LiveLiving: What was your mission work like in Zimbabwe?
Our trip to Zimbabwe was originally intended to be an exploratory trip but it quickly turned into a very busy ministry trip. We ministered at 3 churches, a homeless ministry and to 4 different groups of children (mostly orphans). It is estimated that 40% of children in Zimbabwe are orphans because of Aids or just being abandoned by their parents. Many of these orphans are also HIV positive and have full blown aids. Some have access to medicine but many dont.
The needs of the orphaned children we saw were overwhelming. Zimbabwe is a very poor country and the children we saw seemed neglected and not well taken care off. The greatest need these children have is someone to love and hold them. This seemed to be something most of their caregivers were not able to provide.
LiveLiving: Many times we are aware of the spiritual preparation required for mission trips, but the physical and mental preparation is also important? How did your experience involve all three of these areas in being effective for God in Zimbabwe? Do you have a specific experience to share?
On our mission trips we often go on very little sleep. You are only in a country for about a week and you want to maximize your time while you are there. You often arrive on the other side of the world severely jet lagged and sleep deprived. Once you arrive at your destination, the flurry of activities planned for you by the host normally start on day one. The conditions of the people you minister to often take a massive spiritual and emotional toll. The constant business leaves you completely exhausted at the end of every day. We mostly minister to children and therefore we have a lot of physical activity: running, jumping, dancing, During this trip we had 4 groups of children we ministered to and these activities included dancing, running, jumping, tossing and carrying kids around (they love it). Most of our preparation (spiritual, emotional, mental and physical) starts at home normally about 6 months before our trip. We plan and prepare all of our lessons and activities well before the time. That way once we arrive we are not falling over ourselves trying to figure what to do when we get there. We pray months in advance for our trip and the members of our team. We fast and pray for the host church and the people we will be ministering to consistently during the year. In addition to that I work-out at least 3 days a week doing strength training and cardio to prepare myself for the physical demands of my trip.
There is one moment on this trip that stands out in my mind. We were asked to minister to two girls who had aids. The only girl I prayed for was about 9 or 10. Her face was badly swollen because of an infection she had. She was terribly sad and had a heavy burden on her little shoulders (she looked much older than her 9 years or so) I knelt down in the dirt to be at eye level with her and pray for her. I just felt to put my arms around her and to hold her while I was praying for her. I dont remember how long I held her, maybe about 90 seconds or longer. When I stood up from praying for her, I did not look at her immediately (Im 62 and she was about 4). I did however look down at her once I was up and I was absolutely amazed at the transformation I her countenance. The sadness was completely gone from her face. Her face was glowing but it was a supernatural glow that I have not seen before. It was almost as if there was a light shining from her entire face. She had the biggest smile on her face and she looked so full of joy that I was almost shocked at the change in her. That was Christ in me, the hope of glory touching our broken world. That is why we have to GO. We have this treasure in our earthen vessels.
LiveLiving: How has your life been changed?
I was and am still deeply moved by the overwhelming needs of the children in Zimbabwe. This was not my first mission trip to a poor nation but somehow the needs of the children of Zimbabwe left a much deeper impression in my heart and life. I want to mobilize teams of young men and women to go to nations like Zimbabwe so that they can become mothers and fathers to the millions of parentless children in these nations.