Posted by: OCI | January 19, 2009

Pioneers of Zambia

Don Miller, of Uchee Pines Institute, travels quite a bit, teaching, preaching, and helping ministries work. He’s traveling in Africa now, currently at Riverside Farm Institute in Zambia. Here’s a section of his most recent “travelogue”:

A woman separates beans at Riverside Farm.

A woman separates beans at Riverside Farm.

Dateline: Riverside Farm, Turnpike, Zambia, January 18, 2009—At last back at Riverside. With the exception of the one night we spent here at the beginning of this journey, I have not been here for a number of years. Riverside was my African baptism and I have never lost my first love. It is greener now than I have ever seen it owing mostly to the fact we are well into the rainy season. Riverside has always been green because they irrigate right out of the Kafue River, but the bush and hills beyond now wear a verdant mantle as far as the eye can see. Green means life.

I wasn’t exactly sure about what all my and my team’s duties would be when we arrived here. I knew the institute was bringing in a large group of what they call Pioneers for a yearly seminar. Besides the Pioneers there are a number of advanced students as well as guests who asked if they could come for the seminar. When I heard all this I was excited. I knew the part I had to play was a minor role and was really looking forward to soaking up some really good information on whatever subject the main speaker had to share. Imagine my surprise when told I was the main speaker, the only speaker with the exception of my teammates. So for the next ten days, four hours a day from 8 AM to noon, I am the speaker.

The Pioneers are a group of lay evangelists who work the remote areas of Zambia, bringing light and life to those who sit in darkness. At dinner today my friend Juanita told me of one of the Pioneers who was having difficulty gaining access to the people in the area he was sent. They were closed to all his spiritual overtures, but there was plenty of sickness. One old lady was going blind and the doctors could not help her. So this young man, with a prayer and rudimentary knowledge of simple remedies, went to work. He mixed a bit of locally growing aloe vera with a bit of powdered charcoal and put it on the woman’s eyes. Within days her eyes were completely well. Another case involved a little girl suffering with such acne that an appointment had been made with a hospital in Lusaka for her to receive skin grafts. The child had quit attending school because of the severity of her condition. The Pioneer again applied his aloe/charcoal mixture and within days the girl was improving until today she is completely clear of the acne that had so plagued her.

These are such happy anecdotes in what could only be considered an abysmal saga. AIDS ravages the African nations, poverty weighs the people down and superstitions rob hope for anything beyond this life. Thus the work of the Pioneers. It is a humbling experience to stand before these men and women. Because of financial situations here in the past, there have been times when the workers could not be paid. Like when a virus found its way into the bananas and the whole 20-something hectares had to be destroyed. Bananas are the lifeblood of Riverside. But even when the money stopped, and the pioneers don’t receive much, they continued to work. As a matter of fact they have been told they are not Pioneers for the money; they are Pioneers because of evangelism and the love of Christ and the people is in their blood.

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