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65 Year-old orphan

Our World Race squad has seen so much. But the story I’m sharing today may have been the hardest thing any of them has ever had to see. Squad leader John Hearn captured the story well. I pray it breaks your heart as it did mine. Our hearts need to broken so that they look more like Jesus’. I can’…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Our World Race squad has seen so much. But the story I’m sharing today may have been the hardest thing any of them has ever had to see. Squad leader John Hearn captured the story well. I pray it breaks your heart as it did mine. Our hearts need to broken so that they look more like Jesus’. I can’t take you to Swaziland, but today I can introduce you to Maria.
It was like any other day of ministry with my comrades of T-Squad – the
air was hot, I was smelly, and orphans were tugging on anything and
everything that was attached to my body. 

I saw her pushing herself down that long and dusty road to nowhere accompanied by only a malnourished and
starving puppy. This old Swazi woman, ever so slowly maneuvered her way
down the dirt road. 
Her arms tired, her face hopeless, and her spirit wounded,
this woman was in a
wheelchair that looked like it had been fashioned in the early 19th

There was no telling how long she was on the
road by herself in the hot African sun unable to move and get herself
home.  My squad mate and I ran over to her with the translator to see if
we could help her out.  We asked her if we could push her home and she
politely smiled and agreed.

we finally arrived at her home, she ever so  climbed out of
her wheelchair and onto the step of her doorway.  We asked her if she needed prayer
and when we did, my life changed.  She began to tell her story through
some of the most heartfelt tears I have ever witnessed. Her name was

Maria lived by herself in the
middle of the hot African bush with no water, no food, and no
community.  At one time  Maria had a good life.  She had 8
healthy children and a husband who loved and supported her, but her life dramatically changed. Maria helplessly watched as
all 8 of her children passed away, possibly from HIV, sickness, or other
tragic incidents.  They left no children behind, just a deep wound in
Maria’s heart.  Her husband died just 3 years ago, which left
Maria alone – completely alone. 
One night while she was sleeping, three
men broke into her house to rob and kill her.  As she tried to escape,
the men beat her legs with hammers so that she couldn’t run away.  After
they had robbed and beaten Maria, they left her to die.  Miraculously, Maria survived,
but only after losing one of her legs. 
three years, Maria has been surviving on her own, simply existing in
this harsh and cruel world.  No joy, no happiness, and no one to care for
her or take care of her.

As she told her story, tears  poured
down her wrinkled Swazi face.  How do you pray for a woman who has
nothing?  How could I possibly tell her that God loved her when in fact
her life reflected something completely opposite?  Her children were
dead, her husband was deceased, she was nearly murdered in her own home,
and nobody cared or even knew that she existed. 
These are those hard
moments where you have to pray with faith-filled eyes, not simply
through the eyes that were witnessing such a heartbreaking encounter. 
Maria was in fact a believer, and despite everything, KNEW that God loved
her.  She didn’t feel like a victim and death did not have a hold on
Evan prayed, Maria never even asked us for money or a handout. 
Instead, in the midst of her sobs, she told us she just wanted a little
bit of food – she was hungry.  She was a 65 year old
orphan with no family, no place to call a home, and nobody to love her.
Evan prayed for her and promised her that we would not only
bring her food the next day, but a pair of shoes as well.  She managed
to get around in her wheelchair in the dirt with only a sock on her

I’ve fed orphans all over the world, seen the
homeless living in cardboard boxes in the worst of slums, but I have
never met someone like Maria.  Someone surviving alone and forgotten about by the
rest of the World.  It made me reflect upon my own life back in

I live my life overlooking the Maria’s in my own world.  I’m
busy worrying about ME, living for ME!  The truth is, I didn’t have to
come all of the way to Africa to find my Maria.  I could have simply
looked out my back door.  The question is, why don’t we even notice? 
Why don’t we intervene when we see an injustice in the world?  Why don’t
we become a voice for those who can’t speak? 

Maria  is a fighter. When I look at
Maria, I see a proud daughter of the King Most

*           *             *  

The good news is, we can make a difference. If you’d like to help care for Maria, please make a donation here (put “Maria” in the Note section) and we’ll make sure that she gets food, water, and feels the love of others again.

Comments (8)

  • Wow Seth, this was hard to read. Totally broken! Thank you World Racers for introducing us to Maria! Praying for her!

  • Prasie the Lord that World Racers Team they are reaching these areas.May God all their Mission work and use them mighty power for His glory. We will be praying for Maria

  • Robin,

    Thanks for thinking about how to help her.

    Better to use the money to help her make a life for herself there. Moses’ mom, Philile, is a good example of how we can help turn a life around.

  • I have chills…. how powerful that God sent that team to her. She’s been “existing” for awhile and many teams have gone there; but God knew exactly who was supposed to see her.

  • Oh Seth, this definitely breaks my heart. I am grateful for the world race teams that go and visit the forgotten. I assume this is in Nsoko because I recognize the picture of the kids is at Mahangeni. I pray for more of the church to rise up to care for the orphans and the windows in the faraway places, the ends of the earth. The good news is she is not an orphan, she knows Jesus, but I pray for community for her and the others women especially in this area, widows who have no family left because of AIDs. I pray that they would not feel so alone, but in the company of other women, who are going through the same life experiences, would be encouraged.

    Thanks for sending people out, to the ends of the earth.

  • I have been so broken for Maria since you first posted about her. I am praying for her everyday. I asked the Lord for the opportunity to meet this woman. I would love to sit with her and listen to her speak. She has had no one to listen to her for so long. I would love to hold her hands and pray with her. To push her wherever she needs to go (until God causes her leg to grow back…which I am fully believing He will do). I just want to serve her and love her. To be her legs when she needs them. Thank you for introducing me to Maria. I will pray for her daily until I get the priviledge to meet her. Please continue to give updates about her. I love her already, and I don’t even know her yet.

  • If Maria is independent to the point that she wishes to stay in a an area that is hard to survive in, can the locals with the help of outsiders gather many like her and build a community that helps to sustain families, share God’s love and give her the chance to share what gifts God has given to her as well. Every one needs to feel needed and to have a meaningful purpose in the lives of others. It sounds as though with the loss of her family she might feel less needed which isn’t the case. Please let us readers know what we can do to help.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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