Today started off in an interesting way. I had no hot water. I stood outside the shower door trying to encourage myself to step in, just for a second. I could do this. It wasn't that bad. Nope, couldn't face it. So, I washed my hair using a drinking glass: filling it half with hot water (the hot water in the sink was working), half with cold water, and then pouring it over my head in the sink. I could not face getting in the cold water. I was able to shave halfway up my shins with cold water and no soap so as not to offend anyone who might get a glimpse of my lower leg or ankles in my long skirt. Then, none of the outlets in my room worked so I couldn't dry my hair. This is not such a big deal given the length of my hair, but you know how it is when you are used to something. We are so privileged and take so much for granted.
It was our team's first day teaching and I have not yet identified the words to describe the true heart of the experience. We arrived at the place we are teaching at about 7:40 a.m. Already there were 150 pastors from the surrounding areas. Most were men, but there were many women too. Most of the women wore traditional African clothing and the men wore suits. We started the day with about a half an hour of spirited worship. The people in Zambia speak Bemba and their songs were in Bemba and English. I could hardly contain myself as I worshipped our great God with these brothers and sisters from the other side of the world. God blessed me simply by allowing me to stand in their presence.
Worship was followed by an introduction and then a devotional about faith and works, called "Faith that Works: Extending Christ's Redemptive Love in the World." Our team member, Judy, led the devotional. The best line from Judy's teaching, in my opinion, was her description that separating works from faith would be like separating heat and light from fire. I have not tried that, but believe it would be an impossible task.
After Judy, Pastor Lawrence, the Executive Director of the Jubilee Centre, with whom we are partnering, taught about the Integral Mission of the church: the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel as a way to transform lives. The most impactful statement Pastor Lawrence made was in the context of Christ's authority. He quoted Abraham Kyuper saying: There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry out: 'Mine!'" Pastor Lawrence went on to ask whether, when we see a child begging on the street, we feel compelled to yell: "God's!" Do you? Do I?
By the time we took our first break, I knew that my life would be changed forever just by being with the body of Christ in the truest sense in which I have experienced it. I could have left then and there feeling the fullness of God for many years to come. There was meeting Josephine, the pastor of a church and mother of four, the oldest of whom is named Wisdom. And, another Josephine, the wife of a pastor and mother of seven. Or Matteo, a pastor to whom I asked what he liked to preach about most. His answer: Tithing (said with a smile). He questioned me on my age, allegedly believing me to be in my early twenties (loved that . . . well, sort of). Or, the man whom, after I told several stories I have experienced that illustrate ministries at Willow Creek combining the demonstration of God's love and the proclamation of the gospel, said "Thank you for your message. You touched my heart." Or the two pastors with whom I took a picture, and they each held one of my hands. The stories go on and on. And this was just one day.
All I can really do after experiencing God's wonderful, diverse creation like I did today is to say thank you. Thank you, Lord, for this day. My heart is full. My hands are open. My soul is at peace. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)