Saturday, February 25, 2012


Recently, my Swaziland missionary friend Jenifer Peterson, shared this on her blog:

P1180866 Rain and Mist Resized


Our family was visiting one of the widows in our community this past week. We go monthly to bring food and supplies for the homestead, and spend some time praying. As we sat in front of her home she shared her heart with us. How thankful she is that the Lord arranged events in such a way that a family from America came to Swaziland and eventually came upon this woman and the grandchildren she cares for. How the Holy Spirit pricked our hearts and compelled us to provide food and basic medical care for her and even had the distinct privilege of coordinating efforts to provide a new house for them to live in to replace a mud and stick hut that was literally falling down around them. She gave praise to God that this new house now stands firm on her homestead and served to protect her during a recent torrential downpour of rains and wind. She mentions how her neighbors often ask her: "How is it that the white people come to your house and always bring you gifts?" to which she humbly and correctly responds: "I prayed to God and He is answering my prayers." In fact, while we are sitting in the late afternoon African sun one of her neighbors wanders over with a huge grin on her distinctly lined face, hands placed together up in front of her chest as she is approaching us saying: "Siyabonga Jesus, Siyabonga Babe, Siyabonga!" (Thank you Jesus, Thank you Father, Thank you) She continues on in SiSwati and our ministry partner translates her message. "She is so thankful that you come and care for her neighbor, she is so grateful for that!" She is also a widow, left behind to care for several young grandchildren and great grand children. These women look out for each other. They share in one another's joys and sufferings. They encourage each other. Beautiful. The Church at it's most basic and organic level.

Before we leave we ask if we can pray for anything specific. Her face becomes very serious and she begins to speak and request prayer. "A demon torments me in the night..."

She proceeds to tell us that for the past several nights she has been gripped with fear and terror in the middle of the night. She has not been able to sleep. She believes an evil spirit is coming to her after dark to attack her. She knows prayer is the only way to stop it.

My heart breaks for this precious, vulnerable woman who has endured so much loss and hardship in her life. She has buried children, nursed HIV infected grandchildren, gone to bed hungry and listened to the cries of her granddaughter's as they try to ignore the empty gnawing hunger in their bellies, walked over rocky and uneven terrain to find a place in the bush to relieve herself...Through it all, she has never lost her faith. She continues to cry out to Jehovah God to sustain her. As a reward for that faithfulness He has in fact provided for her in amazing and unbelievable ways!

I have pondered this often in the days since we've visited with her and each time my anger grows a bit more. Seriously, pathetic enemy of our souls, the best you can do is harass an old lady in her bed after dark? Really? Each time it is brought to mind, I am sure to pray for this woman; asking God to bring her HIS peace and serenity. When I've woken up in the night, this woman heavy on my heart, I pray. I know that HE is greater than the one that is in the world. It just is another reminder that we are not only battling against the physical realm, even though that is so often what we are faced with on a day to day basis. Not enough food, not enough water, inadequate medical care, broken families, no money for school fees, houses literally falling down around grandmas and their kids...the list goes on and on. And over the past year we have been amazed and humbled to watch and be a small part of seeing God address and provide for each of these physical areas! With seven intense words, this Gogo serves to remind me that the real battle is in the spiritual realm.

"A demon torments me in the night..."

Ephesians 6:12 says this: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." We do not have to fear this fact but we do have to understand it. It is very easy to get caught up in the physical needs of those around us because it is something we can wrap our minds around put our hands to. Often, we can do something to meet at least part of that physical need. And I'm not suggesting that we stop doing that. It is when we grow complacent in our efforts and satisfied with the fact that we have done something because what I am learning more and more is that even our best efforts are nothing apart from the touch of the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing apart from God's power; at least nothing that is of any true importance. I must daily, sometimes several times daily, lift my hands and ask God to fill them with what is eternally significant. Then and only then will I have something to deliver. In fact, it has been the times when I have nothing left to give and the Lord pours out His mercy in full that I have experienced peace in knowing that together with Him we are doing something. I have to do my part, but I must guard from believing my part is enough or even the most important thing. Of course my family will continue to do our best to connect the needs of the people we serve to the generous outpouring of provision that God allows to flow through us and others. However, at the end of the day, the most important and valuable thing I can give is time on my knees praying protection and peace over them; claiming the promises from Scripture that nothing, no thing will ever separate them from the love of God. ...neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation...(Romans 8:38)

Just another lesson learned in the dirt, under the late afternoon African sun...

P1160676 Cropped Dirt

To read more about the Peterson's life in Swaziland, visit their blog:

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