The story continues…
“One thing about these guys Carol, is that they are not pretenders.” Mike Manota looked at me earnestly, “They showed their true character for what it was, and no one was trying to be anything they weren’t.” He smiled, shaking his head, “Honestly, all we as trainers could say was ‘God help us’. Once we knew He had ordained for them to be here, there was nothing else to do but love and serve them.”
Last week, when the team prayed together and unanimously felt God saying He had definitely sent this group, it just so happened to be the day for “Brian’s Time”. This is a session in which Brian Oldreive (Founder of Foundations for Farming) talks with the group on a personal level. Brian always shares his own story, one that describes a proud and successful farmer who lost everything, was left with absolutely nothing – and then restored by God for His plan and purpose. They listened quietly. Before them stood a man whose transparent humility, gentle heart and sincere love for the poor was abundantly evident for all to see. They were deeply moved, and from that session onward, things began to change.
Over the next few days they slowly started to open up. As people shared their stories, the team saw the wounds, the concealed pain, and the deep need for Jesus. The question that had arisen last week, “Are this group truly the poorest of the poor?” was answered. Yes. Oh indeed yes! Both in those who are so raw from being evicted, ripped out of their old, familiar way of life; and in the youth – who hide their brokenness beneath a strong show of machismo.
“We are the ones who learned Carol,” Mike continued, “They have taught us so much. And pushed us to seek God more than ever on how to serve.” As the afternoon sun shone on Mike’s face, I was touched by the deep sincerity behind his eyes. “So often we expect people to be a certain way, to learn a certain way, but in reality it is God who works … in His time.”
So, this little ‘surprise package’ from God, who came to us from the highways and byways of Hatcliff, and who were as unsure of us as we were of them, have – like the other groups – proven to be pricelessly precious. Many of their tightly shut hearts have been unlocked, and God has entered the secret place, just as He had planned.
Early morning prayers have continued. Not always with 100% attendance, but as Mike says, God works in His time. Yes there are those who have not attended, but then there are those who are not only rising at 5.00am on these cold winter mornings, but 4.00am to pray! This morning, ten of the youth did not turn up for breakfast, and Mike was worried. When he asked if all was okay, they apologized, “Sorry Mr. Manota, we should have told you that we were fasting.” They have eaten nothing all day. These youths, for whom mealtimes have been a priority! And who will definitely not eat anything like they have done at Clouds End once they return home. Yet they have chosen to fast.
A great sense of unity has developed too. One man asked permission to be away today as he had to attend court. Before he left, the whole group voluntarily gathered around him, and prayed. Another woman received news of the death of a family member, and once again, the group gathered around her to pray, and have been amazingly supportive.
Of course there was the usual trip to Domboshowa, visiting the two famous Gogos (grandmothers)! Gogo Chirodza and Gogo Chaonza are both model farmers and have been practicing FfF methods for many years. People from all over the world who have attended our trainings, or Champs Conferences, have visited the Gogos – and all have fallen in love with them. Whilst walking around their little farms, and seeing what they have accomplished, the group were inspired and filled with hope. They also visited some youth – the same ages as those from Hatcliff – who are doing market gardening, and supplying the entire area with produce. May the memory of that trip remain etched on their hearts, to motivate and encourage them on their own journeys ahead.
Chatting to a cross section today, I had to smile at the exuberance of youth, and praise God for their energy. May He lead and guide them into His plan and purpose for their lives. I saw a look of anticipation the faces of the men who had arrived angry and jobless. And a new peacefulness about the single mothers. But what came across overall was joy, and a very real sense of hope.
Once more, we are humbled by the incredible God we serve. A God so filled with love and compassion, Who has given us the honor and the privilege of serving Him in this way. Our God, Who is teaching us the treasure of loving the poor…
To Him be all the glory!
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