During these crazy times, we have been trying to make plan after plan after plan for our boys, but ultimately we keep coming back to having to put all our Trust and Hope in the Lord. As many of you know, embassies were asking their citizens to leave foreign countries and return home, but as I (Colleen) am married to a Zimbabwean who still doesn't have his passport, I obviously couldn't go anywhere, and Devon and Jacob felt that they too needed to stay and keep watch as best we could over these boys. In many first world countries, governments are trying to make a plan for their homeless populations to isolate as well, but that is a lot to ask of in a Third World. We were given two days notice about our lockdown here in Bulawayo, where there was an instant run on food, as thousands of people flocked to the local store to stock up on three weeks worth of food. The majority were all after the main food staple here- mealie meal (a corn meal product). Many places were running out, but through the grace of God, Brad and his family were able to secure the boys with 15 bags, and the pastors wife of the Baptist church was able to get us 100's of eggs. We were so blessed. We made a plan with the boys to meet them on Sundays to pass out the food each week and pray with them as we believed some movement would be allowed for food purposes. However, on day three of the lock-down, we have realized that getting to the boys is going to be beyond challenging, if not impossible. We've changed the plan, just as the boys have had to, as they try to find safe places to stay. Brad was able to get into town, but it may only be a one time opportunity, so he has found our boys and dropped off all their food supplies they will need for the shut down, and told them to stay out of town if at all possible to quarantine themselves as a group. He originally only found two groups of boys, which were made up of multiple smaller groups, as they are trying to work together to survive. And neither group knew where some of our other boys were. Brad prayed about how much food to give each group, and felt God tell him to distribute everything but one bag. He didn't know why, but thats what he did. After distributing everything but that one bag, and starting on his journey back home, he spotted one of our smaller boys who led him to another smaller group of guys in hiding, and Brad was able to give them that extra bag of food that he had with him. One of the boys, who has recently given his life to Christ, had the biggest smile on his face, as he revealed to Brad that he was in a deep depression yesterday, seeing the impossibility of their situation, having no food and no where to go during a complete lock down of the whole country. He told Brad that after searching for food, unsuccessfully all day, he finally dropped to his knees and told Jesus that he was giving everything to Him and that He needed to be the one to provide food because there was no other option. Then the next morning, along came Brad with food. The best part about that story is that this boy KNEW not to thank Brad for the food, and Devon and myself, but he knew that this food was straight from Jesus. Thats what we have always taught the boys, but they never fully understand that, but on this day, it became their reality. We were so thankful to God that we were given this one last opportunity to ensure they are fed and hear His Word one more time before we have to completely shut ourselves in our houses. We are safe and well, and so thankful that we trust in a big big God who will be with these boys throughout this time, and can still speak to them about His goodness, even when we cannot. Thank you for the prayers and support, its much needed.
God's At Work
In the midst of our darkest hours, is when God can shine the most, for we know it is not anything of our own making. Devon and I (Colleen) have been exhausted by the many years of ministry amongst these boys. It's not easy to continually give all you have, only to feel used and abused by an extremely broken group of individuals. As a core team, myself, Devon and Bheki, we felt God was calling us into a time of resting in Him, as well as a time to allow Him to really grow those who were newer to the ministry. So the three of us took a month to rest, while Jacob, Kelvin, and Obedience ran the drop in center that we offer. God allowed for chaos and havoc to reign, and indoctrinated Jacob, Kelvin and Obedience to every trick and scheme that these boys can throw at you. The stories were similar to ones we recalled enduring through years ago, and the call to love became more and more of an obedient chore than a simple feeling for these men. It's easy to love these guys in their hurt and their pain, but it is hard to love when that hurting manifests into lies, disobedience and anger. Jacob, Kelvin and Obedience were all brought to the end of themselves and had to really seek God as to their drive for why they do what they do for their boys. Because no selfish reason would be good enough, to allow you to endure the frustration and hurt. They each came to the end of themselves, to seek Gods heart for these boys, which is all each one of us can even do in all our places of work and ministry.
In the midst of the chaos though, this team poured out Gods love in such deep ways. Bible studies were happening in greater number and frequency than ever before. One on one discipleship showed amazing growth and depth in the boys. While arguments and fights would break out in one room, in the other would be a group dedicated to reading and studying the Word. Not only were Kelvin, Jacob and Obedience growing, a hand-full of boys were seeking out God in a way they never had before. One of our guys, who has been with us for 6 years, and known to be our most violent guy- he has caused almost all of our largest explosions and fights, and snapped the most pool cues. He has prayed many many times before for deliverance from the demon we believe lived inside of him, but every time it would come right back, as he wasn't filling himself up with the Word of God. Each Sunday for the past four months, the sermon that was given to his group of boys was always about reading the Word of God, and how their hearts cannot change if they don't fill themselves up with God's Word. We offer each boy a Bible that they can keep at the church and read any time we are open. This young man was one of the first ones to take us up on our offer. He has come to the church every day to sleep, then read a passage of scripture and then have a Bible study with Jacob or Kelvin about what he read. This has TRANSFORMED this young man. Other boys can now taunt him and try to bait him into anger. but he just laughs and walks away. He says that the Bible has taught him. that anger is a waste of your time, and is meant to only hold you back in life. He now brings other boys to Sunday service in his location, and tells them to wake up, as they need to hear Gods Word. He is becoming a leader amongst them, and it is all because of the power of God at work in his life.
Meanwhile, myself, Devon and Bheki have been meeting together and praying for God's guidance in the next steps of the ministry, we feel He is speaking to us about sustainability within Zimbabwe, to allow the ministry to use its funds to reach out to other countries. He is also speaking to us about rest and being healthy before we can move forward. Its been a long road for Devon and I, and as we have rested we have seen a lot of the scars and wounds that we have acquired over the last 6 years come to the surface. We want to be the most effective vessels that we can be, so we are spending a lot of time with the Lord in order to be ready for the next steps that God has for us. God truly works out all things for our good. He uses our time of much needed rest, in order to build up the next group of workers, and shows us the growth of our seeds that we have planted over these last 6 years.