By Amanda Goodroe
As I bounced along the road in a bus in Swaziland on our seventh day in Africa, my mind was filled with images of rhinos and giraffes from our sunrise safari that morning. On the way back from our night at Hlane Game Preserve, our missionary hosts told us we were going to stop at a Children’s Cup CarePoint nearby in a village. I was completely unprepared for what we saw in Section 19.
Sugar cane fields surrounded this village. Huts for houses consisted of little more than sticks. This proved to be some of the worst poverty I have ever seen in my life.When our missionary team got off the bus, the children from Section 19 ran to greet us like at all the other CarePoints we’d visited. A little girl grabbed my hand. Her bright smile seemed to make the dirt covering her body less noticeable. Dirt and a mysterious sticky substance covering her hands rubbed off onto mine. She bounced along beside me wearing no shirt. Her little feet were cracked and dry.
Many of the children had runny noses. Some had areas of hair missing. When you ran your hand over their head you could feel the bumpy patches of ringworms. Our missionary hosts said Section 19 is a good example of the difference a CarePoint can make to the community. The CarePoint at Section 19 is still very new, but after more time, they expect the well-being of the community to improve due to the health education and food provided to them.
As we walked through the village, the African sun hit our backs. The sweltering heat made the smell of dirt and smoke swell together until your lungs screamed for a breath of fresh air. Our guide took us through the maze of huts, and we stopped to pray for an old man. We thought the quick visit had ended and we’d go back to the bus. Instead, she led us deeper into the village to another hut. A woman lying on a mat outside her hut struggled to sit up. She reached out to us with a handshake. Her face visibly twisted in pain as she greeted us. The guide shared her story with us.
As the team prayed for her healing, my heart began to break for Section 19. For this grandmother, called a go-go in Siswati. For the two little girls holding onto my hands. Our team learned that the go-gohad not walked in over a year. She then showed us papers from her doctor who said she had advanced cancer. We prayed some more.
At this point I was emotionally drained. The tug of dirty, sticky hands reminded me that two little girls still held onto mine. I felt complete helplessness. I couldn’t change anything for these people, but I could pray and offer my physical touch.
I listened as a member of the high-school team said he wanted to pray again. The go-go had shared that the night before we arrived, she had a dream of two angels coming to her. They lifted her to her feet. And as they lifted her up, she was healed.
One of the high-school students on the trip named Jerami and one of the missionaries, Mark, grabbed the go-go’s hand. They helped her stand to her feet. She walked! As we prayed, the go-go took her walk of faith. Her face began to change. No longer twisted in pain, she lit up with a smile. She declared the pain GONE!
I stopped before getting on the bus, laid my hands on the two girls and prayed that God would bless and protect them. I prayed that they would grow up to love and serve Jesus.
The team got on the bus to leave Section 19. As we pulled onto the road to drive away, someone shouted for us to look out the window. The go-go stood on the side of the road. She held up both of her arms and waved. Her face shined with the biggest smile, revealing the glory of the Lord. Seeing that woman on the side of the road with hands raised was like seeing the fulfillment of a promise. God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us. Even in Section 19, a place clearly forgotten by society. But not by God. Not by the One who loved them enough to perform a miracle for all of us to see. For the village to know that He is with them! He loves them too.
God delights in every detail of our lives. He ordained that moment for me to be in an impoverished African village, holding two little hands, to pray over his precious daughters, old and young. The Lord cared about the life of that grandmother enough to send us there on that day to pray for her healing.In all the big moments, and in all the small ones, the Lord’s direction and guidance was evident. He ordained us to be there at that exact moment to pray for that woman and see her healed. And for the people of section 19 to witness a miracle.
I praise God for directing my steps to that moment. And as I look back over my time in Africa, I remember all the small instances where He did the same many times. Like at a CarePoint with four little girls who ran their fingers through my long hair, as another played hand games with me. She did not speak English, yet hung onto my every word. And another time I held a baby girl. Her shirt could not fully cover her bulging belly as she fell asleep in my lap. The filthy little girl who clung fiercely to my hand at Section 19, and constantly looked up at me, smiling as if she did not have a care in the world. The Lord placed me at each of those moments for a purpose. For His touch through me. He directed my steps to hold each hand, to tickle each child, or simply smile at every one of those precious children.
This trip to Africa taught me many things, but one thing that stands out in my mind is this: if we listen to the Lord and keep our eyes open, we can see him move in astonishing ways in our everyday lives. We plan none of these moments. God plans them. And if we’re open to see Him moving in our lives, every day can be extraordinary, whether you are in a grocery store in the United States or in a village in Africa.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” — Psalm 37:23
Amanda Goodroe is a senior at Louisiana State University studying Mass Communication with a focus on print journalism. Amanda went on her first mission trip at age sixteen to Costa Rica. This sparked a passion for other cultures and people groups around the world. She hopes to use her love of writing to serve on the mission field. Amanda also enjoys reading, traveling and drinking tea with friends.
Jacob Thevenot graduated Bethany Christian School in 2012. While in high school, Jacob discovered a passion for missions and photography. This sparked an interest in documenting God’s work in different cultures, including Costa Rica and Africa. He hopes to show the positive impact of world missions to the world. In addition to photography, Jacob also enjoys drawing, playing tennis, and finding unique buildings. Jacob plans to attend Louisiana State University in the Fall to study architecture.
Ah, how your stories moved me! My husband and I also do mission work in Swaziland, so I was “with” you in each scenario you described. It’s a joy to hear how the Lord Jesus used you and your team among these precious people we have come to love so dearly. Bless you as you continue to seek His will and serve Him!
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