If you have ever wondered what discipleship looks like, especially when the learning and doing are joined in a way that exemplifies the pattern set by Jesus in the New Testament, then investigate how the OM Africa Trek brings the two together and changes lives.
From September to December 2011, a group of 23 young adults from nine nations took part in a three-month travelling discipleship programme, during which they ministered in southern African countries—South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana—while going through the process of becoming more like Christ.
These are a few of their stories:
“When I sat down alone in front of that man, I didn´t know what to say to him,” said Kasey (USA). “I just told him that it was going to be very tough, but also that he must decide to go all the way to the end, trusting God to give him the much-needed strength to finish his complete recovery.”
Kasey and the other participants of the Africa Trek had volunteered from the 4-9 October at the Aardklop Arts Festival (Earthbeat Arts Festival) in Potchefstroom, South Africa, where they distributed coffee and had conversations with many attending the festival.
André, a homeless alcoholic, was one of these.
As Kasey and others started talking to him, he displayed the bottles of alcohol lining his coat pockets. He also showed them the rough wooden cross he carried with him—the name of Jesus was written on it beside his own name.
The team prayed for André, who responded with conviction. With tears in his eyes, André said, “I´ll do it this time; with your help, I´ll do it!”
A few local believers stepped in to help lead André on a path of spiritual recovery.
For the Africa Trek team on the way to Namibia from South Africa, it was only another stop at a petrol station, about an hour's drive from the border in the semi-desert Kalahari region. Yet for one person, the stopover made an eternal difference.
As the bus came to a halt, a homeless man approached the group. “Can you help me, please? It’s not money that I want...”
At first Carlos (Colombia), ignored him and went into a small nearby grocery store. However, Samuel (USA) started a conversation with the man. A while later, Carlos came out of the shop and saw Samuel talking to the man and joined them.
Carlos and Samuel learnt that Gerrit was originally from Namibia. He had spent 10 years in prison in South Africa for alcohol-related crimes. Though he knew the Lord, he had backslidden and lost his family in the process.
“You are different,” said Gerrit. “Do you know God? Are you Christians?” Carlos returned the question: “Do you know Jesus?”
They prayed with Gerrit, who asked Jesus for a new opportunity. They suggested that he look for a church and offer to work there in exchange for accommodation and food.
“I remembered a line from an old Latin American song: "Life is eternal in five minutes ...’” said Carlos. “As we met with Gerrit in the most unexpected of places, God had once again opened the gates of eternity.”
She was a bundle of bones and skin, curled up and covered by a chitenge, a Zambian cloth, on the front porch of her family´s hut. She could not speak, but Ega smiled widely and grunted with excitement as she saw the trekking group come towards her. She tried to express herself as much as she could by moving her arms and legs.
As a child, Ega had contracted Yellow Fever. Lack of proper treatment due to the family’s extreme poverty had led to her present condition. There she lay—as she had done for 30 years—on a hill by the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the town of Mpulungu, Zambia.
The first to approach her was Abby (USA), who crouched down, smiled widely and touched her hands and head, saying, “She is beautiful. She is so beautiful!”
OM Lake Tanganyika Director Christopher Kasale asked Abby to pray for Ega. She did so. When the team left, Ega was still laying on the porch the way she had when they approached; however, she now had a new spark of joy in her eyes.
Christopher has prayed several times for her complete healing and still believes he will live to see it. Ega’s community helps her and her elderly mother with daily chores and the necessities for survival.
Participant Abdul Bundu Conteh (Sierra Leone), known to all as ABC, saw his best friend drown when he was eight years old. Since then, he has been afraid of water.
During the Africa Trek, ABC saw how at ease the other team members were in water and how many could swim. So he set himself the challenge of learning how to swim, and team members gave him basic lessons during the trek.
One day at the OM base in Mpulungu, Zambia, he was floating and doggy-paddling his way through the waters of Lake Tanganyika when a lady approached. Nuamwa* asked ABC a few questions and the conversation turned to deeper issues.
ABC realised that she and her family were not believers and so he shared the gospel with her. Standing on the bank of the lake, Nuamwa committed her life to the Lord! ABC introduced her to the team leader in Mpulungu. She enquired more about Jesus and the gospel, and one leader told her, “You can continue to be the light right where you are in your family.”
Although the Africa Trek ended in December, many of the participants have continued to be involved in God´s work in Africa. Some will join the staff of OM Africa to help prepare for future Africa Treks. For more information about the Africa Trek, visit the blog at http://omafrica.org/the-blog.