Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Mighty Vision


It was vision that brought us to Zambia--not ours, but another’s. After hearing John Enright speak years ago we had determined that someday we would visit the work that he and his wife, Kendra, are doing in Africa. At the time we knew that we had met people of remarkable and sustaining vision. Articulate and extremely capable, their persons and work had a quality that intrigued us enough to bring us to Africa to learn more. And we have not been disappointed.

John and Kendra believe in a God that fully involves himself with the needs of human life—and here in Central Africa those needs are gargantuan. Although typical missionaries have often preached a message for the afterlife—going to heaven when one dies—it is not common to preach a gospel that provides real help for the current life. It has been a great disservice here in Africa and people have suffered for it.

The beauty of Kafakumba has been its weaving of the spiritual and the socially responsible. Here real effort has been made to stop the cycle of begging that has become Africa’s mantra. Firmly committed to their core values based on the teachings of Jesus (what they call the Kingdom Principles of community, servanthood, focusing on the least, love, trusteeship, nonviolence, and unity), John and Kendra believe that new models based on these principles are Zambia’s—and all of Africa’s--best hope.

I have written elsewhere about Kafakumba and its attendant ministries, including significant work in Christian education, training, church and ministerial development, as well as growing ministries for women and children, healthcare, and more. I have also written about the philosophy that partners economic development with this work. For Kafakumba it is simple: the vision is that the work will be sustained by money raised in Africa and dedicated to Africans. The dignity of such a plan is compelling.

Here is one example of the Enright’s remarkable vision. When a piece of land became available for purchase near the Training Center, they bought it so that they could expand their agricultural projects in fish, cattle, chickens and bananas (these projects provide ongoing funds to sustain ministries). However, as is common in Zambia, the land was inhabited by 125 families of squatters. Rather than chase them out, John and Kendra instead deeded over 4-5 acres to each family, reducing their total property by almost a third. This gift of land is unheard of generosity—yet perfectly in keeping with the principles of love and service to the very least. It is hoped that many of these families will become partners or employed in fishing, beekeeping or any of the other projects, as a way to make a living. This compassionate approach is just the sort of community development that Kafakumba strives for. Is it easy? No. This is very hard work and it has a magnificent messiness about it-- as does all real community work.

No, we have not been at all disappointed by our eight weeks in Zambia. Perhaps you could even say we have been more fully alive, more aware, and more inspired than we had thought possible. We leave grateful for so many things:

- The generosity of time given to us by John and Kendra Enright
- The friendship of so many people, especially recognizing that these include black and white and a multiplicity of nationalities
- The long stretches of time in which we could read, write, think and talk
- The opportunities to make small differences for others by the work of our hands and hearts
- The challenge to live our lives more authentically Christian
- The chance to see a beautiful country and participate in another culture

We also leave knowing that there is much unfinished business at Kafakumba. Indeed, one could say that the future is just now starting. It is a grand vision that drives this work in the heart of Africa; it is a vision of which the wise King Solomon spoke: “Without vision the people perish.” Long live Africa.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Gina, Thanks for a well written piece. May God continue to get the glory... and our open hearts.