Zimbabwe Mission Trip

It is so good to be back on this side of the Atlantic! I have so much to say, and so much to tell, so you will have to bear with me on this entry. At first attempt, I began to write this entry like an article, but that format was entirely too formal. The best that I can do is recount the many testimonies I shared during this past mission to Zimbabwe. So here we go.

As you know, I am a member of the Oakwood College based, youth run group, NAPS, which stands for the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation. I believe that I was directly led by God to Oakwood College so that I could join this group and so that my outlook on life and my life’s mission could be completely changed. Now don’t get me wrong; I was not raised to do this kind of work, nor did I have any inherent desire to do mission work when I came to Oakwood. I went to Oakwood simply because 1) I liked science 2) I was good at science [lol, at least high school science] 3) Oakwood had a great Biology department 4) my high school sweetheart was going to Oakwood and I didn’t want to break up with her. So clearly, my priorities were not set on mission work. NAPS hooked me in during my freshman year when I “accidentally” tagged along with them to one of the lower income neighborhoods around Huntsville, AL. The NAPS people taught the kids songs about Jesus, Bible texts, encouraged them to help others and to be kind to their parents, and to stay away from drugs, sex (before marriage), and alcohol. After the program they prayed with the kids and each person had to hug 5 other people. When I hugged my first kid (a little boy), my heart melted right there. I could feel the boy’s breath leave him; you could tell that he had never been hugged before, especially by another guy. The little boy clung to me for a little while longer, not wanting to let go. It was this experience that hooked me, and it taught me a very important lesson which I’ve seen played out in my many succeeding missions. Love goes further than any type of service.

So since my first experience with NAPS, I have been a faithful volunteer with them every since. This mission to Zimbabwe, during the planning period was very challenging. Zimbabwe is in a very precarious political situation, and many of the leaders didn’t like the thought of 40 Americans coming into their country to “cause trouble”. Fortunately, we weren’t there for political reasons but humanitarian/evangelical reasons. This stopped the Zimbabwean government ban on our trip and it allowed the mission to go forward.

When someone tells you that they went on a mission trip, especially a medical mission, what do you think about? You probably think about a rugged but compassionate doctor, wading through the jungles, with a scalpel and a stethoscope, healing the sick where ever they could be found and performing surgeries with sharp bamboo and a bottle of Listerine. This would be pretty cool, but what you find when you actually get out on the mission field, especially when your primary goal was medical, is that your long-lasting impact is severely diminished. I’m not trying to bash organizations like Doctors Without Borders and such, but what you find is that you set up camp in a rural area, pass out all of your meds to the sick that are there, and then you leave. But people still need meds, especially because many of them have chronic diseases that require constant medication. So you helped for a spell, but they still need you and you aren’t there. You then have those who go and perform surgeries overseas on medical missions. But think hard…where will you most likely be performing those surgeries? In the hospital overseas right? Who needs the most help? The people in the rural areas who live a 4 days walk away from the hospital which is in the city. So once again, the impact is diminished, and it is the already more wealthy city folk who benefit from your services.

Or how about this? You go overseas with the intent to pass out clothes and shoes to the orphans and the poor. You know that the city people already have clothes, so you go into the rural areas. Yet you still see many kids with clothes on (maybe not shoes) but definitely t-shirts and shorts. And oddly enough, many of the kids managed to get a hold of t-shirts with the rapper 50 Cents on it. Lol, he truly is everywhere. Or how about this; you go on a mission with the intent to feed hungry children, but when you leave they are still hungry; their water well is still dry and they have no food to feed their livestock.

Its quite easy to get disillusioned, and to feel like you can never make a difference, especially in some of the poorer countries of Africa. But what I’m trying to get across here is that when you go on a mission trip many of the material things that you may do or leave (and they are actually good things that you are doing) won’t last very long. What I’m trying to get across is the principle that I first learned on my NAPS mission. Love trumps everything. Love is the one thing that you can leave with the people that you help that will last forever. And with NAPS, love goes hand in hand with the gospel of Christ. We can’t separate them, and we have had so much success because of their combination. I don’t want to preach a sermon here, but I just want to stress that few things last forever on this earth, but love does. As you conduct your mission work, do it in love and you will have great success.

So yeah, my camp was stationed at a secondary school in the rural surrounding area Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe. The school was called the Nemane SDA Mission and it was actually an Adventist secondary school founded many years ago.

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Much to our surprise, although the school was Adventist, 95% of the students that attended were not Adventist. It was our intent to hold evangelistic meetings there to point people to Christ. The Lord truly blessed us and we were basically given the school for 3 weeks. We held 2 evangelistic meetings in the morning and 1 at night. We also taught their normal subject classes during the day in place of their teachers. The following picture is of me teaching the Form 6 class about the heart and its circulation: dsc01876fr2.jpg

The kids were so amazingly bright. They understood in 45 minutes what it took me 2 days of studying to grasp. Another important lesson was taught here. Many times as Americans, we feel like we must come to poorer countries like Africa to “help” the people and guide them because we are superior and inherently smarter. What you will find however is that if given the opportunity and equal education, they would certainly surpass us. I think this is evident from the large number of foreign students who come to America and become the top of class in our Universities. I learned to be careful of my attitude as I helped and taught them. You ARE there to help, but you are not innately superior; just slightly more blessed.

Anyway, we weren’t allowed to feed as many hungry kids as we normally do on missions because the Zimbabwean government did not want to make it seem like their people were starving (although many were). Rather than break the law, we went around it by volunteering to take over the cafeteria at the school for 3 weeks and provide the food. Although it is temporary, there is nothing better than to see a hungry kid become full and satisfied. Many of the kids at the school lived far away; some walked over 13 miles and had to leave their house around 4:30 a.m. in order to reach their school on time. So they certainly appreciated the mealed, and our hearts were truly warmed during the lunch times.

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Once again, the biggest lesson I learned was that love and relationships are everlasting. Even when doing evangelism on your missions; if you don’t form a relationship with the people, their acceptance of Christ will only be temporary. It takes relationships to make things stick, and I praise the Lord for allowing me to form some strong ones on this mission. The following picture is of me and a student named Dumolowenkosi Dube (which means Zebra). He was baptized on this mission, and I can humbly say that my relationship with him had a role to play in his decision:
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There are so many more testimonies about the mission. Many lives were changed, and around 420 people gave their lives to Christ! Many people were fed and many hearts were warmed. There are many forms of “mission work”, but I encourage all who undertake it to do work that will last and that will leave an everlasting impression.

One thing I can certainly praise the Lord for is that He has blessed me with a fiancee that is truly made for mission work. When she walks into room, kids practically run to her, which is great for the mission. Isn’t she amazing?:
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Lol, you can tell that I’m excited about getting married huh?
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Anyway, that was my mission and I will now turn to a different leg of life. As you all know, I graduated from Oakwood college right before I left for the mission to Zimbabwe:
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So that chapter of my life is done. It truly went by too quickly. Even the events that I thought I would never pass, like the MCAT, or summer research, they all seem like a blur. Enjoy college my friends, because it truly goes by quickly, and then life really speeds along after that.

I am currently home doing what future grooms normally do right before the wedding…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, and I love it. Honestly though, I am doing alot of planning for the life “after marriage” like budgeting, etc. etc. The Lord has blessed us with an apartment within walking distance of Loma Linda for $875/month, which is like unheard of, so we are pretty happy. The wedding is on July 8, after which we will be on the honeymoon till July 22 (yeah babbyy 🙂 ). Then we will fly out to LLU on July 23rd to get ready for school. Orientation at LLU is on August 2nd and 3rd; the whitecoat ceremony is on August 3rd so I am pretty excited about that. Of course, I had a trillion packets waiting for me from LLU when I got back from Zimbabwe, but I’ve read most of the material and everything seems pretty straight forward. They want us to do a background check online, but it costs like $75, so I’ll hold off on that until I get some wedding money.

There is alot going on, and I hope to post more a little later, but for now, I hope you are caught up on my life and staying caught up in yours also. Peace!

10 Responses to Zimbabwe Mission Trip

  1. Lakaii says:

    Great hearing from you again, DoctaJay! Your mission work is inspiring. I hope to do some myself in the future. Glad to hear things are going well.

  2. Jason says:

    Hey DoctaJay, Welcome Back.

    I think it is great what you and your fiance participated in Mission Work. You must be feel proud that you made a difference in someones life.

    Congratulations on graduating and Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

    Goodluck in Medical School.

  3. Tolu says:

    hey Jay, I love your new page it’s the color of my country flag Nigeria. You have really inspired me to blog so I will probably start soon. Hope u continue to blog in Loma Linda.

  4. Carlos says:

    Hello DoctaJay,
    I just wanted to let you know that I am truly encouraged by your zeal for the Lord. It is so encouraging that there are still men doing great things for the Lord. I am a hispanic from Honduras. I have been doing medical mission work in the Honduras and many other countries in Central America and the Carribean since 1992. I too, am trying to finish my bachelors degree(2 years left) and apply to med school. I would like to be a missionary doctor and help those who can’t help themselves. I know that you and your wife will do great things with the education you recieve. I encourage you to not allow the foolishness that Satan and this world puts in front of you to ever question or waiver your belief of our Lord Jesus. I would like to wish you and your fiance the best in your new life together!! May the Lord bless you both and help you to have MANY wonderful years together with many wonderful memories and experiences!! God bless you both!!! Proverbs 16:3

    In Christ,
    Carlos

    Please feel free to email me if you ever have the chance!!
    Carlos5272@hotmail.com

  5. Kit says:

    I’m sponsering a child at Nemane primary, I think that’s the name. Is this the same school I wonder?
    Dumisani’s birthday was in July, a month after your post here.
    He was 13 or 14 then, and very very smart!
    If you have any idea – it would be nice to hear something back.
    I have a picture of my child on my blog as well 🙂

  6. DoctaJay says:

    Hey Kit. I think Nemane primary was right beside where I was, which was the highschool area. I dont remember anyone name Dumisani but its wonderful to hear that you are sponsoring a kid there. The kids there are all very sharp…puts me to shame 🙂

  7. Nomathemba says:

    Hey Dr Jay
    i was so touched Nemane SDA Secondary School is my School i attended there for 4yrs. it is my home and am so Happy to find this on intnet wow.

    May the good Lord Bless you hope you doing this for the whole world

  8. Sithabile Mhlanga says:

    Hie Doctorjay, i am so greatful to hear that you enjoyed the stay at Nemane Adventist High School. It was so greatful you guys to have you there we so blessed as a community, God was all around that area everyone was so happy by your visit in that area i will never forget what you guys did for us and our kids feed them was a great privilege ever. If u still remember, i was the cook there for guys with the help of Pholisani Fuyana thank u so much again we were sooo blessed may the good Lord bless u and hope one day you will remember us again greetings to your family and friends

  9. mqondisi dube says:

    it was an awesome time when we had u guys i hope the blaze is still alite…

  10. Mazinyane says:

    Great to read about the work of God I was born in the area and may the Good Lord bless you Dr and equip you to domore not only for Nemane but other places too.

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