Meet Chriselda, Part I

There are certain experiences that challenge my attitude—like witnessing the significant impact a bag of on-sale carrots had on a family.

I was born a middle-class American citizen. In relation to the rest of the world, I was born rich. Like really, really rich. I had at car at the age of 16. I ate food that I enjoyed. As a matter of fact, I ate for enjoyment. I turned my nose up at fish, eggs and chicken noodle soup. I had a warm bed, a loving family and a bountiful Christmas. I received a stellar education, and that I can remember, opportunity was never out of reach. I always had shoes and never missed a meal.

Why me? Why not Moises who lives at an orphanage in rural Mozambique? Why not Far who lives in the slums of urban Thailand? Why not Owen who belongs to a Zimbabwean family seeking asylum in the townships of South Africa?

This is a question I’ve asked over and over, but I still don’t know why some are born into fortune and others into misfortune. What I do know is that I often lose sight of how blessed I am, and it’s people like Chriselda who help me to put things back into proper perspective.

Tony and I were nearing the end of our time with Team Detroit. They spent their last morning in Cape Town at a safe house for children while we went to drop off a load of stuff at Tony’s family home in Plumstead. In two days, we were heading to the States for seven weeks and needed a place to store our belongings.

On our way out of Plumstead, a residential community in the Southern Suburbs, a lady approached our car. We were sitting at a stop sign, so Tony rolled down his window. 

In Cape Town, it’s more common than not for people to beg for money and food at red lights, stop signs and intersections. Tony and I try remain Father-led, not needs-driven, and if we didn’t, we’d easily get swallowed up by the country’s overwhelming need. Still, we typically keep a bag of fruit in the car to give to those who are hungry. For many reasons, it’s rare that we dole out money to people we don’t know.

But when Chriselda explained her situation to Tony, the Spirit prompted him to open his wallet. He handed her a R50 note (equal to a $5 bill) so she could buy millie meal for the three children she had at home.

She began to cry.

"Thank you so much, sir," she said while wiping her eyes with her worn hands. "The kids haven’t eaten in two days, and the rain has basically washed the inside of my house away. We live at the church when it's raining, and the kids come home from school and cry because they don’t have food to eat like the other students.”

Her story was heartbreaking, but sadly, not uncommon.

(To be continued…)