Most of what I share here is just life from my perspective as a mom and nurse. But while being a mom, working in the clinic, or visiting families in nearby villages is a large part of my world here in Zambia, it only represents a very small fraction of what goes on here at Riverside. So much more is being done by a faithful team of workers, and I want to share some of that with you too.
With a good dose of worry and hesitation, I finally gave my mommy consent for Welsey to join Craig on a trip over two thousand kilometers away to another province of Zambia. Prior to their arrival, Fortune, our evangelism teacher, and many of our students from Riverside, traveled ahead to this remote area in the Luangwa River Valley that has never been reached by the Gospel.
But their arrival was not met by all with open arms. “These people are really here to cut out your hearts and sell them for witchcraft!” the leaders of the village rumored, and warned the people to stay away. The first night of the meetings a man came and collapsed on his way back home due to a health condition. But using this to prejudice the people, the leaders claimed this was a sign of our connection with the work of the devil. Through perseverance, compassion, and caring for their health needs, the hearts of that village began to open up.
There was one girl who faithfully attended every meeting. She wanted to get baptized and requested a few of the students to accompany her as she went home to her parents. She wanted to ask their blessing and let them know her decision to follow Jesus. The parents were furious. “What does their God have that we don’t?” they shouted. They continued screaming, beat her severely, and refused to let her get baptized. After that night she was not seen again at any of the meetings. But on the day of the baptisms, she showed up and stood in line with the rest, to publicly announce her love and commitment to follow Jesus. What an example of conviction, bravery, and passion to follow her newly found faith in Christ!
But not every new believer was a result of attending the crusade. Some heard the truth for the first time sitting in a local bar drinking away each night. The sound carried from the loud speakers used in the meetings and a few began to listen. After a few nights they stopped drinking and just sat in the bar listening to the sermons. Eventually the bar tender told the men, “I don’t think we should be here drinking anymore.” And so they stopped! And each of those men gave their hearts to God and were baptized with the rest.
At the end of these meetings, in this remote village where people were initially closed to the Gospel, the Holy Spirit worked miracles in their hearts, and 63 people were baptized! The locals were wrong about the team being there to harvest hearts to sell, but God had a harvest of hearts he wanted to reap!
On the final day of the meetings, our construction crew arrived and built them a church. They were provided the roof and structure, and the locals will complete it with mud brick walls. Pictured below is Craig preaching the first sermon in their new chapel.
Each new believer was gifted a bible and a devotional book for encouragement.
It was terribly hot outside and apparently Wesley had been beet red and “wilting”. That is, until he found this lovely spot! I was assured later that there were no crocodiles in this water. And I’m not crazy for asking!
After the crusade, Craig, Wesley, and Waluka (our bible worker coordinator), went to another region of the country to scout out other unreached villages so they can send bible workers and start new churches. On their way back, they visited a pineapple farm and bought 600 pineapples at approximately 13 cents each! These were loaded up in the truck to bring back, mark up, and sell at Riverside. They sold like hot cakes, and the money raised was able to pay for this trip and go towards funding more evangelism work.
Craig also visited people processing honey harvested from out in the bush. He brought back a large bucket for me and I was quite skeptical at first. I’m sure you would be too if you saw large pieces of comb, wings and bee legs floating on top. But after straining it out, and pretending I never saw all that stuff, it actually tasted pretty good.
And this my friends, ends the events of one journey here in Zambia. Let’s conclude this with a beautiful view of my husband’s road back home.