There is so much about the goodness of this world that we know nothing about. So much about the pain, too. On Saturday night we learned something about both.
First the pain. We learned on Saturday night that Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world. One in four adults in that country, which has a population of 1.2 million people, suffer with HIV. So many people have died from AIDS that 39 per cent of the population is under the age of 14. Orphaned children care for grandparents. There are only two physicians for every 10,000 people who live in Swaziland. One nurse for every 356.
How did so many of us not know this before tonight?
And how did so many of us not know about a great goodness?
In Swaziland, thousands of people care for one another out of the goodness of their hearts. Called Caregivers, these people are profoundly kind neighbours. One of them is named Shortie. She’s of a grandmotherly age, and stature, too. When she stood on the stage at Urbana 12, she barely reached the mic.
But everyone in the Edward Jones Dome heard her invitation: “Tonight you are invited to taste and see that the Lord is good. I hope and pray that you say yes.”
Her prayer was answered. For more than two hours thousands of Urbana participants moved steadily through the arena filling 32,000 sacks with precious items that Caregivers will use as they go house to house in Swaziland, bathing sick people, purifying water, putting ointment on sores.
When the sacks were filled, they were placed in boxes. When the boxes were filled, they were stacked in two massive shipping containers. Soon, those containers will make their way to Swaziland, where World Vision will distribute the boxes and deliver the sacks so Caregivers can go to work.
On Saturday night, we were invited to open our eyes to the tremendous pain that hounds one country of our world. Then we were invited by the very people who are soothing that pain, to enter into something incredibly good.