I was driving home this morning and just as I came to a part of the road that had a bit of an incline, I saw a man in a wheelchair laboring to get up the road. It's not very steep but it is uphill and the "sidewalk" is practically non-existent, crumbling away to sand and rubble in many places. He was moving forward using kind of a wheelie movement that looked kinda awkward and very difficult. (Photo #1, the good part of the sidewalk.)
As I passed him, I was filled with compassion for him. Life in a wheelchair anywhere I can only imagine is, to say the least, tricky, but here in Mozambique? I cannot even imagine. As my eyes filled with tears I thought, "I will never complain again." Which I did stick with until at least four hours later by the way! But then I remembered how seeing him had made me realize how little I have to complain about really and gave myself a quick attitude adjustment. (Photo #2, a strip in the middle of the sidewalk gone and a roadside stand just barely visible to the left.)
After I passed the man, a minute or so ahead, there was a car parked up on the "sidewalk!" And then another! It's a busy, narrow road and I thought, "what will he do?" I wanted to stop and help but as I said, it's narrow and busy. (Photo #3, the sidewalk disappears and only sand is left against the curb.)
As I turned the corner onto the next road I decided, "Right, I'm going to stop and go back and see if I can help. I can offer a push or a ride." Then I thought this scary thought: "Or I could pray for him."
Uh, what kind of prayer? The "Lord bless this man" prayer or the "Get out of your wheelchair and walk" kind of prayer. After all, that is how Jesus often healed people. And I do believe he still heals today. And he promises us we will do greater things in his name than he did. But I have to confess, that made me quite nervous.
So as I was walking back to him (it would have taken me ages in the traffic to get my car turned around and back to him) I said "Lord, I don't really know what I'm doing here, please show me!" I was willing, or thought I was, to pray for him even.
When I got to him, he was nearly at the top of the incline. I asked where he was going, was it far, and could I help and he said he was going to church which was just up ahead on the other side of the traffic signal. He thanked me for the offer of a push but had reached the level part by then and didn't need it.
Well folks, perhaps I would have chickened out of praying for him anyway but something about him going to church just stopped me in my tracks. For some reason it made it harder to offer to pray for him rather than easier.
So, I chickened out. I said "God bless you" and "have a good day" and walked back to my car. I will pray for him now instead of with him. I'm not proud of that. And I'm not sure what made it more intimidating because he was on his way to church. I can assume he would have welcomed prayer. It's giving me something to think about.
And pray about: Lord Jesus, make me more like you!
(It just occurred to me that many readers might find it strange that I would offer to help a disabled stranger on the street, perhaps offensive. But here in this culture, strangers do help each other with things all the time. It's one of the most beautiful parts of this culture and one I am still learning to incorporate into my life.)
(Another paranthetical thought: these photos are of the actual street, the flat part of it, but were taken some time ago. So they just serve to give a small idea, not the whole picture!)