Earlier this month, a five-person team including Richard Schelp, Carolyn Culberson, Sara Ann Sanders, Hannah Whitsitt and Bob Whitsitt spent 11 days in Zambia on a sports outreach trip alongside CUMC’s partner, Dorothy Phiri at Mercy Ministries International. Mercy Ministries worked with the Zambia Sports Ministry Coalition & Ubabalo to use futbol (soccer) as the means for reaching youth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Twelve teams competed over five days, with a daily morning message and chance to interact with each team resulting in more than 250 persons giving their lives to Jesus Christ and a plan for follow-up discipleship.
Chainda, Zambia is on the outskirts of the capitol city of Lusaka, a village community of 44,700 that exists due to the availability of the anti-retroviral vaccine in the capitol city.
This is a guest post from team member Sara Ann Sanders about her experience in Zambia.
“Can we pray for you?” we asked her. With a desperate look in her sunken eyes, she said, “Please do.” She was hungry for someone or something to lean on in her brokenness – physically and spiritually. We talked and prayed with her and this woman made a decision to follow Christ. I don’t know if she had ever heard the Gospel or the name Jesus Christ, but He revealed himself to her that day and she welcomed Him into her heart.
Somewhere on the dusty outskirts of Lusaka there is a village community called Chainda. Many men and women in this village are suffering from HIV and some are not able to acquire the medical attention that they need. She was older; maybe the most feeble, sick person that I have ever seen. Just looking at her thin, fragile body and watching her daughter pick her up off the floor — because she didn’t have enough strength to do it on her own — made my eyes sting.
That day we had taken a break from our daily routine of watching soccer games and ministering to kids to go into Chainda to take rice from Christ Feeds to people in need and to pray with them. I was a little nervous but also excited — this woman was the first person we visited. We told her that our hope for her was that as the rice satisfies the hunger in her belly, that Jesus would satisfy the hunger in her heart.
As we prayed for her and she welcomed Christ into her heart, I could only cry. This woman was hurting — in more ways than one — but something moved her during our time with together. I felt like as if I could reach out and touch the Holy Spirit in that room, as if I could feel the weight of her sickness and pain being lifted off her bony shoulders.
That moment was life-changing for her, but also for me and I will never forget it.
Sara Ann is a junior at The University of Memphis studying social work and nonprofit management. For the past two summers she has been an intern in CUMC’s student ministry.