Just a few days into this experience, I’m already very thankful that this is something I’m able to do with my summer. Since arriving, I’ve had the opportunity to do some vision casting for what this project will look like. I explained a little bit in the previous post, but I really want to share with y’all the incredible things that God is doing here in all types of people. Stories are a lot more valuable than we give them credit to be, especially when they’re outside of a context that we’re used to. It’s amazing to see how his faithfulness isn’t limited to my way of understanding things. I’m hoping to interview and feature some of my fellow interns who come from all different backgrounds, as well as staff and mentors. I also want to break out of the context of this program and hear what God’s doing in the lives of Zambian citizens who span the nation’s socio-economic spectrum, from vendors to pastors to the unemployed. These stories will be emerging as my relationships here continue to deepen, enabling trust to be established and providing me with time to discern which narratives must be shared.
Until then, I’d like to share how the Lord used Poetice and Zambia to transform my life. I initially didn’t plan to post about myself. Rather, I wanted to focus all my work on the value in others. Yet through the encouragement of close friends I’ve come to realize that my story is just as valuable and worth sharing because Jesus is in the center of it and his love for me is so much greater than I realize. He loves you that much, too!
As a child, I was surrounded by Christians and saturated in church culture. I felt like I knew all the Bible stories and answers in Sunday school, but I didn’t give much thought to how a friendship with Jesus might play out in my own life. It wasn’t until high school that I truly realized that the world was bigger than my ‘Christian bubble’. Combined with some other issues in my family and personal life, this made for a very difficult freshman year. Coming out of that season with a desire for purpose, I began reading my Bible daily and praying for Christian friends to come my way. I also noticed that the older kids at my church who went off to Zambia had come back different. They were full of life and excitement over their faith, rather than ashamed of it like I felt at the time. Hungry for that abundance of life, I applied for the next Poetice mission trip and found myself on a team full of the Christian brothers and sisters I had been asking God for. Leading up to the journey, the Lord began to strip me of some patterns and relationships that were holding me back from him. Even though I didn’t understand why these things were happening, I learned for the first time to trust him with what I found valuable.
All of this preparation came to a head during my time in Zambia, and I haven’t been the same again. Being transported into a difference place, pace and culture gave God ample room to take hold of my life and show me his realness, love and power. When I came home, however, I was very upset because I didn’t see how my preexisting actions and lifestyle lined up with the beautiful and painful differences I had been exposed to. The Poetice staff at that time came to my side as I began to process what this would mean for the rest of my life. Those relationships have continued to this day. Since then, I’ve learned that the whole world is hurting, not just Zambia, and that all of life can be a mission trip. Nevertheless, there were still major life changes in order at that time. Sixteen was a difficult age for such a paradigm shift, but the Lord was faithful and carried me through it. I returned to Zambia the next two summers, and God continued to develop my heart for him and for this spectacular country.
Last year, I was encouraged by Poetice to apply for their international internship. That was the first year the program was carried out, and I strongly considered joining the movement. The more I prayed over the matter, though, it became increasingly clear that I needed to be at home, working on some of my closest relationships there. I’m confident that I made the right decision for that season, but when my friends in Poetice came knocking a year later, I was thrilled to apply and begin preparations for summer. The process leading up to this trip was nothing short of miraculous, and even today I’m realizing more ways that God has been preparing my heart for what he’ll be showing me over the next few months. The missions we’ll be called to are important, but even more so will be the individual relationships fostered between me and my fellow interns, my mentor and those I’ll be serving. It also excites me to think about how much time I’ll have here compared to my trips in the past. While I have more experience in Zambia than most Americans, I still haven’t been here for more than two weeks at a time. That will be changing quite soon! Still, I know that as far as I’ve come, I have tons to learn from Jesus through these people. Those who know me best will be the first to tell you that I have vast amounts of room for growth in every area of my life. I hope that this story project can allow you to share in some of those lessons. Nothing can do justice to the sights, smells and sounds of this place, but maybe this will give you the bug to come and experience it for yourself!
Here’s a quick update of my experience over the last few days. I’ll probably include one of these with most of my posts – Momma will cry if I don’t. She’ll cry regardless, but let’s shoot for happy tears! Love you, Mom! We interns and mentors are living on a base in Livingstone, and our time so far has been spent building bonds and relationships among the team. We’re made up of awesome friends from Ghana, South Africa, the States, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The staff will tell us more about our ministry work after this week of orientation. On a goofy note, I got to kill a chicken for dinner the other day! Also, I’m sorry that these posts will be rather sporadic – Wi-Fi is not a common thing to come by around these parts. Until next time!
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William McCauley • 2015 International Immersion Intern