Community School, Zambia
Day Two! Incredible! Life-changing! Eye-opening! God's love and goodness poured out because every perfect gift is from Him. Our first large ministry project today was to visit a community school back in a village that has 115 students. The school is a part of the Encounter Zambia ministry and was started because children in this location had to walk 7 miles to go to school and therefore were not going. Since this school is run by Encounter, the Bible is taught as well as the Gospel on a daily basis. It is a two room school and extremely rustic. Encounter put a roof on the school two years ago and bought a chalkboard. There are another 2 rooms that have been built in an adjacent building, but $2,000 is needed to put a roof on. So 115 students meet in two rooms.
A well was dug a couple of years ago by Encounter and now the school kids have clean water as well as nearby villages that walk to the well. When we arrived the school, the students were so excited as they sang and shouted before we even got off the bus. It got a little interesting because another 75 children, as well as some mothers, showed up because they wanted to see what was going on and were hoping for some gifts. At the school, we encouraged the two teachers...one man that has taught there since 2006 who was 38 years old and one lady. ERM supports these two teachers at $50.00 per month. After singing several songs with them, the U.S. Encounter team as well as the Zambia Encounter team worked hard at teaching all of the children in small groups a curriculum entitled, "Unlocking Your Potential." The kids learned the following: spiritual, nutritional, mental, physical, social, and educational units that would help them unlock the potential to live a better life. This included things such as: good and positive contact with others, the Gospel, eating the right things, washing your hands, drinking clean water, stay in school, learn your letters and numbers, healthy head-heart-habits, and much more.
Then, we went to work like an army unpacking 130+ pair of shoes that we brought as well as children's clothes and backpacks with school supplies. Our goal was to minister to the school children first and then we would help as many of the village children that we could. For the next hour, my life would change forever. Truly it's hard to write the next few lines without choking up with overwhelming emotion. Children were brought into to the school room in groups of five and we would size a pair of shoes for them and give them a new shirt, pair of pants, or a dress. At least half of the kids were not wearing shoes, and many of them had torn clothes that just looked like rags. I will never forget their faces, their eyes, the way they looked at me, and how grateful they were to get a pair of $5 crocs. It was hot, everyone smelt, dirt was everywhere, but I could not have been more full of joy as I was down on my hands and knees sizing shoes on a little black, dirty, feet. At one point as I was doing this, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the words of Jesus in the book of Acts, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I so wish my own children could have seen what I saw in that holy hour. I've never been without shoes my entire life...and just as Jesus washed the dirt off of the disciples feet, there on my knees I felt as if I was having the opportunity to minister in one of the greatest ways I ever have. They went home with shoes, the Gospel, and some love that they had not experienced in the way they did on this day...I went home with overwhelming gratitude for what it means to be a servant and that my Jesus humbled Himself to give His all for me.
I'm the beggar, He is the continual Giver, and I do not serve Him...He serves me. He is greatest who serves. The hardest thing for me today happened after we gave shoes and school supplies to all the school kids and most of the village kids. I had noticed earlier in the day a little boy who was probably 3 years old who had no shoes, a dirty pair of green shorts, and a little brown shirt ripped in shreds. By the time he was brought in, we had given away all the shoes that would fit his feet. I tried so hard to find a pair and couldn't find a pair. Everything I put on his feet was either way too small or way too big. At that moment, I would have given so much money for a pair of shoes...just a pair of shoes. I can drive from my house at home two minutes down the road and spend pocket change for a pair of shoes. And today, I was powerless in that moment to give him what he needed physically. And he just looked at me. I can still see his face as I scrambled around looking for anything that I could give him. I finally was able to give him a shirt that barely fit him. I just had never felt in my life what I felt in that hour. After we gave everything away, we came out of the school room to cheering moms and children who were thrilled to receive what they had. Before we left the school I noticed in classroom #2 that the chalkboard was pitiful. I'm not even sure how you could write on it especially since it had a hole in the middle of it and was so cracked, aged, and worn that it was not useable. I found out that it would cost $40 to purchase a new chalkboard, so I was able to give the money needed to make sure they were able to get a new board to replace that one. It was the greatest $40.00 I've ever spent. The price we pay to eat out at a restaurant in America paid for a chalkboard that could be used to teach a hundred children every day for years. But the needs continued as we walked back out into the school yard and saw little preschool aged children with bloated stomachs and their belly buttons sticking out several inches (a sign of malnutrition and worms). Very preventable diseases, but no money or venues to make it happen for them. But as we left the school, shouts of praise and many tears flowed from mothers who were so excited that their children received a book bag with some school supplies. At the end of the day, the greatest shouts of praise were in heaven as the Gospel was shared, and the treasure of Jesus was manifested through our clay pot vessels so that the surpassing power was of God and not of us.