Thunder rumbled its warning. Air currents swirled around us, and we hurried our step down the urine-soaked dirt path. Mabel’s new home is in the heart of Ng’ombe, and I don’t visit often. Mainly because of the “bridge” you have to cross to get there.
But 3 of our 4 kids were at friends’ houses, which makes crossing this bridge much easier. Once you see it, you’ll understand. A mixture of water, sewage, and garbage gushes beneath the ladder-type bridge. This bridge isn’t much to speak of. Because after all, who is interested in entering this slum?
Our world is a world of contrasts. Trendy cafes and cockroach-infested orphanages. University-education and 15-year-olds who can’t read. But we want to be that bridge. Between the haves and the have-nots. Between those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ and those who do not.
Jesus was that bridge. He left heaven to make his dwelling among us.
And so we take heart, we take a leap of faith. We leave our comfort zone, and our clean feet behind. And we plunge into the Mud.
Because after all, isn’t this what our heart longs for? A taste of true adventure, following hard after a wild and dangerous God-King?
“…if he was willing to leave these things and follow, God would lead him into treacherous territory… of danger and wonder at the same time, an adventure of dangerous wonder.” -Michael Yaconelli
What is it God is calling you to leave for the sake of the kingdom? Your comfort? Your favorite leisure activity? Your closest friends who think and act like you? Believe me, as a missionary it is just the same call! Living in a city like Lusaka you can easily live an insular life of shopping malls, traffic, and driving kids to playdates. BUT…God is whispering a different rhythm of life. Slow down….breathe deeply….know your neighbors well…pray for them…share Christ with them…walk the unbeaten path into the slums (insert whatever you know God is calling you to do!)
“But when our possessions possess us, risk and adventure become impossible. Dangerous wonder is still possible – you can still experience a volatile mix of astonishment and terror, awe and risk, amazement and fear, adventure and exhilaration, tears and laughter, passion and anticipation, daring and enchantment. Examples: Mary. Disciples during the storm. ‘Shouldn’t Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wild-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and a holy mischief in their demeanors? Shouldn’t Christianity be considered dangerous – unpredictable, threatening to the status quo, living outside the lines, uncontrollable, fearless, wild, beyond categorization or definition?” -Michael Yaconelli
Here’s Daniel + Zion crossing the bridge into Ng’ombe:
Honestly, the best parts of this trip could not be recorded.
The smiles from a family so grateful. A widow whose letter to Jesus was answered by a “Muzungu” family sent by you generous people in the U.S. Four big smiles of kids now in school. One of those is walking now, and even running thanks to you. Then there was laughing as 3-year-old Arnold fell asleep standing up, eating Nshima, pot-belly full and round. There were 4 furry hamsters scurrying around our feet as we pray together for Mabel and her future business. A business that will empower her to pay her own kids’ school fees and put food on the table.
We quickly end the prayer to hear the rain coming in sheets.
We snap a picture of the whole family and soon it’s a full downpour.
Mabel’s oldest son Gabriel, 13, appears like an angel with an umbrella over my head. It is no use. We are soaked and the rain is coming down side-ways from the wind! “Wooo-Hoo!” I am laughing, running, half-nervous that the river will be flooded and we won’t be able to get home. What an adventure we are in for! Zion is now crying on top of Daniel’s shoulders and we duck inside a new friend’s home. The storm lasts 40 minutes. Plenty of time to catch the family’s story, dry Zion off in a chitenge (traditional African cloth), and pray together. Then we are off, now escorted by this young man across the now flooded river! Our camera was soaked, so no pictures.
Then, we had to cross another section of flooded river, 3 houses down from ours, gushing even faster than the first! This time, we stopped for 5 minutes just to observe how others crossed. Nuns hiked up their skirts, removed their shoes, and waded through 3 feet of water toward us. They smiled and high-fived us! Men removed their gum-boots and gestured toward me to wear them to cross the river. Humbled–but simultaneously grossed-out–I declined with a laugh. It’s like we possessed the secret key to unlock friendship in Ng’ombe. But I guess it’s not too complicated. We just showed up and joined in on every-day life.
To what places is God calling you to show up and participate in the everyday lives of others? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on any more adventures God has in store for me. It may be messy, but when you look back over your life, these will be the unforgettable moments.