Katima Mulilo quenching the hunger
I awake suddenly, not sure why. There is a soft blue glow in the small, dark room. It is just after 3am and I was dreaming, or rather re-living, the previous few days adventures.
We had just loaded off some emergency maize meal and cooking oil for the church members in a small village in the Caprivi of Namibia. The village is about 100km west of Katima Mulilo. Drought had decimated the crops in the area and many rural people were struggling. Jesus taught us to thank God our Father for our daily food (Luke 11:3). Oftentimes, I have done this half forgetting, half carelessly, but no more. It is easy to become self-reliant and take simple things in life, like daily food, for granted. I don’t even think about whether I will have food to eat tomorrow, let alone today. Then I meet people who wake up each day of their lives, not sure if they will even have something to eat that day. Tomorrow is not even on their minds.
Little for their comfort
I am often surprised at how happy and thankful, people who appear to have nothing can be. Maybe the problem is that we tend to connect happiness to physical things. Just look at most advertisements. They try giving you the idea that you need to get the newest, latest, biggest whatever, and only then will you be happy. Well, at least until the next newest biggest thing comes along. Yet Christ talks about us abiding in Him and in His joy. That in Him we find true joy (John 15:1-11). Many of the people we met in rural Namibia have very little in terms of physical possessions and comforts. They have learnt to rely on God for their every need. Maybe I have become too comfortable and tend to rely on God occasionally and other times on my gold credit card.
It is hot, even though it is winter, dust and sand everywhere, not least in my hair and my clothes. Once again our bakkie is stuck in the sand and we are on our hands and knees trying to dig it out.
Evangelising isn’t always glamorous. Frustrating, joyless and a bit unspiritual are adjectives I would use to describe digging a vehicle out of the soft sand. Yet, just a few minutes ago we had unloaded food in the village, had a short church service and were on top of the world. I look up at the mud and thatch church building, literally tens of metres away. Why is it that we as Christians can so quickly become discouraged and forget how often Jesus has miraculously helped us? Or is it just me? Jesus promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Psalm 23 promises that even if we walk through a valley full of dark shadows and death, He will be there with us. God does not always take us immediately out of a tough situation, but He is there in the thick of it with us. In the sand with us, also getting His hands and clothes dirty.
The bakkie is stuck. Even though about 20 people have come to help us we can’t get out of the deep, soft Namibian sand. Pastor Tim, with whom I am travelling, leans out of the driver’s window, “Lascan, please pray so that we can get out of this sand” Lascan Sikosi, Pastor and leader of the churches in Namibia, prays a short but powerful prayer. I stand amazed as the vehicle pops right out of the sand with minimal effort and off we ride. The fact is that sometimes we don’t rely enough on God. We might ask for something in prayer, but the prayer is too often punctuated with doubt. This is not to say every time we pray for something it will just happen the way we want it to. Prayer is primarily about a relationship with God, not about a shopping list. However, never underestimate the power of prayer, and no prayer is ever wasted.
I have a choice
On the last trip to the churches in the Caprivi we had three punctures on the trailer. In one instance the entire wheel rim was damaged. This on roads that are quite good, nothing like Mozambique or other areas of Africa where many pastors and missionaries travel. In truth, travelling in Namibia is a pleasure and a holiday compared to Mozambique, for example. I wait next to the unhitched trailer on the side of the road as Tim rides off to try and get a new tyre. At least this time the spare rim wasn’t damaged, but the tyre, which we just had fixed earlier, was shredded. I have a choice. I can get upset and frustrated or I can dwell on how we have been blessed on this trip to experience God at work amongst the people of Namibia. “Come unto me all you that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is late afternoon. I sit next to the trailer and enjoy the peace of the bushveld and the warm sun on my face.
The dark room is still filled with the soft, blue glow and the added sound of tapping. I turn in my bed and see Pastor Tim sitting up straight in his bed busy working on his computer. “Oh, you’re awake. Great, let’s get up and get going.” Unlike Tim, I don’t get up every day at 3am, but then nor do most people. As we drive off it is still dark, but I am filled with wonder and excitement. Evangelism is truly rewarding and we have the privilege of God allowing us to share in and be a part of what He is doing. I wonder what miraculous things God is going to do today?