Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I Didn’t Know Until I Knew
On Saturday, our team flew from Lusaka to Livingstone for a two-day trip to see Victoria Falls and experience a day safari. Before we left, though, we went to George Complex, a community of 200,000 people near Lusaka. Many of the women and children there walk more than a mile everyday to get clean water. As a result of this long walk for water, most of these girls can’t go to school. They carry 20-liter containers on their heads and babies on their backs. Girls as young as 8 carry these containers. We visited that day because those who live near the Pentecostal Church in George Complex were receiving clean, safe water for the first time. A bore hole was donated by people from Willow Creek Community Church. This bore hole will serve about 1000-2000 people who live in the village. We met many of these people. Many were children. They were beautiful, with deep dark eyes and smiles you wouldn’t believe were possible.
There are things about these children that are different than the children we know. Many of them don’t have shoes. They wear clothes that are too big or too small, or clothes that are out of season. Many are orphans or have only one parent to care for them. At the most basic of comparisons, though, they are the same. A woman and her daughter stood near me. The mother asked if I would take a picture of her and her daughter. The daughter immediately became resistant, asking her mother why she would do this! How embarrassing! I asked her, “How old are you?” She said, “Seventeen.” I said, “Ah, I can see why you don’t want to be anywhere near your mother!” They both laughed so much they bent over. Not so different.
It was an incredible celebration. Government officials were present, pastors were present, community leaders were present. Families were there. Mothers, fathers, children. Once the bore hole was “commissioned” by the member of parliament who was there, the mothers and girls began to pump the water into buckets they had lined up. Fresh, clean water flooded out of the pump and we all danced and sang, praising God for what he had done through his church. I took hundreds of pictures of the water, the children, the mothers, the pastors, and our team.
The meaning of this didn’t really sink in until later that day, though.
As we flew to Livingstone, I reflected on my experiences in the last week. We had three days of incredible teaching in Ndola where we taught about the importance of demonstration of and proclamation of God’s kingdom. In other words, pastors should preach, yes, but they should inspire and equip their church should also be out in the community addressing the needs of the community, like feeding the hungry, caring for those with HIV/AIDS, loving orphans and the most vulnerable people. Without these things, there is, as Richard Stearns would say, a “hole in our gospel.” After the teaching, we went to the Ndola market, an experience that won’t ever fade from my mind. I wrote about it several days ago and it sparked so much heartbreak and questions, and yet, was a harvest for God’s work. The day after we went to the market, we visited the little children at the New Hope Christian Centre and sang I Love You Jesus Deep Down In My Heart. And the day after that, we went to the bore-hole dedication.
So, here is what I realized – my math at its best:
TEACHING + MARKET + BORE HOLE DEDICATION = THE LOCAL CHURCH IS THE HOPE OF THE WORLD
I had heard this. I thought I knew what it meant. . ..until I knew what it meant. You know?