Andrew Brown. a comitted Dignity supporter took his passion for Dignity’s work a step further and went on mission to Zambia. Read his thoughts during his trip!
My trip to Zambia
I’m on the plane deciding which of the many Hollywood films will fill my next few hours, and extend my link back to the comfort of my living room, when I thought that I probably should read some of the materials Jon emailed to me before I left. Apparently we are going to a remote part of Zambia to run a “Life!” conference. The conference materials are adapted from materials written in Africa for Africa, but they resonate. It’s rammed full of bible passages wonderfully linked in a narrative that tells the person attending the conference, for example:
“You are saved.” Hallelujah.
“He will provide”. I like that bit.
“You do not need to worry”. I’ll try not too, but it man it’s hard.
And in his Name “I can do anything”. Really anything?
Finally you understand that we are his disciples and we all make up his church here on earth with Jesus at the head. We should stand in our communities and be “oaks of righteousness”. I love reading it. It all makes sense to me, but how well will it go down in Zambia when I say it?
One passage stands out for me on the flight and it is my word of encouragement “I’m about to do something brand-new”
Isaiah 43:19 “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
So in rural Zambia what did I see? There are so many Churches – it all looks good. Why do they need me from Manchester? Not that anyone apart from Jon and his wife and kids know that I’m coming. On a Sunday the roads are full of people dressed up and off to Church. I wish I could see that in the UK. But wait why is that church building 20 yards from that one and why, when I go around the corner, there are seven more just like it! What are all these churches doing? Unfortunately our church in these villages can be divided into so many denominations and sub denominations – broken into tiny pieces with rifts and no cooperation. Together they can do so much more for their village, but it’s hard when you are only a small fraction. There is a lack of Bibles and, as a consequence, and due to low literacy rates, there can be a poor understanding of the Message even amongst some of the preachers.
At the Life! conference we went to a rural community in Kasama, almost as far as you can get from Lusaka and still be in Zambia! Dignity has been invited by the community and this is the part of Dignity where you and I can step in, planting the movement in new areas. Yes, you can absolutely do it. Before I have done nothing like this before. Normally the initiative spreads from village to village naturally, but for a new area we have to start from scratch. We have some local church leaders as well to help us. The people coming are from as many churches in the village as we can get to agree to attend. They send one to two people each. Over three days they learn how to set up groups at home, invite people, not people from the same church, but people from different churches. They study the bible and pray and have fellowship. They invite non-Christians as well. Isn’t this how early church was after all? God does the rest through his Word and through the fellowship of the group.
That village is going to be a better place (there are stories of orphans adopted, Church’s united, widows helped, crime falling, and people saved). We have 30 people attending and after three days they are pumped up and ready to go. They set up groups inviting 10 people to each group. That’s 300 people praying, studying and memorising the same Bible verses in detail for a year (we have more materials for part 2) in the same village. Some of those groups will grow, others will not, and some will start new groups. With God with them then who can stop them?
God made change happen in that village through Dignity. The effects will live long after I’ve left and it all took just three weeks of my life. Now that’s fruit. Do you have a week or three to spare?
Poverty exists in bucketfuls in Zambia. It exists in the UK. There or here is poverty solved by cash? No! Poverty is a poverty of hope, ideas or belief. Once people see that they can do “anything”, and after a “Life” conference everyone believes that they can do anything. They are set free and they are no longer captive to the lies that they hear. Some solutions to poverty exist in worldly ways such as to rid the world of corruption. If you have some skills in this area then go for it. As a Christian I know man’s failings and my own. We need to ask what is God’s way and what is my part in God’s way? If we want to end poverty anywhere then is not the answer possibly the same as the truth that Dignity works so hard to uncover in rural Zambia? I think this is one of the things that I learnt.
You can tell people that they are saved but as Jesus said – God wants disciples
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The other thing that I learnt is that we have been so blessed here that we don’t appreciate what he has done for us. In Zambia it seems that for the many they can only live by Faith alone, since they don’t know if they will be able to go to school, get a job, get paid if they have a job, if there will be food or if there will be any medicine if they are ill, or even if there is any fuel at the petrol station. I give thanks each day for my family and I have learnt to hold onto things less tightly. Anyone for some Easter egg? I will save some for when I come to your house for “a cup of tea”.
I ask that you think about discipleship, about Dignity and pray. Would you like to help build a school, a drinking well, or send a goat to Africa, or would you like to help build hope, belief and faith in people that they can do it for themselves? You can help in so many different ways. Please get in touch.