I had another of those life-changing wake-up moments yesterday during my visiting in CNP. My ladies had been telling me about a woman called Mary (name changed to protect identity) who has recently been very sick with AIDS. They very much wanted me to visit and pray with her and see what the little home based care team can start to offer her. I was thrilled about this as I have wanted to meet her for some time. I was greeted outside the house by a stick thin woman carrying a big basket of washing and a huge smile on her face. I couldn't believe this was Mary, I was expecting a very sick person lying in bed, probably in a very smelly house. How wrong could I be. Mary is amazing! She has been very sick but is coming through the latest dose of illness. She had been to the clinic that morning and got more ARV's and Vitamin C. We sat and chatted about the importance of a good diet, which she fully understands. The problem is that she needs to eat before taking the pills or they make her very sick, and at the moment, there is no family income as neither she nor her partner work. The house was spotless and as I looked around I could see that bar the simple furniture, there was nothing else inside. I asked her if she knew Jesus and she said that she had attended a church 3 years ago and that she has a Bible. She really wants me to come and read it to her. She then wanted to show me her ID book. She said "Look at the woman in that picture". There was a beautiful young woman, clearly Mary 15 years ago. How AIDS can ravage a person! I then glanced at her date of birth only to see that she is a week older than me. Wow, that was a wake up call! I asked if she had any children and the tears suddenly started to flow. Her daughter (19) has taken her son (13) to live just a few miles away and she hardly ever sees them. Her pain was enormous and my heart went out to this woman who is such a fighter and who clearly loves her family more than anything. She begged me to pray and held my hands so tightly saying, "I need Jesus more than ever now".
I write this, because this is reality for so many people in South Africa and in CNP. Mary is one of the few who is open about her status and this really helps. My prayer is for her to become a Christian (if she isn't already) and preferably to be healed - what a witness that would be in the community! Sometimes we find it isn't enough just to visit and I felt compelled to go and buy some fresh fruit and veg and several bags of basic groceries for her. When I went back a couple of hours later the tears flowed again. I don't think anyone has ever told her that she is special and God really wants to bless her in this way as well as every other. What a difference it would make if people just said simple things like that and prayed with people in great need. This is what the home based care team are there to do and I pray that God will use them immensely. Please pray for my new friend and my ongoing relationship with her and her partner.