Working hard behind the scenes, supporting and planting Life! Groups, are the ‘Impact Teams’, teams of 3 or more people working among their own people in a region of rural Africa. There are currently 18 Impact Team members and 21 apprentice members working across Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania.
The local knowledge, cultural background and insights of Impact Team members are invaluable. They are able to understand situations and get to the heart-of-the-matter in communities in ways we could never hope to match. They are able to reach places we could never get to and build networks based on existing relationships.
We look for people with natural skills, a track record of helping communities and the leadership skills that can help them blaze a trail in their home region. We support these teams with skills, training, friendship, prayer and both emotional and financial support.
We see the Impact Teams as ‘missionaries’ in the true sense of the word. They seek out new people and new opportunities as well as supporting those who are already running Life Groups in their area.
Each Impact Team travels to at least two places each month to either provide follow up and help for existing Life Groups or to build relationships and help plant Life Groups in new areas. We are seeing that wherever there is an Impact Team, Life Groups are stronger and able to persevere through challenges. More villagers are given the opportunity to find their God given calling and change their world.
In Kalweo village in 1995 a drunk soldier tried to rape the wife of a local villager. In response, members of the community beat him to death.
Local soldiers then ran amok in the village for 2 days. Houses were burned to the ground, people were killed. Nobody was safe – not even women and children. Eventually the Zambian army managed to restore “peace”.
Bernard, a member of the Central Province Impact Team, explains the outcomes: “Lots of parents were killed, which left a lot of orphans. Many of those orphans have turned to drink or even prostitution. Prostitution has led to people contracting HIV/AID’s. HIV has led to much sickness in the community. Suffering has been passed from one generation to the next.”
People in Kalweo are known to be hard, cynical and divided as a result of what happened.
The Impact Team began to run training sessions with the villagers in Kalweo. Over time, some of the villagers made a commitment to invite the wider community to start working for change in their village. This is an incredibly positive step forward.