“I’m going to move to Zimbabwe.” I can remember when that was a punchline I used whenever I was joking about leaving America because of social issues. God must have thought it was funny to actually send me there for a week to cover a story on USA volunteers coming to help with a missions project.
One thing I learned: Zimbabwe is not the place to move to for a better government.
The more important thing I learned: God’s goodness is not only evident in the beautiful mountains of Zimbabwe, but also in the hearts of the people.
My assignment was to follow the volunteers—musicians, songwriters and/or ministers—taking notes and photos.
The volunteers were great. I felt less like the annoying media person and more like a part of the family. They easily opened up to me and their entire team about their own personal lives on and off the camera.
The guys shared their music with local school children, danced with orphans who sang songs in their heart language, and handed out notebooks to students who would otherwise be doing their classwork in the dirt—seriously.
Part of me always gets a little jealous when I go on these kinds of media assignments. I’ve done lots of mission trips in my lifetime. To stand on the sidelines is often challenging, because I’d rather be in the middle helping. This time, though, it was beautifully different.
Standing on the sidelines, spending every moment with these guys, I was able to witness God work through each of them. On Day One, they were excited about sharing American music with the kids. By Day Five, they were excited about taking the African style of worship back home.
I often heard the remarks: “Why is our music so inward? Look at how fun their outward celebration is!” “The American culture is so much about ‘me’ and ‘I,’ whereas the African is about ‘us’ and ‘we.’” And my favorite, “Let’s challenge ourselves to make more celebratory music!”
I also witnessed God work through the Americans as they handed out the notebooks. The focus of the project is to provide for a need while sharing the gospel. So, each day, the men shared the gospel through music, testimonies and a short sermon.
Then the children approached them one-by-one to get a stack of three notebooks, each of which had the gospel message and a True Love Waits statement on the cover.
You could just see the hearts of the guys being touched as they handed out the notebooks and the Zimbabweans feeling so much joy for a simple thing we take for granted.
I’ve never been in the position before to just watch God work through people in such a way. It was inspirational. The joyful hearts of the Zimbabwean Christians truly spread to the hearts of the American volunteers. I cannot wait to see what kind of music comes out of their experience and how they are inspired to continue to share God’s love to Zimbabwe and the ends of the earth.
Leah Allen, a former communications intern at the Baptist Standard and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, served as a semester missionary in Africa with Go Now Missions.