“They don’t want to teach you about the God of the Bible. They just want to harvest your organs and use them for witchcraft.”
When you’re holding an evangelistic series in a westernized country, members of another religious group spreading rumors that you’re actually on an organ-harvesting heist isn’t usually high on the list of things a pastor worries about.
But in Zambia, it’s a thing.
There are over a million Seventh-day Adventist Christians in Zambia. However, most of the Adventist population is concentrated in the cities.
In fact, there are many villages in the more remote regions where people don’t know Jesus at all, the lifestyle is primitive, and witchcraft is commonplace.
No one would want to risk losing their kidneys to the black market…
In an effort to reach these people with the good news of the gospel, Light Bearers regularly sends Bible study guides and other gospel literature to Riverside Farm Institute, located in the southern province of Zambia. Riverside runs a program where they train Bible workers and send them out to the remote areas to work in the villages and hold evangelistic meetings. They pass out Bible study guides and give the Zambians what is often their very first Bible.
In one such area, near the border of Congo, all Adventist evangelistic efforts have been blocked for the last 70 years. When a Bible worker finally received permission from the local village headman (the leader or governor of the village) to hold the first series of meetings in the area, things were looking up. However, the headman’s secretary alerted leaders from another church in the area about the meetings, and soon the organ harvesting rumors began to fly. No one would want to risk losing their kidneys to the black market, right? Things began to look especially bleak when the pastor who was supposed to preach for the series got scared and backed out.
The team at Riverside, though, was undaunted. They decided to still hold a series and let the villagers decide for themselves what they thought of the content. The team brought with them Bible study guides and Bibles, as well as copies of The Great Controversy and The Desire of Ages.
At the end of the series, not only was the reputation of the team from Riverside cleared, but 67 of the people who attended accepted Jesus. Among them was a local who came from the same group who spread the rumors. In fact, he went to Riverside Farm to train as a Bible worker, and now he is back in his village, sharing the good news of salvation by grace through faith.
After the meetings, Riverside followed up by sending another team to build a one-day church, baptize people, and dedicate the company. They also sent more literature later. The church there is now thriving.
…suddenly, things that felt impossible before, become a bit more possible by God’s grace.
Today, it’s estimated that there are 2 billion people in the world who have had virtually no exposure to Christianity.
Sharing the gospel with that many people feels impossible. Infinitely more impossible than trying to convince a small village that you don’t want to harvest their kidneys.
With a number that large, it’s easy to see why Ellen White writes in her book Testimonies for the Church, “Unvarnished truth must be spoken in leaflets and pamphlets, and these must be scattered like the leaves of autumn” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 230).
Literature has a unique power in that, unlike people, it can be copied tens of thousands of times and passed around. It can, literally, slip into places people can’t always fit. It can stay long after a person has left.
A broke college student who is finishing his education can, for the price of a couple of ramen packets, place Bible study guides in a Zambian’s hands for the first time.
A mom of four with a part-time job might not be able to go preach an evangelistic series, but with the change in the center console of her car, she could take a mother on the other side of the world through the plan of salvation.
With the power of the printed word, suddenly, things that felt impossible before, become a bit more possible by God’s grace.
If you’d like to help spread the light in Zambia and around the world, consider partnering with us. We print gospel tracts by the millions, for as little as five cents per tract. They get packed into containers and then shipped off to eager hands and hearts. We’d love to have you as part of our team!
Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.