Back in 2014 we went invited to Tanzania by a pastor we had met. He had expressed an interest in the work of Dignity and invited us to share our ideas and methods with local leaders there. He gathered a group of local leaders and we made the journey. We ran our School of Rural Evangelism which gives an introduction to why we do what we do and explains how each person can take the idea and plant it in their community.
We normally follow up these training events within a few months. We struggled to do this with the group in Tanzania because they were geographically far away and we were reliant on a handful of people who could translate between English and Swahili. We heard very little from the people who had attended the training and we were unable to follow up our work there.
This did not sit well us though. We felt that we must try again to reach out to those we had met. So, in 2015 we visited again. The trip wasn’t easy – we had to do a bit of detective work to reconnect with people and find people who would help us with the language differences.
The first 3 days were spent in a town that felt like a very hard place. Despite us trying to reconnect with people, we had been sent to an entirely new group of people who had only been called at the very last minute and could only stay for short periods as they had other things planned. Jo says, “I clearly remember thinking at the time, ‘Why have we come here?’
However, on our way back to the city we stopped for a day in Simambwe. We met with Frank who lived there. Frank had been at the original training and explained that he had started a few Life Groups but as he hadn’t heard any more from us and wasn’t sure how to grow the groups they had fizzled out. We apologised for our lack of follow up and Frank graciously accepted. He invited us to share the idea with the group of people he had gathered from local churches (pictured). Jo remembers feeling like a weight had been lifted, as if God was saying, ‘This is why you came.’ ”
Skip forward a year to 2016 and we invited Frank to come to Zambia to join an EQUIP training camp. We were unsure what progress Frank would have made. He remains geographically far away from any other Life Groups or Impact Teams so has limited support. We had also only been able to get messages to him through a friend of his who spoke English and lived some distance away from Frank.
Frank (pictured on the left) made the 900km journey and joined us at EQUIP. He brought with him Little (pictured on the right). Little has been helping plant and encourage Life Groups and also speaks English so came to help Frank with translation. Together they’ve planted 15 Life Groups and are starting a movement in their village. We were so encouraged to hear what they have been doing and continue to do. They were encouraged to meet others at EQUIP who are doing what they are doing! Now they are connected to Impact Team leaders who have a wealth of experience in planting Life Groups and overcoming the challenges often faced. The Impact Team leaders will keep in touch with Frank and Little and we look forward to hearing the next chapter in their story.