Last Great Day
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
James Mfula picks us up, but Teresa has misplaced the key to the Banda's home. We cannot leave unless we lock up. So, we left her behind. She found the key shortly after we left, locked up and took a minibus to the Festival site.
James Mfula talked about the neighboring country of Angola. In his work he has traveled there several times. It's about a four hour drive west. The capital is Luanda, a city of five million people. He talked about the beauty and the disparity of wealth and poverty there. It was a Portuguese colony at one time and the population still speaks that language. Angola has now surpassed Nigeria as the number one oil producing nation in Africa.
James told us that the population of Zambia was about 11 million, but no one knew for sure. There are only 500,000 taxpayers of that number and 80% of the population is considered "unemployed." This, though, factors in all the subsistence farmers. This would include most all of our Church members.
In the morning I spoke about Repentance. This was what Christ, John the Baptist and the apostles in the Books of Acts started with as they preached the Kingdom of God. I explained the subject and gave examples of application as a way of life.
We had lunch outside similar to yesterday. Very enjoyable with lots of upbeat conversation and gladness. The people really enjoy being with one another.
The Afternoon Service begins with the Blessing of Little Children. I gave a 15 minute talk about how Christ Respected children setting an example of how we should respect our children who we have for a short time before they are independent. But, HOW they do in life is based on how we treat and regard them. Christ said of children: "Of such is the Kingdom of God."
Here come the kids. We tried to divide them into three groups for Kambani Banda, Jerrison Shachongo and myself. The first child coming to me was Victor Chifwepa, Winter and Offen's son named after me. That was really touching.
In the afternoon my title was "The Beginning is Near!" We often think in END terms. The End of the Festival, the LAST Great Day. The End of the World. I was encouraging people to think about the Apocolyptic Events prophesied as New Beginnings and a New Starts. The Book of Revelation ends the New Heavens and the New Earth.
There has been no shortage of speaking assignments and today was the eleventh time I spoke so far on this trip.
After the service I anointed a few people...some with cancer, bowel problems and more. I am saddened by the poverty and lack of medical care that these people have. I felt very sad one little child who had cancer in one eye. The eye had to be removed, but nothing, of course, was done to do anything cosmetically for the disfigured face. Another sad site was a child walking with one shoe. That's all he had. For these people coming to the Feast of Tabernacles IS the high point of the year. The support and bonding is far above anything I've seen anywhere. We are so happy to be able to help these people who have as much value as much more wealthy people in the West to upgrade their lives and help them do it themselves.
We have been so pleased with what's been able to be done by LifeNets. We do not take credit for it. We know that it's been a team effort of a lot of people working to bring out healthy outcomes. Our most successful story is one family that has come from subsistence life with an income of $200 a year to now $4000 a year! Now they have money for soap, books...even a cell phone! That's a quantum leap.
We give God the credit for opening so many doors and adequate financing to make things happen. I absolutely love being a part of this process to bring joy and a better life for relatively little cost.
In Zambia, Malawi and South Africa we have provided for more than 30 scholarships per year. Our cattle development program has more than 120 head of cattle. Livelihood development has included honey processing, a maize mill, small groceries, shoes, sewing and much more. We have provided more than a dozen computers to students and others needing them. We have provided water wells, wheelchairs, clinics and vehicles. We surprise ourselves with all that's developed over the past decade. We thank our supporters who trust us and support us to bring all this about.
We did a few short video interviews with our scholarship students Zera (studying economics), Sylvester Ndia (studying IT), Bervin Mombe (studying insurance), and Gideon Ngulube (studing IT at the National Institute of Public Administration).
After all settled down at the Festival site, James Mfula drove us back to the Banda's. We stopped at a gas station and I noticed that he uncharacteristically speeded up in his SUV. He told us later that he thought he was being followed by bandits. We could have all been held up, forced out of car and the vehicle would have disappeared. I asked him what they would do with it. He said that Zambia long porous borders with eight different nations. Vehicles are often spirited away through various holes in the border never to be seen again. Mr. Mfula knows. He is the deputy head of Home Affairs that oversees the guarding of the borders.
We came back to the Banda's neighborhood on the extremely beat-up road. Interestingly it had speed bumps put on it. They were the smoothest thing in the road!
Everything is so hard. Hard roads, power outages-sometimes deliberate. Bad phone service (except cell, but that too has the networks jammed and you can't get on for a while).