Amanda is a beautiful 15 year-old South African girl with dark skin and dark eyes. She has short spunky hair to match her upbeat attitude. She has a delightful smile that can light up your heart. Even after meeting her just briefly, she warmly hugs you as if you’ve known each other a long time.
She lives in the slum-like township called Massipuhmelele, west of Muizenberg. This is where 40,000 + blacks live. Though the Apartheid has ended, little has been done to combat the segregation in communities and injustice of poverty. The homes there range from small stucco cottages to tin and plywood one-room shacks. Desperate families will put up shacks wherever space allows, often renting the small yard of another family to just make shelter for themselves. Amanda lives in such a shack with her adult brother and sister-in-law, who have taken her in. Her mother is aging, and unable to care for her. It is common here for children to be looked after by various people because of family illness and poverty.
Amanda’s world is entirely different from the world I grew up. She does not have the modern conveniences that many Americans take for granted. The laundry, cooking, dishes, bathing, sleeping, socializing… all is done in one small space, with neighbors right there, homes practically on top of each other. While American teenagers have collections of music, and closets full of clothes, Amanda hardly owns anything. And yet she is joyful.
Amanda is joyful despite her living conditions, and despite the fact that she lives her life in silence. She is isolated from her peers, left out, as most of them attend school and sing and dance and goof around together, and she does not. You see, according to her brother, Amanda was born deaf. Without adequate finances, she has been unable to even see a doctor. This is her reality, and in the past there has been little hope of any change. But does God really wish her to exist in silence?
I believe God has a special purpose and a plan for Amanda’s life. So, if God’s will were to be “done on earth as it is in heaven”, what would that look like? I know God performs miracles, and I prayed my heart out for God to heal Amanda’s ears. With gestures to her ears, and praying hands I tried my best to involve Amanda in the prayer. She nervously smiled, nodding her head in agreement with my prayer. I asked the heavens to pour out on this beautiful girl. But nothing happened. And I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I hugged Amanda, and thanked God for his love and power. I know God has wonderful plans for her. But what? How? I’ve prayed with her several more times, and continue to pray for her on my own and with my family.
As I struggle with feeling helpless in this situation, I am reminded of what Katie Davis wrote in her book, Kisses from Katie.
“As I read my Bible last night after falling into bed, the Lord continued to take me to the miracles of Jesus. And something I have never noticed before really stood out. The Bible tells us of Jesus magnificently raising Lazarus from the dead, healing numerous deathly ill people, and feeding thousands.
What the Bible does not mention, but what must be true is that, years later, Lazarus still died. The people Jesus healed were inevitably sick again at some point in their lives. The people Jesus fed miraculously were hungry again a few days later. More important than the obvious might and power shown by Jesus’ miracles is His LOVE. He loved these people enough to do everything in His power to ‘make it better.’ He entered into their suffering and loved them right there.
We aren’t really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus does that. We are just called to love with abandon. We are called to enter into our neighbors’ sufferings and love them right there.”
And so now my new question is, ‘How can I best love this girl, God?’ In the several visits we have made to see her and her family and friends, we have exchanged pieces of our hearts. The warmth and hospitality we have received just makes me want to help even more… to really be able to do something tangible. ‘Could we get her to a doctor? Could anything be done to improve her hearing? Could she go to a special school for the deaf?’ I choose to trust God that he has something awesome in store for this girl. And I will not give up faith that her life will be a testimony of God’s unfailing love. And I thank Him for this great opportunity to be a part of his love story. To have new friends. To be forever changed.