It’s always good to be reunited with old friends. During each of my first three visits to Zambia, our assigned projects would always interact with Edfy Mudenda, an absolute rock star of a personality who can dance, rap and otherwise perform like no one else I’ve come across in this country. I was always inspired by the way Edfy carried himself – young people flock to his presence. That charm sent me home with stories of the overflowing sense of love and happiness in Zambia. When I graduated high school, he wrote me a heartfelt letter which went into a book that I still treasure today. Coming back this summer, I had not planned on seeing my friend, as he’s currently involved with LXP down in South Africa. But when those fun-loving people drove all the way up here for Beat the Drum this week, he was the first one off the bus and into my joyfully surprised arms. We’ve gotten to spend the hectic last two weeks working alongside each other and picking up where we left off. Except, where we left off was radically different from the way things look today.
As soon as we got the chance to sit down and talk personally, Edfy let me know that he was an entirely changed man. I didn’t quite understand – why would someone with everything together want to be different? Little did I know, I had been looking up to someone who was very different than the front he projected. Throughout the time we had been friends, Edfy had been on staff at one of Poetice’s partner ministries, but he was also involved in a life of frequent mistreatment of women, drugs and alcohol. Mudenda had mastered the practice of covering up this second life, even arriving at work drunk without being found out. When Musa Mwanza arrived as the new man in charge, Edfy could tell things were going to be different. Musa has a passionate dedication to regular prayer, fasting and overall taking God seriously, which we’ve gotten a full taste of at EXP this summer. At first, Edfy and Musa clashed because of their different approaches, but as time went on, he began to see his new boss as one he could confide in. Edfy eventually mustered courage enough to be transparent about his double life, which Musa received with grace and readiness to come alongside him in pursuit of a healing solution.
In a matter of weeks, it was determined that Edfy would head down to South Africa to take part in LXP, where he met the Lord in an unmistakably authentic way. This nine-month program was a transformative process, and he came out the man of God we get to see today. He continues to invest in LXP as a mentor to students going through the program this year. This week with Beat the Drum, we’re offered a look in at the need young people have for strong, reliable role models. While fresh outfits and unbelievable dance moves can get people’s attention, it’s now Edfy’s realness that makes him a magnet for so many of these kids.
Echoing Musa’s commitment to transparency, Edfy has discovered freedom in sharing his past for God’s glory. After freely discussing every detail of his journey with me personally, he was the first to volunteer and describe his transformation for our whole Beat the Drum team a few days later. He’s found matchless life in doing this regularly. It’s become so clear to him that the devil’s most powerful move is to force us into covering our pain with shame, and that to shed light into those areas is to experience true liberation. Edfy walks in that liberty everywhere he goes, and the Lord uses it for good on a daily basis. There’s also a level of responsibility that comes with his willful exposure. Speaking to this, Edfy observes, “The more I open up my story, the more it helps me to be accountable for every thought I have in my mind. God reminds me that I have to live these things I share.” Not only is freedom available in being transparent, there’s also protection from slipping back into old ways.
As you can see, both of my pieces this week interact with a theme of vulnerability. God has been teaching me so much this summer about the power of a true story, especially when someone tells his or her own without overlooking the gritty, crucial details. In keeping with this lesson, I read Brené Brown’s “Daring Greatly” on the plane here over a month ago. I’ll write a review next time I read it, but it’s all about this idea of getting over our shame and being real with people. So often, each of us is held captive by what we think will ruin us if it’s put in the open. Reality is, though, that while there are unavoidable consequences for each of our actions, there’s also so much liberty in getting these oppressive thoughts off our chest. This week with Beat the Drum has taught me that when we put our stories out for all (or even a few trusted others) to see, we find that the rest of the crowd understands where we’re coming from. More likely than not, they have something about the matter to teach us, just like we might have a piece of wisdom to share with them. But we’ll never know if we keep our secret struggles inside and pretend we have everything in order.
I would be a hypocrite if I spent my week writing two thousand words about vulnerability without sharing my own pains. While I was able to make great progress in this area and open myself to roughly one hundred Zambian students, I also believe in the necessity of trust with this kind of interaction. Unfortunately, I’ve made the mistake of taking trust lightly, both my own and that which others bestowed upon me. If we’re close, then please contact me and we’ll trade stories. Even if we’re not, I pray that you’ll learn from the experiences of Edfy, myself and the countless renewed students of David Livingstone Secondary that there is life, grace and freedom in being open with people about your past and present difficulties. Talk to someone in whom you can confide today, remembering that your heavenly father is the most faithful and trustworthy companion you could ask for.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William McCauley • 2015 International Immersion Intern