Monday, August 04, 2008

Darkness Meets Light

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.". Matthew 5:16

Yesterday, as we were making the long drive to Shinyanga, Mama Shangwe and Sabina both kept saying "we must get there before dark, otherwise people will see you (white women) and all this luggage on the roof of the car and it will bring danger.

Swerving around the potholes created a slow down - but as soon as the road was passable again they would encourage the driver to speed up. This did not make us feel particularly at ease considering where were going there is virtually no place to hide - or "blend in".

We did arrive before dark (barely) got settled into the rooms only to discover we had no electricity and the sun was sinking fast. Our minds were put at ease when Sabina told us the generator would come on when it was completely dark.

Here when I tell you it is dark- I mean it is DARK! It is VOID of all light. When the generator turns off after 3 hours there are no street lights shining in, no ambient light from TV screens or computer monitors to keep the blackness from being total.

This presents a problem (again after the day's two liters of water) sometime in the middle of night. We are sharing rooms here, so when one person wakes to nature's call usually the other one wakes after hearing the toe-stumping "oh" or as happened last night Debi entangled by the decorative hippie beads separating the bedroom from the toilet. Just as she thought she was heading in the right direction, the beads turned her back towards the bedroom. Listening through my slumber to her torture I realized I had the "light" (flashlight that is) and switched it on to show her the clear path.

What a difference a little light makes! It was a great metaphor to begin our work in the village.

I asked Mama Shangwe the size of the village (assuming perhaps 100 families) she told me there were many more than that - I inquired why do you call it a village - to which she replied "you will see, they have no running water, no electricity nothing really for themselves. ".

And see we did:

Wide dirt roads for the burro-pulled carts to pass down, mud huts on both sides, hundreds of children running to see the "car" coming and people curiously watching from their doorways and places of business.

After a bit of difficulty finding our place of meeting (the village tribal council building) we arrived. The 50+ attendees were inside waiting (in the dark). The small bit of light that came through was soon further diminished by children and onlookers standing blocking the doorway and windows. Although the room was a mere 20x20 it was hard to see the black faces other than those on the front row.

We made our introductions and Deb began the conference speaking on fear. She shared openly and vulnerably which engaged the crowd almost immediately. It surprised us the people were ready to listen to learn and to dialogue with us on what was happening in the village.

When we took comments and questions one Muslim man stood and said "you have brought light, after today we will follow your light." We were blown away!

The rest of the day went far better than we could have imagined. During the break one woman came to show the scars left by the attack she endured from her brother who accused her of bewitching him. We went to a small back room for privacy and she dropped the back of her dress down to show the wounds. From the looks of the injuries, it appeared as though deep gashes of flesh has been cut out of her back and the stitching to close the wounds had not been the work of a skilled doctor. She also had a deep impression across her skull. Sabina and Mama Shangwe comforted her and listened intently as they tried to translate her story. From time to time she would wipe her eyes - the pain of the wounds still fresh emotionally and still causing physical pain as well. She told them she could not read or write, but one of her children could read the notes for her. For the rest of the days program, the village elder (a Christian man) took very detailed notes to give to her. It was a remarkable act of servitude.

We closed the day telling the attendees we were giving them Bibles in the morning they all clapped. I also told them God says He is watching over His word. Tonight I said is the last evening your home will not have a Bible - from now on whether you read it or follow it God will be watching it!

Pray against the traditional healers who were mocking us as we left telling the people we were lying to them.

Pray for the church that the Village elder has promised to give land for after we leave (a DIRECT result of this conference).

Pray for the Muslims and others who have not experienced salvation that tomorrow as the Gospel is fully and clearly presented hearts are repentant and redeemed for eternity.

Pray we continue to speak boldly against this demonic stronghold.

Pray for our protection (we are watched by an armed guard) but satan will not want to loose his grip on these people.

Praise God for Debi's upbringing at the side of her father (a mechanic) who once again REPAIRED a dead automobile! Her advice - always keep Alka Seltzer handy to clear corroded battery cables.

Praise God for His complete provision. A light has come into this part of the world. "In Him is life, and the life is the light of men" John 1:4

No electricity required!

Smiling though you can't see it in the dark