"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:22
Many of my friends and supporters of Arise have asked me recently of my thoughts on the comments President Trump made about “sh*thole countries.”
First of all before anything I do have to give some major credit to the Zambia tourism society for the ad they posted about the most recent comments...
For those of you who are unaware, talking about politics is not the greatest idea if you are running a non-profit. We all know how this plays out, I can offend one side or the other real quickly and that really isn’t the best idea when you exist based solely on generous donors from all political realms. Let’s be honest I can offend others without even discussing politics! Oh how the Lord humbles me in that.
But let me tell you how I choose to respond. And hopefully I won’t offend you.
Let’s look at the bigger picture and not just focus on what happened most recently. By the time this blog post is published something else offensive will have probably been said or done. What I have concluded these past few years, the bottom line about most of the world we live in is that I don’t have time to care or focus on it. I don’t have time to think about what others are saying when it turns negative or hurts others. I don’t have time to try to figure out what is truth in the media or what source the information came from. It takes away my precious time, energy, and emotions. I am on a mission to serve the Lord and I try to have that focus while I exist on this earth. And all of the other stuff, is just interference that Satan has designed. And there is more interference today on this earth than ever. It has turned individuals into angry beings who are distracted and not focused on serving the Lord. Satan is winning my friends.
As I write this blog post I am sitting in Dubai on a 21 hour layover traveling home from Zambia. I have our jet lagged six month old next to me and am praying she falls asleep for just a bit before we have to wake her up at midnight for another flight. I can hear the call to prayer for the Muslim population and it makes me sad. There is an arrow on the bedside table in our hotel room pointing to the direction of Mecca. I feel for the population here, and what they believe. It makes me realize we have alot of work to do in a short time.
What is happening of course makes me sad and want to speak out. But what I refuse to do is “harbor” in it. I refuse to spread more bad comments that flood my social media feeds daily. I don’t have time to get angry about what others say or if they have different opinions than me. I am trying to fight cholera in Zambia. I am trying to love others. I am trying to get some sleep every once in a while while caring for a baby! I have to stay focused on only Him.
What if, instead of posting about how terrible these comments are we took action and helped spread the word of the gospel more? What if instead of spreading more hate in words towards politicians, actors and actresses etc. we actually take action in a way Jesus would? What if every time you saw words or actions of hate you took positive action for the Kingdom instead of making a public statement? (the funny thing is too, we are all kinda numb to individuals public statements these days) In this case, sponsor a child that lives in one of these countries. Through us or someone else! Make a one time donation to non-profits that are making a difference. Or go meet someone from one of these countries and love on them to show them that most of America does not think this way. Especially Christians. What would that movement look like?? Jesus took action when he was on earth. He spread the word of the Lord by INTERACTING and loving on others. Not making facebook posts. His actions were what others saw.
Can you imagine how much positive input you would have if every time there was something negative that you saw or heard you did one act of kindness in response? Just think about when you read a post or article that was negative you counteracted by simple actions that show the Lord's love. Sadly, you would need to do MANY great acts of love and kindness daily.
In 2018 that is my goal. When I see terrible headlines that make me sad or frustrated I hope to respond by acting. Maybe I will donate to charities that I believe are fighting against the exact negative words or actions I see. Maybe it will be a simple text to someone I know reminding them of the Lord’s love if they are going through a hard time. Possibly I will take some time to pray for someone or the individuals being attacked. Or maybe I will pay for the person’s coffee behind me in Starbucks drive thru. Because I am there quite a bit, did I mention I have a 6 month old?! (and can a "veteran" mom please tell me at what age does the baby stop screaming when you have to stop the car, because the drive thru is a bit stressful right now.) And maybe we can start to turn the negative tide towards the positive, just a bit.
Together I believe God will use our positive acts to have much more of an impact than the negative we hear and see. God needs us more than ever! Just look around! Let's start to attack Satan back.
I am not going to think of the perfect facebook post to write in responses to what I hear this year, I am going to think of the ACTS of good and kindness I can do. Join in the challenge with me. Because together we can accomplish so much more. Together we can change the facebook feeds. I am going to tame my tongue and act before I speak. The cool thing is that God will use it in OUR lives too. Take the challenge and just wait and see. Strive to get the hate out of your mind in 2018, and replace it with Christ's love and pursuing others. Work on staying focused for Him.
I started going to Africa in 2006 and through the years have met many incredible people from all over the world serving in Zambia. Before Arise Africa built the complex in 2015, I lived with random families I knew when I was there.
For years I stayed with the Showells. They are an American Family and the father, Eric worked for World Vision. They have three children and, well... I could tell MANY stories about the Showells and their shenanigans. OH there are some good ones but that is for another blog post (or many).
One person who helped the Showells and myself so much during this time was their housekeeper, Susan. Susan isn't just a housekeeper, she is your ever loyal best friend too. Susan ran the house and kept us all in line in a way that was so loving, you never even realized how much power she had over you! Susan was the matriarch for sure.
Susan has three sons. Two are older and do not currently live with her. But Susan had her youngest "son" living with her on the compound with the Showells. His name is Daniel. Daniel is not technically Susan's son. Susan was a friend of Daniel's mother and she died when Daniel was a baby. At the funeral Susan discovered there was nobody to care for Daniel, and Susan simply opened her arms. That is how Daniel came to be Susan's.
Daniel was the same age as the Showells youngest son, Oliver, who has downs syndrome. And everyday when you would pull into the driveway at the house, there was Daniel and Oliver playing and getting into more trouble than you can imagine.
If you fast forward a few years, the Showell Family moved to South Africa and Eric took a job with World Bicycle Relief, (you should check them out!). And Susan and Daniel now live at the Arise Africa complex! I couldn't do Zambia without them.
If anyone has gone on a mission trip with you you know Susan and Daniel well. Susan loves on all of our staff and guests and cares for everything Complex related.
And Daniel, well, he can't be missed at the Complex. He has more energy than any child I have ever seen. He can eat more than any child I have ever seen. He has the attention span of a gnat just like me. He is absolutely crazy, wild, sweet, funny as heck, and is a GREAT kid.
This is why we have decided to get Daniel supported to help with funds for his education. Daniel has been going to a private school that a few of us have been paying for. But we would like to get him in an even better school that will further his education to a level that we desire for him and all our kids. This school would enable Daniel to get the attention he needs to learn to read well. This would build him a foundation that he needs. Unfortunately, this school is more expensive.
I pray that Daniel is a successful man that loves Jesus one day. We define success by Daniel living a positive and happy life. Education, I know, is a large part of this. I tried to teach him his ABC's at our kitchen table one day and wanted to pull my hair out. I quickly realized we will all lose our minds trying to help Daniel but we can certainly still make sure he receives the best education possible by bringing in the professionals!
Daniel will never ever know or have memories of his real parents. He was an orphan and in a split second, one AMAZING and selfless woman stepped in and said she would care for him. Will you join us in helping Susan and Daniel? Will you consider sponsoring Daniel at $50 a month so that we can send him to a school where he too will receive a great education even though he has no parents to provide for him? OR you could do a one time gift. Together we can do this! All of your funds will go directly to his tuition fees. You will receive a report on Daniel every three months along with photos. You also will have the opportunity to write him letters if desired.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Arise Africa is the word family. Everyone involved in Arise Africa has a special place. No matter where I am, the United States or Zambia, I can say with full truth “I feel home sick!” On each side of the globe, there are specific humans that God has strategically given a responsibility to. This responsibility comes with a job title and an Arise Africa T-shirt. No matter the job title, the goal is to demonstrate and teach the children of Zambia about the love of Jesus Christ. To provide opportunities for them to grow into responsible citizens in their own country who live out the life that God desires for all mankind. To follow Him and honor Him in their future careers, in discipling their future children, in loving their future spouses, in sharing the Gospel with their communities. This is a big responsibility… God, where do we even start? How do we do this? How can this work? He gives us the answer in 1 Corinthians: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body… But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” And in Ephesians: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, in Christ, from whom the whole body, joined together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Through God’s grace, He has equipped each member of the Arise family with gifts and abilities to fulfill His will in these children’s lives. We can’t do it. But teaming up together as His body, as He moves us, as He works for His good pleasure, we can! We need each other. We use each other’s gifts. We love each other, and we love this mission. Check out how God has created, equipped, and used each member of His body through the Humans of Arise campaign!
Written by interns: Natalie and Christina
The second mission trip week flew by after countless hours of painting, organizing, and creating meaningful relationships. Our last day in Zambia came too quickly, but we could not be more excited to tell you about the last week there!
Our second group of mission trippers arrived and brought in a whole new and fun dynamic to the Complex! They were all excited about their upcoming week of painting classrooms, organizing thousands of donated books, and creating a library for the children at Arise Christian School. The week was full of sponsors joyfully meeting their kids for the first time, paint-stained clothes, and lots of laughs and meaningful conversations. We began the week with worship at Twin Palms Baptist Church and a trip to the market to do some bargaining. The interns had been there three times by that point, and we STILL bought more souvenirs! No regrets.
On Monday and Tuesday, we painted classrooms and helped with feeding program at Toanga School. After painting, we spent hours sorting through and organizing at least a dozen storage bins worth of books. It gave us a lot of time to get to know each other, so time flew by so quickly! Tuesday morning, we had the opportunity to return to Bauleni Special Needs School and play with the children. Although the first two days were incredibly busy, we were now prepared to complete the library and still have a lot of time to play with the kids at ACS!
Wednesday and Thursday, we headed out to Arise Christian School to set up the books we had been sorting all week. The library there is made out of a shipping container (which is so typical Arise Africa!) The shipping container was donated by a family in the U.S. and after a few holes were cut out of it and windows and doors were welded in, it was ready for a face lift! The container was then painted by a local resident of Zambia. The kids LOVED seeing the library covered in painting books coming to life. All that was left to add were the books and the shelving! That’s where we came in.
We worked on the library and helped with the feeding program while the kids were in class. But when they came out, it was time to play! The children loved coming to see what we were doing in the library. It was really cool to see them so excited to have a place to come and read. We really felt like we were getting to be a part of something that was going to benefit their education in the long run. We finished the library after those two days and all our projects were officially complete!
Friday, we held a cook out at theComplex for all mission tripper and staff to get to spend time together before everyone went back to the U.S. on Saturday. The barbecue was a bittersweet goodbye with the staff. We enjoyed delicious food and great conversation, but the thought of leaving the people we had formed such amazing relationships with was so sad! It was a bummer, but we knew the staff would continue to do amazing things and impact the communities in Lusaka that we had fallen in love with.