Dignity itself has roots in the remote near North western Zambian town of Mwinilunga. It was there in early 2008, that I travelled simply because I felt God had told me to travel there. Here I began to find answers as to how to truly make a difference in Africa. There are so many people who try, and yet so many who fail. Many traits of what we are doing found there genesis there.
I’d gone to Mwinilunga with lots of ill formed ideas and all I left with was confusion. Everything I had seen convinced me that what we may call “traditional” mission didn’t have a future in reaching and transforming what has been called in the past, “The Dark Continent”. Times change and I felt after considerable heartache that God was asking me to look to the future, not to everything that was around me. Problem is, how do you look to the future when you can’t see it?
Lots of soul searching, thinking and confusion later we planted the first life! Groups and we saw that the ideas that we had formed could work and that God was indeed in them. We made lots of mistakes, some which came back to haunt us, but 3 years later there are 11 areas where life! has been planted in Zambia and there are even links to other countries. We are about to begin forming teams of villagers to further the work and there are lots of testimonies about miracles, community involvement and the grace of God changing people forever. In the last 3 years we have touched thousands and I’m not exaggerating.
It was with some apprehension that I began the 900 km journey west. The trip represented a return to a place that felt like defeat. Would our direction stand up to the scrutiny of our return to the place where that direction was first begun?
Stopping in Chingola, it was great to see Bill Raven again, we shared a fantastic Indian at Shalux, those of you in the know will know the food is great. Living 300km from the nearest Indian restaurant I need to make the most of these opportunities. I’d had to rescue Cornelius from a bus breakdown some 30km outside of a nearest town. Augustine had taken 2 days to get to Kitwe due to other bus breakdowns. Travelling can be a nightmare here.
During this trip we were camping, so we camped at Bills farm. Leaving Chingola the next morning, I was the only mizungu in a sea of zambians. 🙂 very ,uch out of my cultural comforts. The last time I had travelled to Mwinilunga, it had taken me 10 hours to do 400km. This time the road was much better, it took 4.5 hours instead. We arrived at Kuyahembe Basic School and met Loves and the team whom I had trained in Lusaka nearly a year ago. We discussed a few things, garnered amazement at our pop up tents and got ready for the next day.
The conference began on Monday morning and ran for 3 days. What a delight it was. It was very well organised and I found out that life! Groups already existed in the area. 76 people attend one, 44 people another and even in a remote bush location, 12 people met. This is before we had done any local training in situ, and came from the planters training we did last summer. Very encouraging. I also found encouraging that people wanted to unite to make a difference in their community. Over 100 orphans are being taken care of in the community by these Christians. Sunday school children are being taught and warring churches have come together for the sake of their community. These people are the hands and feet of God.
All of my trepidation and concern prior to the trip was misplaced. We don’t get everything right, but God has helped us to find a way to help those that are the villagers of Zambia to find a way with the power of God to love individuals and their community. I felt vindicated and look back on that confused time as simply being a time to discern the will of God.
Today I’m faced with another set of difficult decisions, but looking back gives me the strength to look forward. Jude and I have overcome many barriers in reaching this far, we’ve circumnavigated problems and others we have simply crashed straight through. We will keep going, mwinilunga has shown me that.
Many people think we give boreholes, well we used to, they think we train leaders, well we don’t just do that. Others think we give aid to the poor, well we do but not directly. We’ve even built a clinic in the past. There is a way to work in Africa that is far more effective, doesn’t require others and definitely doesn’t require money and all of the trappings that go with it. You see the secret is out.
We raise people to better themselves in the power of Jesus, we raise them to be the killer difference in their community, people, yes people, in the power of Jesus they can change EVERYTHING.
Africa can be changed by the very least, the poorest if the poor, by those who have nothing and you’d better believe it. In revisiting the past, I’ve seen the future again and for africa, it can be bright 🙂