Often when we participate in ongoing ministries, we wonder if our labor is in vain. We witnessed on this trip that when it comes to this ministry, our labor is indeed NOT in vain.
For the first five years of the ministry, we watched a young man named Phinda push a wheelchair to the care point. In that chair was a teenage boy named Thando. Phinda would stand by Thando all day long while all of his friends played soccer. He would never leave his side. At the end of every day, they would both make the long trek home. I asked the staff if Phinda was Thando’s brother and to my surprise, he was only his friend. I was amazed that a young teenager would give his time every day to stand by a disabled boy who wasn’t even his family. For those of us who witnessed this day after day, we knew this was a very special young man.
Several years later, Thando moved to a special needs school and we didn’t see Phinda again – until now.
Every two years, we welcome new shepherds who begin their ministry of serving at the care point. Shepherds are local Swazis who have been identified as spiritual leaders in their community.
When we were given the names of our two care point shepherds this year, one name stood out: Phinda. Could this be the same Phinda, who unselfishly pushed his friend and stood faithfully by him every day?
When we arrived at Timbutini, I recognized him immediately. Phinda has now been raised up to shepherd the care point that he had attended for all of those years. How amazing it is to witness one of our care point kids taking up our vision to improve the lives of children and communities here in eSwatini (Swaziland).
Spending time with Phinda was such an inspiration to us all. Each day, he wakes up at 2:30am to study the word until 4am. He then prays from 4am-6am to prepare for the day and begins the more than 2-mile walk to the care point. After pouring into others throughout the day, at the care point, hospitals and homes, Phinda returns to his homestead to take care of loved ones and spend time again in word and prayer.
Home visits are such a precious component of our mission trips, where we have an opportunity to provide a particularly needy homestead with food and other necessities; including prayer. Phinda lead several of these visits this trip and our team members that joined him had amazing experiences to share. He ministered to our team while walking to each home, and prayed powerful prayers over the family. Several team members commented that they had gone to church when Phinda prayed.
On Thursday, we were all so blessed to visit Phinda’s homestead to enjoy dinner with him, his family, friends and neighbors. It was dark when we arrived and we marveled as the heavens declared the glory of God through the brilliant, starry sky. After every one shared a little something about themselves with beautiful translations, we broke bread and felt like we were living out Acts 2:46-47.