It was quiet. The sun had not yet risen. I climbed from my bed, dressed quickly, and then walked out into the hospital compound. Only Mulu, our cook, was already up and at work, preparing breakfast that was yet a few hours from being served. I walked slowly down the dirt road through the hospital grounds, enjoying the cool breeze, the early stirrings of the small birds, and the remote solitude.
As I exited the hospital gate, I emerged into the small, rural village of Pawe, Ethiopia, located in the Benishangul-Gumuz region-the western part of the country bordering Sudan. A few early morning residents were walking along the dirt road. Several looked inquisitively and nodded politely. They were not used to seeing a white man in their village. A few children called out, "Ferenj"-foreigner--to which I replied with a nod and a "dehna nachu?"-how are you?
As I walked, I prayed for Pawe-the people, the work JW is doing there, and for change in this place where there is so much darkness-literally and figuratively.
Literally, during the 3 days that we were in Pawe, we had no power, except for 1-2 hours each day when the hospital generator was turned on. We ate by candlelight each evening. We showered and prepared for bed using our flashlights. Figuratively, there is also much darkness in Pawe. One of every 5 children dies before the age of 5. There is no ready source of pure drinking water. The hospital does not have enough equipment or supplies. Nursing students in the nearby nursing school have no textbooks. There is much spiritual darkness as well.
Among the four, small evangelical churches in Pawe, there are no pastors. Elders provide oversight at each church, but there is not a shepherd for each flock.
The challenges are so great in Pawe that they can overwhelm, causing one to wonder if our feeble efforts can really make any difference.
It was at that moment, as I was thinking these thoughts, that the early rays of dawn began to filter through the trees, invading the dark spaces around the mud huts, sending streaks of light down the dirt roads. Within minutes, the darkness was gone. The light had come.
As the light surrounded me, I was reminded that the Light of Christ has already come into the world. The darkness has been defeated. There is no place on earth where the darkness is so dark that it cannot be overcome with the Light of Christ.
As I turned to go back to the hospital compound, I prayed that the Light would overcome the darkness of Pawe and that I would be a faithful bearer of that Light. -David
I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness- Jesus