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How Swaziland stretched my faith to the limit

                    Nothing made sense about interrupting my life to do a massive project in Swaziland in the summer of 2004 except this: if you wanted to show the world that the Church is alive and well, I figured you’d start by addre…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes











Nothing made sense about interrupting my life to do a massive project in Swaziland in the summer of 2004 except this: if you wanted to show the world that the Church is alive and well, I figured you’d start by addressing one of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our times.

From the beginning, it looked impossible. When I began in January, I had no staff. We had a key partner, but the partner was mad at us for a lack of organization and without knowing me, felt I was incompetent. I remember being full of faith at the outset, then as the problems came rolling my way, I was plunged into despair.

Here was our dream: We were going to organize 192 separate and simultaneous mission projects and conduct a campaign to equip the Swazi young people to not contract HIV. We proposed to go to every high school in the country for a week to train 70,000 students.

We proposed to find food and lodging for 900 staff in a country that had none while know that most of them were Africans who couldn’t raise a dime toward their costs.

And, we proposed to raise funds to buy $150k worth of audio visual equipment.

  • In February, March and April we recruited a volunteer staff to run the project.
  • In February on my setup trip, we had no curriculum, yet on the first day in Swaziland, I had to present a convincing explanation of it to the Dept. of Education.
  • In May I flew to Swaziland knowing that we needed another $250,000 to launch the project in a week. We got the money.
  • During training camp, we worked around the clock and compiled the training curriculum.
  • Key partners almost quit. We persuaded them to stay.
  • We didn’t have the vehicles. At the last second we got them.
  • Along the way, we dealt with a continual series of problems.
  • For example, on the 4th week of the project, to reach the southern part of the country, we moved 240 people to a teacher’s college without functioning toilets. All 240 waited in buses while I negotiated the right to repair the toilets for the college. The college administrator wouldn’t see me for an hour, but finally relented.
  • None of our bases had an adequate kitchen or kitchen staff, so we cooked all the food in a central place and trucked it all over the country every day. We were opposed by the authorities and discouraged by the logistics. Halfway thru the project Bruce asked for a complete revision of the curriculum. There was no downtime for staff; many of the people burned out.
  • And on top of everything else, we decided to organize a national abstinence rally featuring the heads of government. We had no stadium, no stage, no transportation, and once again, no budget. Miraculously, at the last second, after two months of continual obstacles, it all came together.

Yet, while I might have been sweating bullets, God didn’t lose any sleep. The outcome was never in doubt for Him. When it was all said and done, the students understood many of the misconceptions they had held about AIDS and committed to abstinence. Government officials were amazed. Nobody had ever seen anything like it.

The bottom line: When we commit to God’s dream, we see God do miracles on our behalf. But to get there, you have to step out of the boat. You have to declare, “I WILL walk on water” and then endure the splashing of waves around your ankles.

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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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