“Daddy’s home!!!!!!!” Wesley screamed! Sienna jumped off my lap and Shayla raced to finish the last line in her school work. The next 45 minutes no one thought about the lonely week without daddy around, nor the fact that it was now an hour passed supper time. After a much needed (and I mean by a few days) scrub in the shower, Craig sat in the living room with the rest of us crowded around, to look at pictures and hear the stories of his trip to the Western Province of Zambia.
Sunday morning he headed out with Waluka, our pioneer Bible work coordinator, to check on the local work and assess the ability to build a church for the area. After 9 hours on the road with a few elephants and impales in view, the team stepped into a long wooden canoe for the remaining 2 hours through the Barotse Floodplains–one of Africa’s great wetlands in the Zambezi River valley.
At some point they switched to a smaller dug out canoe and worked their way through the water grass.
Here they approach little islands that pop up barely feet above the water line and just large enough for family groups to live on. During rainy seasons, and when their houses flood, they bring their canoes into the house, hop inside, and float the days and nights away until the water resides. Talk about adaptability!
The heritage of the first King of this land has quite the fantastical flair. A woman hatched from an egg that was incubated by a crocodile. She was also nursed by the crocodile, and when she grew up, gave birth to the first king of the Lozi. While the birth of the mother is obviously legendary, the birth of the king is not. The Lozi is one of the major tribes here in Zambia.
The local Bible worker, Rivercainy leads in front of the canoe, and tells another story, not so legendary this time, nor so far in the distance past. In these waters lived a large crocodile where he grew up. It became notorius for eating people that came to the water to bathe, clean dishes, and other activities common to their daily life. Finally, one of the tribe members said, “This crocodile belongs to someone! We must find out who it is.”
Their search was successful, and in one of the little huts lived a witch doctor who owned a little carving of a crocodile that he kept. When he wanted to send a curse to someone he would toss the figure into the water and it became a large crocodile. This is the dreaded creature that had been sighted and was claiming too many lives. When done, it would swim back to the witchdoctor to be retrieved as the unassuming carving until its next commission.
In order to break the curse, the men who found the crocodile owner burned the carving. Since that day, there have been no more crocodile eating humans in the villages there.
My children’s eyes are wide and I caught my jaw hanging as Craig finished the story. “Did that really happen?” they queried. Yes, it really did. The villagers can tell you the names of the people killed in those tragedies. I reminded them of the story of Pharaoh in Egypt, when commanded by Moses to let the Israelites go, had his men throw down their staffs and they became poisonous snakes. The Devil is real, and his delusions become real to those who believe them to be real. This is why true education is so powerful in breaking the bonds of fear and witchcraft. And just like God provided a miracle with Moses’ rod to overcome the Devil’s tricks in Egypt, God is doing miracles in the hearts of each soul through the work of dedicated workers like Rivercainy to educate and break the strongholds of Satan in their lives.
Rivercaney is currently working with many groups in that area spreading the Gospel. There are now at least four groups of Christians ready to have a real church structure of their own to worship in. Within 6 months a team from Riverside will be back to build them a church to replace where they are meeting now.
The group came that came out to see the church building site were full of excitement.
What are the crocodiles in your life? What are the strongholds the Devil is trying to bind around your heart that make you feel despondent, hopeless, that you are worthless, incapable or unloved? Don’t believe those lies. Don’t let them become a reality that will destroy your joy and keep you from your full potential in life. Remember Who your King is, and experience the power of His Love in your heart.