“There are seven days, there are seven days, there are seven days in the week,” they sang at the top of their voices to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine”.
As we walked into the makeshift community school, housed in the cinder block home of one of the church members, we heard the children loud and strong, singing this song as part of their learning program.
On this day we visited the school in Lusaka, Zambia with the general secretary of the American Baptist Churches-USA (ABC-USA), Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, the executive director of American Baptist Women Ministries (ABW), Ms. Virginia Holmstrom, executive director International Ministries (IM), Rev. Dr. Reid Trulson, the executive director of the Ministers and Missionary Benefit Board (MMBB), Rev. Sumner Grant and the executive director of National Ministries (NM), Rev. Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins. The team was in Africa to see, first hand, the ministries and projects with which IM Missionaries are involved. This visit was with us in Lusaka, Zambia where we as IM Missionaries are engaged in ministry and partnership with the national leadership and 570 churches of the Baptist Convention of Zambia (BCZ).
There must have been 80-100 children crammed into three small rooms, and this attendance was low. On a regular day, a day when the children know there will be “nshima” with veggies to eat, they come in large numbers. They learn, they eat and many times they try to save a bit of the food they get at school to eat later or to give to a sibling or a parent at home.
The school was started as a concerted effort with volunteer members of the Samaritan BC and us out of a desperate need to educate the children in Lusaka’s very poor Kalikiliki compound. Many of the children are orphans, some have HIV-AIDS, a few might have one parent, but poverty is the common ground. These little children would like to attend government run “Basic” schools but lack of funds and in some cases lack of parental supervision keep them from the benefit of a safe, structured day to day routine. As we toured the school, the children were so proud to show us what they had been learning. The students are in lower primary, middle primary and seventh through tenth grade groupings. The team also visited the stick and plastic bag structure that is the Samaritan’s church building.
During the ABC team’s time with us they visited “The Prayer Room” which is a house in another compound called Garden Central to see the bible study group of women, formerly involved in sex work, that Sarah leads in discipleship and Christian growth. The team got to witness dance celebrations of the Baptist Women of Zambia group and the sports ministry in Kabanana compound’s BCZ church and do walking house visits to widows and orphaned and vulnerable children in that compound.
The team traveled to the Copperbelt Province of Zambia to survey the building and renovations taking place at the BCZ Education Centre located in the Kitwe-Kalulushi area. While there, they met with the BCZ General Secretary, the Central Executive officers and the BCZ Education committee that Charles is working with. They heard the presentation of the initial plans for opening of the Zambia International Theological College (ZITC) to be housed in this building purchased with the help of ABCOTS.
Before leaving Zambia for South Africa team members worshiped and individually preached at several BCZ churches in Lusaka compounds. After the worship services, we gathered at our house for one last goodbye and headed off to the airport.
It was such a blessing to have the “Team” with us to see first hand our working environment, and to pray with and for our ministry and family in Africa.
In His Service,
Charles, Sarah, Chasah, Caleb and Charliese West