Today we got to see more clearly what life is like for many in Zambia. We spent some time in the morning meeting the staff at Jubilee Center in Ndola where they serve in partnership with 94 different churches in this country. They do leadership development and training for church and community leaders, respond with care and compassion to those suffering with and impacted by HIV/AIDS, work with both students and children in evangelism, discipleship, and good health and wise living education, and all in all help mobilize the church to truly be the hope of the world in this place in a holistic way. They are making a huge difference in thousands and thousands of lives as native Zambians in this community!
We spent most of our day in a Zambian community helping to build 2 different homes for families in pretty desperate need for housing. We were hauling bricks, mixing cement, and laying block in rows as we helped move the construction process along for these families chosen by local church leaders to be those in greatest need of a new home. One family was a situation where a widow with 7 children (her husband had died from AIDS) needed a place to live due to her lack of income and losing their home when her husband passed away. The other family was a home with 4 children, including one child with a tumor who was quite sick, whose old home had literally fallen apart and had all their possessions in an outdoor space smaller than the size of my office at CU. There was no roof and clearly no other place to go. There was obviously immense gratitude and excitement as both ladies helped in the building process for their homes.
And of course, we were surrounded all day by hundreds of Zambian children. Kids who want to be picked up and twirled around over and over again. Kids who want to dance with you and sing with their beautiful voices. Kids who want you to play Futball (soccer) with their little ball made of plastic garbage bags wrapped together tightly with string. Kids who want to bump fists and just be with a strange American adult who for some reason is excited to see them and give them love and attention. Kids who should be at school but can’t afford even the most modest of school fees and costs for the uniform they need to attend classes. And kids who long to have their pictures taken with college students from CU who have decided to love and embrace them even in their first moments together.
All in all, the first day in a poor urban African community can be more than overwhelming. The poverty and obvious basic needs being unmet overwhelms you and impacts your emotional and physical state. You catch yourself watching little snippets and observing situations where it is obvious that significant health and economic challenges seem to literally be everywhere you look. And sometimes you just do not know what to think or what to say or what to do. But you try to ignore the emotions and try to serve and love and be fully present while you are in a place so different that most people back home could never, ever imagine that life exists in this way somewhere else on our planet.
In our debrief time tonight, there were lots of questions, lots of moments of joy shared where the love of the children of Africa was so clearly felt. In many ways, the journey to try and understand what we are seeing and experiencing is just beginning. And the responsibility to respond as one who has been invited to come into the lives and community of the people of Zambia is one we most likely will never feel like we can push aside. I loved watching and hearing the students in our group think deeply and biblically and openly about their first full day with the people of Zambia. We are so glad to be here and enjoying getting to know one another as friends who are seeking to serve and learn together.
Tomorrow we get a chance to tell the story of Jesus…to people in a community as we go out together with our Zambian brothers and sisters in local communities to testify to what Jesus has done and what He invites us into as we walk thru a neighborhood in Ndola. And then we get to play the game many of us love and almost all Zambians adore as we use soccer as a platform for the story of the Gospel to be shared with those who we will play against and those who watch the community soccer match featuring our students from CU. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday in Africa! Your prayers for our ministry are much appreciated!
For all the Zambia Team,