No Walk in the Park

Earlier this week, Mama Lucie (Pastor Ana's wife) and I spent the afternoon together.  She said she had pity on me and wanted to get me out for a bit.  So she decided to take me to where her husband had grown up.  On several occasions, both she and Ana have spoken of his extremely humble and poor beginnings.  And now, she wanted me to see for myself.
Patrice, Ana's youngest brother, drove us there in our jeep.  The already bad roads of our community gave way to even worse conditions.  Without a 4x4, I doubt we would have been able to go the entire distance.  As the path narrowed, I could see the living conditions diminish even more as well.  Finally, when we could go ahead no further, we got out and walked the rest of the way to the "home" where Pastor Ana grew up and where his father still lives.  There were people everywhere - Lucie explained to me the huge problem of teenage moms and how  many of the children are not even scholarized.  At one point we saw a little baby, very tiny but probably 9 or 10 months old, crawling along the sandy path, no parent or older sibling in sight.   As I met various members of Ana's family, including his dad, we sat outside and talked - or rather, I listened for the most part trying to understand a few words of lingala.  They, of course, insisted on bringing Lucie and myself some pop and bananas - no matter how poor they are, hospitality is always extended.
A little later Lucie and I strolled through the market area, everyone greeting Lucie like a long lost friend. She had lived here the first five years of their marriage.  Women  spend all day, six days a week, in the market selling peanuts or fish or "fufu" (manioc flour), just trying to eke out an existence for their family.  Lucie said several times, that only by God's grace was Ana ever able to move beyond this existence and to help each one of his siblings get an education that would allow them too to experience a different life.
I think it's easy to praise God when all your needs are met, when you don't know hunger and when you are acquainted with hope in the future.  But keeping the faith when tomorrow risks being a repeat of today and yesterday, when every day is a battle just to survive, then that's another story.  No wonder so many turn gladly to other religions that arrive and offer money or free educaton to entice them into their folds.  How do we explain life in Christ to these ones?


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