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Sermon – 3/21/04
Psalm 32:10 - Olipa Chimangeni


Audio Sermon

Olipa Chimangeni

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him” (Psalm 32:10)

Some years ago, I read the biography of a great lady, a singer named Ethel Waters, who blessed a whole generation with her voice.  She was born in 1900, after her 12 year old mother was raped by a 23 year old man –- Ethel Waters was the result of that rape.  There was little love in her home because of the circumstances of her conception and she was eventually adopted by her grandmother; but she actually lived with alcoholic aunts and uncles.  When she was hungry, she would steal food to eat.  Ethel was rebellious in the Catholic school she attended, but her rebellion was met in that place with love.  She found Christ when she was 11, during a Methodist revival.  When I first heard Ethel Waters, years ago, she was singing the wonderful, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” – She said her “precious Jesus always had His eye on this little sparrow.

She was a “regular,” singing at Billy Graham Crusades, until her death in 1976.  She also was active in the secular entertainment field, delighting millions with her renditions of great songs, such as “Stormy Weather.”  Ms. Waters became the first African-American woman to star in a Broadway play.

It has occurred to me that if Ethel Waters had been conceived a century later under the same circumstances, she probably would have been “aborted,” and a whole generation would have missed the wonder of her music.  The injury to her and to her mother was very real, but God compensates for loss by giving infinitely more in return.

Ethel Waters indeed was marked by the circumstances of her birth and early life, for she experienced periods of isolation and depression, even during the years when she was at the peak of her popularity.  Such is the way it is for us all.  We are made new in Christ Jesus, but the “old” lingers throughout our lives.  We are who we are, complete with injuries, all of our lives, but if we let Him, the Lord will cause the “new” to dominate and bless – Not only ourselves, but also those around us.  That was how it was with Ethel Waters, and it is also true for Olipa Chimangeni.

A recent “World Vision” magazine (Spring 2004) contained a series of articles featuring people in several countries where HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are rampant.  Deaths are into the millions as whole countries are in danger of becoming depopulated.  Orphans are everywhere, with some children caring for younger ones and many others cared for by no one at all.

Just like Ethel Waters’ mother was used and discarded by someone stronger, so was Olipa Chimangeni.  When Olipa was a teenager, an older man forced himself on her, leaving her pregnant with her firstborn son, Francis.  As reported in “World Vision,” the man returned to “apologize” five years later, only to abuse and impregnate her again.  The second time he gave Olipa HIV.  Francis, now 7, is HIV-negative, but 2-year old Miriam is positive, and the child is continually sick.

Olipa, who is 24, considered the situation:  She was sick with a deadly virus that had been transmitted to her baby daughter.  Her son would likely become an orphan.  Her area had no health care or electricity and water is a long walk away.  As “World Vision” reported, her home is a place where you must be strong enough to grow what you eat.

Culturally, people in her country of Malawi, don’t talk about sickness and death, and something like HIV carries with it an intense shame, isolating its sufferers from other people.  Millions of Africans have HIV, but are in denial, even avoiding medical care that is available, “pretending,” the article continued, “that their sicknesses are normal.”

What did Olipa Chimangeni do?  She responded like Ethel Waters; and like King David, as we can see in Psalm 32: She cried out to God for help, becoming open to both Him and those around her.  Her parents, who love the Lord, allowed Olipa and the children to move into their home.  And she began to compete in “Netball!”  This is a vigorous women’s game not unlike basketball, involving strategy, running, jumping and throwing.  She also attends church, openly challenging everyone she encounters, from churchgoers to Netball fans, to have compassion for HIV sufferers.  And she is active in World Vision.

David of Israel was a prophet and a king, and he was also a sinner, like you and me.  He said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1), a verse quoted by Paul the Apostle in Romans 4:7, and tied to faith in God as the ground of His acceptance of us.  To be forgiven is to have faith in God’s Son, as seen in Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  When we did not even want Him, His blood was shed for you and me.

David had a way of seeing much more than you would expect, for the Holy Spirit gave him understanding.  He saw that God provides a way for all who become open before God and man (without “guile” – Psalm 32:2).  An openness enabled by the Lord.

Ethel Waters’ mother was treated badly, leaving a bad mark on her daughter, but through faith in the Lord, that daughter became someone who blessed a whole generation.  Olipa Chimangeni was harmed in a manner that, humanly speaking, should have ruined her life, but she also has faith in God – and He intends that her life and the lives of her children will work for the good of many.  King David himself did harm, but he also had faith, and it was purposed that you and I would learn of the love, the forgiveness and the mercy of God, through this man who openly trusted in the Lord.

David found that “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him” (Psalm 32:10).  Do you want the mercy of the Lord?  Then TRUST in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for you and me.

Lord, we who have known sorrow, ask that we might TRUST in You.  Please have mercy on us.  We receive You, Lord – Thank You for Your love.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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