Beauty in the Thorns

by Joshua Mikeworth
HopeChest Blog Contributor

I was privileged to travel with the Known To Me community’s 2012 Ludlati trip through CHC this past summer. My bride held our lives together making it possible for me to be present with eleven others to reach across the globe to our Ludlati friends.

When I returned, I was often greeted with many a “Welcome Back! How was Africa?”. Most making this statement assume I have been on some sort of organized charity work with a great many tales to tell of wild animals and exotic foods. They are interested in the sights and sounds and sensationalist details of extreme poverty, but if I start to provide too many details, many start to shift uncomfortably. This saddens me.

There is a scar on my arm that is healing. It is about six inches long and was obtained while I was trekking the perimeter of the CarePoint praying one morning. This was not a leisurely walk for the thorns; small shrubs heavily laden with two to four inch barbs. Continually they grab at your clothing, snagging you, attempting to puncture the layers.

The older boys have cleared this scrub from the soccer field area but it is present just beyond. I noted early in the week some of the boys who did not have shoes would share a pair, running up and down the field with only one shoe on. When the ball went wild and into the thorns, they would hop, one legged on the foot with the shoe, to retrieve the ball.

The thorns do not detract from the beauty of Ludlati. They do not impede the persistent care of the bomake or the attendance and play of the children. They are simply part of the fabric of this place. The harshness of the landscape is woven together with the warmth of smiles and the sounds of laughter, the bleating of passing goats, and the smell of the cook fire. Even among the thorns, there is a simple clean beauty in this place.

The thorns of Ludlati CarePoint.
The Thorns of Ludlati CarePoint.

When I see the thorns, I am reminded that though life is full of entanglements clutching and grabbing us, and though we lose blood, sweat, or tears as we engage them, we are not to shy away from them. If we only love safely, if we only risk little, if we only live sparingly, if we stay only on “safe paths”, then we will lose the beauty of what God has in store for each of us.

When I see these thorns, I am also reminded of a woven crown, pressed down upon a bloodied and bruised head hung in exhaustion. I am reminded of a Savior, whose blood lost upon that crown was shed so that like my brothers and sisters at Ludlati, I would know true life forever with him. I am reminded that the One who beckons me to follow His example often leads through paths that are not “comfortable” but rather that yield eternal worth and return in the effort.

The scar on my arm is fading. I pray the conviction and the heart knowledge that burns within will not fade in time or distance. I pray that I will be able to share a portion of that knowledge for God to move on people’s hearts as He will. As for me, I have found beauty in the thorns.


Joshua and his wife Tonya currently support the Ludlati CarePoint through Children’s Hopechest. Joshua is hoping to return to Ludlati as often as the Lord permits and they are both thankful for the opportunity to serve the beautiful families and bomake of Swaziland.

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