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God’s grace in South Africa

By David Beakley
Director, Christ Seminary
Polokwane, South Africa

In March of 2009, the Lord impressed on Carol and me to take in a couple of Zimbabwe street kids who happened upon our doorstep. At around 5:00 on a Saturday evening they were walking down the street looking for work or any food that might be available to them.

Why this made an impact on us was two-fold. First, I had just preached “The Good Samaritan” the week before, and second, it was election time in Zimbabwe, and this meant much terror and death, especially in the rural areas (nearest us).

There are many orphaned street kids in Zimbabwe with no family anywhere. The result was an amazing circumstance in which, for the first time ever, we took street people into our home.

This was not handing out food, but was the beginning of a commitment and walking a road with no plan.

We had both boys for about one month. The oldest was named Bryan, and the younger boy told us his name was Brighton. Both were mostly silent. Fear reigned on both sides of the aisle.

After a very difficult first month (since only Brighton could speak English, and Bryan had never even been to school), Bryan decided to leave to go back on the street.

After much counsel, he still decided to go, so we packed him a bag, gave him a little money, and put him on a taxi.

Brighton was quiet, but wanted no part of Bryan’s plan.

Handsome in 2009.

Handsome in 2009

Up to this point, Brighton would not talk. Once Bryan left, however, our relationship changed. Brighton definitely wanted to stay with us. He wouldn’t talk much, but he eventually opened up. After a few days, he told us his name was not Brighton (this was his street name), but was actually Handsome. This was evidenced by a scar on his left arm. Engraved on his arm were the crude letters, “hand”. Evidently he ran out of room as the “d” landed somewhere on his wrist.

Struggling for conversation, I began to ask Handsome about his past. I asked, “Have you ever been to church before coming here?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever been to a Baptist Church before?”

“Yes.”

Obviously, Handsome was a young man of few words with deep meaning. Struggling to get things going, I pressed further. “Did someone take you to church?”

“Yes.”

“Who took you to church?

“God knows.”

After that there wasn’t much else to say.

When I spoke with Handsome over time, I asked again about his past in Zimbabwe. “Did you stay with people?”

“Yes.”

“Who did you stay with?”

“God knows.”

I thought the door to the past was shut. As we got to know each other, and trust was slowly building, I began to better understand Handsome’s past in growing up in Africa as an orphan. The story is too long to tell here, but Handsome was truly abandoned. Yet, somehow “God knew” a way to take care of him.

A few weeks ago after our return from the U.S., we had a strange visit from someone (this does happen quite a bit in Africa!). Another missionary named Jenny Kohlrus, who had associations in Zimbabwe was coming for lunch, and she said she was bringing a guest. I proceed to go outside and greet our visitors. I greeted Jenny, and then walked around the car to greet the man exiting the vehicle. “Nice to meet you, and welcome to my home. I am David.”

Handsome and our visitor

Handsome and our visitor

The man looked at me, smiled, and then said, “Nice to meet you as well. My name is Godknows.”

The man of few words, Handsome, was actually telling us his experience!

Godknows is a godly man who has been working with his wife running a street kids ministry in Zimbabwe, and was presently making his way from Johannesburg to retrieve audio-Bibles for kids in Mozambique who would rarely stay in school past the 3rd grade. Many people are illiterate in that war-torn country.

Godknows is a man who was touched by the kids in his country since the early 1990’s. He has expanded his ministry to include evangelism and teaching to go along with his ministry of compassion. His goal was to show the love of Jesus Christ where there had been none. He and Handsome had a great reunion, and they spoke much of how Handsome had grown in the past seven to eight years since Godknows knew him.

The point of this story is that you never know what kind of an impact you will have on someone when you display the love of Christ. It might not be immediate. It might not be visible. It might even seem pointless and even painful. You never know what kind of impact you will make with people as you go through life. In Luke 16, Jesus tells a parable that stresses the point that we should desire to use earthly resources to invest in spiritual relationships. Any spiritual relationship is forever, and will never expire or wear out.

When you “take a risk” with someone knowing there will probably be no immediate earthly return, you never know the eternal value of the decision.

Only “God knows.” ◄

 

Originally published in the October 2013 TMAI Worldview.