A WOW team comprised of 12 volunteers spent two weeks in Kabwe, Zambia between July 19th and August 4th. They served with our local partners, witnessing the challenges of life in an African community. The following post was written by Megan Scott, a member of the short-term team from Edmonton, AB. This was Megan’s second WOW mission trip.
When I flew to Africa for the second time, I was reminded afresh that what we bring to the people is invaluable. WOW’s African partners reminded our team that it is the love of Christ that motivates all of our actions and is the sustaining power that can transform lives and communities. This message would prove true as we helped with income generating projects, did home-based care visits, led Bible studies, visited schools and engaged in prayer for the sick and oppressed.
What I considered our first “team challenge” was helping with the Impact Community Outreach (ICO) farm. ICO is the local partner of WOW. The farm is an income-generating project to help fund their ministry. We did not know what to expect when we showed up, but were soon put to work bagging corn, putting it through a machine, then rebagging the kernels and sewing up the bags for market. Our team of twelve, made up of young and old got right to work despite our fleshly aches and groans and let the scripture fuel our work. I’m sure it was not just myself that had this scripture on repeat in my mind: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Col. 3:23-24).” After our first day there we bagged 132 bags of corn, each worth $80 US and finished off the day by singing “come and see what the LORD has done.” Unexpectedly we did such a good job that they brought us back for another day, and it was ICO worker Dalton that reminded us that each scoop of corn we take is for the orphan and widow. He knew we needed that extra ounce of encouragement to push through the second round of what our African partners jokingly called, “missionary abuse”!
While our physical bodies were tired from the farm work, it was the hearts of each team member that were deeply moved through our home-based care visits among the community. It is not easy to see people lying in impoverished conditions affected by HIV or other ailments, yet we were reminded that we have come to bring hope to the hopeless because Christ lives in us and we are his ambassadors. Every individual and every story matters to him as it did to our team. We helped with household chores, listened, shared scripture, prayed and wrapped each patient in a donated blanket reminding them that God’s love covers them. Each team member took pictures and
made a memory book for a patient and their family. I also had the privilege of watching members of the team lead two patients to Christ. This is a beautiful ministry as our African partners informed us that through this demonstration of Christ’s love to people in the community that are often seen as destitute and abandoned, patients, their families and neighbours many times give their lives to the LORD. It was a great encouragement to our team. We saw what true heroes the local volunteers are, who do this on a regular basis long after we leave.
Though sometimes short term missions gets a bad wrap, I am discovering it is not just about sending money, but as African pastor Eric says, “it is about the power of relationship.” While in community, each team member had their own story of sharing a smile, hug, song or laugh with one of the locals face to face. When I revisited 18-year-old crippled boy “Sunday” to give him his memory book and I hugged him and told him Jesus loved him and he was very special to God, I knew that the long trip to Zambia was worth it. When team member Chrisyanell taught a group of local kids a song about Christ’s love in her native language of Spanish and saw their smiles, she knew it was worth it and when Rachel led local girl Jen to Christ and was able to give her a Bible and
a hug, she knew it was worth it. The power of relationship, touch and human contact is often overlooked in today’s society, but just as on my last trip I was told the people would not forget our visit, so we don’t forget them as this interaction is forged on the human spirit. As Christ sees me, an average individual, he sees and cares about each person we meet and knows the intimate details of their life. Our team hoped to impart even a little bit of this to those we came across.
While we also visited schools, helped with other income generating projects like tailoring and a local restaurtant, spoke in churches and engaged with community children using the gifts of team members, what stood out for me through all of these activities was the power of prayer. Everyday our team felt like we were in a spiritual battle over the work God wanted to do in the lives and communities we visited. We encountered the affects of witchcraft in many areas and were asked to pray and break this stronghold. God knew what he was doing when he put our team together because I discovered when I met the team that I was surrounded by a group of prayer warriors! Every morning, every evening and throughout the day, we prayed over our team, the ministry and the people we encountered. One team member, Rachel, realized while we were there that the poverty faced in Zambia is not just a physical thing, where only resources need to be sent, but it is also a spiritual oppression where our prayers need to be “sent” to help bring freedom and wholeness to the people on all levels. This is in line with what ICO worker Dalton commissioned us to do at the end of our time there. He said we could do two things: Pray and tell others to gain support for the projects needed in the area. So just as when we came, we left realizing that it is the power of God’s Spirit within us, motivating us to pray and give that will help the work God wants to continue in Zambia for the future.
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us (Eph. 3:20-the message).”