The first thing I noticed upon being in Zimbabwe for a few hours was my jetlag. The second thing I noticed was that despite what I was told before going, though they speak English, most Zimbabweans do slip back into their native tongue – one that I could recognize a few words. The third thing I noticed was that I was in the minority – I was the only white person in most settings. The last thing I noticed was that no one else seemed to care – I was already part of the family.
I went to Zimbabwe with my friend John, another pastor, in May 2014 on a self-designed mission trip. We visited a hospital and an orphanage, preached numerous times, but the most impacting person on our trip was Maggie.
Maggie’s is a story of new life from the ashes. I met her on my last day in Zimbabwe, just hours before my flight home. When her family heard about the American pastors, they brought her to meet us, to see if we could help. She was born with multiple severe birth defects. She lived 26 years with these defects that caused her so much pain. In America, these birth defects would have been easily repaired at birth, but due to the social taboos of the “private nature” of these defects, the doctors only repaired what was absolutely necessary and never discussed it further.
As Maggie reached womanhood, her defects became the source of pain and suffering. By this time, Zimbabwe had fallen into severe economic despair and hospitals were not equipped to help her. We prayed with Maggie and we promised to do all we could, but obviously, we could not promise a solution. I did promise her that I would not stop looking until I looked into every possible option.
I could have forgotten Maggie when I returned home, but Maggie’s life mattered. I had no idea how to arrange a reconstructive surgery for a person in Africa, with no money to pay a doctor. I had no idea, but God did! I randomly emailed various women’s health departments. An accountant, Karen, at the University of North Carolina received one of my emails. Maggie’s story touched her heart and she vowed to do all she could to help.
After several months, we were able to arrange surgery for Maggie in Zambia, Zimbabwe’s neighbor, by an American doctor for just the price of expenses – a mere $400! Maggie had her surgery in January 2015.
She sends me text messages often. Her life is new and now she wants the world to know that God has given her what the devil tried to steal. She is still recovering, but the worst is over. Now she can try to find a job, date, and do other things many of us take for granted.
Maggie is black. Maggie is African. Maggie’s life matters!