October 2005, 11 years ago, is when I first stepped foot in the hot, dry, and dusty city of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. It was a country fraught with many problems: rising inflation, extreme poverty, high unemployment rate, corruption, trauma from farm invasions (aka land reform), and racial tensions. Eleven years later, many of those challenges are still here along with new issues such as cash shortages, fractions in the political party, and questions concerning the 2018 elections. A sense of frustration is in the air that in all this time there has been no change. Yet, despite how hot, dry, and dusty it continues to be, the jacaranda and flamboyant trees still have come to full bloom. For me, it is a sign of hope and a reminder of how God can bring incredible beauty out of ashes.
Zimbabwe is a country that still captivates my heart amidst all its challenges. Why? Maybe it is the people, the relationships, and the strong sense of community. They seem to have a solid foundation and trust in God no matter what they face. It is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. However, I do not romanticize the love I have for this country. I see the realities of the challenges here; but God has put Zimbabwe on my heart. Even with revisiting the trauma from the break in by staying in the house in which it occurred, my heart is full of joy and peace. It is wonderful to be back “home.”
I started my journey back in Zimbabwe by spending ten days in Ruwa with dear friends of mine. These relationships are a huge blessing because they challenge me to stretch my faith. They love me unconditionally and non-judgmentally even when I share struggles with sin or doubt.
There were issues on a nearby farm during my time in Ruwa. There was a peaceful protest by the labor on the farm one day while I was there. As we left Bible study later that evening, the riot police came to arrest a gentleman in charge of the labor; it was very unfair and unjust and quite a scary sight to see the police in their riot gear and weapons. It was a group of maybe 10 to 12 riot police sent to arrest this one man. I could hear singing and chanting in the distance, and for the first time, I was experiencing what my friends have been going through all these years. I have heard their stories of farm invasions and the trauma they suffered.
The woman who caused this incident moved onto this land and lived there for about a year even though she had no legal right to be there. The man that was arrested was released the next day after paying a fine, but the woman would not admit she lied about the protest. Two days later, the labor came together for an hour of prayer and worship. There were about 120 of them. The woman was invited to participate with them, but refused. However, she did sit near the fence during the time they were gathered. One of the farmers, Martin, who owned the property, spoke very passionately about forgiveness and encouraged the workers to pray for her.
The very next day though Martin and his son had 5 drunk young people show up, threatening violence and to skin them alive. The police came, but thankfully, it did not escalate. We spent 4 hours in prayer that night. Martin still had to go to court where they put him in a jail cell-just a tactic of intimidation. The judge is corrupt and even though 3 years ago he ruled in Martin’s favor, this time he decided to open a new case. So, Martin has to return to court.
I am trying to paint a picture for you of the huge need for prayer in this county. Pray for hearts to be convicted of wrong doing (on all sides), for eyes to be opened to the Lord, for His peace upon the land, and for a mighty work of healing. There has been much trauma with land reform and racial tensions. But God is in control and He has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.
After Ruwa, we had joyful reunions in Chinhoyi! The solid relationships I had built 2 years ago were still strong and my social calendar filled up quickly with lunches, suppers, and teas. The Lord has brought together quite a community through the years here for me. Although things are challenging, the connection with the people here has been a huge blessing. I anticipated that with some of the people, but it has gone way beyond my expectations.
I also spent 4 days in Doma where there is an orphanage. We discussed a future partnership with them as they are in need of counseling training. Many of their kids have dealt with abuse and just being an orphan presents many challenges for them.
Rumbie and I got to spend a lot of time together. What a blessing our friendship is!! It makes my heart soar to see her come so far in the last few years. She has implemented her vision for the counseling ministry and has made it her own. She would like to work more with the younger kids in addition to the teenagers and hopes to open a counseling center in Chinhoyi in the next few years. Because of her heart in working with the younger kids, we spent time training in play therapy and using puppets in counseling. This came out of sessions she is having with a 5-year-old who has lost several brothers and is dealing with grief.
We had the chance to speak one evening to about 50 teenage girls. God definitely opened doors that night! We discussed forming our identity in Christ and resting in how much He loves and accepts us. We also discussed continued partnership and we are looking at traveling together to Uganda next year to speak on secondary trauma.
Rumbie shared her thoughts on how training in counseling made a difference for her. She also shared her feelings about the value and importance of a ministry like Ministry Care. Here is what she had to say:
The greatest gift we can give to one another as the body of Christ is love. And the Bible says we must give away love. So many times in ministry we are giving love as we care for people, yet there is also a need for somebody to care for us. The cycle of giving and pouring out is where Ministry Care comes in. We who are called to care for and love others feel like we want to keep giving. But there are times we feel empty inside and exhausted. Being the ones who stand strong and stand firm in a world clearly struggling is wearisome. We are the salt and the light and sometimes it is too much. We feel dry and weary and we need care for ourselves.
People in ministry go through trauma and need to be ministered to as well. I started counseling even before I dealt with my own trauma because I felt God calling me to help others. I knew that I had not dealt my trauma (sexual abuse, loss of her mom at 16), but through my friendship with Misty and the time we spent together, I learned that I, too, could find healing. And now I can reach out to others without my own brokenness getting in the way. As a matter of fact, it reinforced the purpose of why God has created me to be in the counseling ministry.
The training was helpful as counseling is a new thing in Chinhoyi. I had a passion to help, but did not know how to go about it. The initial training, the empathy, and the listening skills were so valuable and gave me confidence to move forward and allow God to use me as a counselor in my own community and in my own country. The degree was necessary for the credentials, but the training was extremely beneficial. Misty gave practical ways to address needs while keeping God at the forefront. The genuineness and love of Christ shining through Misty when we did counseling together in those early days with the kids was powerful and set an example for me. All of the training was based on the foundation of Christ because He is the one who is going to bring healing. God will accomplish this work in me and through me.
Rumbie shared what she saw in each of us after in the aftermath of the break in. It reaffirmed the fact that missionaries also need encouragement and someone to be present to listen to their stories.
Sometimes you do not know the bigger story God is weaving. I have been in awe of Who He is and how Great He is! This has been continued confirmation that I made the right choice in leaving IDES and stepping out in faith! I have been reminded that all you have to do is make yourself available to God. He will do the rest!
Let me close with these thoughts . . .
As we had tea with a woman who lost her adult son to suicide 7 months ago, she made some observations that makes me rethink what it means to have compassion and to care for people.
In disasters, I spent time learning about the ministry of being present and available and truly listening. In Zim, I saw how effective this is in practice. I realize for me that ministry care is not just about coming alongside those in ministry, either natives or missionaries, but it is also about coming alongside brothers and sisters in Christ and journeying through their pain with them.
The woman was so thankful we came by and were a sounding board for her to discuss her loss and grief, and to also reaffirm her hope and trust in the Lord. I would encourage you to reach out to someone you know who is hurting or struggling. Go have a cup of tea with them, listen and pray, opening up a space for God's peace to rest on them.
Finally, here is an update on the family I met in Uganda and their prayer request:
Thank you so much for your time and sharing of resources. We will be talking through many of the things we discussed in the months to come. Bless you for your kind heart.
Please keep Heather (the mom) and Tyla (the sister) in prayer as they continue their recovery from their physical injuries. Pray they learn how to cope with the loss of Jesse. Tyla is out of the hospital and is staying with her aunt and dad. She is still emotionally disengaged and very matter of fact about the accident. We continue to pray that she will come to a place of grieving for her sister and for Clint. Physically she is healing wonderfully and it seems to be only the broken leg that still needs to heal. Absolutely amazing!!!!
Heather is doing much better. A change in medication has allowed her to be more alert. She seemed very detached when she received the news of the death of Jessie and Clint. Again, we trust that in time that she will be able to grieve over them.
Heather's feet are still a work in progress (and we continue to pray that God will accelerate this process by healing them). She must remain flat on her back due to two damaged vertebrae and the fracture in the sacrum. This fracture has caused some damage to the nerves in her left leg, so she has no feeling and can do very little moment. Please continue to pray that there will be no long-term effects. So much is still unknown. However, we have witnessed many miracles over the last three weeks and we rejoice for those.
Jaco & kids
Keep praying! God is faithful!!! Next stop is Ethiopia!
Many blessings and thank you for your support,
Ministry Care is a 501c3 non profit organization; therefore your donation is tax deductible. If you would like to invest in Ministry Care, checks are payable to "Ministry Care" and sent to:
14934 Pacer Ct.
Carmel, IN 46032
Donations can also be made online through Givelify at: www.ministrycareinternational.org
The new email address to keep in touch is firstname.lastname@example.org
Misty Bodkins has a Master's degree in clinical psychology. She has worked both stateside and internationally doing counseling, training, teaching, and research. Her passion is working with people who are in crisis.