We drove the icy roads to have a warm dinner with friends and new friends. I got out of the car and slid along the driveway to the front door, concerned for my leather boots each time my foot sank in the slush. We were the last to arrive, and the room was already warm and filled with the dinner guests. The new friends were distinct, their deep brown skin and lovely African accents taking us from the white middle class Nashville neighborhood to a life where there is no snow, and the roads are far more difficult to pass.
We shared a beautiful meal together, gently stepping into each other's worlds through casual conversation over chicken tetrazzini. Sebber, the stunning African woman from Malawi, is a public health nurse, and told us of training midwives and instructing about HIV-Aids and malaria. Her brother in law, Nedson is a pastor and trains other lay leaders to lead the 64 churches they have helped to plant. They work together serving the people of Tete province in Mozambique in a holistic ministry to body and spirit, in the name of Christ and the love of God. Their English was astonishing, and their gentle understated presentation was a feast of news from another place busy about building the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven. I asked Sebber what makes her smile, and what makes her cry. What makes her smile when she wakes is that she is alive, and has another day to serve God. What makes her cry? When her children ask about why they don't have a dad to pick them up at school or walk with them. He was killed in 2002 in a car accident.
I also learned about the "tea and bread lady." Joan Trevelyn started her ministry by bringing out a plastic jug of tea and bread to share with the children who appeared on her street each morning. The orphans of war and disease crawl out of the sewers in the morning, having found a safe place to sleep "inside", and make their way to Joan's door step. They sit orderly along the curb, waiting for the cup of cold tea and handful of bread. Joan will bless their empty tummies with this meager, yet daily provision. She serves them with what she has, and the children "rise up and call her blessed".
When I went to the car, my tummy more than full, I didn't even think about my leather boots getting wet in the slush. Jim and I just sat quietly in the warm drive home, and I fell asleep dreaming and praying, asking for care and provision for Sebber, Nedson, and Joan, and all those children, knowing that The Village Chapel will soon be a part of that.
We all drive on roads that are challenging, some encumbered by ice, stones or, floods. But praise be to God for those who will go, whatever the roads. Because He first loved us, whether we live in Malawi or Nashville.