Posts by oliviathompson

Hope for the Hopeless

August 14th, 2018 Posted by Immersion Internship – 2018 0 comments on “Hope for the Hopeless”

Fighting for justice means living in righteousness—a lifestyle of selflessness, of elevating other’s needs above your own, whether or not anyone is watching. As I’ve learned from Micah’s teaching, all poverty comes from social injustice, and all injustice comes from unrighteousness. The cure for poverty, disease, illiteracy, and oppression is not a Band-Aid of redistributing money, but true transformation in the hearts of individuals through Jesus Christ. When God chose to save the world, he didn’t send a check; he sent his Son. Only through Christ’s redemptive transformation can spiritual emptiness be replaced with righteousness and the giants of social injustice be slain.

Over the last three months, God has brought me face to face with these giants of injustice through my relationship with a certain widow named Mary. When I met her, she was dying of Tuberculosis and AIDS. Her caretakers were her elderly mother, who was also sick, and her three young children. With no income, they could only rely on the generosity of those around them for their daily food. Though Mary’s situation seemed hopeless, somehow God saw fit for our paths to cross at such a time that my friends and I could visit her every week, provide a few meals and necessities for her family, sing to her and pray with her the day she went home to be with the Lord, and comfort her family at her burial our last weekend in Zambia. I don’t know why God didn’t answer our prayers by healing Mary’s physical body, but I do believe he’s bringing new hope into her household. The last few weeks we visited Mary, some teenagers from the community joined us, translating for us and praying alongside us. Although my time in Zambia and Mary’s time on earth has run out, God is raising up new ambassadors of the Gospel in this place. Following our example, they will be the ones to confront the injustices in Choma by visiting the sick, loving the poor and the oppressed, and putting the needs of others above their own.

Injustice doesn’t just exist in the compounds of Choma, Zambia. Injustice exists everywhere there is unrighteousness, sin, and relational brokenness. As I return to the United States, I know God has more work to do through me. The spiritual emptiness in my own community needs Jesus’ transformation just as much as any other community does. As each of us returns to our communities, may God continue to transform us into his hope on earth.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Thompson – 2018 Immersion Intern

From Comfort Zone to Faith Zone

August 1st, 2018 Posted by Immersion Internship – 2018 0 comments on “From Comfort Zone to Faith Zone”


Our two-week outreach trip to Lesotho was challenging for me mentally, physically, and emotionally. Once I finally felt I had overcome my homesickness in Zambia and settled into a new rhythm of doing life in the internship, my perspective was shaken again during outreach. I realized I had been building up my own comfort zone in Zambia, grounding myself in things that were familiar or that I felt I could do well or easily. All of that comfort zone fell away in Lesotho as I received the chance to serve in new ways, including paving roads, painting a school, speaking to a group of teenagers about living a life of purpose, and sharing a word of encouragement to a church congregation—all things I felt ill-equipped to do. Even driving 36 hours one way on a bus and living in close community in the cold for two weeks revealed my need for growth in patience and servanthood. As I learned from Pastor Fred a few weeks ago, sometimes God brings us into a season of separation in order to build our character and speak more clearly to us. A season of separation from what’s comfortable, familiar, and safe can take us to a new place of relying on God.


While in Lesotho, I had the opportunity to hear from the Lord in a couple hours of solitude. I chose a boulder to sit on, looking over the mountainous landscape and vast blue sky. Everything was beautiful and peaceful, and for a while, I was content to just sit in stillness admiring God’s creation. Then I noticed other members of our group walking on ahead, and I began to wonder what everything looked like from their perspective. As I became less satisfied with my location, I started focusing on the view I didn’t have yet instead of what was right in front of me. God convicted me that I’ve been so anxious to rush on ahead to the next stages of my life—completion of this internship, marriage, graduation from college, etc.—that I’m missing out on the beauty of where God has put me right now. If I rush on ahead, I discovered, I’ll only be anxious to get to the next seemingly appealing place after that. I asked God how I’m supposed to know when to move, and he told me to stand up and look into a pool of water in front of me. From my spot on the rock, the water shimmered in the sun and reflected the bright blue of the sky, but when I came close to it, I realized the water was shallow, dirty, and smelly. I went back to my rock until I heard the Lord tell me to look into the water again. The sun had dried the water and sludge off of the ground in several patches, like stepping stones. On the way to my place of solitude I had almost slipped in the mud, but walking across those dry places, there was no chance of slipping. The picture reassured me that I don’t need to be stumbling and guessing what God’s will is because God will make my path clear when he wants me to move.


Coming to Zambia was one step of faith for me. The internship began a season of separation from the comforts of home and family, but the trip to Lesotho showed me there were even more aspects of my life I needed separation from to grow closer to the Lord. I needed a separation from my routine and from the things I thought I could do well to learn that service is about much more than what tasks we can accomplish. God cares more about the posture of our hearts than how well we can paint a school. I needed a separation from the activity of community and service so I could remember to enjoy what God has put right in front of me. I’m grateful to serve a God who doesn’t leave me in my selfishly-constructed comfort zones, but places me where he wants me, showing me a new path when it’s time to move.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Thompson – 2018 Immersion Intern

We are Family

June 26th, 2018 Posted by Immersion Internship – 2018 0 comments on “We are Family”

A week after leaving the United States for Zambia, a sickening thought hit me: “What am I doing here? My family needs me!” As the oldest of five siblings, I feel a lot of responsibility to guide and encourage my brothers and sisters—a role which has been difficult to fill my past four years in college. I also feel a responsibility to be there for my parents. This summer could have been a great time to build up those relationships and be together as a family, especially since I’ll be getting married soon and then everything will change again. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made this realization before deciding to move to Zambia for three months. How foolish I felt, coming all the way to Africa only to start wishing for a plane ticket home!

I knew the Immersion Internship would require certain sacrifices, like being apart from my fiancé, but I never imagined leaving my parents, brothers, and sisters would be so difficult. I never anticipated homesickness as one of my biggest struggles here—and out of homesickness, failure to be fully invested in this community. Despite thinking of myself as cross-culturally adept and mission-minded, I struggled to find joy and purpose in being here. My head knew that God brought me to Zambia for a purpose and that there’s much for me to learn, but my heart was in a different place. I felt like relationships with people here weren’t worth investing in if I would never see them again after three months. I wanted to just fast-forward to the end of the internship so I could return to my family, but still take back with me all the lessons I’m supposed to learn. But most of those lessons, I’m discovering, are only learned patiently, through living daily life in relationship with other people. They’re learned through being in a family, called the Body of Christ.


As we learned from Abby the first week of the internship, God created humanity to share in the abundant, relational love of the Trinity. The family of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was so beautiful and life-giving that God didn’t want to keep it to himself, but created us to become a part of that family. When I was growing up, I always wanted my family to adopt more children, for the same reason that God wanted to adopt us into his family. Being a part of a family isn’t easy. It takes commitment, conflict, discomfort, and forgiveness, but it’s worth it. As Dave taught in us in the third week of the internship, belonging, adoption and intimacy are better than freedom, and relationships are the only thing we build that are eternal. My relationships here in Zambia are worth investing in because the Body of Christ is my true family, and each person reveals something of the image of God. By growing in relationship with everyone here, I’m getting to know the family of God better. Learning to live more fully into my humanity through relationship is a process that will last even beyond this lifetime.



It took me all of our first week here to realize that my family is much larger than the parents and siblings I left behind in Michigan. In some ways, I’m surprised it took me so long to understand why God kept reminding me of family everywhere I turned. On the other hand, I’m grateful God has taught me this lesson so early into the internship. Now I can spend the rest of my time here learning to love my family!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Thompson – 2018 Immersion Intern