This Friday my family and I will travel to Zambia to participate in Camp Life, a week-long camp for orphaned and vulnerable children in the southern African country.
The need is overwhelming. So many adults have died from HIV/AIDS that half of the country’s 15 million people are under the age of 16. Of the 6.5 million children in Zambia, more than 1 million of them are orphans.
Zambia has the highest per capita orphan rate in the world.
These children are obviously vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Many of them are taken in by relatives, but many others have to fend for themselves. Whatever the case may be, these kids need to know that God loves them.
So hopefully, that’s what we’ll do – we’ll tell them about God’s love and put that love on display by playing games, singing songs, and spending time together.
But I’ll be honest with you – as much as I’m hoping and praying God will use my family to mightily bless the 40 children we’ll most directly interact with, I believe that these children will minister to us, too.
After all, that’s often what happens when we leave the safety and security of our homes and go to a different country.
I know because it happened to me.
Before my current role as president of Focus, I served the ministry as the vice president of our international efforts. I’ve traveled to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Europe. My time abroad deepened my faith in profound ways.
Far from being the American “hero” going into impoverished regions to save the day, I’ve been humbled in every good way. I’ve seen people have real joy in deplorable conditions, and Christian brothers and sisters thrive under persecution. What I’ve witnessed and the fellowship I’ve experienced during my international travels has helped shape my worldview and how I approach difficulties.
This new perspective is one of the many things I hope my sons will take with them during this trip. I hope they’ll be challenged in their thinking and prompted to greater love and service. Perhaps God will use this trip to stir in their hearts a passion for missions or another type of ministry!
Whatever God has for us as a family in Zambia, I rest in the knowledge that He has a plan. So in these chaotic few days leading to our trip, as we’re praying for the children we’ll minister to, I’m also praying for my family. I’m asking Him to challenge us and to mold us more into His image.
Also, I’d love to hear from you about your own mission field experience. Have you or a family member been called into the field, whether short-term or long-term? How did the experience impact you?