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Helping the Helpless

This is the month of fasting in this part of the world, as I'm sure you know. A friend recently shared these verses in her prayer letter:

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter --

When you see the naked, to clothe him....

And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58: 6, 7, and 10.

Wow. Those are pretty heavy verses and I'm not sure I know exactly what they mean. I definitely want to spend some time studying them.

But, one thing for sure, we are surrounded by the hungry, the dis-advantaged, and those society looks down upon. We are constantly surrounded by the poorest of the poor and we find it physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting. We often want to just ignore the problems because anything we do seems so little compared to the real need.

A lady came in with this baby one day....not to ask for anything, but just because she was with a friend who had come to greet me. Just looking at the poor child broke my heart. They called her "The dried up one". She is obviously severely malnourished. I asked if the mother doesn't breast feed her and they said something about her breasts were dried up. (The lady holding the baby I think might have been the grandmother.) I think the mother has been sick as well as the baby. I explained to her that she should mash up rice and beans for the baby (she is 10 months old) and feed it mashed up vegetables and peanut butter. One can only hope that she will survive. What could I do? What would you do if you were in my place?

My houselady's son was sick. He gave him a dose of chloroquine for malaria which is prevalent at this time of year. He took the entire course and was still sick. Here he is sleeping on our porch with a raging fever....right in front of the door so we could hardly get in or out of the house. One day she came in and said his feet and legs were itching so bad he had hardly slept all night and he had blood in the urine. So we gave her money to take him to the doctor and then we gave her more money to do the lab work on the urine and then we gave her more money to buy the medicine. It turns out he has bilharzia, a potentially serious disease spread by a snail that thrives in dirty water. What could I do? What would you do if you were in my place?

OK, this one might be a little more complicated? There is a neighbor who has a mental illness. He is related to my houselady somehow...her husband's brother, nephew, or uncle....not sure which. One time years ago before we were careful about locking our house because we live in such a safe area, he came in our house at 4 in the morning and was going on and on about how he wanted to study the Bible with John. At that point we didn't have a clue who he was. We eventually got him out of the house and then the next day we found out that he is mentally ill (we don't know what the problem is). He's been around for a long time, kind of wandering around, sort of living at my houselady's house. Apparently over the summer he became quite violent and troublesome. They tied his wrists together with wire and dragged him off to the hospital, much against his will. There they gave him medicine to help him. Now he comes in our yard all the time to sleep. He just lays down anywhere. Here he is laying on top of his flip-flops and the garden hose, rolling around in the sand. One day he was sleeping in the chair and he leaned too far to the side and fell out on to the ground. He is so drugged out that he just sleeps constantly. The neighbor kids are all scared of him and won't come in the yard if he is there. And they're part of our what do we do? Let him sleep there where it is quiet and no body bothers him? Kick him out since he inconveniences us? What would you do if you were us?

Lots of opportunities, yes! Easy? No! Pray that we can fulfill Isaiah 58 in the way that God wants us to do. Pray for wisdom. Just giving things out isn't always the best thing.


Anonymous said…
I don't know what I'd do... difficult decisions, for sure, and so heartrending to live amongst such deprivation, starvation and sickness. We pray for rain, and are encouraged that this year's harvest will be a better one. Your "Little Motor Mouth" looks quite sick, not the perky, smiley Suzanne we usually see. I'm sorry! I had read your e-mail earlier this morning; it's good you're with her. --Jane
Shan said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shan said…
Nancy - I have been catching up on all your posts...I and my team met your husband John in the Morocco Airport on our way to Niamey. Maybe he mentioned that we met? He told us about your work there and all that you had been doing for the past 20+ years!! I was so encouraged!

I am also encouraged by your blog...I've been checking it since you blogged about your safe arrival in Niger. I'm eager to learn more about what God is doing in the nation. We are pioneers in the world of Missions (none of us having long-term experience)...

My teammates and I are planning to move to Niger in 2008 and minister there after our 10 month French language learning in Paris. We'll be initially working with Kwame Yeboah Mantey in Niamey (Susan is Suzanne's schoolmate)and our hope is to plant sustainable and reproducible indigenous churches across West Africa.

Thanks for your words of encouragement and faithfulness. I'm praying for you today!
Dusty Penguin said…
So many terribly difficult situations. I was very moved, and sadly have no answers, other than to continue to pray for your daily strength and wisdom. Do a google search for Malayaka House in Uganda. You will be moved.
Hannatu said…
Did you know that maleyka (or variations thereof) means angel in Arabic. The songhai have the word in their language and they pronounce/spell it "maleyka". Most of their religious words have been borrowed from Arabic.
Dusty Penguin said…
Yes, that is why they picked the name, because it means angel. The word for angel in Wolof is also similar. It must have come into all these languages from Arabic.
journeyer said…
In response to your questions – I was further prompted to write my own post. I hope you don't mind :)
You can read it on my blog.

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