Africa is an amazing land filled with wonder, vast unrealized potential, and its share of great challenges. Honestly, it not only seems a World away from the comfort and conveniences of most of our lives in the United States, it practically is; nineteen hours in the air at 600 miles an hour. You can do the math. Over the last week and a half I’ve been in Zambia at Project Samuel with Project Director, Pastor Timothy Vowell, Pastor Tim Kugler and Brenden Vowell, Timothy’s son, who is a Destiny Intern at the project. Brenden is completing a year’s commitment as an Intern and is up to his ears in things to do before the Destiny Conference. He is being credentialed as a Minister of the Gospel this year and must complete his DLI assignments as well as a lengthy punch list of things to complete at Project Samuel before the next mission team arrives.
Project Samuel, founded and managed by Relationships For Christ Ministries in The Woodlands, is a youth revitalization project and a working farm situated about an hours drive down a main road out of the Capitol City of Lusaka and a half hour off the “tarmak” (highway) on premium farmland. I must say that I was truly amazed and impressed with the tremendous progress Project Samuel has made in the relatively brief two years or so from its ground breaking (three more years in the planning and preparation). Five buildings are coming up out of the ground, two all but completed, three are in the blocks awaiting the funds to continue construction. And there is nothing in the area that even comes close to the quality and excellence of the buildings. Project Samuel also is providing employment opportunities for a number of locals from the area. And there is a lot of work to do. Of course, there is the construction of the buildings, but there is also the agriculture. There are almost 60 orange trees already planted in the orchard, a host of other fruits and vegetables that have been planted or will be, and the Zambian staple food, corn.
It has its own water supply; which is a necessity in Southern Africa. It’s a well that had to be drilled before construction could even begin. It serves the project needs as well as many villagers who walk to the well for the daily rations of water they need to survive. Electrical poles have been installed with lines pulled for power. They stand as silent sentries while awaiting an expensive transformer to be purchased that will allow them to go into action. In the mean time the project mission house uses a generator for power.
Water, power, clearing undeveloped land, plowing and planting the corn fields, the fruit trees and gardens, each of these essentials have price tags associated. Some are large, some are not so large, but they all add up to one big undertaking. Those who have been involved with building programs in the states know the challenges associated with them. Imagine building, raising money and managing the project from six thousand miles away. Hats off and congratulations to Timothy, Brenden and the entire Project Samuel Team
While there, we held the very first service at the Destiny Training Center on the property. With only the block walls around us, no windows, no doors, no roof, we hosted nearly 80 area residents for the first service. Sitting on concrete blocks with wooden planks for benches, they came to hear Pastor Tim Kugler preach an awesome message. The altar area filled with hungry people and God’s Spirit was ushered into the place in moving majesty. As we listened to his message I imagined the countless leaders, pastors and students who will be trained there and eventually lead African churches. It was a moving experience for us all.
Our visit also included a training session for area Christian Leaders hosted at the local public school. It was held at about the time that school dismissed so there were children everywhere. The classroom we used for our seminar had no windows in their frames, so children’s faces were pressed in every opening listening to the “muzungu” (white man) speak of leadership. The school choir had welcomed us with several lively African songs sung in beautiful harmony before we began. Our topic was Servant Leadership and the group paid close attention as we looked to the Gospels and Jesus as our guide into the subject. At the end, some very interesting questions were asked and we began our task of training leaders. “What about water baptism, should one be immersed or is it ok to only pour water?” “As a leader, how do you handle another leader’s lack of commitment to the vision?” “Did James and John really drink the cup of Jesus and were they baptized with the baptism of Jesus? What does this mean?” People are the same all over the World. Needless to say, this was not the first time for me to hear and attempt to answer these questions. I’ve answered them on four continents.
Travel in Zambia is difficult. The roads are challenging and almost impossible without a sturdy SUV 4×4. We traveled one road that was eighty-five kilometers (about 60 miles) and it took us over three hours. Most people in the area of Project Samuel don’t have vehicles, so they walk. Hours they walk; they walk to market, to the fields, to church, everywhere they go. For long distances they take public transportation and that is a subject all its own. The buses look like something from the dark ages. Years of abuse on dirt and gravel roads have left them with the appearance of being driven out of a junkyard and put into use.
The life of a typical rural Zambian is difficult to say the least. The many challenges include earning a living in a country where there is eighty percent unemployment, trying to farm enough food to feed a family, as well as dealing with the lack of adequate health care and education. There is a clearly identifiable cycle of suffering and poverty. Yet the people are warm, positive and friendly, seeming to accept their lot in life without much complaining.
Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. I don’t think He just meant that we were to preach the gospel. I think He meant that and much more. We are to be the influencers of the world. And to fulfill this assignment, He has given us the provision to make a difference. We must arise to the occasion and become involved by sharing our prosperity with those all over the world who suffer under the burden of lack. Seems like I remember that in the Scripture there is a passage that says something like, “to whom much is given, much will be required”. Abundance and blessing from God comes with a price tag attached. We are blessed to be a blessing. That’s what God told Abraham. And I believe that is what He is telling us today.
Every time I visit a third world country or developing nation, I leave with this sense of thankfulness for my having been born in the US. But greater than the gratefulness is the sense of responsibility to do something to help. The problem is enormous and, of course, we can’t do everything, but that’s not the point. We can do something and together we can do more. This is what the “Let’s Do Something Great Together” program is all about. Our promotional tag line for Destiny since the beginning has been the words, “Vision / Identity / Accountability / Opportunity”. These are the words that define our value system and our members. At Destiny Ministries we are absolutely committed to translating these words from mere ideas into a movement, a vehicle of action! Yes we are a fellowship of ministers, and yes we license and ordain leaders with various callings, but we must be more than just a membership. We must also appeal to our members to do something, not just be something. My challenge to all of our Destiny Partners today is to get involved. Your involvement is the fuel that gives life to the vehicle. Your willingness to give, go and send is the secret. When you give your three percent tithe and your generous offerings to Destiny, you are really giving through Destiny to others around the World. When you join a missions team and visit a nation that we are working in, you go to the people who need you most. And if you can’t go, but you help to send those who can, you are living the Destiny Dream!