‘A Game Changer’ – Zambia 2017

TeamAt the beginning of the summer our brother Gerard led a team of twelve children from his school, Trinity Academy in Thorne, as part of the Emmanuel Schools Foundations trip to Zambia.

Based at the Christian Outdoor Centre near Mkushi in the central province of Zambia, they had the opportunity to give practical support, educational needs and connect with people suffering with HIV Aids.

We bring you not only Gerard’s report of the visit but also a video showing glimpses of their expedition made by Chris Gruar, a fellow teacher at Trinity.

After the last overseas trip to Zambia in 2014, I was keen to see another expedition happen, having witnessed first-hand the impact such experiences can have on our students.  God opened a way for me to take a team of 4 staff and 12 students from Trinity Academy in Thorne to the outdoor Christian Centre at Ndubaluba near Mkushi in the central province of Zambia.  Collectively, we had to raise a sum of around £12,000 in order for us to cover the costs.  God gave me a peace about the finances and the team worked hard together with various initiatives and in His grace, God provided what we needed – right at the eleventh hour!

Ndubaluba was set up by believers in 1994 as an opportunity for outdoor education and adventure through the Christian School at Chengelo just a short drive away.  The centre is located amongst beautiful scenic hills, woods and farmland where there are monkeys and beautiful coloured flowers and birds.

The 12 students were 9 girls and 1 boy from Year 13 and 2 boys from Year 12.  This is a pivotal time for each of the students as they are about to take their next step into the world of work or university life.  Bringing this group to Zambia created a wonderful opportunity for the group to be immersed in a Christian context and be surrounded by believers of different ages living out their faith.

Only one girl from Trinity has a clear Christian background and so the daily challenges and encouragements for the team to think about their relationship with God may have been a struggle for some.  We shared the expedition with 7 other Year 11 students and 2 leaders from The Kings Christian School near Oxford.

The program was carefully designed to challenge students emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Early after arrival, we had a cultural induction so we could understand Zambian protocols and dress codes for being out and about in the villages and towns.  Students had to visit the sick and do chores for them.  We stayed in one tiny farmstead overnight and had to live as villagers – catching chickens and working in the fields.  On Sunday we took the group to a church with great preaching and lively singing and praise.  In the evening the group went to a youth church called Fusion where we were asked to share a song we had practiced – Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman.

We taught in a small school and helped with some painting.  There were always children around so this gave the group the opportunity to play games and show love.

The physical challenge was to climb a mountain called Mumpu which means The Devils Mountain.  Some of the locals are fearful of it but the Christians at Chengelo wanted to claim the mountain for God; to be a place where they can experience a closeness with Him.  There is now a cross at the top and our students were encouraged to take a rock symbolising their inner burdens and leave them at the top of the mountain.  Mumpu was a 3 day expedition with a scary abseil down over a cave face.

At the end of the two weeks, each student was encouraged to reflect on how they had been challenged spiritually.  Some fed back that they did believe in God and others said they had prayed for the first time.  Others talked about how they had been made to think even though they were not believers.  One girl said “These (people) here have nothing with God and are happy; we have everything without God and are not as happy.”

For both staff and students, this expedition was, to use one teacher’s phrase ‘a game-changer’.  All were sad to leave and had become like a family through the different experiences we went through.  God kept us safe all the way and gave His people opportunities to witness to others of Jesus’ love.

Can I thank all who supported me and the team both financially and prayerfully on this mission.  We felt your prayers and were upheld by Him each step of the way.

Follow this link to watch Chris’ video of the Zambia 2017 Trinity Academy.