By Robin Crowell, MPAS, PA-C
Poverty… a name that immediately brings Africa to your mind. But why? What exactly does this word “poverty” mean?
“A deficiency of necessary or desirable ingredients, qualities, etc.”
Why do we always assume that refers to money? Yes, a component of a poverty-stricken land is lack of monetary means. By these standards, anyone would consider Zambia poor. From the outside looking in, you can see the statistics. Over 64% of the population lives below the “poverty line.” (Living on less than $1.90 per day, or just under 20 kwacha). For the new foreigner coming to Zambia, you can see “poverty” everywhere you walk, particularly in the rural areas. Considering the worldly view, Zambia is poor…
I, however, do not completely agree with this worldly view of poverty.
Living here now over a year has allowed me the insider’s view of the daily triumphs and struggles of Zambian Christ-followers. Most will make comments like, “Well, we don’t have much, but we have enough.” They cherish the things they do have. Most do not know the enormous amount of “stuff” that is in most American homes. I am thankful these people are unaware of that.
How “Fat” is Your Faith?
They are very grateful to God for what they do have… and TRUST Him to provide where there is a lack. I have heard countless stories of God’s faithful provision… of the means to buy some mealie meal to make their nshima for dinner, of help to an exhausted grandmother serving as the primary caregiver for her grandchildren, of the means to travel to the hospital for evaluation of an illness, of good company in times of loneliness, etc.
And when God provides, they PRAISE HIM!! Zambians are very aware of God’s presence and provision in their lives! They depend on Him because they know that without Him, they can do nothing! Their FAITH is so FAT!!
How FAT is our faith? How much do we depend on God to guide us and meet our needs from day to day? Do we think we can do everything under our own power? If that is our thought, surely we will fall. I have heard it said before that it is easier to trust God when there is nothing… but can we step it up a notch to trust God when we have plenty?
How Loud Is Your Praise?
It is very common in Zambia to complement someone if he or she is a bit overweight or obese. They will exclaim, “You’re so fat!!” This is taken to mean, “Oh you have plenty and are not lacking!” Another way to look at it… the person is not in poverty.
By the world’s definition, Zambia is in poverty. However, I do not think Zambia is too incredibly poor. They are very FAT in their FAITH. They depend on God to meet those fundamental needs that will keep them living. When they are struggling, they praise! When they are waiting, they praise! When He delivers, they praise even louder!
How loud is our praise? How FAT is our FAITH? A friend of mine here (he’s the local veterinarian), wrote this song. This is the perfect picture of the FAT faith held by the Zambians. The song is a reminder of Job’s spirit during his trials. Despite his struggles, He praised God! (Listen to the song, in Tonga, in the video below!)
Bumwi buzuba nkebala endike imangwalo
(One day, I was reading the Scriptures)
Ndakabala mapenzi mwaakainda Jobo
(I read about the problems Job went through)
Cakandikatazya taali mapenzi pele mbwiinguzi
(What surprised me the most were not his problems)
Kuti ino ukomana buti walo mumapenzi
(but the response that he would be happy with all the problems)
Jobo watuyiisya kuti basa noli mumapenzi
(Job has taught us even when in problems)
Inga wapaila, wapaila nguwe Jehova mutalabala
(You can pray, pray to Him, Jehova, the Everlasting)
Zina lyako limekwe, muzyiindi nendi lila
(Let Your name be honored in times of sorrow)
Njakukutembaula, muzyiindi nendi ciswa
(I will praise Your name, in times of sickness)
Ndiwe ntobo yangu, Leza uuvuna
(You are my Shield, a God who saves)
Nendi cipona, nkaambo ulandiyanda
(As long as I live, because You love me)
Mukuciswa, Jehova njakukuyeya
(In sickness, Jehova I will remember You)
Mukusunkwa, Jehova njakukutembaula
(In trials, Jehova, I will praise You)
Wandivuna kunji Jehova mutalabala
(You have rescued me in many ways, Jehova the everlasting)
Ndayoya muuya nseuli ulandipa
(I don’t buy breath but You provide for me)
Robin Crowell, MPAS,PA-C, is a MedSend physician assistant serving in Zambia.