“I didn’t come all this way to hear the Bible…!”

A weary bunch of travelers disembarked, having trekked halfway across the country from Bulawayo.  This group of IWH trainees were from the Ndebele tribe.  Their ancestral roots stretch back to a throng of burly Zulus who migrated from South Africa to Zimbabwe in 1838 under King Mzilikazi.

Climbing off the bus were non-believers, believers – and a fair number of pew-warming church goers with a load of (spiritual) dirty washing.  Perhaps God gave one of His gentle smiles as He watched them.  As usual, He had some heart-laundering planned …

The following morning after a good night’s sleep, the trainees were ready to begin.  Much joyful praise rose up from old and young alike, with devotions opening hearts and setting a positive tone for the day.  This group were once squatters, but with the help of World Vision had been allocated land, which they named Mazwi.  The word ‘mazwi’ originates from the Zulu meaning for ‘spoken word’ or ‘powerful word’ – often used in reference to the word of God, something they were about to get a rich supply of over the next couple of weeks!

They were a pretty joyful group, open and well disciplined.  There was also a high standard of hygiene which delighted the housekeeping ladies no end!  A few had never learned to read or write, but Jesus said ‘the last shall be first’ and so these precious ones were given an extra loving hand.  The language barrier occasionally proved a challenge with our Shona speaking team, but invariably someone was able to interpret.

All eyes and ears paid avid attention as the trainers led them on a wonderful journey of discovery.  Most were astonished at the idea of zero-tillage.  In Africa, come planting season, there’s always a wild last minute rush to hire someone with a tractor to plough.  But now they were hearing about a different way of farming – God’s way – as well as treating family God’s way, and budgeting God’s way.  The teaching seemed foreign at first, but soon curious frowns gave way to broad smiles of comprehension.  Understanding moved from a trickle to a gush as they began to realize that land, family and money were God’s blessings.  ALL come bountifully from His loving hand and, therefore, need to be well stewardedGood stewardship of the land yields a harvest of food; stewarding our family relationships with honor and respect reaps harmony in the home;  stewarding money reaps financial security.  But first the group needed to understand the key: surrendering all ownership to God.  Daily sessions from the Alpha Course served to solidify these truths.

Here’s Bridgette’s description of the course, a couple of weeks after completion:

“When we were selected to come to IWH, we were told that we would learn about farming.  I was so happy.  Yes, the teaching on farming began, but I was surprised to first be given a bible.  I thought  ‘Okay … this is a Christian organization, it’s to be expected.’  But every day was bible, bible, bible.  I thought  ‘No, these people are playing with us.  I didn’t come all this way to hear the bible!’  I’d left five children at home.  The eldest had recently contracted HIV at sixteen, and I was still so angry at her.  I had told her to concentrate on her books and not think about boys – but then along came her first and only boyfriend, who passed the on the virus.  I was so angry I could not even look at her.  I ignored her, almost hating her for bringing this shame on our family.  

As the days passed at IWH, I found myself enjoying the bible teaching more and more.  Then I came to know Jesus.  I went home having learned so much about farming, but also with true forgiveness in my heart.  As I hugged my daughter, she cried.  ‘Mommy, I’m so sorry.’  I told her she was completely forgiven, and I really meant it.  Today we are friends, and I know that I have the best daughter in the world…Thank You Jesus.”

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