August 6, 2016
It’s Saturday afternoon as I write. I’m reclining on a blue sofa, facing a second-story window through which I can only see the other side of the Zambezi river gorge (I’m literally looking out over a different nation). Yesterday my leaders debriefed us on re-entering our home countries, tomorrow is our Advanced Missions Training graduation, and today I feel rested enough to capture some thoughts in writing.
I’m back from my third and final expedition to Nyawa, which lasted from our arrival Saturday until returning this past Thursday. Several leaders were appointed from our class of 25, and we were left by ourselves to accomplish 4 full days of preaching the Gospel, managing the logistics of a healthy campsite, and helping one another as inevitable trials came against our ideal planning. With all this in mind, it was a true learning experience, and a satisfying way to finish our 3-month training strong!
We split up to join services at different local congregations, walked from hut to hut for personal evangelism, hosted a conference for Biblically encouraging community leaders, collaborated on skits for an after-school children’s outreach, shared worship and testimonies at regular night meetings around a large fire… AND we won another close soccer game, to the amazement of our Zambian friends. I could tell stories for each of these (and when I see you soon, feel free to ask, and I will!), but I’ll focus right now on one highlight.
It was the very first house I came to Sunday afternoon. The father, a weathered man who now had several grandchildren, was sick in his legs with shedding of the skin and intense pain beneath it. His wife had the same condition. Spiritually, there was also affliction– he once excitedly took part in church fellowship, but lost that motivation, and his adolescent son and widowed adult daughter suffered from night terrors.
If we are acting by ourselves and in a fleshly sense, we are ordinary people incapable of offering a solution. These were severe issues, after all– a disease that the hospital could not diagnose, and in the daughter’s case, dreams caused by the trauma of her husband’s suicide.
By God’s grace and in His Spirit, however, we are made ambassadors of the highest kingdom. We encouraged each of them to turn their hearts to Jesus, and in that trust they eagerly accepted prayer for their legs and against the haunting figures in their sleep. I boldly told the daughter she is not a widow; Jesus is her husband and provider… and at this I saw the cultural rarity of a Zambian woman shedding tears. We crossed paths with her the next day, witnessing a demeanor of joy and gratitude that she slept very well!
To wrap up my story and the expedition as a whole, I will say that this family reflected what I loved most about Nyawa. There was thick darkness and bitter struggle, sometimes without the immediate eagerness and dramatic salvations we encountered in other sectors. That said, we only need to keep our eyes on Jesus and persevere. In this atmosphere, our growth and faithfulness was tested like never before, and the way Zambians responded with vulnerability was extremely rewarding.
Moving on, I can only speak of this 3-month adventure in hindsight and with my departure drawing near. Neither of these are completely clear in my head (I’m grateful that in our debrief, going home was explained as the final yet critical 5% of a missions trip, where there’s still room for processing). Nevertheless, I’m writing down what I have in mind while I’m still walking on the red-brown, tall grass-growing, containing microbials-capable-of-injuring-me-if-I-was-barefoot-with-these-uncalloused-pale-feet African soil.
Zambia has been a beautiful host country, and I will not forget the warm hospitality of its people– pulling out stools and mats for us in the shade at every house we approached, and speaking to us in an instant with the familiarity of a close friend. As for my team, sharing every entire day with them is what I will miss the most. I began the trip by recognizing God as my most intimate friend, but in these closing weeks I’ve grown to deeply cherish these companions and how they draw out who He crafted me to be.
That said, this is only beginning. Even though I decided against joining the Overland Missions staff, my siblings here are joyful that my answer is yes to God’s global mission. Formerly, I feared I wasn’t cut out for missions, and I stuck close to those activities I felt most secure in. Now, knowing my God and who He says I am, I’m ready to go anywhere in this world and expand my gifts to serve His people.
In short, I’ve both been told and I’ve personally tasted my potential for playing a direct part in advancing the Gospel. Where and how I will do this is still unfolding, yet I’m expectant it will become clear through the church family Jesus gave me. When it does, I can’t wait to share it with all of you, and until then, I will celebrate (in Africa now as well as America soon) how the Lord has guided, equipped, and strengthened me for a glorious future.
Twalumba (thank you), Zambia. Twalumba, family at home and abroad. Twalumba kapati, living God who walks with us every step.
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” -Isaiah 42:6-9
Source: Taylor Lewis Zambia