Yesterday was Mother’s Day in Australia and as I logged onto Facebook it made me so happy to see countless pictures and updates of Mum’s being spolit by their children; and children honouring their mums. It made me appreciate the fact that once a year we take a day each to celebrate both mothers and fathers. It also got me thinking about all the things that I have learnt from my mum and dad.
I have always experienced unconditional love from both of my parents. They have worked hard to ensure my all needs are met, if not exceeded, and that I could have access to all the best opportunities in life. They have always encouraged me to dream big, to reach far, to work hard and achieve my goals. I am so thankful that they provided me with access to a very good education and every step along the way in my life they have been there on the sidelines cheering me on, encouraging me to reach my full potential. At times when I doubted myself or my abilities, they never did. They always saw the best in me and helped to draw that out of me.
I will always remember, when I ran my first full 42.2km marathon a few years ago, it came down to the last 2km. I was so close to the end, but I was exhausted. I knew I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. From out of nowhere, next thing I knew, my mum had joined me from the crowd to run alongside me for a few minutes. Such a small gesture that spoke volumes. It was just the encouragement I needed to give me the burst of energy to finish the race. And that example speaks to my whole life. They have always been there championing me from the sidelines, encouraging me to push on and achieve my dreams, supporting and loving me the whole way. And for that I am forever grateful. They also taught me what it means to love God and brought me up in His ways, which again there are not the words to express my thankfulness for this.
For most of the children we serve here in Africa, however, they will never know this love and support of a mother and father. Every Monday morning we start our week with a prayer meeting. Each week we take a different focus. This morning we were hearing stories of the children we serve and praying for them. I was struck by a story of twin 7 year old boys in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their story is heartbreaking.
Shortly after John and Peter* were born, their father passed away, and then around a year later, they were also abandoned by their mother. So at not even 2 years of age, these brothers, rejected and abandoned, were left with an Aunt who had no means to care for them. The boys quickly became malnourished, as the Aunt did not have enough food to feed them. As the situation became more desperate the Aunt would spend her days travelling the long distance to the nearest lake to attempt to catch some fish to have some food to feed the family. This meant however, that once again the boys were abandoned for long periods of time, alone and hungry. This caused the boys to become very withdrawn, timid and untrusting of people. These children are deeply wounded on the inside. I can’t even begin to image the pain and hurt these boys know at only 7 years of age.
Miraculously in the midst of this desperate situation, a Care Worker from our Community Based Organisation in their community found the boys at home one day alone. Recognising just how vulnerable the boys were, the Care Worker immediately brought the children to the care point to receive a hot meal, and they have been included amongst the most vulnerable children that we care for in this community from that day.
Their Care Worker is now a father figure to these boys, visiting the boys in their home regularly to encourage and support them, even staying with them in their home when their aunt travels so they are no longer left alone. Slowly the Care Worker is building a relationship of trust with these boys, with the hope that one day soon they will be able to share about their past and receive healing for the huge inner trauma they have experienced at such a young age. I am so thankful for every Care Worker across all of our communities who work tirelessly day in and day out to care for some of Africa’s most vulnerable children. To be a mum and dad to so many children who have never known their parents, to show them love and provide a place of security and support. I know I say it often, but our care workers really are the true heroes of our work.
And that is one reason I am so excited to be a part of the work we are doing right now. For the past 8 months or so, we have been rolling out workshops in every one of our communities across the 8 countries we work in. These workshops are introducing the Care Workers to a true relationship with Jesus Christ and ministering to their inner wounds so they can receive healing in their lives. Then from their wholeness, they will be able to minister healing to our kids. In 3 weeks’ time, I will have the privilege of attending one of the week long workshops in one of our communities here in Zambia. I am excited to see all that God is going to do. And look forward to sharing with you soon!
I will continue to pray for John and Peter and their Care Worker, and ask those of you who believe to do the same.
*Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.