God tends to use people in similar life experiences to sometimes have the greatest impact on us. On last year's trip to Mozambique, God introduced me to a man named Manuel, and he had a profound impact on me as the leader of the church plant out in the "bush" in a place called "Savane". I thought I worked hard as a pastor, until I met him and understood all the "extra" items on his plate each week.
This year the Lord introduced me to a man named Zito, the leader of one of the other church plants that I can't pronounce or spell. Me and a couple other team members visited their service one Sunday after attending church at the Villa. He was such a good preacher and spoke with such clarity and conviction. Lots and lots of gifts inside him, and I could sense a real heart to lead the people in authentic ways.
But it wasn't till after the service that I connected the Zito I just met to the Zito I read about a few months back on a CRI newsletter. Less than a year ago, he lost his wife to the dreaded malaria, and is still grieving that loss. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and devastation of losing your spouse, especially during the sometimes lonely times that church leadership hands you. He's now raising his 3 small children, keeping up on the house, all while continuing to lead and feed his church.
We stopped at his home once during the trip to pray for him, his family, and the church. And I lost it. Throughout the entire lengthy prayer session I couldn't keep my eyes dry. I don't understand why God allows good people like Zito's wife - a person "breathing so much life" into so many women and children in the area - to just pass away so young...and why He allows so many Americans who don't give a rip about Him to live a long life till their 80's.
I know it goes both ways in reality, but it still feels unfair. And I'm sure there's some tidy theological answer...that's not what I'm looking for. It's just tough to meet him knowing the pain he's enduring and the loss the church is still trying to compensate for.