Friday, June 27, 2008


The Mozambique Outreach Team leaves in the early hours of Saturday morning (04h00 - 28 June 2008) to visit , support and minister with Eugene and Dawn Reynecke at Espungabera and surrounding areas.

They have been cautioned to look out for potholes in the roads they will be travelling on through Mozambique!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Life Sucked - by Ishmael

The Old Testament reading for this week from the Lectionary was Genesis 21:8-21 - the story of Hagar and Ishmael being sent out into the wilderness by Abraham at the prompting of his wife Sarah's jealousy. This is an account that I wrote from Ishmael's perspective.

"Life sucks. Sometimes there is no other way to describe it – no polite words to use. Life sucks.
Or maybe its not life in general coz there seem to be plenty of people out there whose life seems honky dorey – like my Dad, and his first wife, and their son – my half-brother. Life seems OK for them – but not for me. My life sucks. At least it did – once.
You see, there was this party – this huge celebration. Not for me though, even though I was 17 and had never had a splash in my honour. No. It was for this kid half-brother of mine. Turning 3 he was – and no longer sucking milk but getting into meat big-time; out of nappies; walking all over the place; learning to talk; asking questions; wanting the same story told over and over again every day – very tiresome. He has all his teeth. And so there was this bash for him – not a baby any more, but a child.
And yes, I was jealous – hugely jealous. Because my Mom was the 2nd wife; and even though I was the eldest son by a long shot (and there were no other kids until this squirt came along) I was not in line for an inheritance from my Dad because I was not the son of his 1st wife. I enjoyed needling him, making him cry, getting a reaction out of him. I took my anger and disappointment out on him, I must admit – mocking him – but I usually got away with it. Except this day – with so many there for the feast and all eyes on him – I was caught out. And that's what happened when my life took a turn for the worse – if that was possible! I was caught out, and my 'aunt' (not really an aunt but I suppose my step-mother) was so mad that she spoke to my Dad and he agreed with what she said.
Next morning there was my Mom and I – being sent off into the desert with some food in a bag and some water. I thought my life had ended. We walked forever, and it was hot – blazing hot – and it wasn't too long when the food and water were finished. I was starving, and my Mom gave me her share. Then she left me under a bush, and carried on. Said she couldn't bear to see me die, so she left me.
That was when I came to the inevitable conclusion – my life sucks.
The more time that passed, the hotter it got, the hungrier I got, and the thirstier I got. What do you do when your Dad abandons you and sends you off into the desert? What do you do when your Mom abandons you and leaves you to die under a bush? What do you do when your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, and your lips crack, and there is not a cloud in the sky to cover the sun and you can't even see or hear an insect? Nothing! Totally alone in a harsh world. No hope – except for death. I sometimes wonder if maybe I did die for a while.
I remember dreaming – or maybe things from my life were going around in my head. I thought about my name – Ishmael. I always thought it was a daft name – but I was stuck with it. I heard crying – was it me or was it my Mom? – perhaps she wasn't so far away really? But I was too weak to open my eyes or lift my head to look. I was wishing that I would die fast. And then I was wishing that I didn't have to die. Was that the only way out? There was this thought from deep in my mind that I was destined to be the ancestor of a nation – was that really true or a pipe-dream? So much confusion. Where had I heard that? - oh yes – it was my mother. She had once told me that when she was pregnant with me, she had run away because my 'aunt/ stepmom' had been so abusive to her. My Mom was pregnant but my aunt was barren – and so she was insanely jealous of my Mom and treated her badly. Mind you, knowing my Mom, she probably mocked my aunt and made her feel bad. Just just like I mocked my step-brother...... Hmmm.
Anyway, my Mom ended up in the desert near a well, and was wondering where to next, when an angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her to go back – that the child she was carrying (me) would be a boy and she was to name him (me) Ishmael – and that he (me) would be the ancestor of a people – coz that is what God had promised to my Dad about his descendants (me – and my brother too I suppose). So am I really going to die?
And then I remembered before my aunt fell pregnant. All the men in my Dad's household (me included) were circumcised. Painful. Oh boy, was that ever painful. I really hated my Dad for doing that to me – did it to himself too! But when the pain was over he explained to me why – it was because of the covenant that God made with my Dad – to remember what God had promised my Dad – and that every male in my father's household was part of that covenant. And then it started dawning on me there where I was close to death: I am a part of God's covenant. He made a covenant with me too. He made promises to me too. The thought of that made me dizzy – I really struggled to collect my thoughts. And at the same time I realised how I had messed up. Here I was, 17years old, supposed to be getting ready to take on the responsibility of a wife and family – but I was still behaving like an immature, irresponsible, arrogant, good-for-nothing baby.
I had been expecting my Dad and my Mom to provide a life for me – to look after me – to keep me. I had mocked and persecuted my Dad's other son – and in doing that had dishonoured him. My behaviour had caused us to be kicked out of the family circle. I had, in effect, turned my back on the God of my father and the covenant that God had made with me. I was devastated by what I had done! What hope was there for me? I actually deserved to die – but God had made a covenant with me too. Dare I speak to him?
I did. I cried out to God. I told him what a heel I had been, how I had trashed his covenant, caused immeasurable pain to my Dad, disappointed my Mom – and messed up my own life. My life sucked – but it was my own doing. I could hardly get a sound out of my parched throat with my swollen tongue – but I know God heard me. I know because suddenly there was my Mom with water – dripping it onto my lips and into my mouth – waiting for me to swallow (painfully) before dripping more in. She had seen a well - and that was our salvation. God had heard me – God had forgiven me – God had brought me back to life – I was still part of God's covenant – God had a future for me. And that's why I had to tell you this story of my life. What God showed me when I was dying – in that dark, desperate, place of death – I just had to tell the world. I cannot deny that it was God who saved me, God who brought me life-giving water, God who restored me to life, and God who helped my Mom find a wife for me so that God's promise for my future would be fulfilled. It is God, only God, that I praise and thank for hearing me and coming to my rescue.
I have chosen to be a bedouin – a desert dweller – because that is where I came to my senses and learned to call on our covenant-making God. The desert is where I know that I cannot do anything to save myself. It is the place where I will always be dependent on God.
To get back to my name: if I had to choose a name for myself now, I would choose the name Ishmael.
My name means God hears."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Illusion of Wealth

The last I heard, a loaf of bread - if you can find one that is! - cost Z$400 000. It has probably doubled by now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Petrol bombed

From Colleen Henderson. 9 June 2008.

THESE ARE DREADFUL SICKENING PICTURES of what Mugabe & his thugs are doing in the "free & fair" campaign to hang on to power in the forthcoming run-off. They show the brutality that continues on a massive scale all over Zimbabwe everyday.

Kudakwashe and David were burned almost beyond recognition in Zaka (Masvingo province), this week, by an Army hit squad. They were in their MDC office when the Army petrol bombed it. Perhaps this, and the attack on diplomats, will galvanise someone, somewhere into action.

The threats to close down embassies and NGO's further emphasises the GENOCIDAL situation our beloved country is in. Zanu PF and the Army Generals will stop at nothing to keep this corrupt government in power.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I feel like I'm trying to keep up with a 12-step programme - one day at a time. Just when I was getting enthusiastic about going away for a long overdue weekend break, I was reminded of a social event that has been planned for slap bang in the middle of said weekend - someone's 25th wedding anniversary.