MAX_used); document.write ("&loc=" + escape(window.location)); if (document.referrer) document.write ("&referer=" + escape(document.referrer)); if (document.context) document.write ("&context=" + escape(document.context)); if (document.mmm_fo) document.write ("&mmm_fo=1"); document.write ("'>"); //]]>-->
He does whatever he wishes, Botiyasi said. If Jesus walked here, he would visit this mudaalathis old man.
The grass wall made a good place to lean his bike. Botiyasi took a deep breath and held it as he ducked under the low thatch. He peered through the door and retched when he saw the old mans condition. Nobody had helped the leper to the bush to relieve himself. Feces smeared the withered body. Urine soaked his shabby clothing and tattered blanket.
|Dont go there. He has leprosy, man!|
Children chattered. Botiyasi looked up from his work. A nervous group toted a food bowl toward the hut. The youngsters crouched at the door and scooted the enamel dish across the sandy floor into the hut. The children scampered away, giggling. Botiyasi poked a finger into the stiff food. Yesterday's tallowed leftovers clung to his skin, cold and greasy. Those kids are all the company the old fellow has all day, Botiyasi realized.
He lifted the old mans head and helped him sip warm gruel. Jesus loves you! he laughed. You are not too old or sick to pray. Then he began to sing. Izuba talibbili! He crooned and rocked the frail body in his arms. Night never comes to heaven. Supper over, he opened his Bible and read aloud. Page after page, until the ancient slept.
Botiyasi served the old man every day after that. Every day they prayed, and Botiyasi read and sang.
One afternoon the old lepers fingerless paw scraped at his arm. Baptize me, he said. Baptize me now, little brother. I want to be with Jesus.
Of course, mudaala. You honor me.
Botiyasi rose to his knees. He shoved his sturdy arms under the slight body and lifted. The burden was not great. He carried the old man down to the streamdown to a place well below the pool where people drew their water. People do not like washed-off sins in their drinking water, Botiyasi knew. He wanted no criticism about that.
He waded, the leper in his arms, into the chilly pool. There he knelt, easing the old man into the water until all but his trembling head lay beneath the lily pads. Botiyasi pronounced the ancient words of blessing, then dipped the old mans head. As he came from the water, still in Botiyasis arms, the newborn ancient grinned up at the young man, exposing all three of his snaggly teeth.
Thank you, young brother, he quavered. Now I am ready.
Back at the hut, Botiyasi toweled the scrawny body. He covered the leper with a blanket, and rose to go. Pray for me, young man. Pray for me, the quavering voice wheezed. Was that the sparkle of tears in his eyes? I dont want to wait.
What would you have me say?
I am ready to die now, the old man whispered. Pray that Jesus will take me home. Pray that he will take me home right now.
|Pray that Jesus will take me home.|
Next morning, Botiyasi found the old man dead.
Ha ha ha! the locals mocked. What a Christian you are! You pray for people and they die! Ha ha ha! You will soon die of the same disease, you silly fool.
Botiyasi hefted his hoe. The same hoe he had used to clean the floor. Perhaps those who taunted him thought he might strike at them. Instead he turned his back on them, found a decent gravesite, and began to hammer the earth. The same strong arms that had buried the old man in water the day before, now laid him in God's earth. The same embers that once boiled the old mans soup, served now to incinerate his shack.
Job done, Botiyasi dusted his hands and swung a leg over the saddle of his cycle. As he cranked the pedals toward home. He began to sing, Izuba talibbili
Forty years have passed since then. On his deathbed, Botiyasi gave instructions for his own funeral. Weep if you wish, he said. But dont wail like people who have no hope. When you put my body in the ground, my spirit will stand by you and watch. I want you to sing Izuba talibbili. When you start to sing that hymn, I will leave you, and enter the gates of heaven.
From the May Namwianga Newsletter, 1997 with love from Roy & Kathi
HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
From the May newsletter of the Namwianga mission. Used by permission.
May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
HEARTLIGHT and the flared heart design are service marks of Heartlight, Inc.