Sunday, March 9, 2008

Feeding the Hungry

Most people in Zambia live with a constant survival mentality. Each day is about trying to find enough food to make it through the day so you can wake up the next day and go through the process all over again. They really do live year by year, hoping against hope for a good crop so they can make it to the next year when they will hope again for another good harvest. It is never about prospering or planning, it is always about survival. Sometimes survival is year by year, or month by month, but for many it is day by day. You would think with such a survival mentality, Zambians would be very careful with what they have and very stingy in giving it away. However, that is not the case. In reality, Zambians are perhaps the most giving and charitable people on the earth. This was really brought home to me last Sunday as I went to church. This year has not been a good year for growing maize (corn) which is the staple food of all Zambians. Oh we have has lots of rain, but unfortunately we have had way too much. In many places flooding has wiped out entire fields of mature maize. In other places it has just rained so much that either the planted seed was washed away or things began to mildew and rot on the stalk. It is not a total and complete loss and in some cases it just depends on where you go. Some people's fields are o.k. and they will harvest enough to get them through the year, but others will fall very, very short. This was the case I found out with Shanyinde, a local pastor at the Baptist Church in Mwamolo. We showed up for church there on Sunday and were warmly greeted as a welcome surprise. After the service, I chatted with him about the usual- how are you? how is your family? etc. and received all of the expected answers- fine, good, etc. However, when I asked him how his fields had fared this year he let me know that things were not so good in that regard. He has lost almost everything and expects to only harvest about 5x50 kg bags of maize. I asked him how many he needed to get his family through the year and he shared that usually they need about 20 to see them through one year. At that moment, I realized the reality of what he was facing. I told him I would pray for him and he said for me not to worry because he was sure that he could find odd jobs to hopefully buy food throughout the year and keep his family from starving. With a heavy heart I rounded up my family and began to say goodbye to folks, and head towards the truck to leave. Before I got in he told me I couldn't go yet. He had prepared a gift for us and one of his children was still on the way to fetch it and should be back shortly. I was stunned when he presented us with about 10 cobs of fresh maize from his field. These were obviously the best he had- the first fruits, but the harvest from a field that was going to fall pitifully short in meeting his family's needs. Yet in his heart of hearts he felt that he should give a gift to the missionary (who really doesn't need anything and knows where his next meal is coming from). Needless to say, I was humbled and blessed. I seriously considered refusing and telling him he needed it more than me, but in reality what he needed was the blessing of giving; not giving from his abundance but giving from his abject poverty. Another member (following his pastor's lead) also gave us a gift of charcoal (another important commodity), and with that we were on our way back to our home and our affluence (by Zambian standards). I don't really have any profound words of wisdom or divine application to this story, and perhaps it doesn't need any. I think the story speaks for itself and you can make your own applications to your own life. Let me just remind you all to please be in prayer for the spiritual and physical needs of the people we work with this year. Monday through Wednesday I will be using the boat to do a hunger relief project on the Lunsemfwa River. This is the area I work in with the boat, and usually I am there doing church planting and evangelism. However, the river left its banks this year and the fields were flooded and they have lost everything. We decided that it might be best if we coupled our spiritual efforts at this time with a physical demonstration of God's love and grace. We will be hauling about 5 tons of relief mealie-meal up the Lunsemfwa river 10 bags at a time. Please pray for us as we do this that God would watch over and protect us; that people would be ministered to physically and spiritually; and that things would go off without a hitch. Pray for us also that in the midst of this giving we would honor the sacrifices of people like Shanyinde, and ultimately the greatest sacrifice of all when God gave his son for the redemption of the world.

1 comment:

Brian & Kelly Jo Kallevig said...

Just wanted to let you guys know how much we enjoy hearing about life in Zambia!! We especially appreciated this story-we are sharing it with our supporters and church this month!

We are ready to ship our container, hopefully the end of this week!! Then we plan to move in early October/late September maybe.

Brian & Kelly Jo Kallevig
your soon-to-be "neighbors" :)