As we have become more and more a part of this community in Kasupe (in Lusaka West, the neighborhood where we live), interesting things have begun to happen... And also as I, Tricia, have been leading this Bible Club again on Friday afternoons we've noticed our opportunities to be a neighbor have grown and changed. The longer you live in a place, the greater your chance of seeing people without their masks on. Layers begin to peel back and you find yourself staring at the deeper filth of people.
The ugliness of our sin is why we are here to share the gospel in Zambia, and the only hope is Jesus Christ. Because we are foreigners, for a long time people would hide not only their personal problems but even the problems of this community; to tell the truth about things might feel to some Zambians like a betrayal of the other Zambians here. But in order to understand the grace of God we have to come face to face with the truth about ourselves.
The truth about this community is often shocking. Sometimes the stories we hear can really throw me off and I will be at a total loss of what my response should be. For instance, last week at Bible Club I found out that one of the 50+ kids we're now serving, a sweet little girl with giant black gleaming eyes, is sleeping out in the maize field with her eight other siblings of all ages. Her father had beaten her mother, almost to death, and sent the whole family out of the house without food or warm clothes. This is only one of his wives mind you; he has another wife nearby with another ten kids. And to make matters worse, this man holds a position of leadership in this community and is actually authorized to make citizen's arrests! If you asked this man about himself, he would probably call himself a Christian. And unfortunately stories like this one of spousal and child abuse and worse, are not uncommon.
My response? Well, honestly, I had to run home and cry for a few minutes. I was so overwhelmed and freaked out by this terrible story and I didn't want to embarrass the little girl in any way. I also didn't want to rush into a response without getting some Zambian counsel. But certainly the root of the question for us is, "Who is my neighbor?" And also, "How do I treat my neighbor?" Well, here is what I see in the Bible about that and I hope that our responses will always line up with what our great and compassionate God taught us...
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”