Thank you so much for your prayers for our training events in Zambia & Zimbabwe! We felt upheld and protected. The three seminars were attended by 80 youth leaders, plus there was a youth camp of about 500. The evaluations were positive but the two weeks were filled with challenges.
How am I supposed to get clean? In order to keep the participants’ costs down, two of the three training events were held at facilities with, uh… rudimentary conditions. As guests we were pampered in that we shared our bathroom with fewer people than the rest of the participants and we had a more-or-less private room to sleep in, but even so we were way out of our comfort zone.
At times it was challenging for me to hide my discomfort, like at the Zambian youth camp when the high decibel music blasting our room from the other side of the wall to our sleeping quarters began at the“rise and shine” service and didn’t stop for hours. The following comment made by the Zimbabwean host, whose home we stayed in, showed that we managed pretty well: “Even when there was no water and no electricity you all kept…(here he jumped around energetically with smile on his face.) That was great.” Good thing he didn’t see my face as I tried to splash bathe myself from a bucket the first day.
“What do you mean our goal of youth ministry is to reach “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”? Because we understand manhood to mean is the male genitals.”
Our hosts had assured us that the participants would understand English, and, to some degree, they did. Speaking in English however was another matter. It was hard to discern if their reticence to participate and share was due to shyness because of their limited ability in English, to cultural differences or just a poor grasp of the content. Fortunately the most challenging audience was first and it was a small group so we learned to simplify our vocabulary and use concrete examples from Jesus ministry instead of relying on abstract concepts. (And yes, aforementioned situation really happened. And when we taught that they should base their ministry on principles instead of copying methods, they understood principles as morals, as in “a principled person” instead of a universal truth.)
In difficult moments we would focus on thanking God for his care: not one of the teaching team got sick, we had safe, smooth travels, and our luggage, which included the training manuals for the participants, didn’t get delayed.
And we trust that God is as faithfully answering the prayers for the results that matter even more: that the youth of Zambia and Zimbabwe will know, love and live like Jesus Christ because of the training their leaders received.