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ASI Focus on Giving

Freely You Have Received, Freely Give

Svetlana Taylor

07/16/2008

I ’ve always had a desire for overseas mission, to share the good news of Jesus’ love. During the 2006 Generation of Youth for Christ conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I heard about the Mission Extreme program organized by Outpost Centers International. As the call was given to dedicate a year for missions, I promised God I would take part.

In July 2006 I began six months of training with two other Mission Extreme participants, Lindsay Robinson and Eric Rose, at the College of Health Evangelism at Wildwood Lifestyle Center in Georgia. After completing our training, we were joined by two others, Amy Burr and Kylee Gum, who had taken the Amazing Facts College of Evangelism course. Together we headed for Africa.

inside_asi_summer_08_page_24_image_0003We went to live among the Tonga people of Zambia. Our mission was to reach these wonderful people for Jesus. We would conduct two evangelistic series, Bible studies, bush clinics, health classes and children’s programs. For the next six months we would sleep, work, eat and worship with the Tonga.

inside_asi_summer_08_page_25_image_0002It was humbling living in the bush, and so primitive compared to what I’d been accustomed to. We stayed in cement block homes—much more advanced then the grass huts most people lived in—but we had no electricity or running water, took bucket showers and used an outhouse. Simplicity brings you closer to God.

As I look back on my time in Zambia, I can’t help but remember the smiling faces and bloated tummies of the children, the AIDS victims, the orphans, the crippled and the blind. We were among them everyday. We would walk into villages and meet the destitute and the hurting. I didn’t speak Tonga, but these dear people didn’t need words as much as they needed a kind touch and an act of love.

The days were filled with visits to one village after another; we would travel on foot, carrying basic medical supplies and our Bibles. The children would see us first. “Mazungu!” (“mazungu” meaning “white”) they would shout. Immediately a crowd of people would form, curious to see what we were doing so far out in the bush.

inside_asi_summer_08_page_25_image_0003We’d gather everyone together and sit under the shade of the mango trees, and through the interpreter we would tell them of Jesus and his love. Jesus was familiar to many in this area. Years before, Seventh-day Adventist missionaries had established a small mission compound with a school and a church. Some of the villagers were already members of the Lushomo Adventist Church, and they welcomed us with open arms.

Education is scarce in areas like this, and it’s difficult to win people for Christ when they can’t read the Bible for themselves. Other religious groups in the area were opposed to us; so new barriers would often arise as we got to know the people. We spent so much time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to reach the villagers inwardly, where we could not. Slowly but surely, God was moving on their hearts. Men were giving up smoking and drinking, women were bringing their children to church, small steps were being taken for God. As the weeks went by we became friends with the villagers. They stopped calling us “mazungus” and instead referred to us by name.

“Live what you preach” became real to me, and I would look for opportunities to reach out and help. When we were holding our second evangelistic series, there was a major project going on in the same village. The locals were making mud bricks for a new school building, so Kylee and I joined the ladies who were carrying wet mud for the men to form into bricks. It was a bonding experience for us. The villagers were impressed to see we foreigners do hard work and get our hands dirty.

When we weren’t preaching and giving Bible studies, our focus was on the sick and the hurting. Each night during the evangelistic series, new health topics were presented. Diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria and malaria are a huge problem in this area of Zambia. Many die because they lack medicine and knowledge. We made sure to visit every family in each village, showing them practical natural remedies, such as the use of charcoal for bites and infections.

During my time in the bush some of my Tonga friends died from disease, and it broke my heart. Young bodies were laid to rest; there was weeping, there was sorrow. Imagine how much more tragic spiritual death is, when a precious life is gone without the knowledge of Jesus and His gift of salvation. I’m so thankful that I know Jesus, that I have a promise of life beyond the dark grave.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:8, “Freely ye have received, freely ye give.” Giving a year of my life was such an incredible blessing to me. It brought me closer to God and opened my eyes to what truly matters in life. At the end of our meetings, 52 amazing people gave their lives to Jesus. They now have hope, can face the challenges of life with a new Friend, and they don’t have to fear anymore. Now they can give of themselves to reach still others, to touch more lives and bring a piece of heaven to those in spiritual darkness.

Please give of yourself; reach out to a world in need.