The return. Back in the swing of things. It was an exciting time, returning to ministry in the community. This year we have decided to minister in new locations…concentrated ministry and replicate what has happened in Mngwangwa in other zones, giving them 4 sessions per month. Our areas, Mbvunguti, Njewa and Mgona. The truth is, I set Mbvunguti against Njewa and was going to make a decision as to which zone to end up ministering in after the initial visit to determine the response. Fortunately and backfiring on my plan, they were both amazing. Mbvunguti was first.
We got stuck…what a joy it was for me as it is the remembrance I have of the early days of last year. Stuck and muddy and wet and serving Jesus. So there we were, out of the car and pushing. The rains have made the road to Mbvunguti extremely difficult but we made it through, barely. The vehicle seemed to want to capsize several times but it hung in the there and so did we.
I was a little afraid of ministering in Mbvunguti. My experience with the area has concluded that there are strongholds that are significantly powerful. In addition I just had the ‘new place’ jitters. Did they want to hear the word? Would they be receptive? And then there’s the famous…will anyone actually show up other than the zone leader and a few volunteers.
They showed up. Sturdy elderly men walked into the shed, followed by several women and some youth. We were meant to have two meetings, one Community and another Pastoral and so I asked who was there for which meeting. I could tell that most were present for the Community meeting, chiefs volunteers and all. Nonetheless, the chiefs opted for everyone to attend that pastoral meeting first and then to have the other meeting. We were off to a great start. I had spent some time creating towards the end of the year developing a ‘salvation series’ and so we begun at the beginning; what is sin and how did it come about? What is death and did Adam and Eve really die when they disobeyed God? There was so much more participation than I had anticipated. Chiefs, leaders and women alike all shared in the teaching. In the end, 10 of the 44 people present gave their lives to Jesus. It was wonderful! Afterward a chief, in his mid to late seventies, came up to us while the Community meeting was taking place. This is the account of what he said:
“I need to share something with you. I have been a part of the ‘Gule Wankulu’ cult (ancestral worship religion) ever since I was a young man. Then I became the head of it in this village. This is a very powerful position. I was the head for most of my adult life until I gave it over to my brother a few years ago. I have also been a part of the African Abraham church, but in all my life I have never heard what I hear today. At first I was skeptical because it was a woman talking and here we pay women no attention (he actually said that). I thought you were here to bring some strange teaching. Yet as I listened I began to understand as it was broken down for us. And then it was broken down some more and I understood more. We are dead so long as we do not have Jesus. He is Life. No one has ever told me that Jesus is Life. No one has ever told me that without Him I was dead. Right now I am going to meet my brother and tell him what I have heard today. I have made a choice and he must too. I am not going to tell him to stop being the head of the Gule. I am just going to tell him what I heard today and he must make a choice as I have, because I received life today.”
This is the recollection I have as best I can recall. It melted my heart. This was why we do this. This man, changed, translated from darkness to light, so touched that he is going forth and preaching the gospel to others. This is why we live…to get the word of God to the unreached and tell them the good news, that Jesus has come and with Him He has brought life! Chief Njobvu was his name (njobvu means elephant). It warmed our hearts as he bid us goodbye because we did not want to leave him, this man, once the most powerful man in the village and now professing Christ. There is certain to be persecution. Once the head of an ancestral religion (one known and embraced by 90% of the community), how then do you now begin to speak of Jesus? This is not just saying He is the son of God but saying He is Life and that without Him, one is dead. As he walked off to seek out his brother we watched and marveled at the incredible power of the gospel. May we never forget that power nor grow familiar to it.
Then it was off to Njewa. The window of the little truck would not go all the way up and so I got soaked driving to Njewa as we encountered a severe burst of rain. We had to drive very slowly as we could not see in front of us. This made us late for Njewa but we found them waiting. 97 people were present to hear the gospel. I was a bit worried about how it would be to minister the exact same word in the same day, only a few hours after ministering it. But God was amazing. His word is alive and His Spirit is amazing. We ministered and it was as if it were new to us. We talked about being dead and how we need life and that Life is Christ. We spoke about the fig leaves we sew to hide our shameful state and how we cannot cover death (religious acts), we cannot pour water on death and think that it will live (baptism). We need Jesus. He is the only one who can bring to life something, SOMEONE once dead! Even as I write I sense the power of God. Jesus alone can fix the state we are in. 8 people stood to confess Christ, among then a young man I knew would be used mightily of God. It was an amazing moment. No matter how often I see this, it is always a wonder, that Jesus can take us out of darkness and place us in His marvelous light. It is a wonder that He can redeem our lives from the pit, draw us out of the miry clay and place our feet on the solid Rock! I think seeing this brings an appreciation of the work of Jesus more and more. Our excitement continued as we returned with prayer and praise on our lips. We prayed all the way back home.
As for me, I was home. Being invited to partner with God is amazing. Me, Keta, messed up most of the time but still He patiently guides me and gives me the privilege of partaking in the spreading of the gospel and the witnessing of the greatest miracle…salvation, over and over again. How blessed am I?
So, welcome to the New Year. I can assure you that this is going to be one incredible journey. Be expectant with me and believe God that we are taking Mbvunguti for Jesus and Njewa for Jesus and Mgona for Jesus! Pray for Chief Njobvu, pray for us.