Behind the curtains

A PC(USA) mission letter from Zambia

July 3, 2013

NYIMBA, Zambia

It was the fifth house, and I had no idea what we would find behind the curtain that hung in place of a door.

So far we had prayed through the coughing of a woman with tuberculosis, witnessed the faithfulness of an HIV-positive grandmother, and sung praises in Chichewa with an elderly woman whose eyes could no longer see.

I took a deep breath and followed the church ladies through the curtain. Sitting in the corner of the small, dark house, a young woman looked up at us with a radiant smile. In her arms a tiny little face glowed with life and vitality, and I was introduced to her brand-new son, a beautiful baby named Vincent.

The child was passed from woman to woman, and finally I was invited to hold him, and bless him, and pray for him. As his deep brown eyes took in his brand-new world, as his delicated fingers touched the air, I held his tiny body close to mine and prayed with every breath of my being.

In Zambia, where child malnutrition is 45 percent, where the infant mortality rate is 119:1,000, where poverty robs so many children of parents, of education, of health, of life, we all touched this brand-new baby and lifted up his future, his promise, into the hands of God.

Because all of us knew, just as his mother knew, that baby Vincent is precious in the sight of God, a beloved, beautiful child of our Creator, and God wants life in abundance for this precious boy, for all of God’s beloved children.

Vincent’s mother comes to church every Friday and every Sunday with that beautiful baby tied to her back. And in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Synod of Zambia, we dance and sing and continue to praise God. Because we believe that God is doing something in Zambia, that God is at work through the church so that all of God’s beautiful, precious children can grow and thrive and become the people that God has created them to be.

Beyond that curtain we discovered new life, after praising God in the midst of illness and pain. Because we are an Easter people, we know that life is stronger than death, that love is stronger than hate, that hope is stronger than despair.

And so we praise god in all things ― knowing that beyond the curtain God’s love is always there. This is the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ. There is hope, there is life, there is love for each one of us.

We feel so blessed to be on this journey together and I invite you to keep walking through the curtains with us, through your prayers, your correspondence, and your financial support. God calls us to bring hope, to bring love, to share the good news with all of God’s beloved children, with every little Vincent and every Vincent’s mom. So please join us in God’s magnificent story and thank you so much for walking with us.

The Rev. Kari Nicewander and her husband, Joel DeJong, are mission co-workers in Zambia. As a discipleship and church growth specialist, Nicewander works with the Church of Central Africa (CCAP), Zambia Synod, to engage more congregations in Community Health Evangelism (CHE).

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