Journey to Zambia

Originally Published by RBC Ministries: http://ymiblogging.org/2009/06/journey-to-zambia/

By Chaz Oswald, Michigan

All the way my Savior leads me, what have I to ask beside . . .

January 2009—I was packing my bags in preparation (and giddy anticipation) for a month-long journey orchestrated by God. I was not sure what God was going to have me do, but I knew where He wanted me to be—Zambia.

I gave up all the comforts and luxuries of home—no blackberry, no laptop, no air-conditioning. I left my family and friends to enter a world so contrary to my selfish being. Yet I was constantly encouraged with a peace and understanding that the safest place to be is where God wants you to be.

Before it all began . . .
The weekend before I set sail to bring God’s Word to a spiritually dry land, I was under attack by the “enemy.” I learned that one is never more targeted by the devil than when the person is doing the will of God.

Within the course of three days, my uncle was in the hospital receiving back surgery, my cousin had gotten into a car accident, my grandmother was admitted into the hospital for suspected brain tumor, and my 98-year-old great grandmother passed away. Around every corner, the devil was setting up traps of discouragement and disappointment to catch me in my weakness. In tears I pleaded with God to relieve me of my pain, my misery, and my hurt.

God reminded me that He would never give me more than I can handle. Hence, like Peter who walked on water, I was determined to step out of the boat, hold fast to my Christian faith and keep my eyes fixated on my Savior, Jesus.

First steps in Zambia
My journey began with three exhausting days and two sleepless nights of travel to the bush of Zambia, Africa. It was there that reality set in—I had no means of communication to family and friends. I was terribly homesick.

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Lying on my face in prayer to my Father in Heaven, I looked to Him for comfort. God heard my prayer and answered me with sweet, refreshing peace. I was overwhelmed when I felt His holiness replenish my soul with a thirst quenching tidal wave of grace. This made me see that God was indeed working His grace in me, slowly but surely.

By this time, my heart was grieved with a spiritual burden to reach the destitute and disoriented surrounding me in this foreign terrain. I began by developing relationships with fellow Christians as we worked together on a dormitory building project at the Manna Campus Evangelical Bible College.

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The labor was physically straining. Each day we laid another brick and the building grew another tier higher. The nights were always welcoming. My aching muscles and tense joints voided me of much rest, leaving me more tired as each day went by.

In addition to the aforementioned fatigue, nourishment was sparse as we survived humbly yet habitually on stale bread and sour meats. I found myself consistently praying the missionary prayer, “Lord, I will put it down, you keep it down!” God through His grace and mercy, kept me healthy all the way without illness befalling me.

The beauty of God in Zambia
With the blessing of good health, I managed to take advantage of my evening time and explored Zambia. I observed the lands inhabitants and found Africa enormously attractive with its colors, tastes, smells, wildlife, nature, culture, and especially its people.

The Zambians are a friendly, humble, and beautiful people who long for interaction and communication. They are peaceful, patient, and unhurried but it is their contentment that struck me the most. Their satisfaction in poverty left me utterly grateful to God and His providence in my life. God opened my eyes to see my self-centeredness, my soiled heart condition to desire worldly yet meaningless possessions.

My heart was ignited with passion and laden for the Zambian people, so I traded in my evening adventures and began working at a nearby school where I taught Bible stories to children.

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Evidently, God was not only working in the lives around me but also in me. The Holy Spirit filled my mouth with His words and enabled me to teach the children. As a result, there were 61 children that were receptive to the Gospel, desiring and acknowledging Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It was an overwhelming and humbling occurrence which was entirely dictated and written by God.

Lessons learnt
I have since returned to my home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where life’s toils entangle, but my journey to Africa has been an experience of life altering proportions.

My longing is to serve God with every breath I have. I do so not just by attending church, meeting in fellowship with other men, and studying God’s Word daily. Furthermore, I want to follow Christ’s example by investing my time in the lives of people around me.

Each day I wake up with purpose and I intentionally live a life of servanthood. Now I no longer strive after worldly wealth but after my Father’s heart. My journey to Zambia was a journey of the soul.

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The Merits of Greed

The sin of greed has gotten a lot of attention lately. It is a timeless vice, even making an appearance on Pope Gregory I’s list of the Seven Deadly Sins back in 590 AD, but has most recently cropped up during the outcry over bonuses given to employees of companies who received taxpayer dollars. Excoriating AIG executives and employees for greediness became something of a universal pastime for members of Congress. Many have contended that unchecked greed was the sole cause for the current financial meltdown. Using the current economic context as an example and arguing that capitalism cannot survive the greediness of men, many liberals are pushing for a socialist model with more government expansion and control, ostensibly to curtail private sector excesses. Current circumstances would seem to be working in their favor – and they are not the types to let a good crisis go to waste.

But contrary to this assertion, greed is not a destroyer of capitalism. Excessive greed undermines capitalism (as it does all economic systems), but in reality capitalism is the economic structure best able to deal with the ever-present factor of human greed. Capitalism effectively harnesses greed, compelling individuals to strive harder by rewarding them proportionately to their efforts.

Socialism, on the other hand, cannot be sustained precisely because of greed. Under socialism there is little advantage to advancing oneself and a lack of motivation to work harder than the minimum requirement. If government is big enough to take care of all your wants and needs, why should you work hard or diligently? Why even work at all? This is a recipe for economic stagnation and eventual collapse. It is ironic that proponents invoke greed as grounds to pursue socialism, tantamount to advancing lung cancer as a reason to take up smoking. Socialism cannot survive with greed, capitalism cannot live without a bit of it.

Central to this viewpoint is the understanding that desires are not always a bad thing. Excessive greed is always bad, but the ingrained quest for personal gain is sometimes necessary. Desiring to earn good wages to support a family and prepare for the days ahead is certainly justifiable. Just as a healthy sexual desire is a benefit in marriage and a sense of self-interest is important to maintaining personal health, the desire to provide for the monetary needs of oneself and loved ones is a good thing. It is when sinful human hijack these God-given desires that problems develop, such as excessive greediness, selfishness and craving sex outside of marriage.

Since the desire for financial gain will always exist in the hearts of men, capitalism is the most sensible economic system.  Even as our leaders vilify the greed of this age, it is important to remember that greed will always be with us, and the desire to succeed is not a bad thing.  Taken out of proportion, such longing can be dangerous and destructive.  But in balance, such desires can be used in healthy and productive ways.  Our Founding Fathers understood this, and so established our economic system of capitalism.  Moving away from that system betrays an ignorance of basic human instinct, and does not bode well for the future prosperity of our nation.

Zak

GM Sells Bling-Bling Brand to Sichuan Tengzhong

Amidst filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, General Motors announced positive news regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger’s choice vehicle, the Hummer.

The all-terrain military tank-like HUMVEE was originally produced by AM General. However the Hummer brand was later purchased by General Motors who has since expanded the line up to include several specialized sport utility beasts and pickup trucks (M.C. Keegan).

For years, the Hummer has been an icon of status and style. Many of Hollywood’s elite celebrities have owned a Hummer including Paris Hilton, Mike Tyson, and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger (who at one point owned eight).

In contrast, some celebrities, including green-guru Al Gore and his “greenwashed” worshipers, have long since desired Hummer’s demise. Their green-cultic-dream nearly became reality, but General Motors announced a tentative agreement with the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company of China which would acquire the touted brand.

According to Fox News the “Sichuan Tengzhong deals in road construction, plastics, resins and other industrial products, but Hummer would be its first step into the consumer automotive business.”

The news report went on to say:

“Sichuan Tengzhong is planning to aggressively finance Hummer’s future product programs, according to GM.”

“I’m confident that Hummer will thrive globally under its new ownership. And for GM, this sale continues to accelerate the reinvention of GM into a leaner, more focused and more cost-competitive automaker,” Troy Clarke, president of GM North America, said in a statement.

The focus of General Motors, after the hopeful sale of Saab and Saturn along with the phase-out of Pontiac, will be on four profitable and tasteful ‘nameplates:’ Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac.

Expected by the third quarter’s end, General Motors and Sichuan Tengzhong hope to finalize the sale. The cost of the fashionable brand is unknown at this time, but I suspect it to be less than one of Barry O’s Air Force One joyrides.

While environmentalists fume that the Hummer line will be revived, economists see the benefits. The Chinese conglomerate has agreed to “secure more than 3,000 jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and at Hummer dealerships around the United States. Under the proposed deal, Hummer will continue to contract vehicle manufacturing and business services from GM during a defined transitional time period. Also, GM’s Shreveport Assembly plant would continue to contract and assemble the H3 and H3T through at least 2010.”

There is speculation that the Chinese Company, though not experienced in the automotive area, will rejuvenate the brand and possibly make it somewhat eco-friendly. Whatever the case, the Sichuan Tenghong purchase sheds a little hope in a fairly unknown and bleak economic future. And to all you high-rollers out there who may be a tad status hungry, there is no need to worry as your favorite bling-bling-all-terrain-brute will still be produced for your yearly automotive purchases.

-Chaz Oswald

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think people understand that this kind of pain and suffering fits Obama’s master plan.  It’s hard to convince them.  What president would want citizens to suffer?  Well, it’s been five months now, and we have employed every ‘fix’ Obama told us to, and it’s only gotten worse.”

Rush Limbaugh

An Interview with Corporal Sheryl Verhulst

Post 9/11, for a couple months, the United States was a country of love, a country of support, and a country of patriotism. Prayer vigils were being held, churches were inundated with new congregants, and our military was held in high-regard. It was not uncommon to see a man or woman in uniform being thanked for their service.

The tides have shifted and it breaks my heart – our military is being portrayed by liberals, actors, and the drive-by media as basically terrorists. Never do we hear the stories of soldiers saving lives. Never do we hear about their humanitarian efforts. Never do we hear how the United States military is making our world a cleaner, healthier, and safer place. Even more so, rarely do we hear the stories of soldiers who have returned home from active duty.

While the loony-toon-left continues to undermine our military, I thought it about time to recognize those who put themselves in harms way.

This week I spoke with a friend of mine, Corporal Sheryl Verhulst, who has since returned home from active duty. Sheryl is not only actively involved in our armed forces, but she is also involved with the College Republicans. She does her best to stay active regarding many conservative causes. Her life story is truly inspirational. 

The interview is as follows:

Sheryl, I just wanted to thank you for your service in the armed forces. You are the reason we here in the United States sleep safely each night.

First of all, can you explain why you joined the military?

Thanks Chaz, I would be happy to.

Joining the military is something I have always considered, especially with the encouragement of my father who has also served. My desire has always been to join a greater cause than myself. The military allows me to aid individuals who are suffering, build positive foreign relations, and ultimately protect our country. I also desired to aspire and challenge myself. Then in 2001, after the September 11th attacks, my consideration became a reality when I enlisted to fight for the freedom we as a country hold dear.

You have been in the armed forces for a couple of years, what military branch are you associated with?

I am a Marine. I joined this particular branch because I felt, personally, that it would challenge me the most, not just physically but mentally as well. While serving I not only made rank of Corporal but I also was a Fireteam leader and for a short time, as a fill-in position, I served as Squad Leader.

Of course you have been home for a couple of months, but where did you serve your first tour of duty?

For seven months I was stationed in the Horn of Africa in country called Djibouti. The base in Djibouti is strategically positioned as a port between the entrance of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean. Surrounding countries include Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The weather is extremely arid making it the world’s hottest climatic zone. Djibouti’s temperatures consistently exceed 110 degrees during the day and may only drop to around the high 80’s at night.

Wow! I cannot imagine wearing military gear in that sort of climate!

While you were stationed in Djibouti what type of military actions and tasks did you perform?

Bravo Company, which is the company I was in, performed many tasks. Our typical obligation revolved around the security of the base. Other priorities involved humanitarian efforts around the country along with building a strong relationship with the Djibouti citizens. For example, we had days where we would go to villages and hand out clean and bottled drinking water.

Many people think that our military is just out there in battle, but not many realize that it is more than a gun-battle of strength. It is also a battle of foreign relations between our country and say Djibouti.

How did the citizens react to the presence of the United States military?

They were very welcoming and happy that the United States does have a presence in their country. Not only because we were a source of protection, but because they understood that our service made their country a better place.

With the presence of our military, their economy improves because we do hire Djibouti citizens to do odds-and-ends around the base such as laundry, maintenance, and janitorial jobs.

On the flip-side, our enemies are not too happy with our presence in the region. For example, we have had security issues with some Somalians.  But overall, through our communication, protection, and aid that we offer to those in Djibouti we are warming them over to the United States.

That is absolutely wonderful to hear. The media presents such a terrible picture of our military, thus we obviously never hear how we are winning in many parts of the world and in this case Djibouti.

Now I am sure you have retained some good memories of your time abroad, but after experiencing that particular African culture what was it like returning home? I mean, did you feel different or have you somehow changed?

It was such an eye-opening experience for me. Especially being one of the few minority female marines. One thing that really made me emotional was the fact that women and children really have no rights. In fact, they are really considered second-class citizens.

Like I previously mentioned, some days we would go out and give clean drinking water to villages in which it is scarce to find. After handing a water bottle to a young child and seeing him gleefully run back to the house I witnessed a man come up to that child and smack him hard enough that he fell to the ground. The man proceeded to take that child’s water bottle in order to drink it himself.

From that experience, I learned how precious the rights that I have in the United States as a Korean-American woman really are.

Kind of along the same line, I have been taught how good we really have it in the United States. Many modern conveniences such as air-conditioning make ordinary life that much more enjoyable and comfortable.

I know exactly what you mean. I have had the privilege to experience many cultures around the world and it never ceases to amaze me at how blessed we as citizens are in the United States.

Well, you have completed your first tour of duty, what does the future hold?

Right now, I am finishing my last class at Grand Rapids Community College and will begin schooling at Grand Valley State University this coming fall. I am working toward a degree in Psychology and I hope to work with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs to ensure that our soldiers, whether in battle or returning home, receive everything that they need.

I am also in the lottery for another tour of duty which would begin shortly. I do not know any of the details but it looks as though I will be serving in Iraq. We will see what heads my way!

Thank you for all that you have shared, Sheryl! It is so nice to get a refreshing perspective from someone in uniform. Is there anything else you would like to communicate before I let you go?

Thanks for having me, Chaz. Yes, there are a couple brief things I would like to share. A life as a marine at times can be really tough – you not only put your life at risk in order to defend your country, but friends who are a part of your company may die for protecting liberty. I just want to ask everyone to support their military and most of all pray for them. We are often in harms way and it is only through God’s grace and protection that we live to see another day.

Chaz Oswald