those heart-wrenching stories of desertion for the children with albinism ended in the glorious testimony of God’s grace as He saved their lives and brought them into family at “Under the Same Sun.” We saw God’s heart of love for people and I think each of us grew in our desire to see that love extended. It was exciting to see the young people on the team boldly demonstrate and show God’s love as they reached out to serve, to give, to pray. They shared the love and life of God with people as they sat with individuals and gave the hope of the gospel and had the joy of seeing that gift received! 

Jesus himself was marginalised, rejected, deserted, cursed and afflicted. Yet the story does not end there. He rose again victorious over sin and death, over pain and affliction. And this victory is ours; we can share in this hope. We can rest in the fullness of his love for us and share this love with others, however marginalised, discriminated against, cursed, stigmatised, rejected, or suffering. Coming out of this curse of darkness, in God’s Kingdom, where all things sad are coming untrue, we are truly all RICH and truly all under the same Son.

And this all said, if any of you reading this would like to help the work here, we (and Dr Makori) would be so grateful! Amisadai and Louisa are raising money through their sponsored SODIS Shake and Water Walk and the details are on the page at the top of this blog and also on their website (mongergirlswaterworks.webs.com) Any donation, however small, would be appreciated and we want to especially encourage children to get involved; this is not a large and professional fundraising campaign, but it comes from the heart of two children seeing that children can help too!

3 comments:

  1. Great to hear about such a fruitful week!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoy reading post like this. God Bless! tfi the family international

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  3. Thank you for the encouragement!

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