Eswatini continues to fascinate us with its extremes – extreme poverty, extreme gratitude; extreme sickness, extreme endurance; extreme hunger, extreme joy; extreme terrains, extreme adaptability. We have traveled farther and farther from Manzini, over dirt roads, mountain roads, muddy roads, narrow roads, riverbeds… all safely in God’s tender care. Each car has clocked 8,000 km (5,000 miles). One night driving home on a ridge, Kalvin said calmly: “This feels like the edge of the world.”
Monday we held a bush clinic for hundreds of Emaswati who were displaced from their homes three months ago, when they land where they had lived for years was sold and the new owners told them to leave. It was our first clinic completely outside. We showed The Passion and prescribed eyeglasses under a large tarp and tin lean-to. Harry and Echo saw patients outside, not under a tree because none were near. Medication was dispensed from our larger trailer. But, oh, we saw God work again. One hundred five accepted Christ! After writing down names and churches, if they had any, we discovered 56 of the converts were Zionists. You should have seen the smiles on their faces and their delighted reactions when we gave them Bibles!
We treat hundreds of patients at each clinic. Last Friday 50 were saved, 43 of them Zionists. Last Thursday at a chief’s residence 81 accepted Jesus. These precious souls need to be discipled after we leave. Please pray we can set this plan in motion. Echo said at Monday’s clinic: “So many here are HIV positive.” AIDS is ravaging this country. Probably 60% to 70% of those we treat are infected. Young parents die, then their children. A baby born with the HIV virus in these conditions will unlikely live past his 5th or 6th birthday.
Pastor Joseph said the country’s only hope is for children to be saved, to learn what Scripture says and to desire to live accordingly. The fields are ripe unto harvest, we’re finding. The children sing songs about Jesus in school and pray. However, very few have Bibles (the 1st SiSwati Bible was printed in 1996), and few have been asked if they’d like to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Echo asked one man with AIDS who was close to death: “Have you ever received Christ as your Savior?”
His answer: “How can I be born again?”
Don’t we all long for people to ask us this!
The man prayed with Echo and her translator Sipho. He is a new man in Christ “though is outward man perisheth…” He stayed around the clinic all day rejoicing in his deliverance. Harry treated a 47-year-old lady who had a stroke 3 years ago. She had high blood pressure. Harry also noticed over 100 slash marks on her hand, arm, and chest affected by the stroke. Witch doctors cut people wherever they’re having physical problems. This obviously exacerbates the HIV risk. Harry and Echo routinely see scars on the chests of those who suffer with asthma and other chronic conditions.
A cheerful but sick woman told Echo that all three of her sons recently died of AIDS. She cared for them all. Since she did not know to wear gloves, she herself became infected, though her husband is still HIV negative.
On our next trip, we will launch a basic AIDS education program designed for bush practicality.
Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your encouragement. To God be the glory!
Love in Jesus,
Jan Tuinstra for the TLC team