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