Let’s see…the last post had us arriving safely in Lusaka, Zambia via buses and taxis. After one day running around Lusaka to take care of the mundane, but never dull in a developing nation, tasks of exchanging money, buying water, and arranging for our laundry, the day was over and we ate some really good food at the hotel restaurant, made plans for the next few days, updated the blog, and finally went to bed.
The schedule that Pastor Ibrahim had laid out for us took us on several city buses (cramped is a huge under-statement) and a couple of taxis to an area outside of Lusaka where Pastor Ibrahim has focused his evangelism efforts. The village where he is working is called Sonadi. I suppose you could consider it a suburb of Lusaka but not in the good sense like in the U.S. This is not the kind of place where those, with some financial means, long to get away from the hectic city life. This is a community of the very poor. They live in shelters put together with whatever sticks, mud, thatch, and broken or cast off construction materials they can get a hold of. There are no real streets or roads, just muddy paths that lead from house to house and from shop to shop. Most of the shops we saw were selling small amounts of grains, home grown vegetables and greens, and dried spice leaves. Pastor Ibrahim travels to this community each week for evangelism. He is working to start a congregation for the people here. There are no other churches working here and that is why he chose this particular area to work. There is really no chance of starting a congregation that will ever be able to support the ministry since the people are so impoverished. What a wonderful example of Going into all the world. This is not just a little pet project for Pastor Ibrahim either. He is not really supported by a larger congregation either. He simply came to Zambia at the request of a friend to spread the Gospel in Zambia. He lives in a spare bedroom of a friend who has a wife and family of three children to support as well. He draws no salary and lives meal to meal as his host is able to provide. It is quite humbling to work with a man like this. He is such gentle and kind man full of love for others and has compassion that is evident in all he does. Just one quick example of his compassion and selfless service…as we were working out way through the community (more on this later) we took a quick turn down a path that led to man who was extremely dirty and un-kempt. His hair was matted down and I am sure he didn’t own a toothbrush. He was seated on a broken piece of concrete pipe with a metal sheers in one hand and a piece of twisted and bent corrugated steel sheeting (like you see on a roof of a barn or shed) across his lap. His crippled legs were sticking out to one side. His eyes and face showed the confusion of one who does not have the full use of his metal capacities. The appearance of such an individual brings two completely different emotions. One the one hand such a sight tells you that this is one person you might want to steer clear of because he no doubt, is full of disease, lice, and other such things that no one wants to be in contact with. The smell too, I am sure, would be repulsive as it was apparent that bathing was not a priority nor probably possible for him on a regular basis. On the other hand, the compassion that grips the hearts when you see an individual like this is overwhelming and the heart yearns to do something, anything, to help him. Pastor Ibrahim ran across this man on one of his first visits. He resisted the urge to steer clear and stay “safe.” Instead, moved with Christ-like compassion, he walked down to this man and began to visit. He found a man who has “a gentle and kind heart” with a crippled body and a simple mind. He has no one to care for him but there are many who treat him very un-kindly. He makes a small living by collecting and selling scrap metals. He lives with two other men in a small, mud-waddle-thatched roof, house that is no bigger than most storage rooms in a modern U.S. home. There was no door on the house, just a dirty, raggedy sheet that covered the entrance. Pastor Ibrahim spends time visiting with this man each week as they discuss the heavenly home that our Savior has prepared for him where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more cruel words, no more hunger, and no more suffering. And then he gives him a small amount of money to buy food. As Pastor Ibrahim handed him a small amount of Kwacha (about $2USD of Kwacha) I asked Ibrahim where he gets the money to help this man. He responded (with not even a hint of pride) that he fasts one day each week so that this man can eat. “Humbling”…seems like too small of a word or concept to describe the moment. Ashamed is maybe a better way to describe the emotion that I felt then and am feeling again now as I remember the experience with tears welling up as I type. The one statement that echoes through my mind over and over while I am on these trips, experiencing the joys and the sorrows of such work is this… “we can and should be doing so much more…we must do more!
With our time running short in Lusaka, we concluded the seminar around 3:30 with a devotion as the women (who prepared an incredible meal) joined us for worship. Pastor Ude and I were both given the opportunity to speak. I thanked the Lord for this opportunity and for the men and women who are so eager and willing to hear and learn and be trained so that they can faithfully serve the Lord in whatever capacity the Lord grants to each of them individually and as whole. I am eager to see what the Lord unfolds in Zambia over the next few years. It appears that the Lord has opened another door of opportunity for the spread of the truth of His saving word!
We departed Lusaka with a rented car and driver as we headed for the Zambia/Zimbabwe border.
This trip took us to the city of Livingstone near the famous Victoria Falls. We were told that the trip (by car) would take around 5 hours. I had looked it up on Google maps and had my doubts. My doubts were confirmed when the 5 hour mark came and went and we still had 200kms to go. We were told we would arrive around 9:30 pm. We didn’t arrive until after midnight. We searched around for a hotel and were able to find a descent (not nice) hotel for the night. We checked in and after a quick, cold shower, went immediately to sleep. The next morning we inquired about the distance to Victoria Falls from where we were at. After we discovered that the road we would take to Zimbabwe was only a few kilometers from the viewing site we decided that it would be worth a couple of hours to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And it was definitely worth the extra time! This is the rainy season and so the waters were high and rushing. We spent about two hours hiking around on the various trails that give you some spectacular views of the widest (over a mile wide) water fall in the worlds. We saw the spot where Dr. David Livingstone first spotted the falls. Words and pictures will never be able to describe what the Lord blessed us to see. If you are interested….just Google Victoria Falls and you will find far more than I could ever describe. We only spent two hours…I wish I had about two weeks to explore this area just for fun…maybe someday! I found the picture below on the internet since none of the pictures we were able to take can really capture the falls. Incredible. It was a great experience seeing this incredible place, especially when we really had no idea we would get the opportunity. Usually I like to research a place before I go there. This time it will be fun going home and researching Victoria Falls with the kids after I have already been there. This seems to happen to me a lot. Take a peek at these website if you want to learn more about Victoria Falls.
Today we met Pastor Apostle Liberty Atawa for the first time. He is now making preparations for our short time here in Bulawayo. We will meet with him that the other pastors he is working with this afternoon and tomorrow. We only have a couple of days here so we stressed the importance of making good use of our time. We leave on Wednesday morning.
I was able to talk to Beth a little bit the other day. She said a couple of the kids are having a hard time with me being gone again for so long. I miss them all a lot too. Please keep her and them in your prayers.
Thanks again for your prayers!