I just wrote this for Dignity’s website. Thought I would also post it here!
It’s hard to imagine that just over 2 months ago, we arrived in the area of Mkushi, central Zambia. We arrived knowing a few spurious contacts and simply having a sense that we should be here. Within 24 hours of our arrival, accommodation and firm contacts with villages had materialised. It can be eye opening when you walk in the presence and enabling of God.
Fast forward two months and the work has opened up very well indeed. This year our work has been spread over 3 locations, here in Mkushi, Nchelenge in Luapula province and supporting some further growth in Lufwanyama area near Chingola. In each of the new locations, our goal is the same, to see community groups of villagers come together to begin studying the Bible together using a course called Rooted In Jesus. We are also trying to form small groups of leaders who can carry on the work and make it their own. These are the first steps in what we call the Life! Initiative! We really believe that God wants to begin a movement of people in the bush that will take their part in transforming the very communities they live in.
Over the last few weeks we have been spending time with villagers in Mkushi helping them to think through how to get the community together and then how to lead them. We visited Nchelenge to help our friend Cornelius build relationships in the villages to begin the work. Whist very fragile we were impressed at how many villages were represented from what is a remote and very rural location. Then in Lufwanyama a team from the UK has visited to inspire some villagers to have ideas and to begin to do them in the areas that they live. To begin our work in a village we get the community together and do a group session, then show the Jesus Film to encourage them. It’s usually a big event, it is not every day that a cinema comes to town. We have found this event is a foundational time for different community groups to actually come to something together.
The heart of all this change is the gospel and in particular the good news of jesus Christ expressing itself through people. It is our belief that through Jesus, we can be forgiven by God and set free from our own selfishness to meet the needs of others. There are many powerful ideas in rural Africa, from witchcraft and poverty to a lack of hope that manifests itself in dependency. Another powerful idea is needed to bring things back on track. The Christian Gospel it that very idea!
Some of the most encouraging things we have seen are the lives of people change. People have become Christians and they have got involved in their village. That is perhaps the lubrication and hope that keeps us going. To work in the bush is hard. It can be frustrating and discouraging but, it is when you see a change that you are encouraged to continue.
The next 4 weeks see two conferences happen in Mkushi and Nchelenge and the planting of many village groups in both areas. It’s a busy time! The most exciting thing is not the fact that we are working, it is that God himself is working in the lives of those who are villagers. They are learning that God can and will use them in the plans he has for their lives and their communities.
I often say that the work of Dignity is about people. I really do believe that as a result of our work, God’s Dignity will come to a whole new wave of villagers, who desperately need to hear and experience it.