Last month we circulated the powerful photo of African pastor Eric Mwembelo, a key partner of Visionledd, cradling the head of bed-ridden home-based care patient, Fredrick. Both the picture and Pastor Eric’s response to it were exceptionally moving. Read it now if you haven’t had the chance!

Fredrick was one of many home-based care patients that our Visionledd team visited in Zambia this fall. Sometimes in the midst of hundreds of patients, hundreds of stories, and hundreds of faces, the intensity and vastness of such suffering can be overwhelming. It’s at this point that many Westerners need to tune the problem out. Because really, where do you even begin to address a scope of poverty and illness like this?

Pastor Eric Mwembelo comforts Fredrick during Visionledd’s home-based care visits

But the story of Fredrick illustrates so poignantly why caring, why praying, and why simple acts of kindness really do matter. And really do change lives. Let this story serve as a reminder that God has the power to bless the poor and suffering through Christ-like believers with servant-hood attitudes.

SICK AND ALONE 

At 68 years old Fredrick was made very weak and thin by an illness that had taken over his body roughly four years ago. In his former life, Fredrick was a tailor and earned a living with his sewing machine. He had a wife, he had a family. But all of that is gone because one year ago, his wife left him to fend for himself. Around the same time, his only son took and sold Fredrick’s sewing machine – Fredrick hasn’t seen or heard from him since.

With his wife and family no longer around to care for him, Fredrick has come to rely heavily on the home-based care volunteers that visit him a few hours, three times a week. In addition to cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, drawing water, sharing food and providing spiritual encouragement, Rose and her partner volunteer help cover Fredrick’s rent.

Fredrick recently completed a course of tuberculosis medication last month, but has not noticed any improvement. Some basic medications from Rose help a little, but the fact remains that Fredrick is a sick man.

While our team sat and listened to Fredrick’s story in his small, bed-less, 7′ by 10′ room, something touched our hearts. Here was a severely ill man lying on a cement floor, with only some rolled up clothing as a pillow. No windows, just a door and a leaky roof to protect him from the elements. His family had abandoned him, but God had not. God loved Fredrick, and we were called to love Fredrick as well.

VISIONLEDD IS THERE

As we left Fredrick’s home, we decided we needed to respond to his immediate needs. And so, with the help of our home-based care volunteers, Visionledd arranged a mattress and food supplies to be delivered to Fredrick. A degree of comfort and dignity for a precious son of God. The prognosis for Fredrick in this life may not be optimistic, but through the compassion and witness of home-based care volunteers, Fredrick has come to know and accept Jesus into his heart.

(Left) Fredrick smiles as he tests his new mattress (Above) Volunteer carries the mattress to Fredrick’s home (Bottom) Rose delivers cornflour, cooking oil and sugar

We will follow up with the home-based care volunteers about Fredrick’s ongoing condition. In the meantime, we thank God for using Fredrick to remind us that every person, no matter how poor or sick, is a precious child of God, dearly and eternally loved by Him.

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