I heard the catch in her voice before she answered me, “Ma’am, we are desperate for some hope.”
I was in the middle of a phone conversation with a principal from Vlakfontein, an informal settlement just north of Finetown. She had called me to ask that I come and visit her Vlakfontein Forum of 20 preschools. I had just communicated with her that my time was very limited. I was currently teaching full-time and also taking a university program on autism. I would not be facilitating new workshops until the start of the new year in 2014.
There was a long pause on the other end of the phone line. I could sense her disappointment. It was then that I asked her, “Nothemba*, what is your concern?”
It was then that she shared that she needed hope. Isn’t this what we most need in the midst of desperate times? We need the hope and empowering strength of Jesus Christ.
I know I do. I am weary.
The past few weeks have zapped my strength. I am tired. With John not doing well this past week and having surgery today to dealing with a painful infection related to my recent biopsy to teaching full-time in our Happy Blue School to keeping our household running to putting together a Finetown workshop to preparing for my next autism course, just thinking about it all makes me tired. It makes me wonder if I can do it all and have the margin to take on another preschool community.
And then I think of the conversation I recently had with Nothemba, a desperate principal in Vlakfontein who is calling out for help. She desires hope. I wonder what her set of challenges are that caused her to call me after only meeting me one time in 2011. I am sure she also has a long list of things in her life that have made her weary.
In Psalm 28: 6-9, David wrote these words…
Praise be to the LORD,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.
The LORD is the strength of the people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Just like me, Nothemba needs a Shepherd to carry her through her present set of challenges.
Just like me, Nothemba needs to find that her LORD is strong and able to shield her from the stinging darts of discouragement that shoot from a myriad of directions.
Just like me, Nothemba can be helped as she places her trust and hope in her God.
Just like me, instead of focusing upon her difficulties and her weariness, Nothemba can remember the blessings of the present and the past and be encouraged by the care of her God.
Just like me, Nothemba can be carried by the loving strength and hope of salvation of Jesus Christ, to carry on.
I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Nothemba yet or listen to her heart in person. If my schedule allows, I will try. However, I cannot be Nothemba’s hope or salvation. What I can do is point her in the direction of the One True Hope, the Ever-Present Hope. It is unfortunate, but often times when people first attend our ECD workshops, they think we will sponsor their preschools and meet their financial needs. Too often in Africa, well-wishers and people with good intent arrive here and hand out things without considering the long term ramifications. As a result, many Africans have come to expect hand-outs as they justify their need and want. I have had to say more often than I ever would like, both on the phone when I receive a phone call from some one asking for something, or in person, that we are ministers of the hope of Christ and early childhood development trainers and coaches; not financial benefactors.
I know that those who reside in southern African informal settlements have a difficult life; more difficult than my own to be sure. However, the desire of my heart in working with ladies like Nothemba, is that they would place their complete trust in the LORD and find their hope in Him.
This is the conviction of my heart; to share the hope of Christ. As I began this post, I am weary. My present set of challenges will pass. In the meantime, though, how grateful I am that I have a Shepherd who will carry me so that I will carry on with the incredible life He has given me here. I will seek my God for whether it is He who is leading me to assist the Vlakfontein Forum and be a minister of His hope in His Name. I would appreciate your prayers on this matter. Thank you.
* I have used Nothemba for my friend’s name to protect her identity. Nothemba means hope.