By Becky Voigt
While serving in the Transkei, I met a young man, Raphael, who had lived in an overcrowded orphanage as a child. When he got into trouble, he ran away from the orphanage and was living on his own. Raphael had come into contact with a mission organization that provided him a place to live. Though now 20 years old, he was working on finishing high school. He is a humble, gentle, young man who didn’t seem comfortable visiting with us noisy Americans, yet he was always respectful.
One day, I was preparing a meal when Raphael and his friend walked through the kitchen. They saw me taking chicken off the bones and putting the skin and bones in a bowl to throw away. The garbage was thrown in a pit behind the house and burned as necessary. In the meantime, there were always stray dogs around, digging through the garbage for something to eat. Raphael approached me and asked if he could have the bowl of scraps when I was done. Without even thinking, my American mind went straight to “he wants to feed the mama dog I see hanging around here” and that is what I said. Raphael got the funniest look on his face and his friend responded, “First Raphael will eat, then the dog.”
I have never felt more foolish and humble in my life. Later, I apologized to Raphael. He downplayed it; after that, I shared all the scraps with him. Raphael knew that he was invited to eat with us but most of the time he was more comfortable eating alone in his room.
I don’t take chicken scraps for granted anymore.
Being in a third-world situation changed me for the good. It softened my heart and mind to the plight of my fellow human beings. It made their struggle personal for me. It has shown me that the problem is way too big for any of us alone. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and through Him, hope will come to the souls of the Transkei and areas like it.