A team of OBU students traveled to Zambia May 27-June 23 with a burden to share their faith with people residing in and around the remote village of Isoka. OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach mobilizes, trains and oversees GO Trips.
Each year, dozens of students, faculty and staff take Global Outreach (GO) Trips which enforce OBU's mission to transform lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world and live worthy of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. When students participate in GO trips, they often return home with their hearts changed and discover a deeper personal relationship with the Lord.
OBU has sent a team to Zambia each of the last three years. Dayla Rowland, OBU student ministry associate of evangelism and mobilization, served as mentor to seven students, including Paige Groves, Mikayla Harrison, Molly Foreman, Joseph Hefner, Hannah Burnett, Jenna Huckabee and Andrew Tucker. For some, the journey halfway around the world was a new experience. For others, like OBU student Hannah Burnett, the voyage reacquainted her with Christian believers and Zambian locals she met on a past GO trip.
Burnett, a senior family and community services major from Richardson, Texas, made her first trip to Zambia during the summer of 2012. "I cannot begin to explain what it means to be back in Zambia again," Hannah wrote in a blog describing her second trip to Africa. "The Father has blessed me beyond belief by allowing me to come back."
Two years ago, Burnett and her teammates saw 15 new believers baptized in Isoka. On this return trip, two of those served as translators for the OBU students. Burnett was overjoyed to see these old friends -- whom she saw baptized -- serving the Lord whole-heartedly. "I got to see the change in their lives. It is so encouraging to know that I have brothers and sisters around the world passionately pursuing the Lord with every ounce of their being," Burnett said.
Paige Groves, a senior nursing major, had never been to Africa and was excited to see the Lord working. "After worshipping with our brothers and sisters this morning, I am convinced that Zambia is one of the most beautiful places on earth," Groves wrote in a blog. "The people of this country amaze me, with their kindness and warmth. Fellowship this morning left me in awe of how the body can come together, regardless of age, background, or culture and worship so freely."
Upon their arrival, they found their host home without running water due to a broken pump. While waiting for the water pump to be replaced, the team spent the next week and a half drawing water for bathing, cleaning and drinking -- one bucket at a time.
For many, the situation could have been viewed as an inconvenience, but Rowland saw it as a practical lesson. "It was a privilege to draw water every day. So often we take for granted an unending supply of water," she said. Rowland, who made the return-trip to Zambia as the team's leader, viewed the daily task as a reminder of the spiritual water that leads to eternal life. "We take for granted the spiritual water that comes to us … in fact we forget that we even need it for survival and begin to rely on ourselves."
The OBU group stayed in Isoka, but traveled to neighboring villages to share the good news of Christ. Zambia is saturated with false teaching and works-based beliefs that are based on the idea that one must work to gain their salvation. To combat these beliefs, the students spent most of their time going house to house visiting with the villagers.
The team spent two days in the Chipote village. As the team shared, the people gathered, some listening, while others turned away. The longer they spoke, the more intently the people listened and many were receptive to the gospel message.
One particular home filled with four women, requested the story of the prodigal son be explained. Harrison described how the story was a picture of the love that the heavenly Father has for His children. "We were able to explain how the Most High loves us, even more than our earthly fathers," she wrote in a blog. "One of the women began to tear up and said she finally understood - it was such an exciting moment!"
As the team spent more time in the local villages, they were given many other opportunities to plant seeds of hope by answering questions and sharing their own personal testimonies of how great the Lord is.
For Burnett, the most rewarding part of the trip was seeing the Holy Spirit change the lives of the Zambian people, pulling them out of darkness and bringing them into the light.
"The Father is working in these places," Burnett said. "False beliefs have infiltrated their hearts -please lift them up for softened hearts and a teachable spirit. Ultimately, the Lord has gone before us and will go after us. Only He can change their hearts."
Molly Foreman, who traveled to Zambia the past two summers, encourages students to take advantage of the international service opportunities OBU offers.
"There are skills and life lessons that are taught through travel that can't be taught in a classroom," Foreman said. "The Lord really opens up your eyes to see Him in a new way. You learn about different cultures, how to better relate to others, and you are pushed out of your comfort zone in many different ways."
Read a detailed account of the team's trip to Zambia.
For more information on GO Trips at OBU, visit the Global Outreach Web pages or call (405) 275-2850.