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Separation From A Living, Loving God – More from Zambia

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NOTE:  This post is from a one of our team members from Equip Zambia.  The team is there this week teaching ABC's Equip to      Counsel.

Guest Author: J Howard Denzer

The humanization of previously held knowledge can be a sobering thing. As I was playing in the school yard with some children today, one of the young boys started crying. The boy was probably about six years old and had cut a large piece of skin from his finger while playing soccer. As I was looking at the bleeding finger, I realized that this very well might be the closest I'd ever been to the HIV virus. This wasn't my customary experience of simply learning about something dangerous, but a

 realization that something dangerous could very well be staring me in the face in the form of a six year old's finger. It was here that I realized the severity of the situation in Zambia, but immediately after this, I began to counsel myself.  I reminded myself of our ultimate problem – separation from a living, loving God. This encouraged me in the midst of the wounded finger, as I knew that teaching our Zambian brothers and sisters to love one another in a biblical manner would ultimately further the Lord's kingdom.

 Though this doesn't alleviate the ultimate gravity of the HIV situation in Zambia, or the potential difficult life for this boy, it did help me to remember to keep things in perspective in the midst of the Lord's plan and to remember that what we're bringing to Zambia might not heal fingers, but it can heal lives and restore fractured relationships in the body.

There are 10 provinces in Zambia. Geographically, this is the equivalent of there being 10 states in the United States, so there is some breadth in the distance between provinces. I learned that some of the attendees of the conference had come from different provinces. Some pastors had traveled as many as six hours to come to the conference, but this six hours looks a lot different than traveling six hours in America. This traveling was done aboard public buses, in which you are often very cramped, and was done via roads which can often be dirt and full of pot holes, so that you zigzag back and forth (this zigzagging has been so extreme that one of my teammates continually gets sick on our bus, which travels just between our hotel and the church). On top of this, the pastors are staying in accommodations far different than our hotel. Three of the pastors are sleeping in a small, unfinished room on the church grounds. There is of course no a/c in the church, and the room is basically just a large pantry. The additional pastors from distant provinces came not knowing where they would sleep. They only had the guarantee from our local pastor, Peter, that he would find them somewhere to sleep. So, after the first day of the conference, Peter made the announcement that these three needed a place to stay for the entire week and two men willingly opened their homes to them. It also should be said that many of these men also have full-time jobs in addition to their pastoral duties. For instance, Pastor Kennedy drives a mine train in the underground copper mines during the week. But I think the most humbling and revealing part of this pastoral migration is that it was initiated simply per the communication of Pastor Peter. There was no Acts 29 network affiliation. There was no doctrinal evaluation. There was no knowledge of Powlison or Tripp or Welch, CCEF or Westminster Theological. I don't even think it was because Pastor Peter is well-known or a good friend of these pastors. It is my understanding that it was simply per a humble, eager appetite for training in an effective method in which to love and shepherd the people of God. This humbles me beyond words, and I think that I've found a few good men to whom I look up – men from the Copper Belt and the Eastern Province – men who are coming to me for teaching – men from whom I think the Lord might be able to teach me a thing or two about real sacrifice and love.

On a side note, at 6'2″ and 185 lbs, I never considered myself to be exceptionally large, but I have since been corrected while in Zambia. As we were exiting church Sunday morning and shaking hands with everybody, I introduced myself to one of the men. Upon stating that my name was 
“Jordan”, he promptly corrected me and told that my name should be “Goliath”. Since then, I have learned that when the children are looking for me, they reference me as “the big one”. Fortunately, it wasn't hard for me to accept my role as Philistine super-soldier and human jungle gym, as I've found that being the big man on campus doesn't require much dying to self.

J Howard Denzer

Posted on February 22, 2011