Mission Series | Missionary Snapshot

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Community living in the heart of Zambia

Just this week I had to clean out some kind of insect that had buried itself into my dog’s fur. Some oozy, sticky disgusting thing. My greatest fear in coming to Africa wasn’t issues of war, leaving loved ones or personal safety—it was the bugs. Horror filled my mind as I thought of parasites and crawly things that could get under my skin—so this minor incident didn’t help me with my fears.

Since I’ve been in Zambia, I have learnt about a multitude of things through my community of friends. From poisonous bugs to illnesses and worms, as well as other everyday issues. Expats soon find themselves sharing much more about their bodily functions than ever before (stay with me here—there is a Christian point to all this!). When it comes to drugs and medicine, except for the serious stuff, we generally help one another figure out what the problem is— prescriptions are not used very often.

“God can impact a heart in a moment, but discipleship takes time and investment.”

Living as part of a bigger community is not only a necessity in Zambia but it is also a great blessing. I have realized how little (or not at all) I knew my neighbors in Canada. It has taken time to adjust, but I am learning to love it. I wouldn’t be able to manage daily without the thriving network that is alive around me.

It’s been important to recognize this in order to also understand the people I work with here and make a difference in their lives. You can’t, as a missionary or volunteer, come swanning in and expect to impact someone’s living network overnight. Of course, God can impact a heart in a moment, but discipleship takes time and investment.

“Although we can be strong on our own, we are stronger as one.”

Through practical classes like English and knitting, I have slowly tried to connect into the network of Zambian women I work with. The changes have taken time, and overall, I have found that we have ended up supporting each other, teaching and blessed one another through the networks that God had planned all along. He is good!

Community living is a reflection of what the body of Christ can look like. It has taught me that although we can be strong on our own, we are stronger as one. It has taken me out of my comfort zone—in Canada I could manage most things on my own if I tried hard enough. I could find services, assistance or protection anytime I needed it. Where I am now, there often isn’t even a street sign to tell you where you are—you have to ask for help, you must rely on others and you need to be part of something bigger than yourself. 

I am thankful for the opportunity God has given me to grow through my new life, and with my new community. Sometimes it’s hard, I won’t lie, but I am reminded that I am not alone because after all, church is not a building. Church is us, it’s the body of Christ, it’s all around us in every country and in every place.