Pray for Swaziland, Sunday March 11, 2012

Pray for Swaziland, Sunday March 11, 2012

Prayer for Swaziland: John 2:13-22

Oh Lord – when we go up to the mountain – you are there, guiding our way.
When we go out to the field – you are there, helping us reap.
When we walk down the road – you are there, clearing the stones.
When we greet our neighbors – you are there, waving your hand.
When we serve our daily meal – you are there, filling us up.
When we sleep at night – you are there, letting us rest easier.
When we gather in your name, oh Lord – you are their, listening to our cries.
It is your loving hand that steadies our feet as we walk through this life.
When we falter – you forgive us.
When we cry – you comfort us.
When we are hungry – you fill us with the spirit.
You, oh Lord, are the one true stability in the unpredictable harsh world.
And you love us.  And for that, we will ever pray in your name.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Mission Moment from Swaziland:

I am delighted to share with you about Swaziland, my second home.  They say ‘home is where the heart is’, and my heart is most definitely here!  Having lived 15 months now, I have grown in my understanding and love for the diversity in the human family.  And yet, I also witness drastic differences in experiences, and access to basic human needs. 

Some have estimated the HIV/AIDS statistics to be as high as 1 in 3, the highest rate in the world, per capital.  The rate of death is astounding, and many many children are left with 1, or no, parents to care for them; these children are labeled “OVC” – orphans and vulnerable children.  Grandmothers, Aunts, or nice people in their communities are left to care for these children – providing clothing, food, and a place to sleep.  Additionally, the unemployment rate is estimated to be between 40-50%.  There are limited-to-no government structures in place; therefore, churches and other non-profits are left to fill the gaps.  Kukhany’okusha Zion Church (KZC), our Global Ministries mission partner here in Swaziland, is doing just that – responding at the point of deepest need – knowing that prayer isn’t enough to cure HIV, bring parents back from grave, or make food magically appear on the table.

Statistically speaking, in Swaziland, Zionists tend to be poor, uneducated, and predominately located in rural communities.  And yet, they have a long, and strong tradition of helping the needy, even though many of them are needy themselves. 

Recently, I have been staying for short periods (3 days to a week) in the rural areas with our KZC churches, listening to stories, sharing meals, witnessing the great need for jobs, food, school fees, and in many cases, even homes.  I have been witnessing UBUNTU – literally translated means “I AM BECAUSE YOU ARE”.   This concept is not discussed amongst the people – it is a WAY OF LIFE.  This is life lived in community, a deep-rooted ingrained value system of support and caring for family, neighbors, village, and country.  I have experienced this in the Swazi hospitality, in staying in homes, treated both as a guest, and as family.  I am experiencing on a deep level “WAMUKELEKILE” [wa moo gay lay gee lay], which means YOU ARE WELCOME. 

As I type this story, I am down in the southern part of the country, at the border town of Lavumisa, where Swaziland and South Africa meet.  This area is very dry; they get very little rain year round, and there are very few jobs.  Some people have small ‘spaza’ businesses, such as hair salons, selling roasted chicken, or selling clothing, based out of small shed-like structures – and those who don’t have these businesses, rely on the ones who do.  For example, in a home where 15 people stay, it is common that only one person is employed, two if they are a lucky family.  Additionally, if they have a man in the family, a man will often go stay where the work is, and come home once a month to see his family and bring home his paycheck.  But you have to understand – in a home of 15 people, it is never the ‘traditional family’ structure; it is not a wife, husband, and 13 kids.  No, it is most often a family home: a grandmother, a mother/wife possibly, maybe a father/husband, some older adult children (20s/30s, unmarried), often with a baby or two of their own, and some younger school age children.  And then there are the adopted additions to the family – the OVCs.   These are the daughters or sons of aunts, uncles, sisters who have passed away, and are now incorporated as children into the family.  They are not treated differently; they are simply called daughter or son.  And they are expected to contribute to the household as much as they can, through working and bringing home some income, or through household chores.  No one gets a free ride here.  Laziness is not an option when food must be found to feed so many people. 

These are dire situations, and extremely tough times.  And yet, their faith in God does not waiver.  I am constantly humbled by the passion and the faithfulness of these churchgoers.  They walk long distances, in the mud, in the heat, in their church gowns (Zionists wear a uniform), from their humble homes, often made of sticks, stones, and mud, to their church – often made of sticks, stones, and mud.  And they pray and pray and pray – and sing!  Boy do they sing – for hours.  But they know – while a new church building would be nice – church is in the heart of the people.  And even if (when) the church falls down, God will build it back up – through the coming of Jesus Christ. 

If you would like to make a contribution to improve the lives of a few in Swaziland, Kukhany’okusha, through our partnership with Global Ministries, offers Scholarships to pay school fees for OVCs.  Additionally, you can help to Build a Church; add a roof, buy a door, or build a whole building!  All gifts are welcome through Global Ministries to support the work of Kukhany’okusha – a faithful and loving people, who give all they can to their families, communities, and churches.  I know this – I have seen it – and they have taught me something valuable as well – hospitality IS the core ubuntu – and wamukelekile – you ARE truly welcome.  Thank you my Swazi families!  And thank you Global Ministries supporters!

(Prayer and Mission Moment by Lizzy Beach)

Multimedia Resources for Swaziland:

Global Ministries International Partners in Swaziland:

  • Kukhany Okusha Zion Church which has 36 congregations in Swaziland (5,000 member) and South Africa (7,000 members). To learn more, click here: Kukhany Okusha Zion Church
  • Council of Swaziland Churches which was founded in 1976 and has 10 member churches and 26 staff persons.

For more info on Swaziland:

Global Ministries Missionary in Swaziland:

Lizzy Beach, a member of Compton Heights Christian Church, St Louis, Missouri, and Tapestry Ministries in Berkeley, California, assists with youth development programming, administrative development, and program development and sustainability with the Kukhany’okusha Cares for Children Project (KCCP), a project of Kukhany’Okusha Zion Church in Swaziland.