ROCKING THE CRADLE
By Corinne Smelker
"Honey. Can I ask you for something?"
"Sure, as long as itís not money!"
"Silly! But seriously, I have been praying and I believe God wants me to go to an orphanage and help, to bring in food, blankets and aid. Do you think this is something our church can get behind?"
So began a conversation that had international ramifications. Her husband, Pastor Ted, gave his blessing, on one condition Ė that she find the worst orphanage in Johannesburg, South Africa, to assist.
Barb put out feelers and it wasnít long before one name repeatedly cropped up Ė Sunshine Childrenís Home. Rumor had it that it had been a long time since the sun had shone its face on that home.
Barbís secretary, Janice, reported, "Conditions are so bad no one will work there. The bathrooms are broken, the kids go outside for their ablutions, they have no food, no beds, no bedding, nothing."
"Right, thatís the place then."
Barb was galvanized into action. Soon, a group of some ten people took to their cars to drive to the run down building. They followed their noses for the last half-mile.
"You werenít kidding!" Barbís eyes grew big and watered from the stench. Children, wearing little more than rags, traipsed around, scouring the rubbish tip for a scrap of bread. Several others stooped over a bucket of stagnant rain water, quenching their thirst.
"Sweet Jesus, help us," Barb prayed as she led her team into the building, jostled on all sides by little ones pulling on them, begging for food. She peered into the bleak, depressing shadows, and brushed away a couple of bluebottles, "Is there anyone in charge here?"
"Maíam. Iím a volunteer."
From the corner of the main hallway, a striking, dark complexioned man stepped forward. "My name is Justin."
"Are you in charge?"
"No. Iím a student at Wits, studying International Law and Business. But I heard about this place and needed to come."
"How long have you been here? Are you by yourself?" Barb looked around at the squalor in amazement. These kids were living worse than the street dogs!
"A couple of months now. The state abandoned this place, Iíve been feeding these kids using my own money, but Iím running out."
"How many kids are there?"
"About one hundred."
"Ok, hereís the planÖ"
Barb and Justin went to the local grocery store and bought them out of bread, soup, meat and milk. In the meantime, another team bought pallets and blankets. Janice put a call into the church office, and in a jiffy a third team was created to deal with the cleanup of the place, including dealing with the plumbing.
But that was not enough for our intrepid Barb! In post-apartheid South Africa, a white woman walking with a black man was still frowned on. Even so, she didnít let that concern her one whit. She left her team at the orphanage frantically working to get it cleaned, and took Justin back to her home to introduce him to Ted. Pulling into her driveway, she looked over at Justin, "I donít know whether you know Jesus or not, but you will! And I know that my husband and I will be your spiritual parents."
Justin was silent, wondering what heíd got himself into. She walked him through her front door, and called out for Ted.
Ted emerged from his study, all 6í2" of him and saw this handsome African man standing next to his wife.
"Welcome! Iíll be right back. Make yourself at home." He gestured to their sumptuous living room. Justin sat, while he and Barb animatedly discussed the future of the orphanage.
"Justin. These are for you." They hadnít heard Ted return, but looking over their shoulders saw Ted with arms filled to overflowing with gorgeous suits and dress shirts. "Youíre a student right? But youíre going to be an influential man one day, right? And youíll need to dress the part."
Justinís eyes were filled with confusion, "Have we met before? How do you know me?"
"God told me," Ted replied matter-of-factly, as though hearing from God was an everyday, ordinary occurrence.
"Also, He told me that Barb and I are to be become your spiritual parents."
Justin stood, poised to run, "Wait a minute! Your wife just said the same thing! Who is this Jesus? Who are you, are you a witch doctors?"
"Calm down Justin. Weíre nothing of the sort. We are two people who love God, and love people. Let me tell you about HimÖ"
Justin was not an easy sell. Heíd had extensive experience with witch doctors, and ancestor worship. Giving up the traditions of his people was hard. It turned out that there was more to Justin than met the eye. But Ted and Barb just loved him, and for six months he worked alongside Barb and her team, fixing up the orphanage, which the church took under its wing and completely funded. He came to church and listened to Pastor Ted teach, he went to their home, spent time with their two lovely daughters, and he asked a million questions.
"Got a minute?" Justinís well-built frame filled the doorway.
"For you, always." Tedís blue eyes sparkled with love at the sight of this man that he truly considered his son.
Justin sat at the edge of the chair heíd sat in many times before. He cupped his round face in long, delicate fingers. "Ok, I have a couple of things I need to tell you. The first thing is I have given my life to Jesus. I could do nothing else! You guys are amazing, and you live a life that I can only hope to emulate."
Ted leant forward and clasped Justinís hands. "I knew it was only a matter of time. God has a great future for you, one that is unique. He has called you for a life greater than you can imagine."
"Well, thatís the second thing I want to talk to you about." With one fluid moment, Justin stood and began pacing the warm, welcoming room. "There is something about me you donít know. You know I was born in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa, if not the world. You know my family sent me to Witswaterand University to study, but you donít know who I really am. In Malawi there are two powerful families in charge of the two main tribes. These tribes have worked out a Ďdemocracyí. One family rules until their leader dies, and then the other tribe takes over."
Ted listened intently, praying quietly as he heard the facts unfolding before him. Justin continued, "Things are slowly changing, and we are becoming a country where people really do vote, but in the meantime, I am the future President of Malawi. I will be in charge of this nation; and I have the opportunity to make a difference! I have to assume leadership in a few years. Help me, please. Our country has been under the rule of ancestor worship for hundreds of years. There are no churches, no missionaries, the gospel has not been preached. I will change all of that! But I need help!"
That conversation took place ten years ago and in December 2004, this young man will step into his destiny. He has become a pastor and also, under the invitation of the United States Government, has spent seven years studying at the finest universities, learning how to rule a democracy.
Justin lives in San Antonio right now, spending most days in Austin with the governor of Texas, and the rest of the time he is with his spiritual Mom and Dad, who now live here. He is ready to change the Country of Malawi and he has the spiritual backing of not only the church back in South Africa, but the one in San Antonio. He has already brought missionaries into his Country and when he takes the reins in December 2004, Malawi will be a changed nation!
God told Barb to help an orphanage. She little thought the scope of that project would change not only the lives of those one hundred children, but change the course of a country! From one prayer breathed out and acted on, Barb did more than rock the cradle of an orphanage, she is the catalyst for a nation to be rocked for Christ!
* Names have been changed.
Corinne Smelker is the mom to five kids and wife of one husband. She is a self-employed writer and also the administrator for Prophetic Life Ministry, a Christian Ministry located in San Antonio. Cori also writes and posts daily devotionals to that site.
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