Waiting in Line for a Body

Some of our future teammates in Zambia, the Roberts, just posted this blog about the death and funeral of their guard’s sister. It speaks powerfully and plainly about the “everyday” in Zambia and what Derek and I feel so strongly about returning to do – bring hope to the hopeless…
This past weekend was a tough one, but one that is all too common in Zambia. Our guard Charles’s sister Barbara Kangwa lost her brief struggle with meningitis. Her husband had previously passed away, meaning that all 5 of her children are now double-orphaned. As I was talking to Charles the morning of the funeral, he said something that really shook me. It was very non-chalaunt in delivery, but the implications were significant!

He said that they had to get to the mortuary that morning very early, before it opened, because if they didn’t, they would have had to wait in line for Barbara’s body for a better part of the day. Did you catch that? Wait in line for a body? The impact that poverty, malnutrition, poor healthcare, and disease has had on this country is hard to fully convey. But even after his saying this, I didn’t fully grasp its implications until we arrived at the graveyard. As you can see in the picture above, when we arrived there were a bunch of people. Probably close to 500. Barbara’s funeral was one of several that were to take place that day.

At the grave site, the pastor preached a small message and then they lowered the coffin into the newly dug hole. After about another half hour of shoveling dirt, the hole along with the coffin were covered and family members were invited forward to place flowers on the grave. This was the toughest part emotionally, because the first to place flowers where the orphaned children.
As I thought about this situation, I was struck with the reality that this is life in Zambia. We live in a culture where people face hopeless situations on a daily basis, where people can’t find work because of 70% unemployment and where children die from treatable diseases. Where almost a quarter of the population is HIV positive, where there over 500,000 orphans, and where life expectancy peaks at 38 years, a culture where you have to wait in line for a body because there are too many deaths!
And because of this, I am convinced even more about the need of the gospel for Zambians. Jesus Christ is their only hope! Without Him, there’s suffering and then there’s eternal suffering. Without Him, people here die and all they have to look forward to is hell. But with Him, there is so much more. With Him, there is Joy in the midst of suffering. With him there might be some suffering, but it will be far outweighed by the eternal reward that is awaiting in heaven for those who trust Him with their lives.
Please continue to pray for the family as they mourn the loss of Barbara. They are stuck with some tough decisions that they have to make concerning who will get the children. Most likely they will be split up amongst family members. Pray that they would have wisdom in knowing who to send them with. And pray for the family members that will be accepting these children into their homes. Pray that they will be treated with love.
Thank you

One response to “Waiting in Line for a Body

  1. Thank you for this – that is tragic. I often struggle with how to handles realities like this.

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