As missionaries, set out to saturate the North-Western Province of Zambia with the Gospel, our priority is always to share the Good news of Christ with those in the towns and villages and to see many souls won over for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our mission in Zambia is also to serve the communities practically - as we did last year when the mighty Zambezi flooded, we assisted many individuals and families in crossing the river by using canoes and boats as one could not reach their destination safely without transport assistance. The Zambezi River is a treacherous landscape that holds many dangerous animals and reptiles such as crocodiles and hippos and therefore ensuring the safety of the kind and loving Luvale People is of utmost importance to us.
This year we did the same -the river flooded during the rainy season and our team in Zambia assisted and supported the locals in getting where they need to be. However, life on the mission field isn't always cookie-cutter same day in, same day out. Sometimes, our team is asked to serve in unique ways that seem obscure to us as foreign missionaries but serving is not only doing that which we are used to or feel comfortable with but rather doing what meets the needs of those whom we are serving.
Recently one of our cross- cultural missionaries, Johan Leach, was contacted by the local authorities to assist (via boat) in transporting a coffin, with the body in it, of a recently deceased elderly woman over to the West Bank of the river for the funeral. Besides taking the coffin with the body in over, assistance was also given to the mourners at crossing. This deceased woman was a highly respected lady in the village and did many great exploits for her community. After she had passed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs flew in via helicopter from Lusaka to pay tribute to her.
In the pictures below you can see the coffin, mourning party and some dignitaries getting off on Johan's boat to the West Bank of the river. It is cultural practice for the mourners to cry and sing from the time the individual passes to the time they are laid in their grave.
This story reminds us of the parable Jesus told in Luke 10 - The Good Samaritan. A man was beaten and left for dead while on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. Whilst laying on the side of the road religious leaders walked past and ignored him but the Samaritan , however, stopped, cared for his wounds, took him to an inn and cared for him. The Samaritan, Jesus tells in the parable, is this man's true neighbour (despite coming from geographically different places) as he serves beyond what was expected of him. This is the kind of lifestyle Jesus has called us to as His disciples - a life of service beyond what is expected of us. A lifestyle where we truly lay ourselves down for those around us - this is how the world will know we are His disciples, by the way in which we love one another.