The last three days have been an intensive dip into the BIC homeland in Zambia. Keith Cober (gregarious connector, historian and much-needed plumber) keeps telling us how much has developed in Macha since he was first involved and even since 2000. The hospital, nursing school, and especially the Macha Malaria Research Institute have created something of a small city, which looks to me like it might reach some kind of critical mass of urbanism some day. To hear everyone tell the story, it is all the work of the Lord. As before, there is too much to tell you about it all. So let me theme it as: three ways we saw the work of the Lord, with the emphasis on the work.
Macha Brethren in Christ
Phil and Elaine Thuma and John and Esther Spurrier should probably be more famous than they are. They are the main engines of Macha Mission’s development since the 90’s, and before. I sat next to Phil during the fascinating and often moving church service we attended. It was a blessing to have him keep leaning over and explaining why things were happening. Odd things: The adult men and women sat on separate sides of the church, which is about as old school BIC as you can get. Some ladies were in the BIC uniform. Visitors have to stand in front of the church and explain why they are there (I gave them greetings from you, Circle of Hope, and they voiced their delight). Great things: Various musicians, including choirs, are invited each week to register to lead the church; we had five groups including a man who played a home made guitar, the extremely well-rehearsed youth choir and a woman’s choir with a solo by a 70-year-old that generated applause. We learned to sing traditional hymns in Tonga.
The church and the work of the Lord are central to everything we have seen. The work week begins on Sunday.
On the Spurrier’s porch for tea
We experienced the blessing of a history lesson on Macha Mission Hospital and the Malaria Research Institute by the Thumas and Spurriers on a beautiful afternoon. Here is an article on Phil from a main funder that can give you more. I have known the Spurriers for many years and the Thumas mainly by association. It was a treat to relate to them in their native environment. One of the encouraging things they reported is how they feel more supported as a mission than ever. They are delighted with Jonathan Lloyd as a leader. They think the relationship of MCC and the church in Zambia is exemplary and report the historic relationship between MCC and the hospital as invaluable. Their work is laced with friendship, humility and joy.
Institutions: MRI, Macha Central school, Macha Hospital, the nursing school
Macha, Zambia is a hub for BIC-founded enterprises: schools, hospital, and the amazing Malaria Research Institute (which is a work of God but independent).
- Let’s start with the MRI (also MRT and other names depending on the registration with various powers). Most of you do not know that this jewel exists in an extremely unlikely, out-of-the-way place in the world. Who would think the the BIC would come up with a world-class research institute in their remote mission station! Phil Thuma is a funny, lucid, salesman saint and the engine behind it. I wanted to sit and listen to him teach me everything I could absorb of what he knows about viruses of every kind and how to get a university to send you a $35K machine.
- Likewise, John Sprurrier (and the two are a tag team) has been the work horse behind what appears to be a well-run hospital. Upwards of 10,000 HIV AIDS patients are in active treatment, among many other things. MCC provided all the linens and blankets for the 200-bed hospital; in the state-run hospitals, you provide your own.
- When it comes to the schools, there is a consistent theme: not enough. At Macha Central school we learned that many kids get up with the rooster at 5am and start walking without breakfast. They arrive at school by 6 to a class of 40, at least. No food will be provided; the homes for teachers have no electricity; and there is no money to complete the needed classrooms or even the fence to keep the goats off the soccer field. MCC’s Global Family project helps, but also does not have enough. As I’ve said before, it is daunting.
Nevertheless, the people exude hope, competence, community, spiritual passion and invention. There has been a lot to learn on the learning tour.
The other Africa posts:
First thoughts from Zimbabwe
Being poor is tough
Going around doing good
Coming up against the powers
The food chain
The work of the Lord
Showing God’s love in practical ways