Thursday, September 24, 2009

Through the Eyes of Another

I asked a few of the members of the team that visited in August if they would share a highlight experience from their trip to Zambia.  Below is a posting by David Stumbo, a dear friend and member of our home church.  Please take the time to read about how God used him & impacted his life during his time in Zambia.  Thank you David for putting this together!

The AIDS epidemic has plagued Zambia horribly, and is one of the reasons why the average life expectancy in Lusaka is about 37 years old.  I had the privilege one day of our trip of walking through the Chaisa compound with Mark Mwale, pastor of Emasdale Church of God, and pray for people who were dying of AIDS in their own houses.  This was part of the C.R.O.S.S. ministry (Churches Ready to Overcome Silence and Stigma) that Action Zambia has organized to minister to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Lusaka.  

Pastor Mwale introduced me as “Man of God” everywhere we went in the compound.  Mark Mwale, however, is a true “Man of God.”  He wakes up at 4 AM every morning, straps 10 hand crafted charcoal grills to his bike, and carries them 5 miles to the city market to provide income for his family (7 biological children and 6 orphans), church and community.  He has very little materially but was so giving and open with what he did have.  I was so privileged to spend time in ministry with this dear brother in Christ.   

The stark poverty that I witnessed up close in Chaisa is something that was truly a shock to the senses.  Many of these houses were no bigger than a small room in your house, with cinder block walls and no windows.  There was garbage lying in piles all over the place, and ditches filled with dirty water running through the low lying areas between the dwellings.  Young children were everywhere in the streets and alleyways, playing with whatever they could get their hands on to make into a toy.  Without exception all turned their attention directly toward the only white face within sight walking through their compound.  The young ones smiled and laughed, calling out “Mzungu!” (which means “white person” in their native tongue).   The smell of this place was very pungent, and is also something that I don’t think I will ever forget. 

We visited three particular houses along the way, with lots of walking in between.  The first was occupied by a lady named Edna, and her mother Violet.  Edna’s husband had recently died of AIDS, and Edna herself was now afflicted with AIDS and Tuberculosis.  She indicated that because of her sickness, it was very difficult for her to have the energy to work to support and feed her family.  She had a look of complete sorrow and desperation on her face as we talked to her and prayed for her.  

The second house was occupied by a man living alone, who was about my age, and who was both afflicted with AIDS and completely blind.  His days are spent sitting on the step outside of his small dwelling and chipping off enough wood to make a small fire to keep warm at night.  He indicated that his mother would go into the city to try to obtain the AIDS medications for him, if and when they were available.  This man seemed to have a strong faith in the Lord, and we prayed for encouragement and strength for him in what appeared to be a lonely situation. 

The third dwelling that we visited was very unique, and presented me with a situation that I had never experienced until then.  We were greeted by a woman outside the front door, who went inside to a dark room in the house behind a curtain to talk to the person inside.  I heard a weak, but animated voice inside speaking Bemba to her.  Pastor Mwale could also hear and interpreted for me, saying that the man wanted us to go away unless we had food or medication for him.  Despite his protests, the woman waived us back to the room behind the curtain.  The room was dark, but I could make out a frail figure on the pallet, and as I placed my hand on his arm, all I could feel was skin and bone.  The man was saying something in a high-pitched voice, Pastor Mwale tells me, “He says that he has evil spirits.”  We begin to pray for him, first of all confronting the demonic spirits inside of him and calling them out in the name of Jesus.  I could feel the body trembling under my hand as we prayed.  We also began to pray for complete healing.  As the prayer reached a crescendo, Pastor Mwale and I were going back and forth seamlessly, me in English and then him in Bemba.  As we closed the man’s body stopped trembling, and he started saying “thank you” repeatedly. 

This was certainly a first for me, although Pastor Mwale acted like it was something that was pretty common for him.  For a conservative, country boy from South Carolina to be teamed up with a charismatic Zambian pastor to confront forces of Satan in the middle of one of the poorest urban areas in the world shows not only how big our God is, but that he also has a sense of humor. 

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