What started as a small-scale effort to help provide some villagers with affordable and accessible food has exploded into a chiefdom-wide project involving many communities, leaders, and a fleet of delivery vehicles including tractors, fishing rigs, transport trucks, and a 15-ton box truck. We knew that helping was the “right” thing to do, but we did not realize it was the divine strategy of God to weave us together with the people and gain their trust and affection like never before.
Zambians are generally so open and loving but coming into Chipepo 4 years ago, we knew there would be a lot of skepticism and past wounds from other westerners that we had to overcome. The older generation still remembers the tragedy of their homes and schools being flooded when the dam for Lake Kariba was constructed under British rule in 1959. They will even tell you with sorrow that their parent’s graves are buried underneath the waters. British soldiers forced the Tonga people from the fertile valley up into the mountains and the few villagers that put up a fight were killed.
Others in recent years have seen the selfishness of westerners who only come for business and treat their Zambian workers harshly. But perhaps the most devastation has come from church planters who have come from town and started churches that indoctrinate the people in division and fear of other churches. There are many unsaved and undiscipled people trapped in these religious establishments that were formerly unreachable for us. Their churches preach against us, and some accuse us of satanism (funny, right?). But the breakthrough came by an act of kindness that could not be theologically understood. Giving a hungry person the food they need bypasses the mind and goes straight for the heart.
When we started delivering food in Siabbamba, Elisha heard a story about a really interesting service that happened at one of the churches. One of the church leaders stood up to preach, but instead of preaching from the Bible, he began preaching against us and forbidding the people to purchase our food. The congregation actually stood up and started shouting at the man saying, “No! You are wrong!” and insisting that he sit down! Never before have we heard of church members actively resisting false doctrine! Our guys have overheard people remarking that there is no way a person involved in satanism could be showing so much love to people.
This relief effort will continue up until the harvest at the end of April. Below is a map of the areas we have been able to deliver food to weekly. The red marker is our base, and the yellow markers are our current distribution points. There are still further areas within the boundary of our chiefdom that need help and we are brainstorming the logistics of how to reach them.
After trial and error, Jesse found an excellent company in the capital city of Lusaka that sells us bags of mealie meal for a great price and can bring 560 bags to Chipepo up to twice weekly. We were in Lusaka when we sent the first truckload and they made it all the way through the dangerous, curvy mountain roads and then managed to get stuck in sand just outside the gate to our base. Our team of disciples was already there waiting to offload the bags into our container so they worked all through the night trying to get the truck out of the deep sand and mud.
They didn’t have the winch on our truck and Jesse wasn’t there to direct them. The next day, Elisha sent a message and could not contain his excitement. He kept thanking Jesse profusely for everything he’s ever taught them and done for them. We are witnessing the culmination of disciple-making. These men finally understand that they have what it takes to do what we do! They know that through Jesus Christ there is absolutely no limitation on their lives!
While we were in Lusaka running errands last weekend, I started feeling stabbing chest pains. By the time we reached home from our trip I couldn’t even unpack the groceries but had to try to stay in bed. Bedrest is futile in such a hectic environment as we live in, and I declined to the point to where I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. At 1am on Tuesday morning I told Jesse that we had to pack up again to go see a doctor. So we left at 5am with all the groceries on the counters, fresh vegetables in the fridge, and a pile of dirty laundry in the washing machine. With no adequate health care along the route, we ended up back here in Lusaka where I was diagnosed with pleurisy – most likely from a virus. I am much better now although I still feel far from being 100% and we cannot go back home until I am well so please pray for a rapid recovery!
We appreciate your partnership with us in such a glorious assignment to Chipepo. It’s never easy but it’s never boring and it’s always worth it! “ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
If you are interested in giving a one-time gift towards this project, please contact us at email@example.com and we will send you more information!