Why Would You Take a Trip to Zambia?
That's a fair question. There are plenty of reasons not to go on such a trip. A trip to Zambia is expensive. Getting there takes several days. A trip to Zambia is risky (at least it appears more risky than staying home). And there's so much work to do in America, even in the city where we live. So why?
God Calls Us
As Christians we believe that God calls us to himself, and he also calls us to serve him in many different ways. This spring, fifteen people had a sense that God was calling them to go to Zambia. The Lord provided in amazing ways to make this trip possible, and we have been here to serve him.
God Stretches Us
Mission trips often pull people out of their comfort zone and throw them into all kinds of stretching situations. This week we've met new people, fumbled through a new language, tried new food, and experienced new opportunities to share the gospel and minister to others. Some of our college students have never taught God's word to others; this week they did that halfway around the world through a language barrier. As we step out in faith, God stretches us, but something else always seems to happen...God shows up. Our team members might tell you that the week was hard or challenging, but I don't think that's the first thing they would say. Many of them would tell you that they've experienced the Lord in new ways in Zambia. They have a new joy and a new passion in their faith.
God Uses Us
At Greenhill School this week, we had fourteen teams consisting of an American team member, a Zambian ministry partner, and a number of kids from Greenhill. In every team, we had stories of Zambians wanting to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Some came to realize that they didn't have a real faith, and they had the opportunity to put their trust in Jesus. Every day, I heard college students telling me that God was drawing Zambian children to himself. There's nothing more joyful or humbling than being used by God as an instrument to share his love. We have new brothers and sisters in Christ because of the work of the Holy Spirit in camp. And we suspect there is much rejoicing in heaven, too!
God Changes Us
We have been at Greenhill for five mornings. We spent one afternoon at each of these places: the Arise Home, the Destiny School, the Grace Community School, and the Cheshire Home. Our team has met hundreds of Zambian children, all with different stories and challenges. At times we are so full of joy that we don't know what to do with ourselves. In other moments our hearts are so heavy that we don't even have words to say. There have been tears of joy and tears of sadness. Through it all, the Lord has used the people of Zambia in the process of changing us. Everyone's story is different, but I know that our perspective on God's world has been enlarged. Our sense of entitlement has been rebuked. Our lack of gratitude has been exposed. Our longing for God to make all things new has grown. And our desire to know Jesus for who he really is has increased.
As we left Greenhill School this afternoon, an amazing thing happened. We were on the field when we said goodbye to the campers. Then we met as a group of leaders to pray for one another. As we were praying, an Arise Africa staffer told me, "Someone wants you up there," as she pointed up above the field to the front of the school. "Who wants us?" I asked. "The kids. They have a big thank you for your team."
As we walked up to the front steps of the school, the Greenhill students were in a huge group, already singing and dancing with all of their might. We stood on the steps in front of them as they were singing blessings over us. They thanked us for coming. They told us they would miss us. They wished us well. As I stood there with our team and listened to those beautiful voices, I couldn't help but think, "Lord, we have come to love and serve these people, and now they are literally singing over us." Surely we have received as much as we have given, and we have learned as much as we have taught.
Why would you take a trip to Zambia? One of our college students said it best this week: "I have the strangest feeling that Africa is going to turn my world upside down." A world turned upside down...sounds scary, right? But as someone who knows he needs to grow and change, these are beautiful words.
I want to thank so many of you for being part of our team and supporting our trip in different ways. Perhaps now you have a small window into why we love serving with Arise Africa. To God alone be the glory!
- Robby Higginbottom