My globe obsession began when I was just six years old. I can remember visiting my Grandma’s house, giving her a quick hug and kiss hello, then racing into the room that housed my beloved globe. Sitting with the globe in front of me on the floor, I would spin it with my eyes tightly shut. When a sufficient number of seconds had passed, I’d stop the globe with one finger and open my eyes in wonderment to see which country I had “traveled” to.
I landed in Africa quite often.
It wasn’t long before I found myself dreaming of traveling to the exotic land. Then years went by, and I became a Christian. Suddenly my reasons for visiting Africa changed.
Jesus set me free from my sin and I wanted to carry his message of love, hope and new life to a people who had never heard his name. There are countless places I could have chosen, but the dreams God had planted in my six-year-old mind would not be shaken. I was determined to go to Africa.
Fast forward to August of 2016. I arrived in Zambia, Africa with my husband and three other teammates ready to take the gospel in the bush. We teamed up with dear missionary friends of ours, Jack and Amber Mututwa, and their organization – Trail Missions.
The purpose of Trail Missions is a three-part process:
- FIND THEM: Jack and Amber identify rural, unreached villages in the bushes of Zambia. They take missionary teams into the villages for two weeks at a time to share the gospel.
- TRAIN THEM: The Mututwas pour into the believers in the formerly unreached villages through discipleship and bible training.
- SEND THEM: Once local pastors have been trained, they are sent out to plant churches in their villages.
Our team had the privilege of being a part of the first movement – finding them.
So there we were, fresh off of our 15 hour flight, standing with all of our life’s necessities for the next two weeks on the curb outside of the the Livingstone airport. We immediately packed all of our belongings into a repurposed military truck fondly named The Gladiator.
From there we drove 6 hours on into the night on a road I imagine would feel quite at home on the face of the moon. Full of craters – I mean potholes – the dirt road stands as a barrier between those living in Livingstone and the Western province. The Gladiator delivered us safely to Jack and Amber’s mission base in Sioma, which is perfectly situated on the river bank of the Zambezi.
The Send Off
It was here that we caught up on sleep and learned about the villages we had traveled the world to love. The gospel, as Jack explained, would be received quite differently in rural Zambia than in the States.
The Zambians are a deeply spiritual people. There is no need to convince them of the existence of God or of the spiritual realm. They interact with it daily. Cut off from modern medicine, villagers often rely upon witch doctors for healing and protection. People come to the witch doctors to purchase deliverance from sickness, bad dreams, and protection from demons. Ceremonies are performed and charms – white beaded necklaces – are given to ward off evil. Sadly, it’s these very charms that actually enslave the people to evil spirits. There are various churches scattered throughout rural Zambia, but very few of them teach Scripture or even speak the name of Jesus. The people are caught in a cycle of legalism and hopelessness.
As Jack concluded his briefing on the villages, I felt excitement mounting. How perfect a setting for the lavish love of Christ to be proclaimed to longing hearts! And yet, there was this lingering question of how? How do we relate to these villagers when we don’t even share a language! Jack answered our misgivings in this way: “Show an African love, and they will love you forever.”
Love. So simple. What won me to the cross all of those years ago was the same thing that would win the hearts of these villagers. Love. They just needed to taste and see the goodness of Jesus through my love.
We slept on these great big thoughts in anxious anticipation for the next day’s journey into the bush. Stay tuned for the next post and recap of our trip into the first village!