Once again, living here, I am reminded of the fragility of life. There is, of course, the nearby cemetery that gets much too much business. When you live in one of the poorest places in the world though, that is to be ‘expected,’ though never excused. Many of you know one of my daily prayers is, “Lord, let not my heart grow numb.” Thankfully my heart is not numb, but it is weighty with the pain of two national tragedies.
Some of you might have seen on international news that 80 people died here when a fuel-tanker truck that was illegally selling fuel caught on fire. The President declared 3 days of national mourning. Besides those who perished, there are more than a hundred in the hospital, many in critical condition with severe burns. Please pray for them and those who are attending to their recovery. The hospital is overwhelmed and ill-equipped.
A couple days ago, a little bit north of here, while crossing the Limpopo river, six students between the ages of 13 and 18 died after a boat capsized. Four others are still missing, meaning the real death toll is ten young lives. The students had crossed the river earlier in the day in a sizeable vessel so they could play in a soccer game. When it came time to return, that boat was no longer available, so they used a small fishing boat whose capacity was for just four people. 23 people piled on that boat though, resulting in the subsequent drownings.
It might seem easy to see what went wrong, but the genuine wrongness of what occured was not merely an overcrowded boat, but the inaccessibility the poor have to adequate and safe access to get across a river and play a game with their friends. Sure, in retrospect one can say the fishing boat owner could have limited the occupants and made multiple trips (if he had superhuman strength to do that many crossings), but the poor try to make do with so little here, and as result, they are constantly pushing the limits. I have been in the back of pick-up trucks where people have fainted because there were too many of us crowded into it.
So today I mourn the loss of these lives and remind myself that a better future is possible for my friends here. There is a lot of distance to travel and much to overcome, but as Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded that God desires none would perish, and beyond that, He actually desires that we would flourish and thrive.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and keep you from harm, plans to give you hope and a future.