Can God Change a Life?

By Dave Royle

Today started like any other day in rural Gauteng . The previous warm day had succumbed to a clear winter’s night. So clear we were able to see the orbiting International Space Station with the Space Shuttle stuck to it like some kind of limpet, cross the night sky. Of course the temperature plummeted and this in edition to the smoke given off from hundreds of coal fires from Kwazinzeli squatter camp meant that our start to the day was smoggy. Nether the less it was 5.30am and it was time to start the day in our new home at Ebyown Children’s Village.

The children were already wide awake, impatient for their breakfast, but as with all mornings it’s a time for getting the adults washed and dressed and finally we can turn our attention to the children. Believe you me, with 10 people to bath and get ready it’s a monster task, the amount of hot water alone is significant.

Then the day proceeds ‚  with the distribution of Antiretroviral drugs ‚  (ARV’s). Probably the most important physical task of the day, because the failure to administer the drugs can damage a child’s immune system. These life saving ARV’s have to be given twice a day, a combination of 3 drugs plus other associated medicines to keep opportunistic infections at bay. Then finally, after much appealing for food, the kids sit down to a hot bowl of porridge, toast and tea.

What else? O yes, this morning I learnt how to clip the wings of two ducks, a Cockerel and the biggest Turkey I have ever seen. Now why did I mention this?

Because God changes lives! Believe me when I say Lyn and I (Lyn’s my wife) should not be here. I’m from Eccles Manchester. Lyn is from Old Trafford Manchester. Built up inner cities and so far removed from rural Africa that you wouldn’t believe it. I was a stock clerk, then a Flour Miller, then finally after many wayward years and a stint at college, an industrial microbiologist. Lyn was trained by the Co-op as a store manager, clipping the wings of Ducks and Turkey’s was not part of our resume! In fact the only Ducks we ever ‚  saw were at the local park.

But anyway, here we are, in our sixth year in South Africa . God got hold of us and turned comfortable Christians into people who care for chicks and ducks and O yes, little kiddies with HIV Aids and other problems.

Its 8am and its school time. Lyn teaches all our children and is assisted by a Southern Sotho lady called Sue. The school day begins with prayer and a bible story.

10am its nappy change time (O’ the glamour of the ministry) then mid morning snacks.

12 noon is lunch, then more school, then preparing supper. (Have you noticed how much kids eat?) Then its those bottoms that need changing yet again, (is there a nappy sponsor out there PLEASE!) ‚  then mid afternoon snacks (more food) and finally Sue goes home exhausted, leaving us with supper, story time, bed time and finally with a huge sigh of relief after giving the final medicines of the day, Lyn and I ‚  collapse on the sofa.

But the work is 24/7 and at ‚  9pm one child cries out and it’s another nappy. 11pm another vomits and another awakes and cant get back to sleep. When the Apostle Paul said that he was being expended for the sake of the brethren, we are just coming to understand a little of ‚  what he meant. We may never have fought beasts in Ephesus but Paulina’s nappy at three in the morning is just as much of a challenge.

But God changes lives. Let me explain further. It all sounds challenging and yes if we are honest we wish God would give us a ministry in Hawaii or at least two good nights sleep. But the rewards are before us every day of our lives because the Father is in the life changing business.

Take S’phiwe for example, abandoned at birth. Brought up in a home, nearly died at one year old, scarred for life through the abscesses that covered his body, underweight, under nourished, suffering from a form of dementia brought on by HIV. Yet look at him now. Loved, cared for, healthy and saved.

Then take Johannes, so neglected that the chronic ear infections ate away his ear drums and what a tender gentle young man he is becoming. Because he now knows the love of God and the love of a family.

Prudence when she first came.

What about Paulina? Abandoned at birth with spina bifida. Sent to a geriatric home for the mentally handicapped. When we met her she was in a cot like a caged animal, rocking side to side stereotypically having never bonded with another human being. She has agenesis of the corpus collosum, communication should be difficult. She is paralyzed from the waist down and shouldn’t walk but to see her laugh, speak and walk with her walking fame warms our hearts every hour of the day.

Prudence today.

Prudence has Pneumonia, TB, at eight years she came to us weighing 11kgs. The witch doctors has gotten hold of her and covered her in chicken blood. She is HIV+ and very close to death. One year on she is saved, weighs 23kg, her TB is cured and this broken child is stable again.

N’tombi has a grin that literally goes ear to ear. It was a far different child that came to us. Her CD4 count was at 6%. She couldn’t walk far and she is so tiny. She was also very quiet. Didn’t say a word. Now she’s healthy, on ARV’s and it’s hard to keep her quiet at times.

Finally take Devon. Devon is 5 years. He’s brain damaged due to his mother’s alcoholism. On Saturday his epileptic fits came at a rate of one per minute. His head is tiny; he is the size of a one year old. The pediatrician on examination said “what a disaster”. A life of neglect and abuse. But Devon won’t develop. There will be no happy ending for him. Sometimes all we can do is hold them and love them and wait for Jesus to take them home. Devon’s life will never change, but the truth is, God has given him the capacity to change the lives of others and that begins with me, Lyn, Christopher and Aaron our two sons who are fully part of this ministry.

So what’s next? Well God has given us 5 acres of land and a vision to build 10 more houses that can be a home for a total of 60 more children. It’s going to be a long road because the ongoing costs of medication and just living are mounting. Each house will cost $20k and at the moment this seems a million miles away. But you see God changes lives. He changed the life of a family of pomm’s. He used children who lived in despair to turn us around and help us realize that this life is our one shot at getting things right. Our soul right with faith in Jesus Christ but also our service right in realizing that no matter what we build here on earth we cannot take it with us. The word says “store up treasures in Heaven”. Let me tell you that the children, who men and governments and yes even Christians turn away from, are our treasure. A treasure that will be placed in a home here on earth with us but finally a eternal home in heaven with no more pain, no more tears.

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