We rode up to a new building completed recently in the remote bush of Zimbabwe. Dusty roads and landscape were littered with children, gogos (Zulu for grandmothers) and adult leaders from the villages. They were in small groups nestled under every sliver of shade they could find.
Children stared at the seldom seen white men riding in the car. Everyone was dressed in their finest! Water was boiling for the community gathering. Sudza (ground corn) would soon be added and cooked for the celebration lunch.
A prayer of thanks was given and the ribbon cut from the front door. Hundreds of people crammed into every available space in the small church. The community representative for the chief sat first along with councilmen and elders from various groups of the Shona tribe. They sat in special seats of honor. A special ribbon was pinned to their clothing to signify their distinctive status.
Women served water, tea or other items and showed deep respect to those leaders. They got on their knees and bowed in esteem. I realized I was watching centuries of tradition at that moment. I also noticed that several hundred more people stood outside. Some were at the open windows while others stood at the open doors.
Worship began with gusto! There was clapping, dancing and a deafening sound of music. Everyone in the room sang and danced except the counsel and key leaders although you could see them move to the music at times.
I sat at the front as an honored guest. Dancers moved with ceaseless energy and dripping sweat. The worship went on for four hours. These young African dancers moved with uncanny exactness. Their precision would rival any professional dance group from anywhere in the world.
One particular elder captured my eye. This stately man exhibited the face and skull of an experienced warrior. His deep set eyes, like those of an eagle, were embedded in a chiseled face with high cheek bones and a magnificent chin. His humble posture, huge stature and frame spoke volumes of wisdom, strength and resolve.
Once several hours of celebration had passed, I stood before this daunting and excited crowd to open God’s Word. I had no words personally. The Holy Spirit spoke to their hearts, minds and souls. It was a challenge for each of us to look at Jesus . . . intently.
The deplorable poverty and circumstances struck my heart and drew me close to the orphaned children. There were several hundred of them. But it was clear that God touched them.They had seen a physical victory happen in their midst. This church/community center for Youth with a Vision . . . brought a deep sense of pride and excitement.
My heart soared in gratitude for Pastor Bonface. God gave him a vision to feed, clothe and give spiritual guidance to over a thousand orphans in five different areas in this crippled country. He announced at this gathering an additional vision to the crowd. Next comes a medical clinic for the people of the remote village of Derembwe.
The least of these are never forgotten by our Lord! I wish you had been with me.