Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 23, 2006


Why a great grandmother would risk flying to Zambia


          Today will be an awesome Sunday for our Mission Team in Zambia. We will travel over poor dirt roads to worship in the villages where our hosts, Alfred and Muumbe Kalembo, were born. With our African brothers and sisters we will praise God for all that he has done.

          Missionaries made it possible for Alfred and Muumbe to receive an education. They had to walk for miles to school because there were no schools in their villages. There was no medical clinic in their villages, no fresh water, and none of the facilities we consider necessary for civilized living.

          Conditions in those villages remain about the same as they were when Alfred and Muumbe were born. There is one difference –a new well now provides fresh water in each village. The people no longer have to walk to a nearby stream to bring back contaminated water for cooking and cleaning.

          Each of these wells was drilled and put in place by funds given this spring by members of the Frazer Sunday School Class of Saint James United Methodist Church. The cost of installing each well was seventy-five hundred dollars.

          Today we will dedicate each well to the glory of God and praise God that fresh water is now available to these village people. I know we will all tremble as we stand beside these wells and witness what love can make possible when people care.

          It was not easy to decide to fly to Zambia. Some of our friends questioned the wisdom of our making such an arduous trip at our age. But we felt God calling us to do it. One of our sons said to his mother, “Do you know how much it will cost for us to bring your body back if you were to die in Africa?”

          That question prompted my wife to think seriously about the trip. Perhaps, she thought, we should just send money and stay at home. Sometimes the result of Dean’s heart-searching is a poem. Here is her touching response, titled “Bury Me in Africa”:

Bury me in Africa if that is where I die.

My body will be useless no matter I lie.

I will be finished with this earthly shell.

The best part of me has another place to dwell.

Don’t weep that I have died on foreign soil.

It is not foreign to Christ; He died for all.

Don’t mourn that you cannot stand beside my grave,

But rejoice that my heart was strong and brave.

“She had nothing to give,” the critics may say.

“She should have stayed home to pray.”

The words they say sound so very true

But the word from God is what I must do.

So if you should read that I died in a strange land,

Just give thanks that I followed our Lord’s command:

“Go into the world and make disciples of men

And I will be with you to the end.”

          Dean composed this poem on February 9. She added a foot note that she had written the poem “for my African children Lumba, Chile, Chipo, Lindi, Lulu, Muumbe, and Alfred. They would keep my grave with tender loving care and place wild flowers there.”

          Since then she has not looked back. Her face has been focused toward serving Christ in Zambia. Despite her physical difficulties, her indomitable has been an inspiration to her teammates: Bill McDurmont, Dan and Lisha Adam, Jill Davis, Brad Davis, Scott Kaak, Tim Albritton, Joseph Albritton, Steve Albritton, Robert Albritton, Edwin Baldwin, and me.

          Perhaps this will explain why I consider it a privilege to tag along with this great grandmother and serve by her side. I think we all see this trip as an act of obedience. To God be the glory! + + + +