A four-man team ventured across the wild and expanded Zambezi River in canoes last month.
When you set off into the secluded area with little contact to the outside world, you're never sure what will happen. Only those up for an adventure need apply.
This determined foursome men rose above illness, equipment malfunction and weather to encourage two new church plants. They forged through waist and chest-deep water for miles. They preached and baptized in the rain. And they traversed miles on foot.
The foursome included ITMI's Johan Leach, Johan's co-workers, Davy and Colin, and Paul, an organic farmer from South Africa.
Rainy season has commenced in western Zambia, and the Luvale plains are flooding and water-logged. During rainy season, it's normal for the plains to be deluged with two to three inches in one hour.
But come rain or rising water, the team was determined to reach their newly planted churches and provide discipleship and reassurance.
Come rain or high water, this team was determined to reach the newly planted churches.
Johan and his teammate with the ox-cart.
After crossing the river in canoes, the team hired an ox-cart to haul supplies over the saturated plains.
What Clean, Safe Water Means to a Village in Zambia
The two new church plants are in villages that received access to clean, safe water. ITMI supporters partnered with Johan to drill boreholes that draw fresh, clean water to the surface.
Since the re-inception of our clean, safe water project in Zambia, we've helped Johan drill boreholes for 10 villages. (Read more here and here.)
The villagers were beyond overjoyed - and that's really not doing it justice. Words just feel so inadequate at describing what clean, safe water means to a villager in Zambia.
Overjoyed villagers celebrate their new borehole.
Their lives improved in so many ways.
No longer were they forced to choose between trekking long miles daily, balancing large jugs of water on their heads and drinking from shallow, uncovered, dirty, hand-dug holes soiled by animals.
No more crocodile attacks on women bathing or drawing water from the river.
Their diet improved. With the extra time and access to clean water, village gardens can now flourish and embellish the villagers' once-limited diet with new nutrients.
On this trip, Paul, the organic farmer from South Africa, was a true blessing and inspiration to the villages. He shared his experiences. He showed them different approaches to their ways of thinking.
He taught them how to use natural fertilization rather than the government subsidized fertilizers, which will eventually destroy the land.
With his knowledge and inspiration, their gardens, their diet and their overall health will improve!
Johan points out,
"With our humble beginnings of establishing veggie gardens we are super blessed and appreciative when God sends gifted and qualified folk to underpin the various initiatives that has been embarked upon.
This just confirms again that if we are in His Will and obedient to His Word and led by His Spirit, then as we step out in faith He will lead, guide, provide and ensure the successful completion of the task."
"Humble beginnings" - Davy teaches villagers to grow new foods on a previous visit.
But there's more.
He and his co-workers are teaching the villages the story of the Bible in chronological order. At the same time, they are equipping the new believers for Christian living from the Word.
Teaching the story of the Bible to the villagers.
The isolation in this area of the Luvale plains has bred misconceptions about Baptism. On this trip, Johan's team tackled the doctrine of baptism.
They were thorough in explaining what true baptism means - though they were soaking wet in the pouring rain.
After hearing and understanding the team's teaching, the new believers responded with enthusiasm.
"Before we Baptize anyone, we make sure that their conversion is true, that they can give an account of their Salvation in Christ Jesus and they can give us a Biblical understanding of the need of Baptism," Johan says.
After repeating the teaching many times, the team was led to baptize two villagers.
"With great enthusiasm and sincerity of heart we set off to the closest swamp where there was enough water to submerge the new believer," Johan testified.
Johan baptizing a villager in the swamp.
After the baptisms, the team headed for the second village, Samwilla, trudging through the swamp in the rain. In this village, not much was accomplished.
The rain was pounding too hard for villagers to leave their huts.
The Return Trip: Not Without Adventure
After thanking the village for their hospitality, the team embarked homeward. By this time, Johan and Paul were beginning to feel the first indications of the flu, caught while trekking through the swamp in the rain.
Johan and Paul rode in the ox-cart while Davy and Colin walked most of the 37 miles back to their home base in Chavuma.
But the adventure wasn't over yet!
The adventure wasn't over yet!
On the final leg - ironically, dry ground - the ox-cart blew out a wheel, and the two flu-stricken team members were forced to walk the final 4 miles.
"As can be seen, our teams are not deterred by adverse weather conditions. The commitment is palpable as the Holy Spirit churns at the hearts of these disciples eager to march right into the jaws of death to rescue a soul," Johan encourages.
When Johan and his teams venture across the river, no matter what happens, they have to return the way they came - on foot. Injury and sickness and weather are just a couple of the hiccups these teams could encounter in such remote territory.
These teams willingly take these risks to bring the good news to the people isolated west of the river.
But, there's good news!
A generous donor has provided Johan's ministry with a brand new aluminum river boat! The boat can seat 12 people, and there's still room for supplies!
This will be a huge multiplier for this ministry. They can bring trainees along and multiply their equipping power. They can reach further downriver with the gospel. Their visits will be less hampered by the 3-4 month rainy season.
There is a catch.
Currently, the boat sits useless on the east side of the river. It needs a four-stroke motor to bring it and its impending ministry to life!
Johan would like us to join him in praying for the provision of this motor.
Because it's the prayers of those who stand with Johan and his teammates that fuel their ministry and the ministries of all our partners. Without your prayers and encouragement, these amazing stories couldn't happen.
Thanks for standing with our partners. It really does mean everything to them!