One of the core beliefs of Dignity is a strong conviction in the power of community. Everyone has a place in the Kingdom of God and when everyday people in a community act together, God can make extraordinary things happen. Earlier this year Gervas and his fellow team members witnessed an amazing incident whilst running a training course in Kwekwe, Central Zambia.
Gervas is an established team member who has been involved Dignity for a number of years. He lives with his wife and kids in the bustling market village of Chibombo, about 90km north of the capital, Lusaka. Gervas works as a farmer and spends much of his time away from home in the farming area of Lunsemfwa. He grows crops and vegetables to sustain his family. He also finds time for ‘God’s work’ and he is one of the many amazing villager-missionaries involved in the work of Dignity. Incredible people like Gervas are dotted all across Zambia and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
After arriving in the evening for the training in Kwekwe, the following morning Gervas and his colleagues heard of a sick woman in the village. Her name was Lucy and she had been bed-ridden for a month, unable to stand, eat or talk. In the context of where she lived, the absence of local hospitals and other realities of life as a villager in Africa, her prospects were bleak. Understandably her family wanted Gervas and the other team members to pray for her, it was the only hope she had. Later that day, unable to walk, she was carried to the place where the training was being held.
It would have been very easy for Gervas and the other team members Margaret and Josephine to just pray for Lucy by themselves. They had done this kind of thing before and it was nothing new to them. However, an idea struck Gervas, why not get the whole community to pray for her? The idea that believers are stronger together and are that all people are equally important to God are heavily ingrained in Dignity. Gervas told the participants that they themselves would pray for Lucy as part of the training. He emphasised the idea that everyone can be used by God and that their prayers were just as important as his. For much of the church in Southern Africa this is unthinkable, a completely alien concept.
After the insistence of Gervas and the team members, the attendees at the training all agreed to pray for Lucy together. People from different villages, of different ages and different denominations all worshipped God and laid hands on Lucy as they prayed. The importance here lies in the unity of the people, a high proportion of the rural African church slumbers in disunity, constantly fighting amongst itself. The fact that all these different people were working together in harmony is a minor miracle in itself.
Amazingly, Lucy was completely healed that day. She walked home. The very next day, this same woman who had been bed-ridden and unable to walk was able to come and express her gratitude to all those who had prayed for her. In particular she wanted to thank Gervas and the team members for the difference they had made in both the community and her life. The team members in turn gave all the glory to God. They spoke to Lucy about how it was God who had healed her and that he wanted to do amazing things with her life.
How has this miracle affected the training participants and people of Kwekwe? As Gervas puts it, “They saw and experienced the power of God for the very first time in their lives. It opened their eyes to the fact that God can work wonders through anybody’s life, even their own”.
For Kwekwe, maybe this is simply the beginning…