Friday, August 25, 2017

ZAMBIA CHRONICLES 2.0 - God's Unexpected Blessings

Ireen Banda Reads to Me
One of the lovely truths about being a child of God is that you can share the gospel with anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It was such a great blessing to my heart to be able to gather early one morning with the women from the farming cooperative before they began their work in the orchard. I asked everyone to sit down near the bore hole (well pump) that our ministry had installed the year before because I wanted to tell them a story from the Bible in John, chapter 4 about Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman at the well. The majority of the women had never heard the story before that moment. What an opportunity the Lord was about to give me!
I must tell you honestly, there is something that came alive in that Bible lesson because the imagery was so vivid. Here was a group of women sitting at a well pump that each of them visited a couple of times a day because their need for physical water needed to be quenched constantly. What a blessing to show them and tell them that Jesus had an intentional appointment with a woman who was considered an outcast among the Jews, yet she was special to the Lord. What a blessing to tell them that God is no respecter of persons, and it didn’t matter if you came from the bush, the village, or in town. It didn’t matter if you were an orphan or a neglected and abused wife. Jesus came to offer himself as living water that would quench a woman’s spiritual thirst forever and always. What a blessing it was to be able to tell them that Jesus wanted to provide the same thirst quenching, everlasting life for them. I encouraged them to think about Jesus and the love he had for the woman of Samaria and the love he had for them as they continued their work.
A couple of nights later, at about 10pm, as everyone that was staying in Atnes’ house was getting ready for bed, Ireen came to me and asked a question. She was speaking in broken English but she asked me where that story was in the bible that I had told the women about. In my broken Chewa, I told her it was in John, chapter 4. With her Chewa bible in hand, Ireen sat down on the floor next to my chair. She put on her thick lensed glasses, clicked the light on her small flashlight, opened the Bible to John 4, and began to read. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to her. You see, four years prior to that moment, Ireen was one of the original students to attend our literacy program. At that time she couldn’t read or write. Now, here she was sitting at my feet, spontaneously reading the story to me that I had told her only a day before. I didn’t have a phone so I couldn’t make a video, but the Lord whispered to my spirit and said, “Enjoy this moment, Phylicia. Nothing you have done in my name is in vain. My Word will never return void.” This was a personal gift from God meant to lift my soul.
As Ireen continued to read, I just looked down at her smiling, and followed along in my copy of the scriptures as best I could. She got to verse 9 when Doreen came in the door. She asked what we were doing, and I told her Ireen was reading from John 4. Doreen said that she had just come from visiting the home of a woman from the farming co-op that was also reading John 4 that night. God was DEFINITELY up to something. Doreen and Ireen read to verse 14 which says “but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Then Ireen spoke to me in Chewa and Doreen interpreted. She said, “that story is just like you told us. Sometimes when you go to church and you listen to the preacher you don’t know if what he’s telling you is true or not and you don’t always understand because you only hear what he says one time. It’s so good to be able to go home and read the scripture yourself.” I could have run around the village shouting hallelujah!! That lead to a discussion about the Bereans from Acts 17 who received the Word of God with a ready mind and searched the scriptures daily. Ireen had come so far in her literacy training, and God has a great plan for her life. He is doing a great work in this village. What joy there was in the house that night! What joy there is in my heart right now as I reminisce! I hope you’ve been encouraged, too. 

Ireen attending literacy class 4 years ago. She is 56 years old now.

Ireen holding up her school papers for me to see. She was just learning how to hold a pencil.

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