The rain was pouring buckets.
The dirt roads of both Finetown and Lahae had turned to torrents of brown, murky and dangerous rivers. Large lakes with uncertain, dark depths stretched across different roads proving too big an obstacle to maneuver with my vehicle.
Here I was.
After a six month hiatus which allowed me to pursue my graduate studies in autism education, I had finally returned to Finetown. On this Monday, I was in the middle of one of the worst weather situations I’d ever seen in eight years of life in South Africa.
I almost hadn’t come.
There was a taxi strike.
There were floods.
There were traffic accidents.
There were highway travel blockades.
And there was rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain.
Yet, with John set to go to Zimbabwe at the end of this week, I knew I wouldn’t have another opportunity for awhile to visit Finetown. In addition, I had a carload of educational supplies, clothing and toy donations that needed to be distributed to three schools. And I’m from the Pacific Northwest for Pete’s sake! I know all about heavy rain and how to drive in it!
I promised my husband I would be careful and prudent as I headed south.
My first stop though, would be Lahae. One of our schools had relocated to Lahae, another informal settlement about five miles north of Finetown. Due to some personal struggles, my friend Mathabiso was choosing to start completely over in a new area. I had last seen her in July and back then her heart had been heavy.
On this Monday, though, even with the rain pummeling her home and her school, Mathabiso had a smile on her face and a joyful gleam in her eyes. She looked good. She looked at peace. She looked happy.
She told me, “Heather, a year and a half ago, when I attended your workshops, I wasn’t there for new ideas for my school. I know how to teach. I was there because I had a soul problem. My life was in shambles. My heart and soul were broken.”
She went on, “When you led us to write down our prayer requests and ask God for help, I did that. I had never written down a prayer request before. I never thought to pray for myself or what I needed. Then you asked the Lord to quiet our souls as we prayed and ask Him for His answer and His peace for our souls.”
“I held onto those words, ‘Quiet me, Lord,’ she explained.
“And the Lord has quieted me. In my office, I have the words on the wall, ‘Quiet me, Lord.’ When things were hard, I asked and asked and asked my God to quiet me. Today, my soul is resting upon His peace and His joy,” she testified.
It was apparent that my friend was doing so much better because she had sought her God for her peace, for her rest, for her provision and for her joy.
It says in Philippians 3:1…
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
Safeguard comes from the Greek word asfalev. Asfalev means that something is firm, strong and can be relied upon. However, if you look at the Hebrew root meaning of asfalev it comes from the word A or alfa…Alpha. A is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and also is one of the names of Christ…the Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end.
My friend, Mathabiso had found her God and her Savior to be her safeguard. The One whom she could rely upon despite her past challenges, despite her present struggles, and despite her uncertain future. In the face of every situation, even with brown torrents of water rushing in front of her home that prevented her own children from going to school and also served as an obstacle for her preschoolers to reach her school, Mathabiso stood joyfully and confidently under the protection and care of her God.
Paul wrote the Philippians that it was good for them to receive the same message from him. He exhorted them to keep their eyes on Christ and to rejoice in His goodness and care. Christ was their safeguard; their Beginning and their End, the One to bring joy and fulfillment to their lives.
Mathabiso stands as a testament of the blessing and safeguard of her God’s intimate care of her life. It was a privilege to hear her story on such a rainy day. For those who pray for our Finetown ministry, thank you. We return again to share the joy of the Lord and His goodness as we minister, as we teach, and as we encourage the principals and schools of Finetown and the surrounding settlements of Weiler’s Farm, Mountain View, Vlakfontein, and Lahae.
We go surrounded and blessed by the safeguard of our Lord and Savior.