I am finally back from Zambia after two weeks of spending time with Pastor George Palo of Harvest City Church in Ndola, Zambia.  I have a ton in my head and I have to say that these two weeks will likely turnout to be a watershed moment for the lives of the Hiestands.

You’ll have to be in church tomorrow to get my more complete reflections (or listen online when i post it) but here are some major themes/thoughts:

Community
Sunday night was awesome as we sat around the fire sharing stories with the men from Harvest City Church after studying the scriptures together, taking communion and praying for one another.  They told some awesome stories about the community and life in the bush. From my perspective I look at life in the bush as such a sad experience, they spoke about it with such joy and life.  Its funny how we equate material possessions with happiness.

Scriptures
The scriptures are the only reason we could speak into such a wholly different culture.  They are the orienting story / narrative for both our cultures and because of them we could speak.  If for some reason I didn’t hold the scriptures in high enough regard before this trip, I made some major strides in this.

The Patient Urgency of Mission
This piggy backs off of my sermon three weeks ago about having patience in the midst of an urgent mission and the little things are important.  This week was an exercise in this.  We go there wanting to change the world and ended up talking about confessional relationships and why its hard for them to practice this scripture.  We has some intense conversations around this issue and turned out to be exactly what they needed.  So, we didn’t change the world in one fell swoop, but God did use us to help the Church there to be a little bit stronger.  This is a great, great lesson in the work of the Spirit and our role in it.

Joy in Poverty
Its interesting that all the kids and people that we met were so full of joy.  They were, in some cases, in desperate poverty. The stories are endless and we didn’t even see the half of it.  But, they are happy in the mist of their pain.  There is joy there.  And, in most cases, this comes from the presence of God in their lives.  Compare that with our culture and you have so many people who have so much yet our lives are not any happier (and in some cases we are not happy at all) and we’re the most depressed country on the planet.

Both Cultures are Broken.
This falls off the last point.  The fact is, both of our cultures are broken. Theirs is broken in some very obvious ways: Unbelievable poverty. AIDS is ravening the country. The worst roads ever. Sub-par Infrastructure.  Almost non-existent social services.  Our culture is broken too but in different ways. The last point makes helps here.  Reflecting on Gary’s sermon at The Well from two weeks ago we see how mob mentality takes over.  In a mob, you have people doing things that they would never do individually.  This is our life in suburbia is it not?  It’s clear that our way of life doesn’t work!  Yet, we keep on living it.  Time to clean house.

Future Visits Ahead
One of the questions going into this trip was how future visits would work out.  Its clear (at least so far) that God is calling us back to continue to partner with the Church there.  Pastor George set this trip up for us as a “first of many” kind of trip. Basically, instead of working with the same people each day we had more of a tour of the church in Zambia.  We met with about 6 different groups of pastors in a number of different cities.  We were with pastors who were working/living in the city and pastors who were working/living in the slums.  We visited the “bush” and visited the city.  There are a ton of ways for us to have a long term partnership with the churches there.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Ecclesia and The Well can take part in this partnership.

Worship.
This won’t be a suprise but the worship/singing/prayer there was unreal.  It came straight from the gut where I am not sure where ours comes from.  We were late to one meeting and the group had started singing already.  As we approached the room it sounded like we were about to walk into a room with 200+ people.  Turns out, it was about 35 young people all under the age of 18.  They worship God and they know they need him.  They are desperate for him.  And it shows.  It’s funny, often people claim they don’t believe in God because there are too many people who are poor in the world.  Yet, the poor that I met in Zambia had no trouble trusting in him, worshiping him and crying out to him.  Hmm….

Bungee Jumping
Yeah, that’s right. 111 meters and about 4 seconds of free fall.  Was totally nuts and I can’t believe I did it.  Here’s the YouTube Video:

Final Final Thoughts…

All in all, an amazing trip.

The plane flights were long.

About 35+ hours of being in planes.

I did get to watch nine movies so that was nice. I’m exhausted.

But, its the best exhausted I can imagine.

Missed my family like nuts.

I’m more than happy to be with them again.

Lastly this song from Charlie Peacock about sums up my reflections and reactions to the trip.  Spend the 99 cents on it.  You have to hear the whole song to understand it.  Personally, I think its genius really.