FOR THE BEST VIEWING EXPERIENCE,
PLEASE VIEW ON A COMPUTER.
To navigate this story use your keyboard arrows or the < > arrows below.
If you are viewing on an iPad, simply swipe to the left or right.
Over half of Zambia’s population is under the age of 17.
The average age in a country of 16,500,000+ people is 17 years old.
For comparison, the median age in the USA is 38. These children aren’t simply
the “coming future leaders”, rather, they are the present-day reality in this
beautiful country located in Southern Africa.
Youth and children have always been close to our hearts at Poetice.
However, last year, we decided to ramp up our outreach efforts
in Zambia in order to deepen our investment in this generation
of young leaders. Over the last year, the impact has been far
greater than we could have ever imagined.
In April 2018, we re-launched our weekly kid’s outreach
and 60 kids showed up. Every week we gathered and played
games with the kids, taught lessons that were saturated
with truth, and presented opportunities to encounter God.
Week after week, more kids started coming.
Young people were experiencing God in very real ways and were hungry
to share their newfound love with their friends and family members.
Fast forward to May of 2019, and we are now averaging 362 kids every week.
It’s awesome to see how God is moving through the youth in Choma.
However, over the last year, we haven’t simply
been running a weekly kids program, but rather,
we have been purposefully forging real relationships.
We’ve spent a ton of time learning about the kid’s
home environments and their ongoing challenges.
From this process, we have gained a comprehensive
understanding of the injustices they are facing on a
daily basis. For many of these kids, it is the first time
that someone has intentionally tried to get to know
them in a deep and personal way.
We’ve learned that even in a country predominantly full of children,
this group is often the most overlooked.
Parents have a hard time championing their child’s needs when they are
weighed down by the grip of injustice and are crippled by their own stress.
Overwhelmed parents often lack the ability to commit the quality time a child needs.
Sometimes, it’s simply a lack of knowledge. Many parents have never been
taught how to properly care for their children and others never had
an example to show them how.
The orphan crisis and child-head of households
are very real contributors to this ongoing problem.
A child needs holistic encouragement
and direction in order to thrive.
When young people are leaderless and directionless,
they quickly fall prey to the societal traps and to the
many pervasive injustices plaguing their community.
Things like pre-marital sex & alcohol lead to early
pregnancies, rape, and destruction. When a community
is devoid of biblical leaders to follow, it is easy for young
people to start to believe the lies of witchcraft and false
truths. As injustices prevail, they can quickly become
victim to indentured servitude and forced labor,
especially girls who are made to “work” around the house.
This is why our weekly outreach to kids/youth is so critical.
Each week, we get to explain and demonstrate to these kids
that they are loved, valuable, and capable. We are able to
replace lies with truth and begin to help these young people
identify ways to slay the injustices in their lives.
We are creating safe spaces through our Wednesday gatherings
and camps that allow them to find friends they did not know
existed before—friends that can pursue Jesus with them,
encourage them and speak life into them. They are seeing
what biblical leadership looks like and are being trained to
follow that example. And, because the children deem our
base as a safe space, they want to be there often. Whenever
we hold an event, we often see kids lined up outside of our
gates an hour or two beforehand. They can’t wait to learn
more and grow in our family.
We are tackling big topics like identity, sex/relationships/marriage,
goal-setting, leadership, knowing God & the Bible, having a purpose,
how to treat others…. and we are teaching them there is another way
to living life outside of what they are seeing. They are learning that,
even at a young age, they can be ministers of the Gospel. They are
learning how to pray for their own families and communities and
are being equipped to share Jesus everywhere they go.
Kids are committing to purity, becoming change agents
in their communities, and living out their faith in radical ways.
Unprompted by our efforts, we’ve had numerous kids start
their own Bible studies. We’ve watched “Wednesday kids”
begin to attend our Sunday services as well, even getting
involved in prayer times, volunteering with children’s church,
and being part of our worship team.
Last September, eleven (11) young people publicly committed
to follow Christ for the rest of their lives through baptism!
And, on May 19, 2019, eight (8) more are going to do the same.
One of these sold-out kids is Elias. He has been attending
our weekly gatherings since December 2018. In February,
his mom was very sick and he asked our staff to come to
his house to pray for her. Because of this 12-year-old boy’s
faith, his mom and sister have now found Jesus, are
attending church weekly, and are on fire for Him.
It’s an awesome story that you can read about here.
We believe in pouring into these young people spiritually,
but it doesn’t just end there. We want to champion them in
all aspects of their lives. As a result, we’ve launched several
new initiatives that are focused on education, leadership
development, stewardship, and financial responsibility.
We are helping them navigate and overcome their struggles
while setting them on a solid path for the future.
We believe that our investment in these young leaders
will have enormous ripple effects for generations to come.
We know that teaching truth and instilling values is a big
responsibility, but we are honored and thankful that the
Lord has chosen us to invest in these kids’ lives!