When we got here, we were not sure what to expect. I (Jason) had traveled to Ethiopia before, so I had a better idea than the children, but it was still very different than what we expected. Luanshya, Zambia is actually a very nice community. The houses here are better then I expected. They use American toilets (a pleasant surprise) and have running water in their home. However, it’s not like America. Their “nice” houses are what Americans would not consider well enough to live in. The walls are cracked, the ceilings are made of boards that have water damage from a leaking roof. Their best stove would be the junkiest stove in America. All the appliances that are good here would be considered the worst for Americans. And surprisingly, the cost of them is actually very similar to American prices, which is crazy when you think of it. For example, in the US, we could buy a nice stove for $300-400. In Luanshya, it costs about K3,500, which is $360! The only difference is the quality of the stove: junk. It would be what I consider to be a “mini-stove” to our standards. I know this because for the first few days, we have been in the markets trying to buy appliances that the orphanage home needs. Aaron and his wife, Jennifer, are raising 6 orphans in their home without a stove and without a refrigerator because these things simply cost too much to buy here. Aaron believes this is because the US has great trade agreements with China, where on the other hand Zambia does not. There is simply not enough wealth in Zambia (or Africa for that matter) to import all kinds of expensive things from China. There is no market for it. And so Africa gets the scraps. The leftovers.
The needs in the orphanage are great. Their water pipes are leaking, their windows are broken, the roof is leaking, their doors are broken, they are gardening without good quality tools and many times the power goes off because in Zambia you pre-pay for electricity, making it a luxury rather than the normal status. However, the hearts in this broken home are very content and joyful. They trust God for everything. And this is only the beginning.
Every time we come to the village, the children have been following us, since they have nothing else to do. “Where are all these children coming from? Where are their parents?” I asked. “They most likely have no parents, but if they do they are probably drunk or out doing something we don’t know,” Aaron replied. “This is `Real Africa’, Jason.”
But it gets worse still. Yesterday, we met with all the teachers at the school were talking through all the needs of the school. These are not your typical “school teachers”. These people are local Zambians, who are not well off as it is, and they are all volunteering most of their time to teach at the school because they are in love with the children. They refer to the children as “my children”. They understand the situations so much better than I and they are moved with compassion for these children to the detriment of their own lives (as bad as it already is). In other words, the “poor” in Zambia are giving up everything they have for the desperate and destitute. Aaron calls it the “Hell Compound” because many of the people there just walk into town, sell a little of something to buy enough beer for the night. They are literally addicted to beer. I asked how they can even afford to buy beer and Aaron said, “It’s very cheap. One kwacha for 1 liter, which is less than a penny per liter!” Many of the children grew up on beer and have nothing to eat. It’s so sad so see these precious little one following in the footsteps of their parents, and that they don’t even know there is another way.
“When we read the scriptures,” Aaron said, “our love for Jesus compels us to minster to these children. If the body of Christ does not, who will? The government doesn’t care.”
The puzzling thing is, Luanshya is much like Tennessee in many ways. The culture is “Christian” in general, for there are churches everywhere. A lot of people go to church every week. People all know the “right way to live”, but yet 10 miles away is the hell compound and no one seems to even notice it — Not even the church! When I asked Aaron about this, his reply was: “The church only cares about drawing people to themselves. They do great services, leading Bible studies and teaching great things, but they do not focus on missions or discipleship.” And so, Aaron and these 5 humble workers birthed this school on 100% pure love, compassion and faith that if God really cares for these children, He will provide for them. And wow, has God ever. I could go on and on of miracle after miracle that God has done for each of these teachers who are giving up everything for these children, with nothing themselves. God has given them land they own in the heart of the compound. God provided $30k out of one business man who visited and their built the school and that is all. They have been running on faith ever since — a modern-day George Müller.
Their vision is huge. They believe the children are the next generation and they want to raise up a generation that follows the living God and lives with purpose and identity. They want to reach the entire hell compound, telling them all of Jesus, and they are all in. For 2 years they have been praying for God to send more help. More resources because the needs are so great and we were the answer to those prayers. Because they have partnered with another ministry in Zambia, they receive a little money each month to function, but it’s not much. The entire ministry run on about $5,000 per year!! Guys. We raised over $6,000 for these people in less than 4 weeks. This is more than they get in a year!
And so, it is with great honor that I am happy to report to you that God is doing something great through these people and we are so blessed to be a small part of it. 60% of the money raised is going to the school directly and the other 40% is going to repairing the orphanage. As soon as I send this email, I’m heading out to the sawmill to get boards cut for desks. We already purchased paint, doors, windows, locks. We will also be providing them text books and materials for every student in the school. There is much work to be done and our time here is short.
The school really needs another building. Anyone have an extra $40k? 🙂 They could reach double the children with another school building.
Another idea I would love to do here is build a playground for the children next to the school, so the children have a place to play without being on the streets. This is not something we can afford to do right now. We have estimated it to cost about $2,000. If anyone would like to give towards that, that would be amazing.
Please pray for the work that is going on here in Zambia. We are also preparing to show the Jesus Film with the entire village this Friday night. Pray that we can find a projector, sound equipment and a screen. But most of all, please pray for soft hearts. Pray that many will be introduced to Jesus — not religion — but a real personal encounter with the one living and true God, Jesus Christ. It’s only on this foundation that the Lord will raise up these children for His glory!
PS – If the Lord is stirring in your heart to give towards the playground for the school, please give now so I have time to receive your gifts before I leave. Thanks!