Bound

The young man was tied up, bound and left in a room on his own. The parents didn’t know what else to do. His madness was all pervading. He couldn’t talk, he refused to eat and appeared confused all of the time. For three years this had been the situation. Left in the dark dusty room of a typical high density residence, his condition worsened and worsened.

It’s 4’o clock in the morning. The residential areas of the remote town of Mwinilunga are quiet. Rhoda calls Loves to come and pray for her brother. No-one can cope anymore. He still lies bound.

Loves and the family pray for the young man. They take him to the hospital. His condition is improving.

A few hours after being prayed for the young man is able to talk, he can ask for food and wants to eat. He can recognise his family and relatives whom he has not seen or talked to for 3 years.

Loves bathes him and continues to pray for him for two days. By this time he is fully recovered.

He is not bound anymore. Jesus has set him free.

(from a report collected by Bernard of Dignity’s Central Impact Team, from Loves Kwangu in Mwinilunga)

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Difference

I’m sat in a classroom in Kayuhembe Basic School right in the middle of the remote town of Mwinilunga in North Western Zambia. (check out the gps reference in this post) 30 people sit around. Cornelius is speaking about Psalm 1 and the importance of having the right fruit as a Christian, the importance of making a difference. That’s after all why we are here, to help people make a difference.

In the background I can hear the many sounds of African life. The thump thump of a probably the biggest speaker in the world is pulsating through the town. Children laughing, people going about their everyday business.

I was very aware last night whilst camping here that a lot of the experiences I have are very varied, rich and really quite vibrant. I am very privileged to have them and maybe I can share some of them here. Having them whilst fun, does take a toll sometime though. Last night I found myself feeling incredibly homesick, and I wasn’t sure if that was for mkushi here in zambia or the UK.

On the way here yesterday, on the endless road that runs from Solwezi to Mwinilunga, we came across an Egyptian guy that had broken down. He had a flat tyre, but his jack was broken. Stuck in the middle of nowhere. We stopped. We helped him and he was in his way. Imagine if no-one had stopped. He would ha e been there for hours. We passed one car in 3 hours. He could have been there for days………

Last night the night watchman in the school was in a bit if a flap. No one had told him that we were camping at the school. He didn’t mention anything to us, instead he went off to get an army officer. Later the officer turned up, and was questioning me as to why we are here. It all boiled down to trust and initiative. The watchman couldn’t ring the deputy head, who did know we were coming, he also couldn’t make a decision on his own. He was fearing for his job, his livelihood. The army officer could see there was no problem, but if the watchman had been trusted or been encouraged to trust his own judgement, the situation would never have happened. Never been interrogated by the army before……..

Africa is also very loud. About 400m from our camp is a food shop. Dark, dingy and lacking in stock, nevertheless it is there. There ,is also a speaker the size if a man there. The whole town also knows about the speaker, From 7am until 10pm is is there every day. These things used to annoy me, now I have just got used to them. I like my peace and quiet. I have to shut myself in my tent, put my headphones in and play my own music to do that.

Bathing can also be fun. Africa us also very dark. At the school here, there is grass in the middle that is in full view if the town. Last night, without a bathroom we got a bath in the middle of the green, in full view. It was so dark that no one noticed.

In all of this “experience” and interest, real people are working out real lives often in very real circumstances. As I’m writing this, Cornelius has just said, “this stuff is life changing” and that’s the point. Changed lives, changed people, changed communities. That’s why we are here, that’s why I go through all of these experiences, simply to act as a catalyst to make it happen. I know that I am making a difference.

Location:T5,Mwinilunga,Zambia

Challenge

I had the most curious chat with my wife Jude this morning. It seems that we have both been feeling similar in the last few days. We discovered this over a cup of tea in the garden, which is one of life’s rare pleasures. Our life in the UK is fairly well developed. We have friends, places that we know, things that we do and everything else that would ‘constitute’ a normal life. Being back home in the UK recently, really hammered this home to us. 

Coming back to Zambia has felt a little bit like we are the outsiders again. It is hard to explain, but through social contact, humour and a different pattern of life, we know that Southern Africa is not our ‘home’, or in other words, the place where you feel most relaxed. It is the little things that get to you. A visit to the bank that yields nothing, a cultural problem in the villages for example, all underline this fact that you are a foreigner.

We find it at church. Yes we believe the same things as everyone else, but we find it very hard to be culturally on the same level. That isn’t to say that we do not know people, we do, it is simply different. It is very hard to be close to people. That takes time, whole lifetimes to develop.

Saying all of that however, we are also confronted with what we are here to do. It is far reaching, difficult to achieve and in some ways revolutionary. I saw that yesterday during some time meeting up with a couple of teams not far from where we stay. Two small teams have gathered some individuals together and have started in their village community. They have faced a lot of opposition with church leaders actively attacking them. Why? because they are trying to bring some individuals together to make a difference. That’s all! Hardly a crime is it? They need input from me, they need leadership and that’s why we are here.

I know that what we are doing is what the Lord wants, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t struggle with it sometimes. I do feel torn sometimes between a life full of service to me, that is easier, more comfortable and a life that is full of sacrifice and God. It’s a choice between having a life that doesn’t honour God and a life that does. That really spoke to me in the UK, many of us are Christians, but our lives, usually because of busy careers are not in a position to honour God. 

Imagine if those in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen or even Egypt were too busy to protest, or decided to keep their lives to themselves. Regimes would never be changed and oppression would continue. The fact of the matter is that there are millions of people who are oppressed. They are oppressed spiritually, the bible says they are in darkness. They are oppressed practically. Those in the bush here are oppressed by poverty, people in the UK are no less oppressed, they are oppressed by the trappings of wealth. 

A thought here, maybe God uses the poor because they are more available than the rich? Yes we can be used in our place of work, and that is important, but with our family and ‘our’ time, we are simply not interested. God is not God of our lives, simply any spare time we happen to offer Him  Too busy to honour God, now that’s a thought…… Thinking about it I’d hate to be in that position.

I spoke today to a group in Mwinilunga, who are some 13 hours drive from me. They came to a conference we held last July. They have gathered people and have begun to meet centrally in the BOMA (a throwback to colonialism, British Overseas Mission Authority – means town centre). They are at the beginning of what I hope will be a great journey for them. Whatever the cost, it is God moving in their lives that is the pay off. Having spent time in the UK, which is a country full of spiritual selfishness, ie. what does God have for me, I see that we must constantly put that to the sword to enable us to take hold on behalf of others, what the Lord has for them.

It is one thing to take hold of what God has for you, but it is the example of Jesus to take hold of what God has for other people, sacrificing yourself and giving it to them. Those words challenge me, I hope they challenge you also. If they don’t, maybe you are more spiritually introspective and oppressed than you think…