JOURNEY TO CHITONDO AN ADVENTURE OF FAITH PART 1
The adventure began with this question, “Would you come and help us turn our tribe from witchcraft to Jesus?” I received this request from a pastor on behalf of a tribal chief, Chief Chitondo, of the Province of Luapula in Northern Zambia. On any given day I might receive many requests for ministry assistance; nevertheless, this definitely was one of the most intriguing. We have partnered with ministries in Zambia for many years. Heart for the World definitely has a heart for Zambia.
Zambia is a nation of lots of tribes and “chieftains.” These tribes are tight knit communities in the rural areas, quite isolated from general city life. Though they are under the government and flag of Zambia, the chief’s have great moral authority over the people. They generally serve in the position for life and the scepter is passed from one descendant to another. This tradition has gone on for thousands of years.
Recently, the responsibility of chief for the Chitondo tribe was passed on to a young man in his 20’s who is now called Chief Chitondo. As he assumed his new authority, Chief Chitondo was overwhelmed by the sickness and death plaguing his community through curses and witchcraft that has been practiced for generations. Chitondo actually went to the government to ask for help. They came and investigated the problems; however, he was told the government could not help. The government investigators said that he should contact a pastor.
Chief Chitondo contacted Pastor Humphrey Muzumara from the town of Kawambwa. As Pastor Humphrey spoke to this chief, he recognized the chief’s heart was open and hungry for God. Pastor Humphrey told the chief that the first step to helping his tribe was for him to open his heart and accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Chief Chitondo immediately said “yes” and, on his knees, accepted Christ. As he experienced the love and freedom of Christ, the chief’s heart was immediately overwhelmed. He asked if the Pastor could find someone to come help them turn their whole tribe to Jesus. The Pastor’s association reached out to Heart for the World to ask for our partnership in this, and, asked me if I would come and hold Jesus crusades.
As I prayed about this, I really felt like this was a “Macedonian call.” In Acts 16:9 Paul was traveling through Galatia. He had a vision in the night of a man from Macedonia standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After spending time in prayer with Sharon and our intercessors, I decided to do an exploratory trip with my Associate Pastor and his wife, Thomas and Val Bulger traveling with me. As we prepared to go, I felt the need to take a special gift to Chief Chitondo. One of our intercessors, Georgia Culbertson, makes these beautiful quilts filled with healing scriptures. God has used these quilts as a point of contact for the faith for healing to be released in several peoples lives. Georgia made one of these quilts for us to take to Chief Chitondo. We were prayed over and prepared to go on this great adventure!
In spite of our extensive preparation, our trip was still challenging in many ways. After a very long plane flight to Zambia, there is a 13+ hour drive back into the bush. About 8 hours into this, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, the left tire made a horrible noise and we grinded to a halt. It was not a flat tire, nothing that simple to fix. The front suspension broke from hitting the pot holes. The entire tire, rim, and rotor assembly fell off. We were stuck with no way to fix it.
But then, a most wonderful gentleman, Mr. Timbo, stopped to help. First, he assured us that all things are possible with God and nothing is impossible for Him. As he tried to help, he just kept affirming to us reasons to be joyful and praise the Lord. Although I have no way of confirming it, I can’t help but think he was possibly an angel in disguise! Others stopped and people from the bush began to appear offering food and encouragement. This “angelic” man ended up driving our driver, with part in hand, back to the nearest large city. They found a place to repair the joint, drove back to the car and fixed it. No doubt, this took the rest of this man’s day. While Mr. Timbo and our driver took care of the repairs, another amazing Good Samaritan drove Thomas, Val, and me ahead to stay the night at the next largest city. It was such a comfort to know that our trip was in fact covered with so many praying.
The next day on the way to Chitondo, we had the wonderful privilege of visiting in Kazembe at the home of Joseph and Maggie Chikumbi, who we’ve partnered with for many years. Joseph is the one who first contacted me about this and has also asked us to come to Kazembe to hold a crusade. Kazembe is about 50 miles from the Chitondo villages. Additionally, Maggie leads a school of over 400 students called the Good Samaritan School for Orphans. Heart for the World ministries, as well as Upland Academy, a Christian school in Oxnard, California, and HFTW church members Andy and Ellen Michnovicz, have partnered in investing in this amazing ministry for several years. Joseph and Maggie took us on a tour of the school where we were swarmed with children and were incredibly blessed to see all of the growth and improvements that have been made.
That afternoon we traveled with a group of pastors to Chitondo. Chitondo is actually a large remote area way out in the bush with 12 or so villages. It is extremely poor. We didn’t see any health facilities, stores, or anything like that. There is an elementary school; however, there aren’t any desks, books, or even chalk boards. They just tear out large pieces of butcher paper to teach the kids. We did visit the soccer field where the proposed crusade would be. We were once again flooded with hundreds of precious children and youth eager to know what we were doing. They even invited me to play soccer with them!
Finally, we arrived at Chief Chitondo’s “palace.” It was a very simple house with a small round porch area covered with a thatch roof covering. The chief and some of his colleagues were gathered there. We greeted him and presented the scripture quilt. I was immediately impressed with how humble and sincere he was. His two young children ran playfully among us. As we talked and discussed his proposal, it was so obvious that this was all for real. Chief Chitondo had truly converted to Jesus and it is his desire to see his people come to Jesus. There was no question in our hearts that this was confirmation from the Lord that we were to come back.
For the next few days we gathered with about 300 leaders in Kawambwa and Kazembe who were all eager to participate in these efforts. They cast the vision to us of planting 20 churches, seeing the grip of witchcraft broken, and seeing 10,000 people come to Christ. In our seminars we taught on “Revival.” We shared how God wants to not only bring souls to Christ, but also to revive churches all through the region, anointing and releasing the believers in evangelism and fire. The pastors and leaders eagerly responded with prayer for an impartation of revival and fire. All 300 volunteered to serve in some capacity in this effort. We have since heard that more than 600 in the area have gathered for nights of prayer and have been fasting for our upcoming trip!
Since we left to prepare, Chris and Heidi Kohn and their boys have returned to Zambia, completing their move back on the mission field. The Kohn family spent two months this summer attending Iris School of Missions, directed by Roland and Heidi Baker. The family was first in Mozambique, then transferred to South Africa to complete the school. They had amazing apostles and evangelist teaching them who have seen many miracles including raising dozens of people from the dead and planting of nearly 10,000 churches. The Kohn’s have returned to Ndola, Zambia to begin Orchard Ministries-a ministry focused on developing a school of ministry to train and equip pastors and children’s workers. Their goal is to train people to be missionaries and church planters not only in Zambia, but throughout Africa. It is such an honor that Chris and Heidi agreed that their first assignment would be to help as on the ground organizers and follow up contacts for this Heart for the World Mission.
As we have unpacked this gigantic vision and task, we have worked to seek God’s wisdom as to how to accomplish such an enormous task in area away from all cities, without services, and transportation. We have concluded that we would need to approach this in phases. Already, we have received word that other chieftains wanted to come and bring their people to this or a similar event. We were also invited to two additional venues for crusades. We decided the Lord wanted to focus on the first two venues for now, and to seek to establish the first 10 churches with this upcoming September effort. We are praying about possibly bringing a bigger team for a larger event in the summer of 2019.
It is with humble excitement that as I write this we prepare to leave next week on this grand adventure. As we’ve been preparing to go, we have sought to initiate a massive effort of corporate, global prayer, which includes even this blog. The vision is of a battering ram that would involve at least 1000 intercessors from all over the world to join the efforts of a thousand or more intercessors in Zambia, to bring down great walls of Hell, and to see the Kingdom of God obtain a mighty beach head for generations to come. Will you join us as prayer partners in this great adventure?