Saturday, July 11, 2009

Street Kids Outreach

Last Friday, several of us went out with another ministry here in Zambia on a street kids outreach.  Our friends, the Moraleses and the Carrs, head up a ministry that reaches out to these vulnerable children.  We really didn't know what to expect.  We all met at a coffee house in downtown Lusaka and then walked through town to Saweto (a district of shops behind city market).  Once we got back in Saweto, we had to make our way through these small alleys between the shops to the back of Saweto.  As we arrived, it seemed like the children came from out of nowhere.  

As they came, the leaders of the group we were with, started gathering them towards the back of Saweto along a fence that borders the area.  Charles, a once street boy and known criminal in Lusaka, shared with them how Jesus Christ had changed his life.  Charles used to be one of the leaders on the streets.  He spent a lot of time in prison and was even used by prison guards to "thin out" populations when they got too full.  It was amazing to me to see how God had invaded such a hopeless situation and changed what many of us would deem a lost cause.

Most (probably all) of the boys were sniffing Stika the whole time we were there.  Stika is a cheap inhalant drug peddled to these children by local drug dealers.  The children put a little of the glue in a clear plastic bottle and inhale the fumes.  It has a deadening effect on all of their senses.  During the winter (which is now), it is the primary way that they endure the cold.  So, I don't know how much of what Charles shared was received by these children, but I do know that God's word never returns void!

After that afternoon, I couldn't get these children and this experience out of my mind.  So, when the Carrs invited us back out the following week, I was more than happy to go.  This outing was a little different though.  Instead of going out during the day, we went out at night.  Let me just say that many Zambians will not go into Saweto during the day, but most would never go at night.  And I think that it spoke volumes to these kids that we would be willing to meet them where they were.

Our charge from the Pastor this time, "Just touch the children.  Show them that you care for them and that God cares for them."  And that's about all we did.  We went and parked the car at a police post inside city market and walked back to the same place we had been the previous Friday.  This time, in addition to our just being there, we brought hot tea and bread for the boys.  The evening started with singing around a small fire the boys had already made (see the video above).  As we sang, many of them would come up and hug us and greet us in Nyanja.  After singing and a testimony by one of the teammates, we broke into smaller groups and fed the children.  The leaders wanted us out of there before the kids got too rowdy.  So, shortly after the feeding, we prayed and left.

I think the one thing that God impressed upon me during these outreaches is how little it takes to show God's love to another person.  Sometimes, something as simple as taking bread and tea to a boy in a hopeless situation is all He desires from me to show someone else His love!

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