Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 16, 2006


Where in the world is Zambia anyway?


          Where is Zambia? That is the question many have been asking when they learn about our plan to fly over there.

          Well, it is a long way from Alabama. So far in fact that it will take us about 25 hours to go from Atlanta to the airport in Lusaka, the capitol city of Zambia. Upon arrival we will “lose” more hours since Zambian time is eight hours ahead of Alabama time.

          Zambia is in southern Africa. Once known as Rhodesia, the nation gained independence from the United Kingdom and took on the name Zambia in 1964.

          Zambia is landlocked, having no coastline. It is surrounded by these nations: Tanzania, Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Congo, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Zambia is slightly larger than the state of Texas.

           The country is considered “tropical” so far as its climate is concerned. We understand the temperature will range from the 60’s in the daytime to the low 40’s at night. July is wintertime for Zambia. We chose not to go during the rainy season, which is October to April.

          You might wonder why, if the country is so large, there is so much poverty. Why not use the land to grow food for the people? The reason is that less than seven per cent of the land is fit for cultivation! That is bad news for a nation of 11.5 million people, one million of whom are orphan children.

          Zambia does have many natural resources such as copper, zinc, lead, coal, cobalt, gold, silver, emeralds and uranium. If this is so, why not combat poverty with these resources? The answer is no doubt the same the world over – the profit from these resources does not trickle down to the common people. You know – “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

          HIV/AIDS is a major problem in Zambia. Some 250 die from this disease every day in Zambia or nearly 100,000 annually. About 20 per cent of the adults are infected with HIV/AIDS. Because of this and other health and medical problems, the life expectancy there is 40 years. Less than three per cent of the people are 65 years of age or older. The median age is about 16.

          The risk of major infectious diseases in Zambia is very high. For that reason our team has had several immunizations for protection. Since it is recommended that we not drink the water, some of our team will be drinking a lot of Cokes and all of us a lot of bottled water. We are not going there to get sick but to help people who are sick.

          Another question people ask is, why go to faraway Zambia when you could help the poor in your own back yard? Some may fault us for going. After all, the money it will cost to fly could have bought a lot of food and medicine for poor people.

          That is true. Still we are persuaded to go. The most obvious reason for going is to obey the command of Jesus, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” So we have no choice but to go in obedience to his command.

          But there is more to it than that. We have friends there who need our help. They are more than friends; they are family to us. Surely any of us is willing to make some sacrifice when a family member calls for help. It is as simple as that. They need us; we are going, by the grace of God.

          None of us could go without help. Many, many people are helping make this trip possible. In a sense they are going too for we are going in their behalf. All of us feel very blessed by the support of our family and friends.

          Are we concerned about hopping a plane and flying so far from home? You bet we are. But we have a vision that is bigger than our fears. By going we can build bridges of friendship and love.

          We can encourage our brothers and sisters in their ministry to their own people. Our hosts, Alfred and Muumbe Kalembo, need affirmation and love just like we all do. Our being there will mean much more than the money we take them or the work we will do. And we can learn from them what it means to serve Christ in the conditions in which they choose to live.

          The bottom line is that we can make a difference for children. We cannot save many children from hunger, poverty, and AIDS, but we can save a few. We can give a few children a chance for a better life and to know that Jesus loves them. That, good friends, is reason enough to get on that plane and go do what we can. + + + +