These past two weeks have been some of the busiest, craziest weeks of my entire life. We were joined on base with a team from LXP (a leadership program in South Africa) and a Poetice team from the U.S. (Hamburg, New York) for a program called Beat the Drum. This meant our little base was all of a sudden crammed with ~50 people all living, sleeping, eating together, all the time. Altogether, we represented 7 different nations (Zambia, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, & Ghana).
Beat the Drum is a biblically based HIV/AIDS awareness program that teaches abstinence and other biblical values in high schools around Southern Africa. Week Five (the first week of Beat the Drum) was training week for all of us on base, so our days were packed full with learning the curriculum and practicing what the next week would look like. Week Six was the implementation. Every morning, we would wake up very early and walk to David Livingstone High School (about 15 minutes away) and teach the curriculum in groups of two for an hour in every classroom. We would then wait outside until the break and connect with the morning students. After we would walk home for lunch and return shortly after to repeat the process for the afternoon students.
The stories we heard from these kids were some of the most heart-breaking, eye-opening, and blood-boiling things I’ve ever heard. Many students had great courage and opened up one-on-one with lots of us, even more students opened up through a confidential letter system that allowed them to ask us anything they wanted. Friends, pray for the students we met this week and the ones that we didn’t. I don’t know if I ever even imagined the possibility of so much heartache, corruption, abuse, and the like in one place.
One of the other things that became unavoidably evident this week was a deeper realization of “Christianity” in this nation. It is, by all means, not the case with every Zambian who calls themself a Christian, and not only an issue in Zambia (in fact, it reminded me of West Michigan in some ways). Basically, “Christian” here means you attend a church on Sundays. You probably even know a lot of scripture by heart and you might even speak in tongues. What it doesn’t necessarily mean is that you have a relationship with God (or even know what that is). It was exciting, but also difficult, calling so many children of God into the Kingdom, ones who called themselves Christians but didn’t realize God cared for them and wanted relationship with them, ones who found that following the Lord is a walk of love and discipleship and not of a short checklist of cultural obligations.
As for me, the main thing the Lord has been teaching me these past two weeks is the secret of contentment. I’ve been hesitant to write about it because I can’t say I understand in the slightest, yet, but it’s what He’s been teaching me in the chaos and the silence (silence being a relative term in this case because with 50 people living together, there is no such thing as real silence). Expect more on the topic of contentment because I’ve just been scratching the surface, but here are some things I’ve been recognizing as I’ve been searching the word for everything related to being content:
Contentment should only be based on God. Therefore, the only things that should make you discontent are sin, injustice, and things that bring separation from God. Everything else is “fair game”. It is connected to trust and dying to self. It is the opposite of fear and the opposite of anxiety. We can be content because He provides, He cares, He loves, He intervenes, He is mighty and all powerful, He is creative, He is God. Contentment can only come with an understanding of the greatness and prominence of the kingdom of Heaven and the smallness and, in some ways, insignificance of the world. Contentment shines brighter in the midst of waves and points to the work of Jesus without even trying. And perhaps, the most evident thing I’ve learned yet: True Godly contentment takes bold faith, a thankful heart, and abundant courage.
Things I miss:
Moran Park Church
Showers and Hot Water
Infrequent Power Outages
Things I’m thankful for:
My heavenly Father’s voice
Fourth of July – A Taste of Home: So, the Americans have been planning our Independence Day celebrations since Week Two. It didn’t all go as planned (we wanted S’mores, but there weren’t marshmallows or graham crackers…. Soooo….), but it was still wonderful and reminded me so much of home, even though I’ve never particularly loved the 4th of July. We started the morning in outfits of red white and blue with wifi at a coffee shop (A first time having real coffee in the morning) and time downtown. The afternoon included making guacamole with some strange flavors of Doritos (Plain tortilla chips don’t exist here.), which was probably the most at home we’ve felt yet (food-wise). Finally, we ended the night with the Africans joining us with red, white, and blue beads and flag napkins at an Italian food restaurant in town for pizza and gelato and a rousing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner that of course made the entire restaurant stare at us.
I’m officially over the half-way point and I’m so ready to come home (I have been since the moment I arrived), but I’m also ready to finish strong here. There’s a lot that the Lord is doing in me, and while I’d love to come home now, I know He’s doing a work that’s worth finishing.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern