Many of you know the Jesus Creed blog is working to support a poor village filled with orphans in Mabanteneni, in Swaziland. We are doing this through HopeChest, a Christian relief organization in Colorado Springs. Tom Davis, CEO of HopeChest, wrote this post for our blog… and we’re encouraging you to join Kris and me in sponsoring children. There is much need, and we are asking you to pray and consider sponsoring one of these children. Kris and I both check the site often to see if any new kids are being sponsored, and they number continues to grow. Thanks.
Swaziland is Dying — by Tom Davis, CEO of HopeChest
This week I’m leaving for Swaziland, Africa. A place, according to UN statistics, will literally die by the year 2050. Why you ask? Because it’s the epicenter of a disease so deadly, without the proper medication, you don’t stand a chance at survival – HIV/AIDS.
Nearly 42 percent of the population is suffering from HIV-infection rate. The unemployment rate is at least 40%. The sadness is overwhelming and the hopelessness is suffocating. When I close my eyes and think of some of the worst places I’ve been in my travels, Swaziland is at the top of the list. How would you survive in a place like this? What would you do to find food? How would you find the courage to keep hoping for a better life?
This is what I wrote in my journal after being in Swaziland, for only two days. It’s not pretty, but it’s reality:
“From where I stand in my humanness, there are no answers for a place like this. There is no hope, darkness pervades, and though the light of the sun attempts to break across the horizon, this country dwells in darkness. In many ways it is darkness. It is heavy, sobering, unreal. I want to run, to hide, and never come back. I want to pretend like I never came to hear of their plight and hope the memories flee and never return. I don’t want to face the truth of what this side of the world faces every single day.”
What do our Swazi brothers and sisters face every day?
* A life expectancy of 31 years.
? If you’re fifteen you have less than a 10 percent chance of living to age 35.
? More than 50 percent of the population lives on 28 cents a day.
? Half of the country’s population are under the age of 15.
Our team went to a medical clinic one afternoon to walk in the shoes of those caring for people infected with HIV. The clinic was old and worn out, medicine was in short supply, and understaffed. The waiting room was filled with patients. Some on the brink of death, others perfectly healthy. The nurses spoke about how the disease has affected their community, turning it into a continual flood of men and women coming for HIV tests, fearing the worst. On a typical day of testing, eight out of every 10 people will test positive for HIV.
Unbelievable. How many communities in Swaziland are also facing this sad reality? 46% is one thing, but 80% – Lord Jesus. What can be done? Who is left to help care for the tidal wave of orphans left all alone? In a few years all that’s left will be a nation of children. Could I run from this, pretending it didn’t exist?
I didn’t run because I knew that as a Christ follower I didn’t have the luxury of pretending like this didn’t exist. If Jesus were walking this earth today, we’d find Him in Swaziland, doing whatever it took to make a difference – caring for orphans, rebuilding the nation, speaking life instead of death.
You and I are Jesus walking this earth and making a difference. We incarnate Him; we are His hands, His feet, His voice. And Jesus is also the 11-year-old orphan who is now the head of her household, left alone to take care of her three younger brothers and sisters – Matthew 25, “As you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.”
Today, I choose to hope for Swaziland future. Will you hope with me? These beautiful, royal people know their only hope for a future is one that comes through faith in Jesus.
When you talk to them about their future, they get excited because of a prophecy that was spoken over Swaziland that declares they will become “the pulpit of all of Africa.” What a strange thing to say in the midst of their current circumstances. I asked why they believed it was true. Their answer was simple – there was no hope left in Swaziland, except for one thing: Jesus.
We can all do something to help the people of Swaziland. Right here, right now, sitting in our chairs across the United States. And that’s what Scot McKnight and the readers of Jesus Creed have decided to do. In partnership with Children’s HopeChest, you can help feed, clothe, and educate AIDS orphans who will become the next generation of leaders in their country. The issue isn’t if we can make a difference, but will we make a difference?
Please click this link to meet the kids of Mabanteneni. You’ll instantly fall in love with them, and your involvement in their life will change them forever.
Thanks for caring,
CEO, Children’s Hopechest