In the summer of 2007 I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Africa to share the love of Christ with the AIDS orphans of Zambia. I wrote in my journal everyday so that I would not forget all the amazing things that God did while I was there. During this time God spoke to my heart on a much deeper level than He ever has before. I committed to giving these children everything I had; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In order to do that I had to finally learn what it meant to rely on God to make it through the day. Reading His word and writing in my journal were a vital necessity and actual nourishment to my body. I would not have made it through the day without having that time with God. The words that I wrote in my journal are very personal and precious to me.
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; and to the other, the fragrance of life.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
Today was our last day at Camp Life and it was so bittersweet. I was so sad to see my children go, especially knowing the extreme poverty and abuse that they go home to. However, I was comforted in knowing that they now have the love of Christ in their hearts. We all got in a circle and wrapped our arms around each other as I said a final prayer over them. I prayed that God would continue to bless their lives and praised Him for the joy that they had brought into mine. I cried as I hugged and kissed them all and reluctantly put them on the bus. Their arms reached out at me from the windows as the bus began to drive away and I touched some of their hands until I could no longer reach. It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life and a moment that I will never forget.
The transformation that has occurred in their lives this week is beyond all imagination and understanding. The girls that I had at the beginning of the week were not the same girls that I just put on that bus. They came to me broken and abused with very little joy in their hearts. They now have a light that shines from within them for all the world to see. They no longer have to live their lives in fear because they are more than conquerors in Christ. They have received the power of the Holy Spirit and no longer have to face this world alone. They can declare the name of Jesus when facing evil and be victorious over all adversities that come their way. They can wake up everyday knowing that they are loved by an almighty God who will never leave them or forsake them. The abuse that they suffer at home will no longer consume or define their lives. They will not feel the sting as a hand slaps their precious faces or feel the pain as words of hate pierce their beautiful hearts. They have been set free from the chains that have been holding them prisoner for as long as they can remember. I feel so blessed to have been apart of this spiritual journey and praise the Lord for allowing me to be His hands and feet in Africa.
I poured out every ounce of my heart and soul into these children until every last drop was gone. The Lord has allowed me to share in their pain so that I may get a glimpse of the sadness that He feels when He thinks of these orphans. I know He weeps for them constantly and His heart for them is so big. I prayed for the Father’s heart for these children on the first day of camp and He graciously granted it to me. This is why I am able to experience the same things that He feels and the emotion that I have received as a result of that prayer is indescribable. I have cried tears of deep sorrow and tears of overwhelming joy throughout this week. My eyes have also been opened to the spiritual warfare that we as Christians have to face on a daily basis. This war is not as obvious in America but it is extremely evident here in Africa. This whole country is saturated with darkness but the children that go through this camp are becoming a light shining God’s love down on Zambia. I will never stop praying for this country for I know the battle has just begun.
Saying goodbye to Charity, my Zambian interpreter was so hard. We are two completely different people, with two completely different lives, who only have the love of Christ as a common thread. We have learned so much from each other this week and she has forever changed my life. Together we were a powerful team who brought the truth and light into 14 beautiful little girls. I am a better person because God has blessed me with her life. She has absolutely nothing but the Lord in her heart and a smile on her face which is all she needs. Her love for God, despite the hard life that she has had, is so humbling to me and a powerful testimony that God’s love is ENOUGH to sustain us! He is ALL we need!
My favorite part of today was at the end when all of the American counselors that were leaving were told to go to the middle of the room. We were then surrounded by the remaining Americans and all the Zambians. They then sang the MOST beautiful song that I have ever heard over us. It brought tears to my eyes. The songs here in Africa have so much power and are sung with the deepest passion for God. Then our Zambian pastor said a prayer over us which was the most compelling prayer that I have ever heard. As his words rolled off his tongue they poured directly into my soul and filled my heart with joy. I have never felt closer to God than I did on this day!