Races Lost

Calla Lily - Series 2 - 01“Mami, have you seen the body the neighbors have been staring out since morning?” Shukri greeted me one afternoon in March. “People are saying he committed suicide, but others think he was killed.” I was tired. It was 4 pm in the afternoon. We had just gotten home after a shoot and several interviews, and I just wanted something to eat and a place to retire and worry about whether or not this article would be published, how I would manage food and rent and how to keep the landlord and his caretaker from calling me – without sinning. But I put on my sandals and went back out. I walked the about 100 meters to where a police truck was now parked, and several uniformed and un-uniformed officers were milling about. One of them, a lady greeted me, with a hug. I remembered her from a child’s right issue that had taken us to the Post recently. She, her colleague and I had accompanied the minor to hospital in the dead of the night, for first aid before we surrendered her to their care.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Ina kaa huyu muyu amejinyonga.” She said pointing towards the unfinished tinned accommodation a few feet from where I was. “Si ukuje uone kama ni mutu unajua?” She wanted me to go see if was someone I knew. Sleep had been difficult in coming so I declined her offer thankfully when her colleague asked if I had a bed-sheet I no longer needed in my house. They needed it to carry the body into the waiting car. I scooted as fast as my 100 kgs could carry me back to my house and came back about five minutes later. By this time, curious neighbors were gathering around the scene but the officers kept them away but insisted I go see the man. “You never know.” Said one.

He was unknown to me, and from the identity card found in his back pocket, just a few months older than my son. My heart broke as I looked at his peaceful, oddly frozen face, with a neat cut – presumably from a rope, across his adam’s apple. The brain is merciful, because I cannot remember much more, except that his body sounded embalmed as it hit the back of the police car. One other item was found on his person – a medical card indicating that he had just had his first doze of ARVs. I went home and prayed for those he loved, and those that loved him…and for those I love, and those that love me…that none would ever feel so alone that they would choose to end their lives. That there would always be someone that cared.

So today afternoon, Leroy rushes into my bedroom just as am about to get into prayer and bible study. Our neighbor needed us urgently. Either a thief or a snake. I again left the house wondering how I was going to be useful in either situation. But again, it seemed as though my feet had two brains of their own. I found my neighbor handling the issue of the snake – I didn’t even want to see it. She insisted I go check on the thief. He husband was already there, with one other man. I went hoping to convince them to take the alleged thief to the police post, as opposed to killing him in my other neighbors’ plot. The young man had stolen some metal building materials, some things that looked like old chimneys, and a set of nearly rusty sufurias. Ok, this was going to be serious since my neighbors had had their water piping materials stolen and another apparently a gate or something. I asked God again, what my role was there. I noticed that the men were uncomfortable talking to the young man in my presence and at one point my neighbor’s husband closed the gate between me and them and then descended on the young man with slaps. I called him out and talked to him calmly, about what would be the right thing to do. He went back in, and came out shortly after and went back to his plot, to deal with the snake issue.

Before he left, he had called the owner of the paraphernalia, and continued to interrogate the man loudly. Another man had joined them. He knew the young man, in fact, he described him as a hard working builder that he had hired from time to time. The young man changed his initial story that he had been hired to pick the wares up, to the truth, that he was hungry, that his house in the Soweto Slums had been locked and that he had not been able to find any work to do in the past week. He said he had never stolen before and loudly begged for mercy. My heart broke.

Then came the owner of the paraphernalia with a friend and a rock. I asked him not to kill the man. He ignored me and rushed in. He came up about three minutes later, sweating, and shared his frustration. He had been robbed too many times, he lost his gate, all his clothes from the line, he was tired and this guy would pay for it. Other men came to see what was going on, and the interesting thing is that they stood afar, not willing to get involved. They commented on the affair, “that is hunger, that is hunger.” They should not kill him, they should discipline him and then let him go. I prayed, God why are you allowing me here? I do not want to witness this man dying. I called the owner of the paraphernalia, he was my neighbor. I asked him to just check, the man may be innocent…to take him to the post and check out the story about someone else sending the man for this things. He said it was alright. He went in and then asked the man to carry the things he had stolen back into his compound. He had by this time, confiscated the man’s identity card. The man carried the things into the compound and then dashed out. He ran, he ran, he ran…he run into two women, and told them he was running from a mob that wanted to kill him. I don’t think anyone, not even the one who he had robbed was sad he got away. In fact they locked up and went back to their days as though nothing had happened.

I looked around at the men and women as they dispersed…I saw their pain, and their perspective of this particular situation. It spoke of things that united us all – the hunger, homelessness, the pain, the fatigue…the despair. We go through the motions of living, hoping that someone, God mainly, would decode the language of the stream of our unshed tears, and free us. If we could all run…run, run away…it would be understood. God was in that place. He is everywhere, but in this place…about 75 meters from where the body had been found a few weeks ago, God had come and dispensed His Justice.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

“Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against Jehovah in ceasing to pray for you” 1 Samuel 12:23

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To Climb a Tree

WHAT MADE A RICH AND POWERFUL MAN CLIMB A TREE:
I got thinking today, seeing in my mind the rich and powerful people I know, have heard of or seen from a distance, and imagined them, one by one, hoisting themselves up a tree for a better few of…okay, think of the ones you know, unless they are actors or environmentalists, what would they be doing up there? It would be more plausible for them to shove their way to the front, or get their security to do it for them so that they would get a better view. And then I thought of a group of rich and/or powerful men all trying to get a glimpse of the same thing, live. That would be even worse…a cloud of security would probably make it impossible for their bosses to get a glimpse.
Short Zacchaeus was in such a situation. He was rich, he was powerful, but the pharisees and the disciples seemed more fitted for a close up with Jesus Christ. This was not his crowd, and it was likely that they would not hesitate to remind him of the fact. Among this sort, his position was despicable…because you see, they thought they knew him well. The source of his wealth was, fishy, so they felt it was their duty to protect God and heaven from the likes of him. Even without knowing they were doing it. But this did not numb his keen hunger, to see Christ, and say to Him what only He could hear, understand, appreciate and mitigate.
So he did something that could mostly be associated with a child, or someone who life had drained of anything they could loose. He was both. And because the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to such as he, The LORD of Heaven, ‘heard’ his faith, his hunger, and saw him shed all, that he might have a glimpse of Him. And Jesus, spoke above the cloud that hindered Him from getting to Him, and then drew Him forth that they might fellowship together.
BELOVED, SO ‘THEY’ ARE IN THE WAY, BLOCKING YOU FROM SEEING THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE – THE LOVE OF ALL AGES. DO SOMETHING THEIR POMP AND POWER WOULD KEEP THEM FROM DOING, SOMETHING POWERFULLY CHILDLIKE, ENOUGH TO GIVE YOU A VIEW OF HIM. ‘THEY’ MAY DESPISE YOUR FAITH IN ACTION, BUT THAT HAS NEVER MATTERED, WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU DRAW THE APPROVAL OF THE ONE WHO MADE THEM AND YOU. [thoughts on Luke 19:1-10]
“let the LITTLE children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, ANYONE who WILL NOT receive The Kingdom of God like a LITTLE CHILD will NEVER enter it.” Luke 18:15-17
vipslit@yahoo.ca

My Crush on Andrew

Andrew, he makes me smile! I think I have a crush on him…no…I KNOW I love him! Totally so. I hope that when I get to heaven, after Jesus Christ, he would be one of the first I see.

Andrew, the Apostle, often goes unnoticed, and yet he did profound things. He was a God-chaser and a room maker. He first followed John the Baptizer, and when John the Way maker and room maker pointed out The Messiah to him, he believed John. His faith followed action – he honored his former mentor by stepping into The Way he was shown. And no…he was not going to leave his brother behind. He went home and told him that he had seen the Messiah and urged him to come step in His Footsteps. His brother, Simon Peter, was the one to whom Christ handed the Church. A ‘little’ act of networking by…sigh…Andrew…hooked God up with ministry predecessor.

Andrew did not stop at his brother, one time, Greeks came to see Jesus…and it was he and Philip that brought these…Gentiles…before the King of kings. Gentiles…like most of you are, like I am. I am amazed at his foresight. It took his brother Peter, rebuke from his brethren, after Christ’s Ascension to even accept that Christ Jesus was relevant to Gentiles…and yet here….I love Andrew.

But for me, the most profound of his evident understanding of his Messiah was, when they stood in ministry before 5000+ hungry men, and Christ asked them what to do about their hunger. Phillip…was overwhelmed, as you and I often are, by the size of the challenge. “Where will we get the resources in time to satiate their immediate hunger! We don’t have the money!” Andrew, sigh, he pointed to a ‘little matter’ that meant that their situation was not as desperate as Phillip made it out to be. “There is a little boy here, with a little food – it is not right to say that we don’t have anything. We have a little.” And The LORD of all creation, who made everything by just His Word, the Word of God, spoke. And 5000+ hungry people ate to their fill, and there was substantial left over, so that each one of the disciples could ‘take home’ a considerable ‘doggie bag’.

I am a lot like Philip…a lot. We think that by always taking note of what is not working, we are made heroes…but I learnt more than once, that focusing on that angle too much can cost you your health, your money, your relationships, your very life… Andrews on the other hand do not ignore the crisis, but they also never forget the ‘little things’, the single things…the tiny pivot points. And God honors their faith, and gives them so much, much more than they would dare believe He could. Little is MUCH when God is in it. May God give me eyes and faith, like that of Andrew…and even more.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” Jesus Christ in Luke 16:10

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