(re-posted from July 2011)
This morning I attended the funeral of a 7 year old boy named Mamba. His life, of course, was way too short. His death was tragic: killed by his step-father who then also took his own life.
Mamba was loved by many. I knew him only as a toddler when his mother was involved some with Timbali Crafts. I hadn’t seen him for a few years, but had heard his name often…he was a favorite among our staff, and among the visiting teams from the U.S. church that sponsors the Care Point he attended.He was full of joy. As soon as news of his death came out last week, there were countless messages on facebook and various blogs from people who had been touched by Mamba’s life and were grieving his early death.
On Thursday some of us went out to visit and pray with Mamba’s family. His mother, just in her mid-twenties, sat on her grass mat with her head down and tears on her cheeks. I remembered just a couple years ago, sitting with this same mother with the same tears for her small baby who had just passed away. Not even thirty, and she’s already buried two children. I can’t even imagine.
This morning at the grave site there were more than a dozen little boys gathered around, watching wide-eyed as their friend was lowered into the ground. What were they thinking? How will that image influence their lives?
Many of our staff, who knew Mamba well, have been deeply involved in all of this from the beginning. When it was discovered Mamba was missing, they were out looking for him. When they found the step-father, they tried to rush him to the clinic, only to have him die in the car. While the mother and grandmother were waiting at home for word on what had happened, they were waiting with them. Once Mamba was found, one of them had to identify the body. They explained to all the children at the Care Point what had happened to their friend. They organized food. They organized transportation. They planned and led the night vigil and funeral service from beginning to end. I’m so proud to be a partner in ministry with all of them…they have been phenomenal through all this, they have led and comforted beautifully, and I’m certain they have been light and love to this family and community in a very deep way.
During the last week I heard someone say, “What a waste.” I understand that thought. I’m pretty sure I had the same one. But as I think about it now, that is not a phrase I think anyone would want to have associated with Mamba. His death was senseless, and cruel, but I am so thankful God will not waste this.
Maybe parents will decide to cherish time with their children more because they’ve seen once again how quickly they can be taken away? Maybe more people will decide to become advocates for vulnerable children because of hearing Mamba’s story? Maybe those little boys standing by the grave this morning will decide to be heroes for their future families…protectors and providers…notdestroyers?! I know God brought joy to many through Mamba’s life, and I think he plans to do great things through his death. And while we’re watching God’s plans unfold down here, as many have already said, we can picture Mamba now, bringing and experiencing joy to the fullest in the presence of the Lord.