For the past month my family and I have been on our connections tour in the United States and Canada, visiting supporting churches, foundations, institutions, and of course many friends. This has given me lots of time to reflect on the special way World Renew works and the incredible and special partnerships we build and facilitate between ourselves and supporters, ourselves and communities in Zambia, and, most important, the lasting partnerships formed between Zambian communities and communities and congregations across North America.
“I witness that power in action every day. Mother Teresa’s single aim was to do ‘small things with GREAT LOVE.’ We can all do that. Cynicism robs us of that power and makes us less."
As I have crisscrossed North America, I have learned much, including two main things. First, I have grown to appreciate the diversity of support we have, from financial planners in Charlotte, N.C.; to cattle ranchers and potato farmers in Montana; to a special young lady in Edmonton, Alta., who donated the money she received for her eighth birthday to the El Nino response; to grieving families tithing an estate; and to the many congregations from different denominations across the region—all of them giving, serving, and engaging in acts of faith and service by supporting our work and building relationships.
The second thing that has struck me, as I share the stories of our work, is the diversity of what we and our partners do to support the development of the communities we serve. Our programming in Zambia is diverse and multi-sectoral but properly focused to meet the differing needs and contexts identified and faced by communities across the country. All of this, however, revolves around the common themes of partnership, service, and deeds-based ministry. To give you some idea of the extent of this, here are some of the ways in which communities are partnering with us in Zambia.
As Mwandi district enters the most critical period of this El Nino-inflicted drought, we give thanks for our partnerships with many churches who have supported the relief efforts, school production units, and construction of boreholes. As the drought has worsened and the impacts have intensified, the work they have supported has brought huge relief to Mwandi families.
We also have had long-lasting support for the community of Madzimoyo in eastern Zambia, where there has been a direct church-to-church partnership between this community and a congregation in Edmonton. This partnership has allowed two communities to walk side by side as equal partners, to share and rejoice in success but also to come together in strength at times of hardship and loss. Farmers in Montana provided a 50 percent matching fund to a livestock cooperative in Zambia to enable them to buy a mobile spray unit that is shared around the district, keeping animals healthy and communities resilient. We have had nurses and doctors, financial gurus and farmers all give of their time, skills, and hearts to the service and the building of partnerships with communities across Zambia—and if you feel called to contribute, you can too!
I know a wise man who is much wiser than I. He is a mentor to me, and he is the person I call upon to help me process, gain perspective, and rely on my faith; he is a partner to me, one of constant support and encouragement. In a time of trial for me he wrote to me, and I have carried these words with me ever since; they are constant and timeless, and they provide me a constant focus when I need it:
“It’s all about relationships . . . dummy!!!!
“With our relationships we are changing the world one small act a time. Every time we invest something of ourselves into someone else’s life, a transfer takes place. It can be as simple as a smile or a kind word. Once the transfer takes place the world is now different. The person who has received the gift given is richer. But here is the surprise. The donor does not have less; they have more too. The “more” is different... better, unexpected yet welcome. The sum of the whole is always, always, always greater than the individual parts. When we give ourselves and our “stuff” away, the pie gets bigger, not smaller; the world expands and is changed.
“The people we go to serve in places like Zambia enjoy an amazing freedom. They do not hold on to things or each other the way we do. My guess is that this is one of the outcomes produced from extreme hardship and suffering. I want to know this freedom.
“Every time we come, we take more home with us than we gave , in quantity and in quality. We learn so much from our relationships. I return a very wealthy man!
“Yes, the world is a mess... but within each one of us exists the power to make a difference, the power to change things as they currently are. I witness that power in action every day. Mother Teresa’s single aim was to do ‘small things with GREAT LOVE.’ We can all do that. Cynicism robs us of that power and makes us less.
“Some men see things as they are and ask why; I dream of things that never were and ask, Why not?” (he stole that from Robert Kennedy!)
I hope you find this as powerful and as motivational a tool as I have.
To God be the glory!
World Renew Zambia