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A hero in the most dangerous country

Swaziland is the country where people die faster than anywhere else in the world – shockingly, the average Swazi doesn’t ever see 30 years of age. In the middle of it lives Pastor Walter. I first met Pastor Walter three years ago during a large outreach in Swaziland. He was the one pastor who…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Swaziland is the country where people die faster than anywhere else in the world – shockingly, the average Swazi doesn’t ever see 30 years of age. In the middle of it lives Pastor Walter. I first met Pastor Walter three years ago during a large
outreach in Swaziland. He was the one pastor who, realizing that
something had to be done about his country’s horrific HIV/AIDS problem, stepped
up and helped out.

Living in a two room house with his family of six, Walter
was troubled by all the pain that he saw going on around him. He knew that there were about 600 children
that were going hungry in the area surrounding his church and he knew many
would starve as their parents died from AIDS.
He had preached about James 1:27 (true religion is to help widows and orphans in their distress), but then God said to him, “What are
you going to do about it?”

Walter began organizing the last remaining pillar of society
– the grandmothers. “Let’s feed our children,”
he told them. They purchased eight large
black kettles and began to boil a pot of corn meal mash every day for the
kids. He did all this without any white
man helping him to organize it and without any outside source of funds.

Yesterday when we talked, his vision had expanded. “I think God wants us to put in place a
school, an orphanage, and some projects to support it – a chicken farm and a
piggery.”

I was excited – the first day in Africa,
I’d felt God speaking to me about helping with a school. Half the Swazi kids can’t go to school
because they don’t have the money to pay their school fees. School teachers are respected and can be a
great source of godly counsel in a society where the family has completely
broken down. It’s a great idea.

I thought, “There’s a man I know who would be perfect for the
job of starting this school – I worked with him three years ago.” On the spur of the moment, Pastor Walter and
I drove to visit him. He is currently an
assistant principal at a nearby school. We had a great meeting. We dreamed together about what it would be
like to start a school that raised up young leaders who had in their hearts and
minds the keys to saving their nation.

So many meetings like that end in nothing. The good news about Pastor Walter is that he
is a man of action. This dream of his has a fighting chance.

Comments (7)

  • I’ve been praying for Swaziland since Clinton first told me of it… and I’ll be praying with specificity about Paster Walter and the school… what a blessing that will be… p.s. notice I said “will be,” not “would be…

  • Erin – Jennifer Smith’s friend

    I’m praying today that God would bring the right people forth to see this vision come to fruition. It is a wonderful idea and will impact so many for good.

  • Wow, the first sentence struck me. So many people in the US complain about turning 30. Swazis dream of reaching it. May we be the hands & feet to their dreams!

  • Hi Seth-

    What an honor it was to meet Pastor Walter back in January. Today, as part of Children’s Cup’s 40 Days of Prayer, I’m featuring Pastor Walter on my blog. I’ve linked to this blog post and used the photo you have here. Somehow I didn’t get a picture of him on our trip.

    Thanks for telling the world about the true heroes out there.

    Grace to you,
    Elysa

  • Seth,

    These are the kinds of stories that we need to tell more often.

    Our Gospel is one of hope, and this is one of many examples. Thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.

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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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