A low groan came from the cot in the corner of the room. Her three-year-old son tossed restlessly, entangling himself in the thin covering she’d placed over him. There was no relief from the Zambian heat, and the fever just kept rising.
Lily felt so powerless, watching him suffer. She knew the people of her church were praying for her son, but thought, “I need to do something more.”
Gathering him into her arms, she set out, stepping carefully over the rutted ground.
She was going to see the witch doctor - after all, he’d demonstrated having power, and she needed any kind of power she could get - no matter what the cost.
The Need for Biblical Transformation of Minds
Lily’s profession of faith had changed when she became a believer, but her mind hadn’t. Her thinking still wasn’t transformed to align with Biblical truth, so her actions, worship and faith remained embedded in destructive patterns from her Animistic culture.
Lily’s story is common for Zambian believers.
On a small scale, these destructive patterns (extra-marital sex, sacrifices to ancestors, and rampant sexual abuse of women and children) destroy lives and families. On a larger scale, they are perpetuating the crippling social problems that have plagued Zambia for generations - HIV/AIDS, disease, poverty, and corruption to name a few.
This is surprising because most Zambians profess to be Christian; only 1% still acknowledge “indigenous beliefs” as their religion, and up to 50-75% align themselves with the Christian faith. (CIA World Fact Book, 2013)
In many cases, a believer joins the church because they believe it has power to offer them or is beneficial for them in some way, but their hearts and minds are never changed from their old ways of thinking.
Until they learn how to read and understand God’s Word, they will never experience the lasting hope and grace of the Gospel.
Good News: Many Are Hungry to Change
The good news is, many Zambian believers are open - even excited - to hearing truth if given the opportunity to learn about the God they profess to follow with so little understanding.
They are hungry for the truth.
They need access to God’s Word.
There are over 200 million Christians in Africa who don’t have their own Bible, including many pastors!
Literacy and translations aren’t the problem. There just aren’t many copies available. This presents a big obstacle to changing minds and hearts.
ITMI partners, Timothy and Ashley Keller, are working toward meeting this need immediately, while also creating a long-term vision that changes Zambia from the ground up.
Timothy and Ashley Keller with Monica, Frederick and Olivia Keller.
Meeting the Short-term Need for God's Word by shipping containers of Bibles to Africa
To meet the short-term need for believers to know God and live lives that are implicated by His Word, the Kellers have organized the shipment of a container of quality educational and discipleship material.
One of the main goals is to get Bibles into the hands of believers.
The first container arrived in Zambia in 2009, and was met with eager response. The materials were distributed all over Zambia much more quickly than expected.
Some materials were used to equip volunteer, believing teachers in rural villages enabling them to teach from a Biblical perspective.
Esther's preschool in a rural village using supplies from the Keller's first container.
Shipping the containers meets an immediate, dire need and is creating networking and discipleship opportunities for Tim in his quest to see God change Zambia from the ground up.
Timothy equips teachers in Africa to teach their students from a Biblical perspective.
Now, the Kellers have received enough quality books, Bibles and discipleship materials to fill two more shipping containers! They are continuing to trust God for the funding to ship them to Zambia.
Addressing Long-Term Needs with Biblical Curriculum
Tim is passionate about preventing Africans’ minds from being ingrained in the cultural Animistic lies that destroy lives by reaching them while they are young.
Tim wants to create a Biblical curriculum that specifically addresses the needs and issues in Zambia for use in schools and villages nationwide.
If the youth could be brought up with a Christian perspective about the world, a true belief in Christ, a Christian work ethic and a quality education from a Biblical standpoint, they will be equipped to take their country by storm.
They will be poised to bring Christ into the influential sectors where culture is created.
With an understanding of God’s perspective and an education, they’ll have the power to create jobs and send missionaries.
One key educator the Kellers are networking with is ITMI partner, Eugene Kalunga. Eugene is the principal of Excellence Christian Academy (ECA) in Kabwe, Zambia.
ECA offers quality education from a Christian perspective to its students, many of whom are orphaned or underprivileged and would never have the opportunity to receive an education because they cannot pay school fees.
ECA is dependent on support to continue operating since they are providing free or low cost education to many of their students.
One issue that has arisen recently is that due to the low income, the teachers’ salaries are quite low. This makes it difficult to find teachers, but especially so for ECA since they are looking only for believing teachers.
A high percentage of ECA students are from families that can't afford to provide an education.
ECA students are learning about the world from a Biblical perspective.
The opportunity to reach Zambian youth is wide open right now - the Muslims see it; the Communists see it.
Education is such a limited resource that people will accept it for their kids readily. The time to reach Zambian culture with the Gospel is now. This is the critical moment.
Other than the provision of resources, the sky is the limit for these important and impactful ministries.
Willing partners are needed!
Summer Kelley is a writer who lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She has had the privilege of telling ITMI's stories since 2006.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.