One woman’s tragic loss has been met by the heavenly Father who provides and yet also meets us in our grief.
“Malawi continues to face a severe epidemic,” USAID noted, “There are an estimated 1.1 million Malawians living with HIV and over 771,000 orphaned children, many due to AIDS.” While medical measures have increasingly helped stem the spread of HIV and better the lives of those already living with it, countless families have already been severely impacted by the disease.
Thokozani Thomas’s family was one of those. Her sister had been sick with HIV for quite a while, but when she passed away, the loss lay heavily on Thokozani. She and her husband took in her sister’s two children, adding to their own three. Suddenly the mother of five, Thokozani had her hands more than full, and the family’s finances were definitely stretching to cover extra food and necessary school bills.
Still, they were all together, and that’s what mattered. Life was hard, but they would make it through. At least, it felt that way until Thokozani’s husband was murdered.
A Stunning, Inexplicable Loss
Thokozani’s husband had left to visit his parents, but that evening, she didn’t see him walking back up the road to their home. Evening sifted into deeper shades of night. Perhaps he had been tired and stayed at his parents’ house. He’d been working hard to provide for their family on top of collecting materials for them to build a better, larger home.
The next morning, though, people came with grievous news for Thokozani. Her husband’s body had been found off the edge of the road. He had clearly been shot, although no one knew who had committed this crime. Her husband had no conflicts with anyone in the village. No one had seen the stranger who must have been passing through. Nothing had been taken from her husband.
Thokozani was left with nothing but grief and unanswered questions. Her life was completely turned upside down.
The momentum of life did not stop for tragedy, however. The children all had their own distress over the loss of their father too; they were hungry and needed supplies for school. Thokozani usually went with the littlest ones to school since they were too young to go alone. Now she needed to find work to provide all the daily needs, yet that was easier said than done for a woman in Malawi.
Rebuilding a New Life
Thokozani struggled to find stable work, and the whole family went hungry some nights when there wasn’t enough money for food. The situation became distressing enough that she finally approached the village headman and asked for help. She’d come to the right person. He had taken part in trainings with World Challenge partners, and a group of leaders in the village surrounded Thokozani to support her in her grief and hardship.
They had Thokozani join a discipleship group that walked through scriptural truths to help her grieve as well as covering practical business lessons. Soon Thokozani was able to start a small vegetable stall in the market; she became part of a microenterprise business group and began to see some profit. She was able to provide for her children and even finish building her home.
Some days it’s still hard to accept that her husband is gone, but with the Lord, she is moving forward with her life. He is quietly walking alongside her in her sorrows, and he is proving himself as the God who provides for his people.