I’ve been back in the states now for almost two months, so I have had some time to reflect upon the sights, sounds, and people of Zambia. My heart has been forever changed by the lives I had the privilege of crossing paths with. Joseph was one of those lives.
Joseph lives a life transformed. I met Joseph the first morning in Zambia. We entered into an overflowing church service and one of the young girls who was ushering that day found me a seat next to Joseph. I asked him if I could join him today and he smiled from ear to ear, his eyes sparkled and he quickly answered yes. I introduced myself to him and he explained that his name was Joseph and then he quickly introduced me to his friends that were sitting nearby. He seemed so proud to call me his new friend.
There was a little time before church began and I learned more about Joseph. He was 12 years old, liked math and baseball, and wants to be an accountant when he grows up. I loved that…accountant, what 12-year old says that? When he spoke with me, he was excited to share with me. He asked me some questions about my family and if I had ever been to Zambia before. I introduced him to my son and husband, which seemed to make him feel very special. I explained to my son that Joseph also loves math and baseball just as he does and Joseph was quite excited that they had similar interests and talents.
I reflected on him a bit and was thankful for such a sweet time with this young man who made me feel so welcome in this land so far away from what was familiar to me. He lived at the Tree 0f Life Children’s Village and just a few years prior he lived in the slums of Lusaka, a very dark and dangerous place, without anyone to care for him. He did not speak of his hurts, his brokenness, or the sadness, which he had experienced. He instead spoke of God’s great love for him. He spoke of how thankful he was to live at the Tree of Life Children’s Village and attend school at Family Legacy Christian Academy. I can only imagine the things that his eyes have seen, the places where his feet have walked, the fears which have gripped his mind and the words that he has heard spoken over him. Yet that is not what I saw…instead I saw a life transformed, transformed by the truth of God’s Word and the saving power of Christ’s love. Joseph has received the abundant love of God and he loves with that same love.
The last night we were in Zambia, the Tree of Life Children’s Village put on a special show for us with beautiful singing and dancing. It warmed our hearts, brought smiles to our faces and caused many tears to flow as we were reminded of God’s great love through the lives of these students. These lives which were once in very dark and hopeless places and now transformed by Christ.
We began to say our goodbyes and I heard someone say, “hello Auntie Mary!” and to my great surprise it was my very special friend Joseph. What a sweet blessing for me to be able to see him one more time before I had to leave for the airport. We chatted and I asked him about the performance and about his week. Before I knew it, it was time for them to go. As he was leaving he handed me a letter, which he had written to me.
As I prepared for Zambia, my prayer had been taken from Romans 15:13:”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I was specifically asking that the Lord would overflow from me through His Holy Spirit to encourage those I met.
Joseph wrote, “It was such a tremendous joy the time we met on Sunday and spent time with you. Your smile lights up my day. You have filled my heart with so much joy. I thank God for giving me a friend like you.” That joy that he felt was God’s Spirit, which was poured out of me to encourage Joseph. God answered my prayer so specifically and abundantly. God knew I needed to hear the words so carefully written by Joseph. His letter entailed so much more…he also was so thankful that we came to Zambia, he wanted me to remember that I was loved by God and that he would always remember me. My heart was so incredibly touched by his words and ministered to me in such a deep way.
Joseph’s words brought a great feeling of humbleness to my spirit. Joseph shared how he was praying for me, reminding me to remember how much God loves me and for me to continue to rejoice in the Lord and share His goodness with others. This was written from a 12- year old orphaned boy in Zambia who has experienced so much brokenness in his life…this is true hope. This is truly what a transformed life looks like. A transformed life focuses on the loving God he serves rather than upon the circumstances, which he faces. A transformed life dwells not on where he has been or what he has experienced but on the hope that he has in Christ! He who has been given much loves much and I had the blessing of being loved very much by this little boy who has experienced so much pain and hurt that I will probably never experience in my lifetime. Joseph radiated the truth of God in a very simple yet powerful way.
I went to Zambia to pour out hope to these abandoned ones of Zambia.
But God showed me that He sent me to Zambia to be loved by the fatherless so that I can learn to love more deeply with our Heavenly Father’s love.
There are countless other “Joseph’s” waiting to be given a chance to experience the love of God and in turn love others in a big way. If you would like to find out more about sponsoring children like Joseph through Family Legacy, visit familylegacy.com/sponsorachild