Monday, July 13, 2015

africa -- day two, a hand held

Ndola, Africa --- day two

we worshipped this Lord’s Day in a different country and with people of a different culture, but as children of God, there is no doubt, we worshipped as family. that’s what happens when people love the One Same Jesus … the differences make no difference. brothers and sisters, mamas and babas and babies ... dancing and singing together. one voice, praising One God.

through tears, my friend, april, told the people, “this is how i imagine heaven.”

these young women, radiant in their love for Jesus, led us in worship. everything about them was worshipful and without abandon.

actually, it was rather humbling.

friends, when it comes to praise music, i am a hand raiser with the best of them, but i have to tell you, i sat there listening and watching and thinking:

THIS is how we worship the God of the universe.
THIS is how we praise the Name of Jesus.
THIS is how we glorify our God.

not only were we blessed in praise music, but we also got to hear from pastor aaron – oh, how i wish y’all could spend just 5 stinkin minutes with this man --  everything about him is joyful! like think of JOY and then take that and multiply it by 100 and you’d still only be about halfway there. when he talks about Jesus he hops -- yes, hops!  and dances … it’s funny, but it’s completely real … this man cannot contain his love for his Lord.

i met pastor aaron when he made his first trip to america last spring. i knew he was special then.  and seeing him here in his home country of zambia doing what he loves -- loving people and leading them to Jesus -- wow. just, wow.

he preached this morning on what a relationship with the great I AM looks like in real life. i tried to write down much of what he said.

“children of God, it doesn’t matter your circumstances or your poverty or your difficulty or your hardship.  If you place your life in the great I AM, you will be okay. He will be your guide, your pilot, your comforter. Fear not anything for the great I AM is there. Even if you do not see Him, His promises are 100%. If the Lord is on our side, what should we fear? NOTHING!”

okay, so maybe you've also heard that kind of encouragement from your pulpit on your sunday morning. (i hope so)! but, bear in mind, friends, these people are living in circumstances which couldn't be more impoverished, difficult ... seemingly impossible.

which leads me to our afternoon -----

with the conclusion of the almost 3 hour church service, our team headed into the community of nkwazi. i have been to other countries, i have been to some incredibly harsh and impoverished areas in america. i thought i was prepared for nkwazi.  i thought ...

i have some pictures below, but even these don't really capture it. we were careful to respect the homes and people here ... we were careful in what we photographed, always asking permission ... always doing our best to show respect. i could post picture after picture of nkwazi's harsh reality.

but as i am writing this tonight, what i really want you to see is not just how hard their lives are or how little they seem to have. i want you to see the smiles and the bright eyes. i want you to see the sweetness, not of their lives, but in their life. there's a warmth ... a gentleness ... a friendliness which was impossible for me to ignore today.

as we walked the streets of the compound, children followed us. everywhere. at one point, i don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that there were upwards of a 100 kids walking alongside. following. chasing. laughing. trying to get our attention. reaching for our hands. grabbing hold of our hearts.

babies on the backs of babies. toddlers toddling all over the dusty, dangerous places in this community ... many, with no one watching over them. this little girl followed us into a home and crawled up on the lap of my teammate, elizabeth. she cuddled there with her for at least 45 minutes. no none came looking for her. no one noticed she was missing. she came dangling a small stuffed rabbit in her tiny hand. her feet in sandals, scuffed and dirty. her eyes were bright and beautiful, but her belly large from hunger.

this picture says so much. yes, you're going to notice the boy in front. all teeth and smiles and darling. but take a look at the little guy next to him ... the one in the right corner. yes, these kids do know how to pose for a photo or two  (or a thousand) ... but behind those smiles, in the corners of their lives, there is also the reality of something broken and sad. maybe lonely.

this little boy in the middle with the princess sweatshirt, his name is john. john told me he didn't go to school. had never been, but really wants to go. he's 12. i have a 12 year old boy at home. john walked with me back toward our vehicle. he held onto my hand all the way there. we are going to figure out why john hasn't been to school ... what can we do about that?

tomorrow we will be at the WIPHAN school. we will see many children who are sponsored at this school and many more who are not. 750 students, only 200 currently sponsored. maybe you would consider helping one of these children attend school? for a small amount monthly, you can be involved in the life of one of these kids from nkwazi ... sponsoring a child helps them attend school, have a uniform, books, meals and free medical care. even more importantly, you can write back and forth with these kids ... share a little life and encouragement. that's what they need. like john, someone to hold their hand.
there's a link to {WIPHAN} in my last post. please consider praying about this opportunity.  


Simply LKJ said...

Thanks for sharing your journey Jody. I had the pleasure of meeting pastor Aaron, and the joy of watching the children's group worship with him at CBS this past year. It was something to see for sure!! His enthusiasm is contagious. We truly learned that we do not know how to let go and truly worship.

Sammy said...

Amazing. I'm just trying to take it all in.