17 Zambia team members went out over the Atlantic Ocean on their way to Zambia (with a stop in London). They played soccer matches and held clinics and taught leadership for the Ndola Youth Soccer Academy as they used sports to help bring change in a community. They led Bible studies, shared their faith together with Zambian friends, and even taught lessons in a school as they seeked to raise up a new generation of Christ-following leaders in Africa…they participated in worship and dance. Five of those members were on the men's soccer team. Here are some of their reflections from the trip.
Jordan Wilson-Senior from Mississagua, Ontario
"I look at the people of Zambia and I am delighted and reminded that God doesn't forget any of his children. He handpicked all of us and gives grace to us daily in different ways. It wasn't a transition for me to come home solely because I was humbled by the people of Zambia. Their lives were a testament of God's unfailing grace. No complaints, no grumbles or moans, just the thirst for a God who would never leave these people. It made me vow to myself and God to make something positive out of my life and give it back to his people. For my life is not for me to acquire success and live selfishly. I was created to help those that need a hand. To love those that don't feel loved. To care for those who haven't experienced a tender touch. This is my job. I was not created to seclude myself or to live in a bubble of abundance or strive to make money and live comfortably. I was created for more and the people of Zambia helped me realize the importance of my future. It doesn't matter where I live, or what I do, God calls me to connect with others globally and locally. For this clarity, I owe the Zambian people my heart. I owe them my time. I owe them my successes. For this experience mapped out the rest of my experiences. No matter what I do, I understand that my purpose is to better the kingdom through love.
The people of Zambia taught me many things in such a short period of time. One of the most uncomplicated reminders would have to be the peace and joy that is shared with a smile. Whether children are hungry or a man is on his death bed, their smiles are a direct imprint on my heart. The people of Zambia also taught me to be an advocate of Christ. I was the quiet, reserved Christian before Zambia. I would pray behind closed doors and I would read my bible when no one was looking. I was shown that God's grace and mercy should be acknowledged at any time in the day. When I wake up, when I receive a direct blessing from Christ or even when I am hurting, I can be vocal about my God. I am not furthering the kingdom of God with a quiet mouth. I further the kingdom of God by being an active follower of Christ. Their thirst for God, their love for strangers who they treat like family and their smiles will walk with me every day for the rest of my life. I accept that I will never live the normal "American dream". Because my heart has been pulled, tugged and broken for people who are waiting for a miracle. "
Zac Tolsma- played at CU from 2008-2011
"Greetings to everyone back home in the States! Ian asked me (Zac Tolsma) if I would be willing to share a few thoughts with you all about our time in Zambia. Today we were able to sit in and experience a Zambian church service and it was one of the most touching experiences I have ever witnessed. The people had so much sincerity in the way they worshiped. Zambians can dance and sing like nothing I have ever seen before. Their voices are so beautiful, loud, and full of passion. You can see the fire they have for Christ in each and every person's eyes.
The pastor at the Church wanted a couple of us to give a message. I am not a great public speaker and sometimes get nervous in front of big crowds so we decided that Ian and Kyle would give a message and I would close in prayer. Ian and Kyle both gave very inspiring messages and when they were done I was signaled up to pray. As I got out of my seat I felt like God was calling me to give the Church my story and I asked if I had enough time to share it with the congregation instead of just praying and he said of course! This was the first time I have really given my life story in public but I knew now was the time to do it. I talked about how good and bad things will happen in all of our lives. We may get angry, we may get sad and we may be confused on why God let these things happen but one thing we all know is that it is a part of God's plan and no matter how good or bad things get in our lives, we need to lift them up to God and realize that the here and now is just temporary. The pains, hunger, thirst, poverty and disease are short term compared to the everlasting life we can spend with our loved ones and Christ in heaven. Praise God for that. After I was finished I was told by many people that they were very touched by my story and that made it all worth it.
I thought that I was coming to Africa to try to help the people and share God's love but little did I know that they would actually be the one's helping me and touching my heart. It's amazing how God works like that. I have learned so much already from these people and they have strengthened my relationship with God. It's hard because I just want to help out everyone who is in need but I know that is not possible and I know that I am doing more help by showing them God's love instead of just giving them possessions to make life easier. I can see how Chip has such a passion for the people of Zambia because I am already in love with them after only a few days of being with them. These people have nothing yet they have so much faith and hope in God. No matter how many differences we may have or how far apart we may be, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and are here on earth as God's hands and feet to do his work and bring glory to the kingdom. This whole experience is pretty overwhelming to soak in and put in words but please continue to pray for us and the people of Zambia!"
Brice Snellink-Senior from Belmont, MI
"So, this was officially the first time that while teaching a bible study I happened to learn more than I had taught. I had the privilege of sharing the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. I was relating the tough times in Joseph's life with the hard times that the Zambian people go through on a daily basis and how to keep a strong faith through these times. Joseph was traded by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused of a crime, and thrown into jail and yet he still put his full trust in the Lord. The Lord honored this and Joseph, through a long journey, became the ruler over all of Egypt. Through teaching this story, I found that the stories I heard from the Zambians were too closely related. The tragedy that the Zambian people face on a daily basis and the perseverance that they have through the strength of Christ is inspiring. We are so blessed to have these interactions and teach our brothers and sisters in Christ while learning so much more from them."
Kyle Breckan-senior from Tower Lakes, IL
"Hello friends and family of the CU Zambia team! If I had to describe each day of this trip with one word, I would choose transformative. Each day God shows his presence in our lives with what we experience in the Zambian community. The Jubilee staff has done an amazing job of helping us acclimate to and understand the Zambian culture in order to make this experience the best one possible.
Today, one of the transforming events that we experienced was the chance to give the Caregiver Kits, that we raised money to purchase, to the caregivers from the Jubilee Center. After we gave the kits to the caregivers we were then split up into five groups mixed with other caregivers and went out into the surrounding villages and visited the people in need in their own homes.
The group that I went out into the village with included Ian, Zac and three other caregivers. We visited a family whose breadwinner has been bed ridden now for a little over a year on top of that lost his eyesight three months ago. His wife left his family, leaving only his own mother and sister to care for his eight children.
We each personally had the opportunity to pray for the family as well as the opportunity to wash some of their clothes for them trying to do whatever possible for us to lend a helping hand.
No matter how much I want to express in words how eye opening and life changing this experience was for each of us, I am not able to put into words just how much it did. I believe that God has hand picked each one of us on this trip putting us together in order to change our own lives, provide encouragement to the Zambian people and to share with all of you how transformative this trip has been and will continue to be. Thank you for reading what I have had to share about today and I ask that you continue to pray for each one of us as we finish our time in Zambia!"
Ian Grotenhuis-played for CU 2007-2010
"With all the busy moments we've had we have been tired at the end of the day, but there still has been time for reflection. Even in the moments where I have done nothing but think, I am still in a moment where I can learn something. Some of my most memorable moments were the times I spent pondering the things I saw in God's presence. Sometimes just sitting in reflection before the Lord is more than just necessary; it's what He wants from us. I love the story of Elijah in the Old Testament where he sits and waits for God's presence. Many great and powerful things blow by him, but God wasn't in those. Rather God spoke to Elijah in a gentle breeze, and it's those moments that can be most important.
Our last day was spent in the bush with different families. We got the chance to experience what a day in their life is like and how going through all of the daily chores and procedures of preparing a meal affects the way they live. The experience was something we all will cherish forever. Everyone got the chance to do a little bit of everything from chopping wood for a fire, to carrying water from a borehole well, to preparing Shima (Zambian Dish). The family then opened their houses to us to eat the meal and dine with them. It truly was a humbling experience to see these people that most American's would consider beyond poor, opening their homes to us and giving us their best. It was in that moment that I realized how blessed we are to be part of God's Kingdom. Everyday I can wake up and know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ serving God's purpose in Zambia, and their passion has instilled a fire in us to do the same here in the U.S. I pray (and please pray with me) that those who have given to this trip, those who have gone on it, and those who have been impacted by it will be able to give God the glory for the blessings that have happened and that will happen because of this trip. It truly was a team effort that we could not have completed without everyone involved, from those who went on to every single donation we received; God has blessed us. Thank you all for your support and may the message of the gospel continue to be delivered and lived out everyday of our lives until He returns. Amen."