We were supposed to meet up with the drilling company in Zambezi and from there cross the river to the remote area of Kakulunda. Then we received the bad news that the drilling company had mechanical issues and couldn’t meet their commitments. After much discussion and seeking God’s will, we decided to change our plans and go to the village Libeko in Lukulu West.
ITMI visited this village twice in the past two years. The first year they drilled water wells and the second they handed out vegetable seeds to the community. The people were overjoyed to receive us.
The next morning, I went with some of the people to look at their garden initiatives to get a better idea of what they needed. When I visited the one church elder’s garden, to my surprise I saw beetroot in the ground that looked very old.
He explained that he does not know what to do with it or how to cook it. He was not sure whether it was poisonous or not!
He then said that he decided to leave it in the ground until some day that the ITMI team will visit the village again and explain to him what to do with it.
I asked him to bring the beetroot to our camp that afternoon. When he came, I showed him how to cook it. Everyone watched with anticipation on their faces for the outcome of his tasting.
His face lit up as he tasted the sweet beetroot and soon he was cutting slices for everyone to taste.
The reactions of the people were amazing. The little children were pushing, shoving and stretching out their hands to also get their share, as if it were chocolates that were dished out.
I spent most of the next day teaching the people about good gardening methods. When I asked if we could break for lunch, the people refused and replied that some of them came from far away to attend and could not go back to their village and come again the afternoon.
The people wanted me to finish and listened attentively to the end.
That afternoon ITMI handed out some pillow case dresses and soap for the girls, and wooden toys and soap for the boys. Reflecting back, my heart goes out to them.
ITMI Director, Steve Evers, helping one happy recipient of a new dress!
Matthew 9:36 comes to mind: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
This year, we really weren't planning on returning to Libeko (we did an outreach there last year). We planned to dig wells for other villages in the area.
However, God in His peculiar, yet beautiful providence, brought us back. As we found ourselves again in Libeko, I pondered why God would keep bringing us back to this one place.
What is it about Libeko that God sees as being so special?
Village life in such a remote area is very simple. People live to survive, and their level of survival is not what most of us would call “living.”
During the rainy season the water levels turn the villages into islands. People plant where they can in the high ground, but the soil is sandy and yields very little for all the effort. The flood waters force the large rat, snake, and insect populations into their homes and fields. The water creates pathways for crocodiles to move in closer.
For years, when the people of Libeko fetched water for drinking, cooking, or bathing, they did so at great risk. The crocodiles are notorious in this area for taking both life and limb of the villagers and their children.
A Lukulu girl carries a heavy bucket of water.
Our time in Libeko was blessed. With the new assortment of heirloom seeds and training, the people in the area can now eat healthier than they ever have before. This will mean stronger bodies and fewer diseases.
Since the physical body is attached to the soul, we ensured that all of this was done in conjunction with the preaching of the Word. I began to realize, when we leave, the seeds will carry on feeding the people's bodies, but how will their souls continue to be fed once we're gone?
We gave them some Proclaimer audio Bible kits, which certainly helps, but they still don’t have anyone to regularly teach them.
As I looked at the people with their beautiful smiles and their hungering interest in the things of God, I was deeply saddened.
I remembered the words from Matthew 9, when Jesus "saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.'"
Perhaps the reason why God keeps bringing us back here is because He is moved with compassion for them and wants them to be shepherded.
Though our time with them has been rather limited, I know that I will never stop praying for them, asking that God will raise up laborers for His harvest there.
Please pray with me for these desperate and wonderful people.