WOW! I can’t believe I’ve been back for two weeks now. I’ve had the opportunity to see several of you and talk to many of you on the phone or through email: thank you for the warm welcome. It is never easy leaving the place that has been home to me for the past two years, but I have to say, it is really wonderful to be back!
I want to take the time to update you on what happened with ROCK of Africa’s ACT of Thanksgiving outreach in Zimbabwe and Zambia before I left,The Thanksgiving outreach is very special to me. As many of you know, it was that trip that first took me to Zimbabwe in 2005. What a blessing to experience it with others each year!
This trip was even more wonderful because many of the people that came to serve are friends of mine, so spending the holiday serving with them was very nice. We got to see God move in amazing ways and I can honestly say that none of us returned from the trip the same as when we left.
One of the experiences I would like to share with you is a miracle that many of you played a role in. When we were preparing the itinerary for the team and planning the outreaches, we somehow made a plan that didn’t fit into the budget the team had fundraised. I had already met with village chiefs to plan the outreaches, which included selecting the livestock we would be cooking and feeding the villages with. We were put in a very difficult situation because we didn’t have the money to pay for the supplies and we had to decide if we would cancel the dinners, change the outreaches or find more funds. In the culture I live in now, your word is a promise, even a contract. It would not have been understandable for me to go back and cancel the dinners or to cancel the orders for the animals. It could have seriously impacted the relationships that I have spent two years building.
What happened next was amazing. We needed $1,500 to cover the cost of what was not met by our budget. I sent out an email to a few of my friends in the States, explaining what had happened and outlining the needs. I knew the giant opposition meant something big was going to happen in these villages. I asked for prayer and I asked for help. Within 10 minutes a friend of mine from college had made the first donation and within 24 hours $1,590 had been donated!
When I checked my email the next day my heart was so full of gratitude I couldn’t hold back the tears. This ACT of Thanksgiving outreach was successful on a level so much bigger than we ever could have planned for. Not only did we see funds miraculously appear, but we saw so many lives impacted – lives from our team and also the people in the villages we were ministering to.
On the first day of outreach in Zimbabwe, my friend Lori used her gift of evangelism for the first time (although we both have known for a while that she has it) and over 30 people came to accept Jesus. More miracles were seen that day, but that is a story for another day. I don’t even know if I have the words to describe some of the things I have experienced in Zimbabwe, this being one of them.
The second outreach was so amazing. There is a ministry in Zimbabwe we have a relationship with that has been working to renovate and supply a school -- they feed 500 children in the school daily. The people who fund their ministry were visiting to see the school in its new condition and we were there to help celebrate, to encourage and to host the feast. This was the biggest food outreach ROCK of Africa has ever done and it was amazing. We fed over 700 people that day and celebrated the amazing things God has been doing through the obedient people He has called to that school. We ministered to the school children and their parents, the teachers and the village leaders. What was overwhelming for all of us is that we saw 500 children singing in sincere gratitude for what we consider to be bare necessities in our country: a meal every day, school uniforms, shoes, books, pencils, notebooks, desks, and windows and doors for their classrooms. What a joy to be a part of the celebration and what an honor to provide them with a Thanksgiving feast instead of their normal sadza and vegetables.
In each of these villages we also donated Bibles, maize seed and mosquito nets. It was unavoidably emotional to see the women and men dancing for joy as they collected these items. The seeds brought the most excitement, for they allow the parents to provide food for their children on their own.
We also did an outreach to the hospital where we donated food to be cooked for the patients and hung mosquito nets over the patients’ beds. Imagine a hospital during peak malaria season not having the one thing, a net, which could prevent their patients from contracting the deadly disease. Who are more at risk then the men, women and children already in the hospital with a weakened immune system? It was great to be able to equip the hospital with what they needed to better care for their patients. I don’t know who was more grateful the staff or the patients!
For those of you who were part of our outreach team, and I think this year we proved that there are so many ways to be involved, I send you a sincere, giant, heart-full-of-gratitude thank you. This is for the 10 people who traveled to Zimbabwe, the Zimbabweans from the local church who provided an opportunity to serve with them, the people who financially supported the outreach team, as well as the people who prayed for them and especially for the people, who when they were informed of a need they responded, and became a last minute member of our team! You all played a role in seeing lives changed. My hope is that more hearts are stirred. Each time we prepare for these outreaches to Africa, we need a team of people here praying for the work God has for us. What this trip proved is that, as well as prayer, people investing financially in the trip, above and beyond just sponsoring the people to come, can make a big difference in how effective we can be.
As always, if you would like to support my work or the Refuge program, you can send a check made out to ROCK of Africa with Refuge in the memo to:
ROCK of Africa Mission
PO Box 5000
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
You can also donate online at www.rockofafrica.org by noting that the donation is for Refuge.
Thank you. As you prepare for the holiday season, please remember to keep us in your prayers. This is a time of overeating and overspending and so many of the people we love and care about in Zimbabwe and Zambia will not have the option of either. My prayer for each of you is that you are able to remember the simple and beautiful truth of what we are celebrating and that you do it in a way that brings glory to the one whose birth and death gives us reason to celebrate. How blessed we are in this nation, I know that my gratitude this Christmas will be much more authentic than ever before!
With immense gratitude,
If you would like to hear more about the Thanksgiving outreach, see pictures and hear personal stories from the members of the team, please see http://www.rockofafrica.org/thanksgiving/email/