It has been two and a half years since God started directing our hearts, thoughts, prayers and attention towards Swaziland, Africa. He has filled our hearts with a love for the people of that country. The journey that He has, and is, taking us on has been incredible. Praise God for His sovereign hand as He orchestrates and directs our paths. It’s funny, because although Charity and I have always had a heart for missions, we have never had any desire to go to Africa. God, who works in wondrous and mysterious ways, obviously had another plan. Jim Elliot, a Christian missionary to Ecuador, was extremely sure of his calling to bring Jesus to the lost of that country. This is seen in his quote from the book Through the Gates of Splendor, “I am as sure of my calling to Ecuador, as I am of my salvation”. As Charity and I have prayed through this major decision in the life of our family, we can now echo the sure words of Jim Elliot. We are as sure of our calling to Swaziland, as we are of our salvation.
Swaziland is a country of great contrast. As you look around, there is a natural beauty as far as the eye can see, and you are greeted by the people with warmth and friendliness. The children show contentment and thankfulness for the simplest of things, and reveal a genuine care and devotion to the needs of each other. In the midst of this, there is darkness and despair in numerous ways. It is a country that has the highest prevalent rate of HIV in the world (26.5% of the population), a 40% unemployment rate, 80% of the population subsisting on less than US$2 per day, an average life expectancy of 50 and a substantial problem with alcohol abuse. It has a population of around 1.4 million people, with 36.9 % under the age of 14, totaling to roughly 518,000 kids in this age bracket. A large portion of this number is either at risk or orphaned.
As a result of all of this, and many other reasons than mentioned, God has put a sense of urgency in our hearts to move over there. We are being sent out from our church, Warren Baptist, through Adventures in Missions (AIM). Our desire is to partner with, and serve along side of Christ’s church that is already there and established. In doing this, our goal is to live in, and be a part of the people/ culture of that country. Just as Jesus was fully God, He was also fully man, and took on the culture in which His Father sent Him. He learned the culture and lived among the people, and although it will be extremely difficult and challenging to break out of our learned cultural tendencies, by His strength in us we will be able to do the same. Our hope and prayer is that we will be able to build a home so that we are able to live amongst the people. This will not only cut down our cost of living, but will also help to build greater unity with the people. Learning the language will also be of utmost importance to us, as this is critical in being able to share the gospel to all without hindrance of tongue. Although many of the children and people already know English in addition to their native tongue, siSwati, many do not speak English. Our plan is to hire a native Swazi, who will teach us how to speak their language.
In the Nsoko area, there are eleven care points that AIM currently oversees. At these care points, many children from the community come to get a meal. Although feeding these kids is important, as God commands us to look after the orphans (James 1: 27), this time of gathering is used to give the children Godly discipleship. This is done by an amazing AIM staff who are Swazi nationals. In addition to shepherding and loving these care points, God has put a desire in our heart to see the adult generations of Swaziland reached for Christ as well, and come to a maturity in Him (Ephesians 4).
We ask that you would partner with us in prayer for the people of Swaziland. That our hearts would grow together, even as we are a part. We are trusting and praying that God’s Word will go forth and produce fruit (Isaiah 55: 10 – 11). We know that this will be a very trying, difficult and joyful time, and are expectant of the spiritual warfare that will most assuredly come (Is. 41: 10; 1 Peter 4: 12 – 19). So please be in prayer for our family, that God would grant us greater faith and unity daily, and that our hearts would be unified with His body overseas, and here in North America.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.