A letter from Nancy Collins in Zambia
Dear family and friends,
Almost every morning I walk for exercise — two loops around the Justo Mwale campus, then out the gate and up a nearby dirt road. My goal is 5,000 steps. Regardless of the time of day or night there are always Zambians walking. They are not walking for exercise. Thousands of Zambians walk wherever they need to go. Even the highways are lined with people (and children) walking from one point out in the countryside to another. When I drive after dark, my car headlights pick out people along the road who have not yet reached their destinations. Sometimes it seems the highways were made primarily for pedestrians, not vehicles.
Those Zambians with a few extra resources may buy a bicycle. Bicyclists are found everywhere. Again Zambians don’t ride for sport or pleasure. Bikes are an important mode of transport. The specifications for bicycles in Africa must be different than in America. How else are they able to carry loads of 500 pounds or more?
What can you carry on a bicycle in Zambia? Almost anything:
- The family — wife with baby on her back seated on the rear carrier and older child balanced in front of the rider
- Four 100-pound bags of charcoal
- A load of firewood
- 100 pounds of sweet potatoes
- A dozen chickens hanging by their feet from the handlebars
Bicycles in Zambia are also used to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ! In March I traveled with Church of Central Africa Presbyterian/Synod of Zambia General Secretary Kabandama and General Treasurer Ngulube to Eastern Zambia, near the Malawi border, the birthplace of CCAP/Zambia. It was an 11-hour drive from Lusaka to Lundazi, where much of the infrastructure and departments of the Synod are located.
On the return drive we stopped to visit the Rev. Lecton Kaluah, pastor of the 450-member Chipata Central congregation. Mark Mtonga, clerk of session and evangelist, was also present, and he told stories about churches he had started. The story that touched my heart was about Mutenguleni Prayer House in Ngoni Village.
The Ngoni are an ethnic group living in Zambia. They migrated to Zambia from modern-day KwaZulu-Natal in the early 19th century. The village that I visited, Mutenguleni, composed of round, thatch-roofed houses, is in the bush a kilometer from the highway and 20 kilometers west of Chipata.
In 2009 Mr. Mtonga met Mtenguleni resident Mrs. Banda. Mtonga asked Mrs. Banda to start a village church, and Mrs. Banda accepted the challenge. Thanks to her efforts and a CCAP-supplied bicycle, the village church now has 50 members. A mud-and-thatch worship structure constructed in the fall of 2009 was washed away during heavy rains in February 2010. The little congregation is now building a more durable worship structure.
CCAP/Zambia members understand evangelism as the primary reason for the existence of the church. Evangelism is central to the life of the church. Showing the love of Jesus Christ to individuals by helping them improve their quality of life is also essential. The CCAP/Zambia is currently exploring Community Health Evangelism (CHE) as a way of linking evangelism and community development in impoverished Zambian communities.
According to CHE international coordinator Stan Rowland, “The goal of CHE is to establish a development ministry whose purpose is to bring together Jesus’ Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 and his Great Commandment to heal the sick found in Matthew 25:36.” Through CHE, selected villagers are trained to model and share the physical and spiritual truths they have learned with their neighbors in a home setting.
In February 2010 the Rev. Bob Ellis, coordinator of PC(USA) International Health and Development Ministries (IHD), invited Africa regional liaisons to attend an introduction to CHE (held in Nairobi, Kenya) to determine if it is an effective methodology in the present mission environment. The consensus was a resounding yes. The program is designed to be low-cost, transferable, multipliable and self-sustaining after initial training.
We have identified an existing master CHE trainer here in Zambia. He will meet with the CCAP Synod office this month to provide staff with more information about the methodology and to make plans for a presentation to clergy and lay leaders during the Synod meeting in August. The Synod staff will begin working on the implementation plan and funding proposal necessary for training and implementation. At this point everyone is excited about the possibilities CHE offers for strengthening both evangelism and community development in the Synod.
My plans for the coming months are shaping up. In July I will return to Malawi to become better acquainted with the CCAP synods there. I will spend August and September in the United States — August as vacation time with son Charles and September to attend a variety of PC(USA) meetings. I will return to Zambia in October. In November I will meet the Rev. Debbie Braaksma, the new Africa area coordinator, in Nairobi and together we will visit Kenyan, Rwandan and Zambian partners. In December Charles will come to Lusaka for a Christmas visit.
Prayer request: 48-year-old Olivia Kabandama, wife of General Secretary the ev. Maleka Kabandama, has been diagnosed with mitral valve disease. She frequently experiences nausea and severe chest pain. She is currently being treated with medication, but the only real way to address the condition is through surgery to replace the mitral valve. Heart surgery is not done in Zambia. Professional, cost-effective surgery ($2,500) is available at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India. Please pray for the Kabandamas as they struggle with the implications of Mrs. Kabandama’s condition. It is a painful and difficult time for them. Despite the agony they live with, they continue to trust in God’s love and mercy.
May the joy and peace of Christ be with us all.
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 52