“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Psalm 34.11
Zambia is a vast country in mid-Africa, northern neighbor to Zimbabwe with an equally long colonial history. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia (ELCZa), however, is young and the most recent companion synod of the Upstate NY Synod in ministry.
Although very small in size, the ELCZa has its roots in issues of justice and mercy. With only 13 ordained clergy, the ELCZa works diligently to bring safety, health, and the Good News of Jesus Christ to the poorest of Zambia’s poor. In a country stricken by AIDS and malaria, and oppressed with very high unemployment, the ELCZa works to build itself while reaching out to neighbors and communities.
Led by Pr. Alfred Chana, the Senior Pastor, the ELCZa has congregations spread across the country. As a new organization, the ELCZa needs to work at learning and teaching while also serving others. At its Hope for the Heart Outreach Center (HHOC) in Lusaka, the church provides a safe and enriching environment along with two nutritious meals a day to 25 children who are orphaned or vulnerable. A trained teacher is assisted by one aide. The adults (parents and guardians of the children) plant and care for a garden to provide fresh vegetables for the children.
A micro-credit program was one creative project aimed at breaking the cycle of unemployment and poverty. Entrepreneurs were loaned $50 each to begin small business ventures. In another project, land has been acquired to begin an experiment in growing rice as a small business to help support the ministries of the church.
In 2010, Bishop Marie Jerge of the Upstate NY Synod (accompanied by a delegation including Pr. Gail Wolling of Luther Memorial) made the first official visit from Upstate NY to the ELCZa. Bishop Jerge installed Pr. Chana as the Senior Pastor of the ELCZa and a gift of a stole was presented.
The delegation visited a rural parish (8 walked miles off the main road) where the local congregation is making its own bricks in order to build a larger worship center. Time spent with the children of the Lusaka HHOC included songs for the visitors and dancing and laughing. Pr. Wolling is beginning work to support the development of a similar HHOC in Kitwe parish in 2012-13. The ELCZa is currently working to identify an individual to begin training as a teacher.