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How God wrecked and rebuilt my heart in Zambia

Published on March 27, 2019 by Mike Devlin


As I sit here trying to put my thoughts and feelings about my time in Zambia into words I don’t know where to begin. There are no words powerful enough to describe what God did to my heart in Zambia. He shaped me for the future!

When this trip was first announced at church I immediately got hit in the chest with a feeling of I have to be there. No hesitation, no doubt, clear as day I have to be there. It was a construction trip, which isn’t my strong suit but I got hit for a reason. I asked about the trip and told my story and was accepted on the team to go. Throughout the preparation, I was under spiritual attack, but God took care of that too. The day came to go and I was ready and excited.

The flight over was a bit rough for me. I couldn’t get comfortable and ended up getting sick on the planes. Throughout our first day there my stomach wasn’t right and I kept asking God why did you put me halfway around the world in a strange place with an upset stomach. I felt like I was on a boat the entire week, which was an interesting feeling.

We had a chance to worship and attend service with the community on Saturday and Sunday. That was an awesome experience and really powerful, but I still didn’t know “why” I was there.

We went into the community behind the base and got to see the homes of the people there. It was a huge wake-up call for me and all that I take for granted. To see how these people, fellow children of God, lived was heartbreaking and my first thought was I have to fix this. I quickly learned that only Jesus can fix this and He is working in amazing ways through the people who live there and the full-time missionaries serving Him.

Coming back after the home visits we got started working. I went over to the coffee shop to help with tile removal, etc. I quickly overheated, was dehydrated, and felt useless watching other team members work tirelessly, while I was sitting there holding a broom on the sidelines. Once again I asked God, why am I here? Silence.

I got teamed up with Brad to do various tasks, mostly indoors, during the week. This was great! No overheating risk, etc. We bonded during the week and had great conversations. I’m truly blessed that he came into my life. But still at the end of the days, I had this nagging, why am I here feeling. Still, silence, until Wednesday came, and my world was forever changed.

During morning devotions on Wednesday, Nikki asked if anyone would be interested in helping with the youth program that afternoon. I put my hand up without thinking and was excited to help. The program for the afternoon was the tuck shop. Each week that the kids come to youth program they get a “coin” and once a month they can come and “buy” things. Things like bracelets, Bibles, notebooks, but also essentials like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap. I was assigned to work a table where the kids would come and “buy” their items. What happened next I never imagined would happen. The first boy through came up to the table and I asked him what he would like. Mama B had to help translate. He had 4 coins, so he had been showing up for a month to learn about Jesus. He said he wanted to “buy” 2 bars of soap. One for his mom and one for the baby at home. That was the exact moment that God broke me down to nothing. This 12-year-old boy could have picked anything, and he picked soap. Not even for himself! I had to stand there for an hour while 200 kids came through with similar stories trying not to lose it. I knew the first person I talked to would open the floodgates. After all the kids came through I was helping clean up, and Amber asked me what I thought. All I could manage to say was overwhelming, and I dashed to the prayer room and started sobbing. I have never sobbed that hard in my life. I cried for the people there, their situation, questioning God as to why he was putting these children through this. It was at least a half hour before I managed to settle down enough to get some words out. I talked to Jeremy in the prayer room and heard some of his story. He put it in perspective for me, that only Jesus can “fix” this and that it is His plan. The soap that these kids are “buying” is as big of a blessing to them as getting a new gadget here is to us. Extreme poverty is all they know and throwing money or things at it will only make it worse. Only Jesus can heal and provide!

At that very moment when that boy came through the line, was when God moved and showed me why I was there. I was filled with compassion and have such a drive to fight injustice and help those who truly have nothing. God moved that day and changed my life forever. I still tear up thinking about him and the selflessness. He is truly the hands and feet of Christ.

Thursday we had a worship night which was amazing. I’ve been to worship nights and revivals before but was never moved the way I was that night. To worship in Tonga and English is so powerful. There are no words to explain what I was feeling. The tears just flowed and flowed. Praying with others around you, the words just came. They were not my words but His. The Holy Spirit was moving.

For the second half of Friday and the first half of Saturday, we got to do “touristy” things in Livingstone which was awesome! It was a perfect end to the week. When it was time to leave I was excited to head home. I had no feeling of regret or sadness that I was leaving. There was nothing that I said I wish I would have done that or experienced this. To quote The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus, I had no arrows left in my quiver. I left my whole self in Zambia, and will never forget how God worked in me and works through the people there every day. God is so great and I can’t wait to go back!

Forever changed,
Mike Devlin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Devlin went on an immersion trip with Watermark Wesleyan Church in 2019.