I suppose I will never get used to the knock at our gate or the call that brings sad news of another friend dying. Some we are prepared for and some are so tragic. There are an endless list of stories I could share regarding these struggles. There is a little village I have known since the first time I stepped foot into Zambia known as Katunda. We have spent much time with the families of Katunda. Met with them under a tree and carried bricks with them to build their first church. We have camped with them and woke together on Easter morning. And, yes, we have grieved with them much at the loss of a loved one. I have observed many families go through this difficult time of mourning and have been allowed to be considered enough family to know all that is taking place around me at and during a funeral. At the funeral house there is grieving, wailing, many tears and the story of death shared over and over to each visitor or group who have attended the funeral house. But, yet, there is a real study of human behavior taking place the entire time. The family members close to the deceased must maintain a certain level of grief and despair during the funeral to not arouse suspicion that they themselves might have caused this death.
I have stood at a funeral house looking at the members of that family and wondering just what all was going on inside their hearts and minds at that time. Were they actually mourning in freedom or was it a constant performance to assure that no one would question their innocence? Because no one is left out under the umbrella of suspicion at a time of death. It has to be someone's fault. Therefore, many times a funeral is more like an inquisition or an investigation going on under the guise of a time of remembrance and condolence. When so many want to grieve without any fear at such a great time of loss in their lives.
The rains begin in Zambia around mid November. Throughout the next 6 months the rains will come regularly with many great storms that will seem to last for days. The rain will pool up in our yard and make huge ruts in the road. Each year our house will shift a bit during the rainy season and cause large cracks throughout our home. These rains and the damage they cause to my own home has always led me to ask questions about the homes in different areas and how they would withstand such a great regular force. I have been told of stories of people's entire home collapsing during such storms. The walls to these small mud-brick huts have only a foundation of river clay and sand. After on-going rains some times walls will become weakened.
We would receive a call from a leader in Katunda that a family near the church had lost their son. Late in the evening as the Mom sat by the fire outside, her two young sons ages 4 and 7 were just inside the hut sleeping. Within seconds, the entire long wall of her home would give way and collapse crushing her young sons. With screams for help many around the village would come to help her dig the boys out. Imagine the helplessness she felt knowing these, her babies, so small were underneath the rubble. There would be praises as the 7 year old is discovered alive, but with a great injury to the leg. However, there would great chaos and question as the youngest is found dead. Katunda Baptist rallied and served this family during this terrible tragedy. The mother had recently started coming to the church and the grandmother has attended my women's bible study for more than a year. As the family would share the story of the accident, I would hear questions about the injuries and it would always end with what happened to the young one who died. Because there were no external signs of injury on the young boy, this would leave a question in everybody's mind as to what actually killed him. They have begun to trust me in my helping them understand different medical instances of the way tragic things can happen. I have explained that there can be great head injury without a significant external sign on the body. Yet, even as I know and understand what happened that night and I can explain to them what the most likely occurrence was, there is still that underlying suspicion. My heart yearns for them to be free from such great captivity in their lives. That they could have the freedom to mourn without fear. My heart grieves as I have shared in times of death with close national friends and never to know all that they are dealing with during these great times of heartbreak. Please pray that this veil of darkness that shadows this land will be removed. Please pray God continues to put words in our mouths that shed a great light on the truth for them.
"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5:13-15