Ready to Go!

Something I learned a long time ago is that for whatever reason, my missions-related posts get the least views and the least comments of any posts I publish. But something that you, as my readers, need to know is that they are the most passionate posts of any that I write. And one of the responsibilities that I most seriously embraced when I began blogging was the responsibility to share with my readers the slice of reality that I see as I’m traveling among the desperate, the destitute, and the desolate. They are living between the lines, too.

This weekend, I read one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. I’ll not review it here, though I do strongly and heartily recommend it. It was Tom Davis’ Scared. It is about a photographer who experiences God among the emaciated and HIV-infected in Swaziland. I read it, weeping at times, and wishing that the 48 days between now and when I leave for Kenya and Sudan would pass with utmost speed.

I am ready to go!

But at the same time, I have to honestly say that of all the places I’ve been, Africa is the hardest place to be. I’ve been twice and though I love it, it’s just physically, spiritually, and emotionally hard.

On my second day in Africa, I saw a man die. Naked. Lying on a dirty mat, on a dirty concrete floor, with no doctor to attend him and no family or friends to mourn him.

That same day, I met a child whose name I couldn’t pronounce and can’t remember, but who I don’t believe I’ll ever forget. In a family that can scarcely afford food to feed them, much less medicine of any kind, this child had a brain tumor that had grown so large that it had begun to protrude from her head. Our doctor examined her tenderly. She never cried. And then, he whispered to the translator, “In America, she could have the surgery, but she can’t have it here, and without it, she will die. There’s nothing we can do.” He reassuringly patted the mother and then the child, then allowed the translator to pronounce the death sentence. I watched the mother’s face, which never changed as she heard the words and then calmly carried her baby home to die as quietly as she had lived.

The most difficult of all of the difficult moments for me, however, was at the Storehouse Foundation—an orphanage run by the Pentecostal Bishop in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

At first, I was having a lovely time. These kids were orphans, but at least they had a home. And they were assured at least one meal a day—compared to the three a week that most city children had to survive off of.

Many of the kids had never seen a white person, let alone a blonde and so as I walked among them, they reached up to stroke my hair. I finally found a chair against a wall and just let the kids climb all over me. I held them and touched them, smiling at them and talking in a soft, sweet, motherly voice in a language that none of them could understand.

When some of our team members came into the room with stickers, the kids flocked to them and gave me a chance to get up and walk outside. As I did, a short, dirty woman rushed up to me and thrust a baby into my arms. A translator hurriedly informed me that the woman didn’t belong here—that she was from the village and shouldn’t be in the compound—but the desperation on the woman’s face made me stop the translator from making her leave.

No. Let her stay. What does she need?

It was nearly 100 degrees outside, but the baby was dressed in a red, footed terrycloth sleeper. (Probably the only baby clothes they had.) He was definitely less than a year old, though with the malnourishment there, it’s very difficult to tell how old the children are because of their stunted growth. But as I cradled him into my neck, I could feel the fever rolling off of him in waves.

Miss Sarah, the baby is very sick. Need medicine. No money. No food. No milk.

And my stomach dropped into my feet because I knew that we had already distributed every single pill and bottle of medicine that we had brought with us. There was nothing left. Nothing at all for this feverish child or his desperate, starving mother.

I looked around for my team leader, knowing that we were out of supplies, but surely there must be something we could do… But when my eyes found her, she was surrounded by a mob of needy, hungry people. I couldn’t even get to her to ask my question. And so I stood, rocking the baby, rubbing his back and humming, praying under my breath that God, by some miracle, would bring healing and help to this baby and to his family.

I held him as long as I could, rocking and humming. And even his mother seemed comforted. But when I handed the baby back, the only message I could give to the translator was, “I’m sorry. I have nothing left. But I have prayed and I believe that my God is strong.” But for a woman who doesn’t know my God, that wasn’t much comfort. She walked away with a broken heart.

I suppose it seems odd that knowing I’m going to face so much pain and suffering, I’m looking forward to the trip. But when you have the chance to take the love of Jesus to the least of these, isn’t it something to be joyful and eager about?

I do request your prayers as we go… But I also want to challenge you: where is God sending YOU? Where is there somewhere that needs hope, that you have the hope to share with them?

Don’t be scared to go—just GO! And then stand back and be amazed at what God does in you and through you!

About Sarah Salter


  1. the mother taking her little girl home to die — the little boywith a fever and no medicine — this is heartbreaking. I keep thinking of “what you do for the least of these.” To go back takes a particular kind of courage — and love.

  2. For those who have never been on mission, or felt their heart breaking for others in such a real way, I suppose reading a post like this would be something to avoid. Too real. Too full of truth.

    So I am sorry you don’t have more people reading, and commenting, because we all need reminders of what is out there, and even on our doorsteps.

    I pray that you will continue to find your place as God’s letter of love to a suffering world, and will keep your heart and eyes open so you can share with the rest of his church.


  3. So very heart wrenching. I printed this and will share with others.
    You are truly dedicated to being the love of God for these folks.

    I will pray for your mission and for the strength of your body and mind.
    You are a good soul and filled with love and compassion.
    A true giver .
    God will bless you all as you embark on this adventure.
    Prayers every single day, I promise. Kristi

  4. My family will be praying for you as you go.

    Thank you for reminding us the importance of serving God even when it is not a “popular” thing.

  5. It’s so heartbreaking. It’s sad to see these images on TV, but it definitely changes you forever to see it firsthand. Praying for you (as always). Thanks for being a light! I want to be one too.

  6. I’m so glad that God has given you a heart to reach out to these people, these other real people ‘living between the lines.’ Even if you run out of the medications and supplies again when you go, which you will, just remember that you are also there to show them the face of God. You may not be able to do for them all that you would like, but our God can.

    Even if for just one moment a mother, a father, a child can feel the presence of God through you, you will have accomplished your mission. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer my friend.

  7. My prayers will go with you.

  8. Thank you for remaining resolute in your conviction to share these stories. They’re surely hard to read, as evidenced by your blog stats, but God brings the right people to the right posts. Keep writing, and keep loving.

  9. You are very brave “TO GO”. I’ve read some amazing “Missionary” stories over the years and am always in awe at the Goodness of God. It never gets old that’s for sure. I hope you have another amazing trip and that you sense the Lord’s presence with you wherever you go.

  10. I’m so proud of you, Sarah. It must be both heartbreaking and heartwarming to go on these trips. Praying for you!

  11. Sarah, I’m a little choked up, but I want you to know that I’ll be praying for you. My heart goes with you as you go where the Lord leads.

Speak Your Mind