Impressions of Zambia: An Apostolic Journey
Andy Wang—Irvine, California, USA
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify. In June 2011, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in a missionary trip to the nation of Zambia. I accompanied Preacher FF Chong of London church (UK) and Preacher Tae-Hoon “TJ” Jung of El Monte church (USA). The purpose of the trip was two-fold—ministering to the Zambian members and evangelizing in remote regions and to members of other Christian denominations.
Our first stop was Kitwe where there were two places of worship—Chimwemwe and Chamboli. Since I spent most of the time in these two locations, they left the deepest impression on me. I stayed at a member’s home in Chimwemwe and made frequent excursions to both places of worship. My assignment was to teach religious education to the children, lead Bible studies for the young adults, and generally to build a bond with the members.
SIMPLE BUT HAPPY
Throughout my interaction with the members, I found that they are the simplest people I have ever met. They live their lives in a self-subsistent and resourceful manner and are very good at making the most of what they have.
For example, on weekday mornings, members of the household woke up as early as 4 am to make use of the daytime to complete a deluge of chores. They would also take advantage of the well water that is only available at certain times of the day. Little children as young as three were adept at washing clothes by hand. The brisk motion of the wet cloths wringing against their wrists was a testament of the rigorous efforts they put toward their daily endeavors. They demonstrated vigor and willpower. I believe God has blessed them with a thankful and cheerful heart amidst what seems to be adversity.
Although I have attended many fellowships in the US, the experience in Zambia was especially simple and warm. Often, members would gather together after sunset, and sing soulful praise tunes and native folk songs a cappella. At first, I was hesitant to join since the lyrics and melodies were foreign to me. However, their voices were so beautiful and harmonized, I felt compelled to join and quickly caught on. As we sang with all of our hearts by the evening fireside, I immediately felt a spiritual camaraderie with these brethren even though we had just met.
I also enjoyed bonding with the young members through intense football games and invigorating runs on shoddy, uneven dirt roads. A small round mound of crumpled garbage bags served as the official “FIFA” ball. These members’ soles were toughened with calluses, yet they ran with ease and were as swift as gazelles. There was a true sense of freedom that I could not find in my world of technological advancement in the US.
Apart from their simple and unassuming lives, our Zambian members also have a pure heart of worship and willingness to accept the truth.
During a seminar on the Minor Prophets and essential church doctrines, I observed that the members listened intently. They studied the Bible passages with great diligence and focus just as the Bereans did in Paul’s time. One evening when Pr. Chong was discussing the revival of the apostolic church as prophesied in Isaiah, the members eagerly raised their hands and asked many questions. After the discussion, they agreed that it was indeed God’s grace that had allowed the gospel to spread from East to West, all the way to Zambia. They rejoiced and thanked God in loud applause.
More importantly, my experiences of street evangelism were quite memorable. I have always been quite reluctant to proclaim my faith and preach the gospel boldly. In America, citizens follow all different types of religions and philosophies, from atheism to Islam to mainstream Christianity. Sometimes, it was hard to figure out how to speak to the target audience and what topics to touch upon.
In Zambia, the citizens are predominantly Christian, ranging from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, and even Seventh Day Baptists. For the most part, the Zambian people generally agree on common Christian beliefs that one must call upon the Lord to be saved and that baptism removes sins.
During one of my afternoon evangelism excursions, I met a pastor from a Pentecostal church who was unaware that the correct mode of baptism is crucial to its saving power. I explained to him that we must bow in the likeness of Christ and be fully immersed during baptism. At first, these seemed to be mere symbolic details to the pastor. However, by the grace of God, he was able to understand the importance of following Jesus’ example.
Zambia is a rather God-fearing nation. Once the people hear the truth of the gospel, there is not much that will cause them to relent for they know that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
RESPONDING TO THE MACEDONIAN CALL
In Solwezi, Preacher TJ, Brother Dilema (a local church worker), and I met a pastor from the New Life Church at the inn where we were staying. He asked whether we belonged to the troupe of itinerant evangelists staying at the inn, and we nodded. This pastor thought it would be a good idea to discuss our church doctrines with him in efforts to merge our church with his.
Knowing that this would not be our intention, we were not sure if it would be worth our time and effort to evangelize to him. However, we agreed that we would meet the pastor in our living quarters later that evening for further discussion. Brother Dilema insisted that it could be a path, which God was trying to open because the pastor was from Kabompo, a region in Zambia that has no place of worship. We then prayed together for one hour, asking God to guide us according to His will.
Shortly afterwards, the pastor met us in our room. We began to recount our ten basic beliefs, one by one, as we gazed at the pastor’s face, wondering if he was receptive to God’s word. Surprisingly, he agreed to everything we said and showed a great deal of interest. At the end, he was inspired to learn more about the word of God and insisted that our preachers visit Kabompo. He immediately got up in excitement and made a phone call to his clergymen, inquiring of the idea to hold a spiritual seminar. Preacher TJ, Brother Dilema, and I were deeply touched by God’s grace, as we knew this could only be the start of something incredible.
A few days later, Preacher FF Chong arrived in Kabompo and, with the help of Brother Chisala from Chimwemwe, he delivered several days’ worth of basic belief classes. The members of the New Life Church were fully moved by the word of God and came to accept the truth. A couple of days later, a special baptism was held in Kabompo and as a result, six leaders of the New Life Church were baptized.
When Preacher TJ and I had heard the good news, we knelt down and praised God with pure joy and thanksgiving. We were humbled by God’s amazing power and will. Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit was working all along!
This experience reminded me of Paul’s response to the divine call to preach in Macedonia.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
I learned that it is the Spirit of God, which enables the gospel to be preached to places and in ways man cannot fathom. Through His design, wherever a seed is sown, a harvest will be gathered.
RELYING ON GOD
During the trip, I also realized that most of my struggles in Zambia were mental and personal. I felt like my own worst enemy. I had always lived a life of comfort in America and never had to worry about basic necessities. Sometimes, I would even complain about the food I ate or the things that I have or want. But in Zambia, I was suddenly thrust into a world of no electricity, no running water, no laundry machine, no toilets, and no favorite meals. I felt as though I was living in a different world that I had to adapt to quickly.
Every day, we were constantly on
the move, traveling between places of worship, trekking for hours along starlit
roads, and walking briskly while members escorted us through the hustle and
bustle of downtown.
During the first few days, I was anxious about each day’s itinerary and worried about my health and tolerance under these “austere” conditions. All these thoughts developed into a mental struggle that even caused me to lose sleep at night. I knew I had to turn to God to deliver me from my inner enemy. Our hour-long prayers in the mornings and afternoons really helped me to calm my heart and rely fully on the Lord in all my cares. Gradually everything became smoother, my fears diminished, and joy and peace filled my heart.
Overall, the missionary trip was an eye-opening experience and taught me a lot about God’s great commission to spread the gospel to the end of the earth. Living in America has caused me to become complacent with the usual church rigmarole and lose sight of what is really important—the spirit of passing on His word that can only be fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit and His abidance. As I was relying on the Holy Spirit to preach in these foreign lands, I really felt His power. It gave me great encouragement to continue to preach back at home.
In addition, the members in Zambia reminded me how we are one big happy family in Christ. I will always remember their generosity in preparing delicious and hearty meals for us, their hospitality in hosting us in their humble abodes, and their genuine love in praying for us as we pressed on to our next destination.
Outwardly, I may look different from the Zambians, but when we dig deeper, we see that the same blood flows in our veins—the blood of Jesus Christ that has washed away our sins. It is extremely humbling to know that we are united through the blood and Spirit of Christ, as we fight the spiritual battle. If God meant for us to find a piece of heaven on earth, then He must have placed it in the fellowship with our brothers and sisters around the world.
Praise God for His wondrous blessings. May all the power, praise, and glory be unto His holy name. Amen.