Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Building Bridges in a Swamp

There is a swamp that skirts the edge of Gatina Village. It fills with rain and refuse, and pushes out from the slums to the lowlands of Lavington Estates. The swamp breaks the monotony of red clay and tin huts and hides the ignoble waste of man and beast. It also floods during the heavy rains, swallowing homes and covering the road that runs south from Light and Power Centre.

In recent weeks, workers have hauled dirt and struggled to raise the road and ward off the surging waters. Their labor seems vain. The rainy season now washes most of the soil into a pond, pushing the waves ever higher.

Sometimes ministry in Gatina feels like building bridges in a swamp. There is no firm footing and progress is quickly washed away. Since our first newsletter we've experienced immense difficulties and challenges in Gatina. We've seen strikes, embezzlement, theft, and threats; deception, division, and even death. There are so many obstacles I often wonder whether we’re in the right place. Can we really build bridges in a swamp? God, do you really want us to work in Gatina?

Many in the village have resigned themselves to the harsh realities of slum life. A palpable apathy pervades the slum - the strong reluctance to change or work to improve one’s conditions. "What I work for is stolen, what I build is broken, the ones I love are constantly taken away. So why should I work, or build, or love?" Trust is a hard thing here, and hope is uncommon. This is life in the swamp. Amidst the challenges we are strengthened by your prayers, and thank God that "we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged" (Heb. 6:18).

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