About Eden

Eden Children's Village was started in 1999 in Doma, Zimbabwe, Africa. Eden exists to provide holistic, quality care for orphaned children in Zimbabwe. Eden is a school, medical clinic, farm, and orphanage. Eden's mission is to share Christ's love through meeting real life, everyday needs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pondering the Depth of Struggle for a Mother

A few months ago, a baby boy, Tichakunda, was abandoned by his mother in a latrine toilet here in Doma. The police swiftly conducted and investigation, discovering who the woman was who had left the baby, finding her and bringing her to Eden for questioning and planning. The police, following legal requirements in Zimbabwe, pressed charges of criminal negligence and baby dumping. This is extremely common in Zimbabwe among “commercial sex-workers” as prostitutes are called and so, the police began proceedings quickly.

While the legal process was being enacted this woman sat at Eden’s headquarters and chatted with one of our Administrators, Mercy Stephano. Mercy, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was entirely calm and interacted with Thelma with grace and concern for her soul. In the course of conversation, Thelma shared her story. She had been married at a very young age, thirteen. The man who married her did not love her and did not stay with her. So, at 16, with 1 child, she went to Harare seeking the opportunity to find employment and a “better future.” She arrived at a high density suburb of Harare known as Epworth and proceeded to pursue employment. Such as is the way of life in a developing country with rampant unemployment and overpopulation in urban areas, she was unable to find work and found herself in a tremendously desperate situation. Initially, she had friends to stay with, but this is a short-lived reality when you don’t have anything to contribute and your friends are barely surviving as well. So, she did all she could do, and moved in with a willing man. As is common, he let her stay for “free” in terms of cash, but exacted the common and high price of sexual pleasure for her stay and food. It wouldn’t be long before she was operating in the oldest, saddest profession known to man…prostitution. When we met her, she was selling herself for the prices of $2 for “protected” sex with a condom and $5 “unprotected.” In a nation with unemployment as bad as it is in Zimbabwe right now, these are pretty high prices and equal to or above the possible earnings of a regular job for most people.

During the subsequent 10-11 years since she moved to Epworth, Tichakunda’s mother has had two more children and she came to Doma with the expressed intent of leaving Tichakunda at Eden to save him from the future that she has brought her other three children into in Harare. His mother came to Doma, having relatives about 5 miles away from the mission, expecting and hoping to be able to leave this boy and give him a better life than she can provide. At age 27, Tichakunda’s mother is HIV positive and heading quickly to full blown AIDs, impending death and entrance into the eternal element of life. Our hearts are quickened, saddened and burdened for this beautiful and desecrated daughter of the Most High God! She has no idea that she’s loved. No idea that she was created to live with Him, to delight in fellowship with Him for all eternity and that she wasn’t made to suffer. She’s been brutalized and destroyed by sin as tangibly as anyone can be and death isn’t a fearful reality for her, even with her cultural heritage which encounters the reality of death with extreme fear. Her life has been absolutely filled with abuse, damage and a failed masculinity that only stole and harmed her. How can we speak with her about a “Father” who loves her? What welcome would the “bridegroom” of Jesus Christ have for her heart? What framework could she have to believe He has been with her for her entire life? How can she believe He’s never abandoned her? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit and absolutely only by the power of the Spirit can the grace of God break into Thelma’s life to any real degree.

My heart utterly aches thinking about the manner in which the woman, created in the image of God, has been utterly destroyed by the sin in the world. I find my mind drawn to the passage that is Eden’s heartbeat…James 1:27. The passage reads, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Up to this point in the history of Eden, we’ve been primarily involved in caring for orphaned children, often helping widowed women to care for their children until they pass on and we care for their children after their demise. I found myself, in considering Thelma’s life, wondering what might have been different for this precious woman who literally believes she has no value, because of the way the world and sin in the world has treated her life. Could a difference have been made? Could she have learned a trade and provided for herself and her children without having to become a sex worker? It utterly sickens me to think of this poor woman exchanging her life for $5. While the $2 version is absolutely the same reality, the fact of agreeing to give her body to men for $5, expecting and knowing that the $5 version will be chosen by HIV infected men who desire more pleasure with no consequences to them personally. My heart aches to see this woman and others like her given hope and opportunities to allow for the possibility of a better future, one free from the sexual abuse of stained, broken and equally bankrupt men. I don’t know what God has for us to do, but I know that we, the Church of Jesus Christ, MUST strive to do something for women like this all over the world who face the reality of having no other choice. Preventing the ongoing explosion of orphaned children is probably the very best orphan care strategy. Assisting ailing mothers and families to successfully care for themselves, provide for their most basic needs and live on earth with physical hope, all while sharing of the Messiah for whom and because of whom we endeavor to do this work of grace.

Before you allow any judgmental thoughts or justifications to pass through your mind, as they come before mine also, let’s consider that circumstances actually exist in this fallen world that are not merely the result of poor choices, but the result of literally zero options to the alternative. We, as westerners, often think that people, if they chose correctly and worked hard, could make it into better situation and overcome all the odds. While that is true in many cases, let’s consider that there are actually situations where there is no alternative, no hope, no way out and no boot straps by which to pick yourself up. This is where Jesus comes in and the Church ought to follow Him. I am not sure, yet, what God would have for us to do besides sit and pray with Tichakunda’s mother and seek her welfare spiritually before she dies. However, I know that this will not do for long! How can we pray for her to be warm and well fed when that warmth will come from consensual sin and that her food will come from this debauchery and defilement. Jesus would not condone any of his followers sitting in utter luxury while another of His precious creatures surrenders her body and life to sexual immorality for survival. We MUST do something, brothers and sisters. A trade school and the opportunity to learn a viable way to survive comes to mind, but the Lord will lead to the correct action that must be taken. Please pray with us for leading and for empowerment and clear leading to whom, where and how to begin living the Gospel tangible for some of these precious women to be freed from a life of sex slavery and, ultimately, to be introduced to Jesus Christ and to find lasting freedom for eternity. 
We must be praying, attentively listening and actively pursuing any and every action Jesus would have us take to meet these precious lives with the Gospel. 

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