Soul Awakened

My soul was dead to the dire needs of these deep browned-eyed children. Oh the stories these eyes could tell.

My son’s soul in the background of these deep brown-eyed children, awakened as well.

Our souls awakened! AWAKE! Continue to awake our souls, O God.

How could I have wanted more, bigger, better? I writhe in shame.

God allowed my soul to be awakened when I lived these moments.

I realized how precious, precious, precious children are to him. “Red, yellow, black and white–they are precious in his sight.”

God is here now, awakening these dear ones in my soul, hushing away the hurry and worry of my life. God is here now awakening a much deeper need.

(My words inspired by Awake My Soul by shaungroves).

I ended my previous post with our day of service in this Bauleni compound where my son and my kids live. We and other Americans and their kids gathered at a compound church for lunch. There were who I believe to be Missionary Baptist women inside praying and singing.

As we waited outside, we snapped photos of the compound children.

This young girl’s hands in the photo disturbs me. If you notice, her hands are white. It is common for African women to bleach their faces to lighten their complexion but this girl’s hands are bleached completely white. Why? Did she suffer abuses?

I think it amazing that my Jacob, is holding up the Evangecube with Jesus’ hands and feet pierced on the cross. I pray for redemption for this girl through Christ’s suffering.

As the Missionary Baptist women existed the church, they were so welcoming, sweet, and full of hugs and graciousness. It’s amazing the bond between Christians across culturals when we love the same Jesus.

As we entered the church to serve our children lunch, other children, not a part of the Camp LIFE program, stood curious, longing, wanting.

We ate lunch and enjoyed the shade with our children.

Cement blocks filled this humble cathedral’s windows, protecting it from intruders.

The other children continued to gaze wanting a crumb off our humble lap tables.

My heart broke for these deep brown-eyed souls whose images haunt me still. We fed them portions like animals begging for a treat.

I should have given them all my food. I would have survived until dinner. Will they survive until next year when we pray to return?

I am haunted by these longing souls. I weep each time I think about them, look at them, even now.

But still, as we ate, our children showed signs of new life.

They shared with each other the Evangecube, the story of Christ.

Souls awakened! Hope for generations to come!


Reporting for Duty

On this Thankful Thursday, Counting to One Thousand Gifts I am thankful for 295) Serving.

On Thursday of Camp LIFE, we met our kids in their compounds at their Community Resource Centers (CRC) that Family Legacy provides. CRCs are youth centers staffed by Family Legacy Zambian Discipleship Leaders and are located in the compounds where the children live. During the day, both sponsored and unsponsored kids visit the CRCs to play, study, read and have fun. At night if a child is beaten or thrown out of their home (not uncommon), the CRCs serve as a safe house to find help.  Many CRCs have several children living in them with the Discipleship Leaders being their caregivers.

From the CRCs we were assigned various service jobs to do throughout the compounds.

I was very anxious about this day. The night before I had a meltdown in the bathroom and cried like a baby. It was one of those “I want my mommy” moments. I had become overwhelmed by the poverty, stories I’d been hearing about the children’s lives, driving through the compounds and seeing so many children, our plumbing situation in our villa bathroom (another story), and missing my family.  So the thought of serving in the compound quite frankly terrified me.

Here I have a Chitenge on. It’s a two meter piece of fabric that African women wear, especially during the day when they’re going about their daily lives. African women are very modest from the waist down and wear the Chitenge for coverage, even if they have pants on. They also use it as a form of an apron, a cloth to sit on, to carry items and their babies, as well as an aid to carry items on their heads.

It was highly suggested that American women purchase these in the market and wear them into the compounds as a sign of respect and modesty. I found it quite useful, especially outdoors with sitting on the ground.

As we walked through the compound, we saw women carrying babies both old and young alike.

This little girl had her game-face on. She was on a mission and had no time for Americans taking pictures.

Some people didn’t like their photos being taken. So I would politely ask “Photo?” This particular woman was tickled and I was certainly enamored with her carrying a basket with tomatoes. You can see under the basket, she is using her Chitenge as an aid to balance it. Impressive!

As we walked further into the compound people had little food stands here and there.

This one particular stand, my Zambian partner pointed out, sells beer. The beer is in plastic pouches and children can purchase them.

My group’s service opportunity was to assist an older woman with her chores. I did not get many pictures within her home and courtyard as my camera battery was dieing.

My group of boys and I were matched with three groups of 10 girls each and their American counselors.

My boys’ job was to fetch water at one of the local wells and the girls washed the clothes and dishes.

There is a particular way clothes are hand washed, rinsed, and wrung out and these girls had it down. I would not do well! When my Zambian partner asked if we Americans wash clothes this way, I had to say that we have washing machines. I am thankful for 296) washing machines.

These girls made quick work of the dishes. I am thankful for 297) electric dish washers.

Here’s a picture of the older woman’s stove. I am thankful for my 298) stove top.

Paul, my male Zambian partner, would not allow me to fetch water with the boys for safety purposes, so I hung with the girl groups as we served the older woman.

However, my group of boys carried the EvangeCube with them which is a tool that clearly and literally unfolds into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As they fetched water they shared the EvangeCube with passersby on the road.

Many girls from the community just came and hung out while we served the older woman. I only got these last two pictures before my batteries completely died in my camera.

However, even though I didn’t photograph the whole experience, I’m thankful that 299) my camera died, as a little girl came to me and raised her arms to hold her.  As I held her, I sang to her “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tell me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong….” If I had been taking pictures, I never would have noticed to hold and sing to her.

Pamela, my other Zambian partner, asked her about her name, age, and where her mommy was. She said her name was Maria, she was three years old, her mommy and daddy died, and her Grandmother was raising her and her siblings.

As I held her, she squeezed my arm, and patted my skin. I couldn’t imagine such loss at just three-years old. A lump formed in my throat as I sang to her again, “Jesus loves Maria I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves Maria. Yes, Jesus loves Maria. Yes, Jesus loves Maria. The Bible tells me so.”

Our whole group of girls broke out in song and we sang many of the songs they learned in camp. Passersby stood and watched as we sang in a circle around the older woman in her fenced in area. All the while, I was holding Maria.

Maria’s Grandmother finally came looking. She had been working in one of those little food stands. She was very gracious and kind. I told her I’d be praying for Maria. I reluctantly let her go. I am thankful for 300) Maria.

In the meantime, Zach’s group service assignment was to clean up some streets.

Unfortunately, they were accused by passersby of using the kids as slaves. They tried to explain that they were teaching the kids how to serve their community but it was not understood.  They moved further up the road where they were better received. I am thankful for their 301) protection.

After all the service projects were done, we met up at a local Baptist church where we were to have lunch. And my son had extra camera batteries. Yeah!

As we waited in the afternoon sun, my boys generously used the “I love you” sign language I taught them the day before. I told them that my sons and I would use it when they got on the school bus and I encouraged them to use it with each other as they saw one another throughout the compound. I told them to use it as a reminder that Jesus loves them and that even though I’d be in America, it would be a reminder that I love them too.

As we waited outside the church, there were Missionary Baptist women inside the church singing and praying. It was beautiful.

More on their exit from the church and our lunch story in my next post. To be continued…

Blessing Times

Little Matthews' Blessing Time. He's 9 years old and lives with both parents. They eat once a day, he sleeps on the floor, and they get sick a lot. He wants to be a Policeman.

I was so excited when I read in our counselor manual that we were to do a “Blessing Time” with each child assigned to our group!  But I was excited for a different reason than what the “Blessing Time” was meant for, even though their reason was great as well.

James' Blessing Time. He's 9 years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his dad and aunt. His aunt doesn't always give him food so he walks to his mother's home for food. He sleeps on the sofa. His best friend's dad is a Pastor and he wants to be a Pastor when he grows up. (I was actually able to visit James' very humble home and meet is father when we served in their compound. His home is about 15x15 feet with a corrugated tin roof held on by rocks).

In Camp LIFE, a “Blessing Time” is when one of the Zambian partners and the counselor takes a child aside for a short conversation to learn more about each child’s situation and how to pray for them.  Finding out their story is useful in sharing with someone who might want to sponsor them. Or if the child is in a potentially life threatening situation (not uncommon), then we would have the chance to recommend that child for assistance.

Lwamba's Blessing Time. He is 9 years old. His father died and he lives with his mom, uncle and sister. His brother got sick a lot and he died. He sleeps on the floor. He eats 2x a day. His mother beats him. He wants to be a Truck Driver.

However, my reason for being excited for “Blessing Time” is based on Numbers 6:24-27 which says,

“The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord Make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”

My own father used these verses to bless my brother and I. And my brother and I have used these verses to bless our own children.  So the “Blessing Time” was especially meaningful time for me to share with the boys.

Joseph's Blessing Time. He's 10 years old and lives with his mother, step-father, 3 sisters, and 2 brothers. His father died of which he cried about. He does sleep on a bed but probably shared. Both parents work (a maid and a guard). His best friend's name is Blessing. And he wants to finish his education so he can be a teacher.

These kids experience a lot of death. They are on their own a lot because their caregivers are busy trying to survive. So they don’t get a lot of attention, hugs, and reassurance.

Lubinda's Blessing Time. He's 11 years old and lives with his dad and step-mother, 3 sisters, and 1 brother. His mother died. He sleeps on the floor. His daddy is a brick layer and they all get sick a lot. He wants to be a Teacher.

I began “Blessing Time” by taking each boy’s picture, so I could see their faces when I prayed for them in America. I also traced their hand. As they answered my questions, I would write prayer needs on each finger. I’d then pray for the child’s needs, fears, concerns…, and would end with laying my hand on them and saying the Numbers 6 blessing verses over them.

The kids really loved the one-on-one time, the prayers, and the special blessing. When they caught on to what we were doing, they started vying for the next in line.

Matthews T. Blessing Time. He's 10 years old and lives with his mother, 4 sisters, and 2 brothers. His dad died. He eats 3x a day probably because his mother is a maid for an American, which is a good thing in Africa (thank goodness, considering our history!)

Jacob's Blessing Time. He's 12 years old and lives with his mom, 1 sister and 3 brothers. His dad died. He needs prayer for temptations. And he wants to be a Pilot.

Enos' Blessing Time. He's 12 years old and lives with his mom, and has 3 sisters and 1 brother. One sister is away at school, one has a baby and the other is violent. The brother lives elsewhere. His father died. His mother is a maid at a clinic. He sleeps on the floor. He doesn't eat every day. Sometimes just a bit of rice. He wants to be a Bank Manager.

If you would like to prayerfully sponsor one of these boys for $40 a month, contact me and I’ll let you know how.

Kennedy's Blessing Time. He's 11 years old and a complete orphan. Both his parents have died and he lives with his aunt, 3 brothers and 1 sister. His brother is a Taxi Driver and provides for them. He eats once a day and he wants to be an Engineer.

Benson's Blessing Time. Benson turned 13 at camp. He lives with his mother, grandmother, 4 brothers and 1 sister. It's obvious he's the oldest sibling, as he's a true leader. His father died. He sleeps on the floor and eats 2x a day. His mom is a maid and his grandma sews. He wants to be a Doctor.

At the end of the week, each of my boys received a certificate with our pictures on them. On the back of each certificate, I traced my own hand and wrote, “The Lord bless you and keep you.” The boys cherished it.

Everything Changes – When You Hold Them in Your Arms

David Platt in his book Radical says, “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”

After laying my eyes on these young boys for the first time, everything changed.

Little Matthews was always at the front of the line showing his attitude

Even though we were all tentative with one another on day one, by days end they had already woven their way into my heart.


My two Zambian partners Pamela and Paul were amazing! And the 10 boys whose faces are forever etched upon my heart. I pray to go back next year and could have them in my group again. Counting the days!

Zach playing with his boys

One of Zach's boys

The first of five goodbyes. Each day got more and more difficult.

Saying goodbye to Zach's boys

Children Here, Children There, Children Everywhere!

The first thing you notice on the streets of Zambia is children everywhere. They fill the compound streets, often without a parent or guardian. Many children are not able to attend school because they have to work for extra money or take care of their younger siblings. It is common to see children as young as eight years old taking responsibility for infants during the day.

Zambia has a population of just over 12 million people with a median age of 15.76 years old. That means that over half of the country are children under the age of 16. Parents are dying off from Aids or other preventable and treatable diseases.

Government schools are free to attend for grades 1 through 7; however, students are required to purchase uniforms, shoes, and school supplies. Since 80% of the country lives on less than $2 a day, buying these things is often not an option – therefore school is not an option. The government schools are also very overcrowded with a ratio of 50 students to one teacher and only four-hour school days.

Because there are thousands of children who cannot afford or get into the overcrowded government schools, members of the slum compounds around Zambia have taken to opening Community Schools. Unfortunately, most of the owners of these schools are more interested in making money than in educating children.

Even though the primitive school we visited is in a slum compound, Family Legacy supports it financially and provides it with solid teachers.

Here a Family Legacy staffer is gifting the school with a soccer ball and funding. (Sorry for the poor picture quality)

However, these Community Schools are even more overcrowded than government schools, often with 100 or 200 students per teacher. To help with overcrowding (and to generate more income), most community schools run four sessions per day. Therefore, the kids only go to school two hours a day.

Family Legacy is opening its own schools called Lifeway Christian Academies, throughout the capital city of Lusaka. These schools are bringing quality education with desks and school supplies (along with well-educated teachers) to the slums of Zambia.

We visited an academy under construction with two rooms completed.

Lizzy looks like she belongs in this classroom. 🙂

You can see the children running the streets in this compound as well.

This school will give this compound great hope and these children a great future.

Click here to Learn more > about Lifeway Christian Academies.

And to read about Family Legacy’s educational goals click here: Our Goals >.

On this Thankful Thursday, counting to One Thousand Gifts, I am thankful for:

291) the children of Zambia weaving their way into my heart.

292) for Family Legacy being a conduit for Americans to serve, help and love these children.

293) for the Lifeway Christian Academies that will educate these children and give them hope.

294) that God has blessed me so that I can bless those less fortunate.

The Day My Eyes Were Opened

Our trip to Zambia, Africa was amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time. Today I’m extremely tired and having difficulty reconciling the differences in our standards of living.

My kitchen is bigger than most Zambian compound homes. I can eat all day if I want. They have no refrigerator or pantry. They have no electricity. I have running water. They have to fetch their water at a well. Here is a picture of a compound home and a woman carrying water to her family.

These homes have cement floors. Many homes have dirt floors.

My kids go to awesome schools with new clothes and shoes. This Zambian school shares their building with a church that is primitive and crammed with kids of all ages. (There are some better government schools and private schools, but for a financial cost. More on that later).

My kids have safe streets and transportation to get to school. Zambian children have to navigate dirt roads full of all sorts of dangers.

Many Zambian kids don’t go to school, like these.

And these.

And these.

She ran with our bus into the compound for about 10 minutes just to hold our hands. And she ran out with our bus when we left. She had no shoes–just worn blue socks and a sun dress.

My kids have always had new toys and electronics

Zambian children have broken down, discarded, makeshift toys.

I cannot reconcile the differences, except to realize and live Luke 12:48:

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

I am no longer ignorant of the dire needs of Zambian children. I must give freely and unselfishly. My heart and eyes have been opened.

TSA Checks, Planes, Bikes, Buses and Prayers

My oldest and I (as well as two dear friends) leave tomorrow for Zambia, Africa with Family Legacy! This has been a year-long faith journey and thanks to the generous giving of our friends and family, we are embarking on this God-sized vision!

We have felt a spiritual battle this entire year fighting against us to go, up through this very week! But God has won the battle. We can’t wait to see why in this coming week!

Several of you have asked how to pray for us, so here goes our list:

  • Zach’s nervous about the TSA checks 😉
  • Safe travels! 20 hours of flight time each way!
  • Sleeping on planes for two nights on the way there (good rest).
  • Pray my back stays strong with my back issues. It’s been bugging me today.
  • We have a 12 hour layover in London. We’ll take a whirlwind Fat Tire Bike Tour of Royal London. (Safety again and directional skills in check while maneuvering the Express train system!)
  • No side affects from Malaria meds.
  • Acclimate well to 7 hour time zone difference.
  • Although our food availability will be very controlled and American supervised in preparation, pray that we don’t get sick.
  • We will be paired with two Zambians each, for discipleship and translation among the children. Pray for good pairings and communication.
  • Bus transportation around Lusaka, Zambia.
  • Most of all, pray for the orphaned and vulnerable children attending CAMP Life all summer. Our week with them begins on Monday! The theme verse for the summer is Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
  • Pray that we will be able to discern which children need additional services through Family Legacy because of abuses, etc.
  • Our eyes will be opened to children suffering abuses…that we haven’t seen or experienced in a lifetime. Pray for Zach, as his eyes are opened to such matters…
  • Be praying about sponsoring a child through Family Legacy’s Father’s Heart sponsorship and development program.  This program connects you to an orphaned or vulnerable child in Zambia. Your sponsorship of $40 a month allows a child to experience benefits that many children in their region never see, such as:
  • daily discipleship and counseling services
  • regular health assessment and intervention programs
  • food and other basic necessities
  • educational assistance and tutoring services
  • micro-economic development programs for their caretakers

We will bring back information for sponsorship on the specific children we will be in camp with.

I can’t wait to sponsor one of these precious children myself!

Thank you for your prayers! We covet them most!

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