Our flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa, was a 16-hour marathon crossing. Many of our fellow passengers were apparently headed over to hunt game or visit animal parks. As people struck up conversations around us, we could hear many of them discussing the “Big Five”–referring to certain wild animals that avid hunters find especially difficult to track down.
Though our time in South Africa did allow us to see a few lions and elephants, we were far more impressed by a totally different kind of “Big Five” challengers lurking in the African bush. Our eyes and ears were opened to the desperate needs of families affected by poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and emptiness. We saw entire villages held in the grip of powerful addictions and false religions, and just observing the daily needs of innocent children overwhelmed our emotions.
In many shanty-towns (townships) of South Africa and Zambia, the people are basically helpless and hopeless, except for the efforts of a few African missionaries who are reaching out to show the love of Jesus to young and old. Small children ran up to our car the moment we stopped. They soaked up the slightest gestures of attention, hanging on to us with pleading eyes as if to say, “I just want someone to love me!”
Thank God for the undaunted efforts to take the light of the Gospel into such dark corners, and to share the hope found only in Jesus Christ.