“We now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!”
With those words I experienced the absolute pinnacle of my May trip to Zimbabwe. There were hundreds of baptisms in a community pool two Saturdays ago near Harare—about 30 of them from the site where I was serving as Bible teacher or “evangelist” if you want to get fancy. There had been about 30 baptized the week before as well. Most of these were souls giving their lives to Christ for the first time! The absolute coolest thing was that the pastor asked if I would like to say this phrase and a blessing over each of those getting baptized!
For months the elders, church members and officials had been preparing for a country wide mission to the cities that included 918 preaching sites and many other community service and healthcare efforts. The goal: to give a Biblical revelation of hope to the country of Zimbabwe by pairing messages of Bible prophecy with acts of service.
The most notable act of service was the two weeks of medical services donated by various dentists, ophthalmologists, surgeons, and other health care workers during the Health Expo in Chitungwiza, a town about an hour from Harare, Zimbabwe. It was awesome to see my church on the front page news and hear about the health expo on the radio. About 34,000 people had their suffering relieved!
There were so many highlights I don’t think I can fit them all in this blog post! I got to try some new and tasty food, shop in colorful markets (and learned to bargain) and receive a hasty marriage proposal in Shona (which my companion had to interpret). Even our stop-over in Dubai was rich and adventure packed, but I’ll save that for another post.
One of the most beautiful experiences was getting to know the teen girls at my church site. I got to do a mini version of my Secret Keys tour with them after school and it’s amazing how many of the same things our girls on the other side of the world are struggling with: fitting in, figuring out their futures, looking for Godly men, struggling with beauty and body image issues. One of the most surprising things I learned is that a lot of Zimbabwean girls are spending their precious spending money on skin lightening chemicals, despite the possibility of skin discoloration and even increased likelihood of everything from hypertension to cancer. It’s so strange that Caucasian girls in the US are frying in tanning beds while my Zim beauties are trying to bleach themselves. God, help us to see ourselves as you see us!
Though my schedule was pretty packed most of the trip, I definitely got to have some fun too. God placed me with the BEST team of Elders, translators and other support crew—people hitched to the love of Christ and pulling with all their might. They were serving the meeting attendees, but made time for me too. My driver (Leonard) and companion (Nyasha) were with me almost constantly and showed me around the city on the couple days I had off from our morning meetings. They even managed to get me a dress made at one of the local tailors, for which I will be eternally grateful. (BTW, puffed sleeves are apparently IN in Zimbabwe). I left the airport with friends who had nearly become family and am hoping to see them again this side of heaven.
Many of you have already seen the elephant photo I posted on facebook, taken at a wildlife refuge in Imire, so I’ll leave you with a couple more so you can have that fantastic rural African feel as I say goodbye! This trip was a huge blessing and I’m so privileged to have gone. Praise the Lord for his people (and animals) all over the world!
All that’s left to say is: Manheru! Good evening to you!
PS…if you’ve visited Zimbabwe, I’d love to hear about your experiences. If you were part of the Revelation of Hope efforts, let me know about your involvement!