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 (Manna 65: Missionary Work)
The Heart of Africa
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The Heart of Africa

Daniel Young—Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA

“Welcome to Zambia—the heart of Africa!” exclaimed a brother as he energetically shook my hand. Little did I know how much that phrase would mean to me over the next four weeks. I had come to Zambia for missionary work. I came to preach and teach, but I feel that I learned more from the Zambians than they did from me. Time and again, I was touched by their heart of worship and humbled by the lessons God had in store for me.

In June 2010, Preacher Jung, Preacher Choong and I spent a month in Zambia training workers and preaching to other churches. Zambia is a pioneer mission field as True Jesus Church (TJC) has only been there since 2008. The country itself is landlocked within Africa, hence the moniker “heart of Africa.” During our time there, we visited four towns, traveling from Kitwe to Solwezi and back.

Chimwemwe—Heart of Learning

The first town we visited was Chimwemwe, which means “joy.” It was there during a two-week Bible seminar that many of us experienced the true joy of learning the word of God.

There was not a moment wasted during the seminar. The day began at 6:00 am with an hour of prayer. Classes began soon after and lasted until 5:00 pm. After another prayer and a light dinner, the brothers would ask for more biblical teachings, jotting notes at every opportunity. When I was physically exhausted, they would still be working on their assignments, comparing notes and scribbling down questions for the next day. I was impressed at their diligence, but that was just the beginning.

In the days to come, I witnessed what Jeremiah experienced: “Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer 15:16). There were times I could feel the joy as soon as I entered into the room, seeing their faces light up with excitement as the preacher explained a passage to them. On several occasions, I saw one or two of them leap out of their chairs in astonishment!

Their hearts had been set ablaze by the word of God. There was one sister who did not have a Bible, so as we taught, she simply memorized all the verses used to prove our doctrines. It was as the Bible describes in Proverbs 7:1–3, “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you… Write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Their passion was contagious and extended beyond the classes. I never thought it was possible to talk about the Bible for two entire weeks. Even at National Youth Theological Seminars, we chat about school, work, and summer plans. Yet for those two weeks, every break and mealtime conversation revolved around the Bible.

Chamboli—Heart of Preaching

During the second week, I had the opportunity to preach and go on pastoral visits in Chamboli. The members led me around the town and throughout the neighboring regions, sometimes walking more than an hour just to reach a member’s home. I remember traversing shabby rope bridges and crossing ravines to reach the next destination.

Although walking miles and miles to reach one individual seems inefficient, the members compensated by preaching to every person along the way. It was in Chamboli that I learned to be unashamed and unbiased when preaching.

One of the sisters would stop every person we met on the way and ask if they would like to hear about the truth. She would ask the children playing in the dirt, adults on their way to work, and even a group of youths smoking on the side of the road. Amazingly, it was those youths who showed the most interest. I learned not to judge others based on their appearances and to preach the truth freely to all.

Solwezi—Heart of Perseverance

The third town we visited was in a very poor, rural region. Solwezi was the only place where we stayed in a motel, simply because none of the members could afford to host Preacher Jung and me. While the other churches we visited had roughly seventy to one hundred members, Solwezi had only seven adults and eight children.

Remarkably, there was a church building at this place for a congregation of three families. When I asked how they could afford the building, I discovered that it was actually donated by a brother. He originally planned to use the building as a general store for his business, but after converting to the True Jesus Church, he decided to dedicate it to the church.

The members met every single Sabbath for worship in spite of their few numbers and distance from our other churches. When they sang hymns, their voices would fill the entire room. It was a stark contrast to some situations in the United States where praise sessions sound like whispers in the wind despite the large congregation.

The members there had service every week even without having a preacher. The same two brothers led Sabbath services—including praise sessions, Bible studies and sermons—throughout the year. After witnessing their dedication to serving, I realized how silly I was to complain to God about being assigned “so much holy work” back at home.

When I later came across Psalms 57:7, the verse brought back memories of the commitment I saw in the members in Solwezi.

              “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.”

Saint Dorothy—Heart of Worship

At the next town, we were greeted by the sound of hymn singing long before arriving at the church. Saint Dorothy was a few hours from Solwezi by bus, and the sun had already set by the time we arrived. Expecting most of the members to have returned home already, I was surprised to hear the sound of hymns from half a mile away while walking to church. I would later find out that they had been waiting seven hours for us to arrive and had been singing hymns to pass the time.

The church at Saint Dorothy was built by a brother who used to be a pastor of another denomination. When he heard that TJC missionaries were coming, he informed the surrounding areas. The news spread like wildfire, and the people came en masse.

Over the next two days, I was continually amazed at the members’ determination to worship God. I learned of two young brothers who shared a bike and spent thirteen hours traveling to church. To join us for those three days, many youths had traveled long distances by themselves because their parents needed to work. It struck me how much they were willing to sacrifice in order to attend services, when in the U.S., the parents often need to push their children to attend church events.

It was clear that God saw their heart of worship and blessed them. As it says in Psalm 84:5, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” One of the two brothers mentioned above received the Holy Spirit on the first night of the event; the other brother had already received it and had been encouraging his younger brother. Both of them went home exceedingly joyful!

Heart to Heart

Over the course of a month in Zambia, the heart of Africa, I had witnessed the members’ heart of worship. I realized my many shortcomings and determined to learn from their heart of worship.

I resolved to take advantage of the fact that I have a Bible and cultivate my love for the word of God. I needed to overcome my own fears and prejudices and imitate their zeal in preaching. I told myself to stop complaining about holy work and rise up to the challenge, knowing now that tough times call for more action rather than a defeatist mentality. Lastly, I made sure that I would treasure every opportunity to worship God.

Living in industrialized countries such as the United States, we may grow complacent and take our blessings for granted. We have no lack when it comes to church services, Bibles, Manna articles, or online devotionals. God has given us everything we need to seek and to worship Him.

Perhaps the only thing we lack is the heart.

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