Sunday we went to celebrate Easter at a large service the United Church of Zambia was holding in a field, not far from Agape. There were probably over 500 people there from small and large villages, near and far.
There were very few cars there, so I’m not sure if they all walked or rode a bus. I think they walked.
The Zambian people are very friendly and showed some southern-style hospitality. We met many new friends, including the grandmother of Lillian, one of the Agape Village children (Lilian is the one that typically sings the solos when the children sing). No surprise, she’s a longtime leader of a beloved choir.
While many dress in the few clothes they have, many were dressed up like we’d be at church in America. We saw Joseph, one of the employees at Agape Village, looking very smart (he has a red tie).
The sermon by the Rev. Daniel Kambita was incredible. A great example of how thoughtful and nice Zambians are: The Rev. Kambita used a Bemba/English translator for his sermon, so we could understand it. For the entire sermon, Rev. Kambita would say a sentence in English, and this equally charismatic young guy would say it in Bemba, for all the rest of congregation. The way Rev. Kambita worked together with the young man was incredible. I think they got mixed up twice during the hour long service – Rev. Kambita spoke in Bemba by accident, and the kid, without missing a beat, said the sentence in English for us. The crowd loved it!
The sermon was based on the scripture about the women going to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.
“How would these women roll away the heavy stone?” asked Rev. Kambita. But it wasn’t anything they needed to worry about, because God had already rolled away the stone for them.
Rev. Kambita went on to tell us all that there are no obstacles in our life that God will not “roll away the stone” for us, to help us overcome whatever we’re facing.
He also said the fact that the women were the first to know Jesus had been resurrected is significant and it shows God’s love for women and that they must be respected. This is a much needed – and unusual –message in some Zambian villages. Today, when we were at the orphanage with the older girls, Jackie and I reiterated the Rev. Kambita’s message to the older girls. In many Zambian families, girls are not treated as equal to boys, for a variety of reasons.
It was a great service and the Zambians’ kindness and faithfulness in the midst of so much need and poverty was humbling. After the service, these sweet people were scrambling to find enough food to cook for us to feed us, as a gift. We gently and honestly said, no, we were fine and that we needed to get to the orphanage.
Is used to always think the verses below were about me helping others. But on Easter Sunday, I was the stranger welcomed. I was the one offered food. I was the one offered a drink. These beautiful people, living in huts and gathering up their scarce vegetables and greens to quickly cook up for us, were some of the richest people I’ve ever met.
Matthew 25: 31-40
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’