One of my last nights before the trip, my parents, like any parents would do, began voicing questions and concerns for safety. Obviously, being 8,500 miles away isn’t ideal when you’re a parent, so we began researching.
Gaining independence on September 6, 1968, the kingdom of Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies. According to UNICEF, Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. The HIV-Aids virus has taken the lives of countless Swazis and left one-fifth of the children as orphans. Atleast a quarter of the 1.2 million are estimated to be living with HIV.
Those were pretty hard facts, although one fact stuck out to me even more than that: Swaziland is claims 80% Christianity, with about 40% of the population affiliating themselves with the Zionist Church, professing a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestrial worship, and an even lower 27% actually being active in church.
After seeing this, it made me feel pretty blessed to serve with The Luke Commission. The Luke Commission has come “into its own” in Swaziland, recognized as a leading mobile medical team and openly appreciated by both the governments of the United States and the Kingdom of Swaziland. Starting its foundation in 2005 under two Cedarville grads, Harry and Echo VanderWal, TLC’s goal is “to take free health care and hope to the most isolated and underserved populations in Swaziland”. Mobile hospital outreach sites are set up in outermost parts of this small country, whose population is fighting for its very existence.
The Luke Commission provides more than 25 services at every mobile hospital outreach, and increase from 4 services in 2005. A main focus of these outreach program has been prevention and treatment of HIV/Aids. The Luke Commission circumcises more men and boys on average in one day than all the rest of Swaziland health care facilities combined. Studies show the HIV transmission rate is cut by 60% in circumcised males.
At the mobile hospital sites, school children are treated for skin and intestinal problems. The young people are fitted with new TOMS shoes. Handicapped persons are analyzed by TLC medical personnel and given wheelchairs. Treatment for patients with HIV, chronic disease, complex medical cases, and various cancers is offered. Those with poor eyesight receive vision services and glasses if needed. Packets of medications are distributed by the thousands every day, each prescribed by a doctor with instructions on usage in SiSwati. Psychosocial and grief counseling is available to all patients. The Luke Commission team of nearly 100 treated more than 61,000 patients in 2015.
Delaying orphanhood, giving hope, maintaining life, spreading the gospel, and praying to revive a kingdom for the kingdom. Every part of TLC speaks to my heart.
These last few days, God has reminded me what revival is all about. In its truest form, revival is used in the Bible to represent restoration from death to life, dark to light, and night to morning. That is what we receive through Christ. That is the hope I get to be a part of. Despite the numerous things that have caused the truest feeling of grief this week, my life is part of the kingdom revival story, and I get to live in joy because of that.
My favorite verse, one that actually led me to Christ in the first place, is found in Hosea 6:1-3:
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us;
he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea spoke to an exiled nation, a hopeless nation. His whole life and family was set up to send a message to Israel, a message of restoration. He took an intimate path to their hearts, telling them that although they were hurting, broken, and helpless, if they turn to Him, put their trust in Him, and commit themselves to Him, He will heal them, bind their wounds, receive life from desolation, and be restored.
God’s presence and the hope of revival are promised to us as firmly as the return of the morning after a dark night. His promise is refreshing, as the rains that water the earth after a harsh winter. He allows something that was once desolate to produce fruit, something that we could never truly do by ourselves outside of the hope found in Christ.
Although this restoration didn’t come immediately, they were given a hope bigger than what they could understand at the time. Through Hosea, true restoration in Christ was being foretold. Although it wasn’t Hosea’s direct objective here, we can even see a parallel in the timeframe set up. Three days. After three (not literal) days, Israel was promised a restoration so great that it would allow them to rest in His presence eternally. In hindsight, the prophecy was never fulfilled to Israel at all. The ten tribes were never restored; they never, as a whole, received any favor from God. The “two days” and “the third day” have nothing in history to correspond with them, except that in which they were fulfilled, when Christ, “rising on the third day from the grave, raised with Him the whole human race”.
Revival, therefore, starts with brokenness, and creates hope. This is what The Luke Commission does. This is what we receive in Christ. People tell me all the time, “Kaila, you can’t save a nation”, and honestly, I can’t, nor do I have intention to. But I think when as believers we understand that revival doesn’t start with a person, nor does it start with a nation, but instead starts with something and someone much bigger than us, we receive strength and the ability to “press on to acknowledge him”, and through that find a way to make a temporary change become an eternal one.