I have a special place in my heart for the country of South Africa.
If you haven’t heard, many of their workers are on strike for better wages and housing. As a result, many needed roles are going unfilled. Teachers aren’t teaching, and so young children run the streets day in and day out. Nurses aren’t taking care of the sick and so the sick are getting sicker and dying. They need help. They need our prayers.
When I hear stories like this I can’t tell you how much I want to go and fix it. I can love on those babies. I can hold VBS day after day and keep those little ones safe. I can give someone their medicine or feed them a meal. I can. But God hasn’t chosen me for that job right now. I hate that. I hate the feeling of helplessness and futility.
But I have a direct line to Someone who can help. Someone who can love those babies and even find just the arms to hold them. Someone who hasn’t been surprised by the strike or by the ugly depths of our humanity. Someone who isn’t on vacation, who hasn’t turned his back, who always loves and never leaves . . . I can pray, but sometimes I wish God had assigned me a different job.
One of the brave people who has chosen to relocate to South Africa and serve her brothers and sisters there posted this on her blog today:
What's happening here is unfathomable, unacceptable and just plain ugly. Patients are missing meals because no one's around to feed them. They are lying in their own filth because no one's there to wash or change them. Sick and contagious patients are being released because there's no place for them to stay or person to care for them. Babies are dying... DYING... because no one will stay with them. I've heard numbers ranging from 10 - 50 infant deaths directly related to the strike.
Just before I left the hospital, Rich burst through the maternity ward doors holding a young mother in one arm and her newborn in the other. He found her staggering down the hall, and she just wanted him to hold her baby.
I told him I'd take care of her and felt my stomach tie itself in knots as I held her baby and, through another family's translation, I got her story.
Anabel is a 17 year-old single mom. She was released from the hospital that day with no idea how she was going to get home - and I'm not sure she even knew where home was. She looked absolutey exhasuted, shell-shocked and miserable. She had been given pain pills that morning but no food so she was nauseous and dizzy and scared. I gave her my lunch and another family offered to help call someone to pick her up.
This is NOT how it should be. This is not how it should be. This is not how hospitals should be.
She wanted nothing to do with her baby. She wasn't breastfeeding and it didn't seem realistic that she'd be able to buy formula. He didn't even have a name yet.
A perfect little baby boy entered the world, but because there was not the community, care and support we were created for, he's missing out on attachment, nourishment and even being named.
Pray for all of those things churning inside you right now. Pray for the sick, the broken and the abandoned. Pray for justice in South Africa. Pray for the health of this nation - the government, the union workers and the sick and vulnerable. Pray that not one more life gets lost and that violence and pain does not cross the threshhold of one more hospital or clinic. Pray for this little boy by the name that God calls Him by, his mama and all the other babies and their mamas that have been touched - and bruised - by this strike.
It's not getting better yet - and we're praying it doesn't get worse. Our God is the God of justice, compassion and mercy. He wants justice for the underpaid, struggling civil servants and compassion and mercy for the children, the sick and all other groups being affected by the strikers. He's BIG enough to understand how to love us all perfectly even when we think we're fighting for exact opposites of one another. Let's lean into that BIG and trust together... because I don't know what else to do.
Thank you for praying. Thank you for every emotion you might be feeling right now - anger, desperation, sorrow, or even wanting to pull out your super-hero cape and come save the day. Thank you for feeling for these people and for being moved by the things that moves the heart of Jesus. Pray with us. We need you here.