Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. Phil 1:27
July has been very busy for the Clarks, yet filled with such blessing as we have met many new friends who have given time, resources and even their lives for the sake of others and the gospel.
Swaziland Our family had the opportunity to travel 5 hours east to the tiny African country of Swaziland, which is almost completely surrounded by South Africa except for Mozambique to the east. As one of Africa’s smallest nations (roughly the size of the state of New Jersey), Swazi is ruled by decree of the king and is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchs. It is a developing country with a very small economy and many Swazis live in chronic poverty with 2/3 of the population living on less than a dollar a day. This small nation has been devastated by HIV/Aids and has the highest rate of infection in the world as well as one of the lowest life expectancies (50 years old).
My dear sister and her husband (Jocelyn and Mark) lead a team of 15 (Hope for Swazi) from their church, Hope Chapel. The team’s purpose was to bring the encouragement and the hope that can only be found in our Lord Jesus Christ to the lost and hurting of this tiny African nation. We had the privilege of joining the team for a few days and were blessed by the heroes we met who have given their lives to obey Christ’s call to care for the least of these and advance His kingdom.
Mary-Kate Martin is the founder and director of Hosea’s Heart, whose mission is to “empower the girls of Swaziland to achieve freedom from sexual abuse and hope for a better future by serving their physical, emotional and spiritual needs through a holistic, restorative process.” Mary-Kate first came to Swazi in 2008 on a short-term mission trip through Adventures in Mission. She has been back every year since and has finally given her life to serve the young hurting girls of Swazi and moved there indefinitely. She has opened a home, a place of refuge and safety for these girls and we had the privilege of visiting with Mary-Kate and her beloved girls!
Mary-Kate has written a book that she prays will one day be published. The book focuses on Mary-Kate’s relentless love and pursuit for Tenele, a precious young lady who was lost in a lifestyle of deep darkness filled with abuse, neglect, rape and prostitution. As Mary-Kate met many girls like Tenele, she became determined (although discouraged by many) to claim this neglected harvest for the Lord. Mary-Kate met Tenele on her first visit to Swazi in 2008, and because of Mary-Kate’s fierce love and determination, Tenele and her two beautiful children currently live in Hope for Life, the home that was opened in 2013 for sexually abused young girls.
I had the wonderful privilege of spending time with Tenele who was a bit shy with a rough exterior. But after breaking through it, I found a loving and lovable soul who desires a better life for her and her children. She asked that I would pray for her and her children. She dreams of finishing school and one day helping others because as she said to me “God has spared my life”. She also asked that I would pray that she would, “follow Jesus always”. Please read more and pray for Mary-Kate, Tenele and all the young ladies at Mary-Kate’s blog: Not Forgotten.
Father to the Fatherless…is God is His holy dwelling. Ps. 68:5
We also spent a day with Mama Peggy who, since 2006, has been opening her heart and home to the many orphans of Swazi. To find Peggy’s home we had to make our way slowly along dusty rugged roads to a very rural part of Swazi. The home had no electricity, and the water they used was what they could fetch with buckets from a muddy creek nearby. Eighteen children ages 1 to 21 live in the home that was quite worn out and in much disrepair. From all outward appearances, Peggy and her children have virtually nothing, but Peggy’s faith in the Living God and His provision for her and her children was so steadfast and real, that indeed, they have everything. Her desire is to build a proper orphanage on this land, but still needs to give the “chief” of the land a cow. Once this transaction is completed, she told me she will then be able to have rights to the land that will allow her to begin building. She will call the orphanage “Setifeziwe” Orphanage and Charity Foundation which means “God’s promises are fulfilled”, because, as she told me, “It was His promise that I will have an orphanage”. Musa Ndzinisa is a faithful servant-hearted Swazi who loves the Lord Jesus and his country. His dream is to start a non-profit, “Zero to Hero” where people (especially men) are empowered through education and the hope found in Christ to raise awareness and positively impact the serious issues facing his country. He lead the team, driving daily to expose them to various ministries.
Our family also had the privilege of getting to know the MacLellan family who are missionaries in Swazi. They are originally from Mississippi and moved to Swazi at the beginning of this year so that Jim MacLellan may teach at Zion Bible College which trains Swazi pastors and church leaders who are often strong in African worship, but weak in Biblical knowledge. This very dear and hospitable family graciously allowed us to stay in their guest flat while in Swazi. They have eight children, three of whom became fast friends with ours!
After a week in Swaziland, the Hope for Swazi team travelled to Pretoria for the last leg of their trip to spend time with babies at the Muphamuzi Baby Home and with our Living Hope Church family! We loved being with this team. It was obvious their hearts broke over the things that break His. Their passion and love overflowed.
Austin Family Visit Also this month, we had a precious visit from dear friends. The Austin family stopped in a few days early on their way to a short-term mission trip also in Swaziland. We loved spending time with them as they joined in our lives. The fellowship together was short, but very sweet!
Reflecting on this past month, I am struck once again by the beauty of the Body of Christ. The cherished bonds that are instantly formed when you meet a fellow believer who, just a second ago, was a complete stranger, but is now a dear family member. What a gift it is (as the verse at the top of this post says) to, with one spirit and one mind, “strive side by side for the faith of the gospel”.