For as the body is one, andhath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12)
To say that Sunday in the Zambian bush was an adventure is an extreme understatement. It was a long day with memorable moments we won't soon forget. The day started at 7 a.m. with breakfast, and by around 9:30 we were on the path to Roadside Baptist Church. What was special about the day was that we were guests bringing gifts in the form of a new church building.
As I mentioned previously, to say that the roads here are rough just doesn't capture the conditions. These roads pulverize shocks and suspensions on cars and trucks, and passengers suffer through one hole after another. Normally it takes one hour and 45 minutes to drive from the Barnhouse residence to Roadside Baptist. On Sunday our trip took nearly three hours. The reason is that as diligent as we were in securing the new benches, poles, rafters, roof, etc. for the church, the rough travel caused the load to shift often and require stops to once again tighten down the supplies.
We took two vehicles to Roadside Baptist Church. David Barnhouse led the way, with Pastor Hack, Josh Hanji, Donovan Zachary, Ryan Morrow and Frazier (Pastor of Roadside Baptist) joining him. Scott Shepherd drove the second vehicle, towing the flatbed with most of the building supplies. I joined Doug Pennington and Lee Shaw in the vehicle, along with three chickens meant for dinner for the locals after the service.
Upon arriving we immediately unloaded the benches and placed them in the church. To start the service, the eight of us and Barnhouse sang three songs for the bush people. Let's just say you won't see (or hear) this group performing at NBC anytime soon. Joyful noise? Not so sure about that.
Pastor Hack delivered the message, curtailing it to the demolition of the old building and construction of the new. He described what does and does not define a church, and talked about how the church is the people, not the building. But he also spoke of the value of assembling as a church body. The message, like our singing, was well received.
After the service, the demolition began. The old church consisted of block walls about three feet high, wood posts and a grass roof. They normally sit on lengths of tree trunks laying on the ground. With the help of the local men, we tore down all of it, leveled the ground, and went to work installing the new steel posts that provided the framework. The work was grueling at times, but the local men stepped in and helped to lend a hand. They mixed cement, assisted with the building materials and were invaluable in the construction.
The whole team really stepped up and answered the call, but Scott was instrumental in the project getting completed. From the time we pulled out and started the trip, he was a wealth of information, and solutions. We are so blessed to have him on the team. And others shined as well. Josh reached out of his comfort zone and did a great job of doing anything he could to help, spending several hours nine feet off the ground working on beams. Doug and Lee did great work in preparing some of the supplies in advance of today's work. It was a total team effort, and working next to them on a project this challenging was greatly rewarding.
The finishing touches were applied to the new church building as the last daylight slipped away. We packed our vehicles in the darkness, loaded the wood previously used as seating on the flatbed, picked up two goats Barnhouse had acquired, and began our return trip.
That's when things got adventurous. Hitting the road at 7:30, we began the trek back, the driving again slow due to the rough roads. At one point our vehicle lost contact with Barnhouse and the rest of the team. Scott did his best to catch up with the load of logs, but we did not see them make a turn, and we spent the next few hours trying to reconnect and find our way home. There are some poorly lit areas in Central Indiana, but nothing compares to the bush when the only illumination you have is a set of headlights and the blanket of stars in the sky.
The good news is that we made our way back, arriving after 10 p.m., and soon after Barnhouse and the rest of the team returned. That group had been driving the bush roads trying to find us just as we were looking for them, or the way home. When we reconvened at the house, the drive home was the topic of conversation as we enjoyed a late dinner. It was a fitting end to an interesting day; one that will stand as a lasting memory for each of us.
Sitting around the table with the team, I was again reminded of the sermon from earlier in the day. We may not have been in attendance at NBC today, but our church was represented in Zambia at Roadside Baptist Church. We had a chance to worship with fellow believers located thousands of miles from our home, serving the one true God.
With several long days under our belts, please pray that we will be energized to finish strong the rest of our time here. There is still a lot to be done, and we want to accomplish as much as possible. Pray that God will be glorified through our labors.