Thursday, February 5, 2015

Waiting in Hope

…we wait for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:13-14

Maybe I should have named her Hope. But the joy on her face, shining forth like the force of the sun through brilliant clouds, compelled me to call her Joy. Joy was, after all, the grand result of her hope fulfilled.

But let me take you to the beginning. The place where the hope was born.

As a young girl, Mwaka tended the goats and cultivated her father’s corn fields. She was shy and quiet, and the time alone suited her just fine.  

One day, her father discovered that someone had been stealing land, planting their own crops on a far edge of his garden. Enraged, he sought justice. And justice in Aduruma culture meant seeking the power of the mutsai, or witch doctor.  

There are two kinds of witch doctors; the muganga, who is the healer of the sick, and the mustai, who is the conjurer of curses and death upon enemies. 

Mwaka’s father travelled for more than a day by foot to find the strongest mutsai around. It was rumored that this mutsai’s magic was from the north, near Masai-land. Masai warriors had been seen traveling to procure his services more than once.

The famous witch doctor, Mataza, was willing and able to solve the problem of the garden thief. But his price was more goats than Mwaka’s father owned, so they struck a deal. Mwaka would be given instead; a new, young, able-bodied wife for the elderly Mataza. 

So it happened that at age fourteen Mwaka became wed to the strongest witch doctor within 100 miles.

I met her several years later, on a dark night when even the moon refused to shine. We were preparing for sleep when the small voice came to the door. 

"Hodi," it said.  "Hodi!" this time with more urgency, a note of panic. I grabbed my wrap and bundled it around my pajamas as I scrambled to light my small kerosene lantern. I opened the door into the inky blackness.  

Standing there trembling was Mwaka, but I did not know her name yet. In her arms she carried a small child, her daughter. They were both weeping as she begged me, "Please, you must help us."  

I ushered them inside as she told me in a torrent of words what had happened. She was cooking the evening meal over a small open fire in the floor of their hut when her two-year-old tumbled backwards and fell onto the flames.  

The child was severely burned, her dark skin melted away to reveal pink rawness and pain. The hospital was hours away and we served as the best second option with our generous stash of medical supplies and basic knowledge of first aid. I gathered my bandages, scissors, medicine, and ointment and began to treat her wounds.  

As I gently applied the cooling balm I began to explain to her that I was doing it in Jesus' name. I told her that He had been wounded, too. That He was wounded for her sins and for mine. That He has healed us and that He would surely heal little Rehema, her precious daughter.  

Suddenly she gasped, and looked up at me with eyes filled with joy. "So that is His name? Jesus? He said you would come one day and tell me His name.

...I have been waiting in hope.”

Confused, I asked, "What do you mean?" She then began to tell me her incredible story. 

Shortly after her marriage to Mataza, she had a dream one night. 

She described it to me like this, "A man dressed in light came to me and told me the words you just said. He showed me wounds on His hands and feet, but they were healed. He told me that He is God and promised to save me. He said one day someone would come and tell me His name. I have been patiently waiting for you. Now I know His name! Jesus! Jesus!"  

Looking at little Rehema, she said, "Did you hear that, child? His name is Jesus! The one we've been waiting on!”

Suddenly the room of darkness and pain seemed filled with light. The suffering which brought her to my door was replaced, overcome, by pure joy.  

In that moment I felt that hope was something I could actually grab with my hands, touch it, feel it, put it in my pocket and carry around with me. It was a promise that God surely fulfills.

This dear, humble woman had been waiting in hope.

Some would say she had little or no reason to hope at all. Mwaka would say that she had His words of promise, and that had been enough.

On the day of her baptism in a river that looked like chocolate milk, we named her Mwaka Joy. Her wait was over. Hope had given birth to sheer joy.

Within two years after our first meeting that dark night, her husband Mataza died. The little mud hut where the deal was struck for her life so long ago became a place where Christians gather to worship, doing their business with God through His Son Jesus.

The same place that formally received visitors from miles away, seeking spiritual curses, is now hosting regional prayer and praise meetings, where believers in Jesus come to seek spiritual blessings.

Hope is a promise. And it will come true.

Waiting is the hard part, the it-feels-impossible-I-need-it-now part. But the one Who promises also promises to do the impossible for us (Luke 18:27). And it helps to wait with others. Hearing another person say out loud, "You will get through this," somehow puts handles on our hope and we are able to grab it, holding on tighter. 

I would like to hear your story of hope. Won’t you share it with me? Let's help each other wait in hope.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful story and brought tears to my eyes. What a blessing to be used by God in this way and to be used by Him as a vessel to fulfill a promise to another. He doesn't need to use us, He chooses to use us, showering us with immeasurable gifts and blessings when we surrender ourselves to be used by Him. God bless.