I'm having such a hard time deciding which story to share from my recent trip to Africa because so many amazing things happened. I suppose I will stick with our second day in Swaziland ... for now!
We had the privilege of visiting a hospital with my friend, Kay, and a small group of Swazi ladies. We started our visit with a stop at the nurses station in the tuberculosis (TB) wing. A friend of mine sent TB masks with us and these nurses were thrilled with the gift. They are often coughed on with no protection by patients who have full-blown tuberculosis.
One nurse was especially glad to take us around the hospital after that. While we were visiting the children's wing, she took us to a room with five rickety beds that each held a small child. She explained that these children were recovered enough to go home, but they could not be discharged because their families were unable to pay the hospital bill.
I found that horrifying. I gestured to the little girl on the bed nearest to us, and asked why she was there. She had come in due to malnutrition five days earlier. She was sound asleep and her very young, very worried mother sat nearby watching us.
"What would her bill even be?" I asked innocently, sort of wondering out loud. As the nurse informed me that she'd be happy to check and scurried off, I turned to my friend with eyes probably as big as saucers and asked, "Did I just offer to pay her bill?" Gulp.
As I silently prayed and recalled that I only had the equivalent of about $60 (U.S. money) with me, the nurse slid in and handed me the bill. It was 430 Rand. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry, because that's the equivalent of about $70 in U.S. currency.
Of course, I'd pay the bill (thanks to my friend kicking in the difference). I was ushered into the main office where the paperwork was filled out and the bill was paid.
Afterwards, I stepped out into the hallway and the young mother of the little girl was standing there. We hugged each other and cried. And then she said something in siSwati that one of the ladies had to translate for me: "Now I know there really is a God and I need to put my trust in Him." Oh, what a glorious moment as she prayed and joined the family of God right then and there.
After I was able to process this later, it occurred to me what a beautiful symbol this whole incident was of Jesus' love. This young mother, literally imprisoned by hospital walls, had no way to pay her debt, and yet it was completely wiped out. Stamped "Paid In Full" as a matter of fact.
Isn't that exactly what Jesus has done for us? He cancels the debt of our sin because He paid it in full for us on the cross. If only we are willing to accept that.
It was an incredible privilege to be used by God to literally be His hands and feet on that day. That wasn't really "my" money anyway. For whatever reason, God chooses to use imperfect humans who are available and willing. "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go!" (Luke 10:2-3a).
• Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.