Yesterday, I went shopping with a group of friends Luke, Tony, Jake, and Mike into shanty village next in Northern Mozambique. As is often the case in Africa there was to be a surprising turn of events.
We head down dirt tracks into the village. We are glad of the palm trees which provide shade and some charm, in the balmy strong breeze which had turned my early morning jog into a struggle.
We pass a wrecked car which had become a playground before coming to a row of shops. We are going to collect a wedding suite for Jake who is due to get married the following day. Some of the tracks are rubbish strewn, you soon get used to walking through sewage and rubbish here. Hunger and poverty, fighting to find food mean waste collection I see not a prioty. Seeing this level of rubbish has become quite normal here, occasionally a man will light a fire to rubbish up, until then it waits.
Like most villages ducks, chickens and other animals roam the streets. On previous visits we had been stoned and in a mile or so of walking, we encounter three groups of Police armed with rifles and wonder if this indicates the kind of crime levels here. Today many people recognised us, we saw no police and nobodythrew stone. We are beginning to feel at home here in the stench and the rubbish.
we pass a shop called Tony and of course we stop for Tony to get his photograph taken while we talk the owner.
Not long later, we pass a group of women who tell us that there is a sick woman in the house and they would like us to pray for her. Tony who is the best Portuguese speaker agrees that we will come back after we have been to the market.
To be honest I am still sceptical of Christian healing. I have seen a very few verifiable one source over the last theee decades. However,there is also a lot of hype and claims very few medically verifiable healings. However, Jesus told His followers to bring the good news and heal the sick. So in obedience, we pray for the sick to get well. Some get well, some don’t. Faith is often shrouded in mystery and Christian healing is shrouds in reality, mystery, and hype too.
We carry on to the market. Here you can buy bold, highly saturated colour print fabrics for a few dollars and take it to a machinist who runs up clothes on an antique foot powered Singer sowing machine for a few dollars more.
As is usual in Africa, Jake’s suite is not ready and he would need to return early in the morning of his wedding day to collect the suite. So we track back through the village, hoping his suite would be ready and return to the woman who wanted us to pray for the old lady.
The sun is beginning to set, we are invited into the back of the house into a barren yard full of dust and rubbish, a barren place where nothing grows. We are introduced to Marguerita who is curled up on a small rope mattress African bed.
Marguuerita’s relatives tell is she has been ill for just over a year and lying on her bed for weeks. Her fleet are swollen and encrusted with dirt, they look more like Lincolnshire potatoes than feet. When, I realised it was impossible for this old lady to walk a mile down dirt tracks to seek medical help at the local clinic, I was gripped with an overwhelming sense of grief.
Tony leads the group of us in prayers, after a few minutes Marguerita begins to stir. Then slowly she puts her feet over the bed and asks for help in standing up. The swelling in her feet had gone down. Jake pours some water from his water bottle into a bowl and washes her feet.
Her family tells us she cannot see. Marguerita confirms she can only see a tiny amount of light in her right eye. Her left eye had no vision and there was a large crusty cataract obscuring the pupil. We pray for her vision to be restored and Marguerita reports that there is some improvement. We pray again and there is a little more improvement. So we pray a third time, Marguerita begins to smile and laugh as she tells everyone that she can now see in both eyes. The cataract looks smaller and softer, We laugh and with her and there in the dirt exchange hugs before going on our way.
The next morning we return early to the village wanting some exercise before the day gets too hot. We pass Marguerita’s home. She is not in, she has gone to see a neighbour, a visit she had not been able to make for several months. Marguerita laughs from a distance of ten yards, as we walk into the yard and points to her eyes. She is keen to come to church on Sunday and be photographed with us. Her feet are clean and healthy looking again and she appears free from pain.
Marguerita, with Luke, Mike and myself.
I know some will remain sceptical and want more evidence. Faith is the belief in things not always seen or it would. Other require faith to believe. I have no reason to believe, that Marguerita would lie about her paralysis or blindness. There is some evidence to support our experience. For those who want our know more, take a look at this peer reviewed research paper in the Indiana Medical Journal which explored the healing ministry here with Iris in Pemba.
At the end of the day, we don’t do the healing God does. We just do what He tells us to do. God is soveriegn in His whether He chooses to heal or not.