Thankful for Bethlehem

DSC_3611 copyIn our last post, we shared about how the team from Bethlehem Baptist served many Zambians for 6 full days as they taught about basic hospice/home-care techniques and how God’s sovereign goodness relates to suffering. With seemingly endless energy, the team turned around the next day to put on a 3-day retreat for the ACTION Zambia team.

This past Sunday, 11 Bethlehem team members, 6 ACTION Zambia national workers, 11 ACTION Zambia missionaries, and 10 missionary kids caravanned down and around the hills of the southern Rift Valley (including hairpin turns around barreling semis, coach buses, monkeys, pedestrians, and jackknifed semi-trailers) to our destination: Gwabi River Lodge.

We each settled into our chalets. I was greeted by a small lizard that fell on my arm when I was drying my hands on the towel in our bathroom and then a small scorpion hiding under the towel folded up on my bed…where I had just changed Charlie into his swimming gear! Thankfully, that was the extent of our nature surprises for the retreat. But we were met with other surprises over the 3 days.

Half of the Bethlehem team taught and encouraged the adults from God’s Word about persevering in ministry and suffering, and the other half served the kids with lessons and games and crafts all revolving around Psalm 23. This was Charlie’s first real experience in a Sunday School/Bible Club setting, and he was fairly skeptical – something about being left with great and trustworthy adults, doing fun organized activities with other kids, and eating Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks was very frightening for him. But among all his missionary kid friends, he found 1 safe friend by the last day. “Auntie” Beth, his fellow strong-willed, red-headed auntie, became the person he retreated to during these sessions when he was feeling unsure. She put up with his crying and kicking and fears and, in the end, gained his trust. What an amazing, unexpected, humbling, overwhelming picture of Christ’s service to us!

And if that wasn’t enough, God met us in such personal and poignant ways through the adult teaching time. I think we all came away so encouraged to hang on to Christ as our hope and to persevere and be faithful in the ministry that God has called us to.

The Bethlehem team treated us all to a boat cruise on the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers. It was Charlie’s first “safari,” which he mostly slept through. And he ended up being more excited by the dogs back at the lodge than the elephants, hippo, and crocodile that we saw.

As we packed up our vehicles and headed back to Lusaka, our hearts were full to overflowing. Thank you, BBC, for serving us so tirelessly and sacrificially! You were a powerful expression of Christ to us in so many ways.

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