>I am reminded of the event that launched me into the beginning of this journey to Africa. The movie, The Tears of The Son, released in 2005. I remember as I left this movie, I was so broken in my spirit for the sons of God, those who believe, those who have a race to run, and those who want to believe that there is something worth dying for, that is what stirred my heart first for Africa. I remember so clearly the last line of this movie, and it sticks in my spirit to this day. It is simply, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. This resonated in me so deeply that I knew I had to do something, however small it was, I could not simply stand by and watch as a nation disintegrated.
And so, my journey into the heart of Africa began. I returned to Africa in June of 2008 and remained there until August of 2008. This time my life was so wrecked for Jesus that I could not return to life as usual. The minute that my feet touched the pavement at the Pemba Airport, I knew that I was home. I had returned to my heart’s calling. It was deep calling unto deep.
I spent three weeks in Pemba and almost two weeks in Maputo. I went into the “bush bush” every weekend and I went on every outreach. I was so hungry to see the heart and love of Jesus that I would go anywhere and do anything to see His heart. I had to know what compelled Him to never leave us or forsake us. I had to know this kind of love. The Lord asked one question of me when I arrived in Pemba. “Will you love others as I have loved you?” I asked Him to show me how to love, how He loves. And He asked me if I would trust Him, even if it hurt. Would I be broken for the broken and wounded for the wounded? And so my journey home to the heart of Jesus began.
It seemed that in every village I visited there would be someone that would touch my heart so deeply that I felt the weight of compassion settle in it. I felt the weight of love pull and tug on my heart and I would pray from such a depth of love that I would literally weep as I prayed for some people. I would go beyond me and pray from the heart of Jesus and I was broken and poured out and overwhelmed with the strength and magnitude of it. The hardest testimony that I have ever had to tell is about the Bocaria baby.
Bocaria is a city dump in Maputo. People live and work in it and it is a miserable existence. As we walked through Bocaria praying for people, one of the other ladies in my group and myself, we just stopped what we were doing and looked out over the human condition and we became so overwhelmed with the seemingly hopelessness of it all that we began to silently weep. Then off in the distance we saw about 75 pure white birds take off and soar over that dump. It was as if the Holy Spirit Himself wanted to show us that these people will never be forsaken, that He is there with them and He loves them more than we could ever fathom and He waches over them.
As we were ready to leave, a bull dozer was trying to move a pile of trash and the people were waving their hands exitedly. I asked a young man who was with us, a Mozambiquan, if they were agitated because they hadn’t been able to pick through the pile yet. He looked at me like he didn’t want to answer and he said hesitantly, “There is a dead baby in there”. I said, “We have to do something!” and I went to the pile and started digging through it and my hands gently lifted a small newborn, probably two months premature, perfectly formed, umbilical cord still attached. He was still pliable in my hands but he was so cold. I could see the blood in his tiny toes and curled fingers and I had him cupped in my hands and I was so grief stricken that my heart felt like a vise grip was tightening around it and I was wrenched with sorrow for this little life found lying in the trash. And I felt so helpless, so helpless. I said, “God, what am I supposed to do with this?!”
We prayed for that small lifeless form and I wept from the depths of my very soul and I held him and finally the young Mozambiquan said we had to go because it was drawing a crowd and it could get dangerous. I couldn’t just put him back in the trash. The young man found a soft clean cloth and together we wrapped him in it and gently placed him back. He helped me up and I was in a daze. I was numb. As he led me out, he stopped and placed his hand upon my heart and prayed, “God, heal my sister’s heart. I thank You Father for her heart for my people.”
It was there in that place that I finally understood the wedding feast of the Lord. His bride was in that dump. He walked in the dirt and glass and waste of the dump and He became the feast for His bride. I have never known such love as I saw in Jesus that day. I was pierced so deeply by His love for humanity and I knew I had seen His heart. At that moment I wanted more than anything to be poor and naked and hungry for Him and sit in the dirt and love His people. I wanted to be in the dying place, where I die to myself and sit in the dirt, in the dump, where the only thing that mattered was this heart wrenching love poured out like an offering at the very feet of Love Himself, Jesus Christ.
In the months before I went back to Africa, a song by Casting Crowns resonated in me, playing over and over, unrelenting in its insistance. The words to Caught In The Middle rang in my heart:
“Just how close can I get Lord to my surrender
without losing all control?
We’re fearless warriors in a picket fence
Reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end
Are we caught in the middle?
With eyes wide open to the differences
The God we want and the God Who is
But will I trade my dreams for His
Or am I caught in the middle?”
I was asked quite a few times to give my testimony to different crowds in Africa. I thought I was giving them a message of hope, until I realized at the little church in the Bocaria dump that it was also God’s message to me. It always came back to God putting a dream in each and every one of us when He first formed us in our mother’s womb. Every message was about the dream inside. After I returned to the orphanage in Maputo that day from Bocaria, I got real with God. I had been so afraid of letting go of all my stuff and all my comfort and financial security back in America. I wasn’t sure I could live the life of a missionary even though my heart cried out for it. Here is my final journal entry on the eve of my departure for America once again.
July 30, 2008
My mind runs all over the last five weeks since I have been here and my heart races to catch up and it is torn this way and that, so deeply pierced it’s as if my very soul has holes in it and love is pouring through. Maybe for once I should really follow my heart. Maybe for once I should follow my dream and not my head and quit being so afraid of what I’m giving up. Maybe what I’m giving up can’t even compare to what I will gain.
Maybe I should quit thinking about all the “hows” and focus on the “Who”? I find peace and rest here in Africa. My soul does prosper here. All of my Jesus encounters are through Your people God. I look into all these faces and I keep saying to myself – these are the faces of Africa -and now I know that these are the faces of God.
I see You God in Aleeza (the girl delivered from demons). I see You in the old man at Bocaria (Jesus touched him deeply). I see You in the children of Africa, in all the little faces. I see You when I look in the mirror. I see the love and the hope that You have for each one of us, in all of humanity, no matter our human condition. No wonder Jesus intercedes on our behalf day and night. No wonder the Holy Spirit groans for us. How could He ever forget even one? I can’t. Jesus lives in the place of broken glass and broken dreams and hearts. There is no place that He walks where He does not feel it.
As I boarded the plane in Johannesburg, South Africa for the journey home to America, a man was in line in front of me and the only thing on the back of his t-shirt were the words, “LIVE YOUR DREAM”. The day after I returned home from Mozambique, as I was going for a run, God spoke to me and He said, “Carolyn, it is so easy to live in the dying place.”
And so family, Africa calls me. My dream calls me. God is calling me. On 6 July 2008 (6-7-8) a missionary in Africa from Scottland whom I didn’t know came up to me and said, “I have a word for you from the Lord. He asks, Are you ready and willing for your next assignment?” Isaiah 6:7-8 Here am I Lord. Send me! God is already bringing the provision. He is faithful to His Word. Oh, how I love Him!