Beyond Tourism

Victoria Falls is, of course, known for hosting the seventh wonder of the world. No one can deny the falls are beautiful, touristic and picturesque. This place holds special memories for millions of tourists. However, veer off the beaten track, and you’ll find that the real blessing in Victoria Falls is the people you meet and the character they show.

After a morning of e-mailing home and walking with the baboons and the warthogs down the main strip (really), we ventured out to meet Brother Shuma, the preacher who works in Victoria Falls.

I’ve found it to be true that in Zimbabwe and in parts of South Africa, the church is willing, but the funds are weak. Brother Shuma and his wife took our group out to a “stand,” or a piece of property, where the Victoria Falls Church wants to build a building.

Several men met us there, travelling on foot or by bike. The church already bought the property and built a well and a sewage system.  As of now, they are meeting in a makeshift shack on Sunday morning and in homes on Wednesday night.

Brother Shuma himself makes the bricks for the building and stores them in his small courtyard. However, money is not available to purchase the materials needed to build. When I saw this problem replicated throughout Zimbabwe, I wrestled with the reverse scenario in my own life at home in the states.  Are the funds strong, but the church unwilling to work?

After meeting with the brethren there, we drove out into the bush to meet with the Sidobe tribe. The Sidobes live off the land in communal family huts. We began travelling on a paved road, then to a gravel road, then to a sand road, and then to no road at all. We finally arrived at the opening where we could see the huts and people gathering.

We met in the community kitchen mud hut. Men sat on one side, women on the other side. I sat beside Faith Vimba, who graciously translated all that her husband, Bruce, said in Ndebele, their native language. Bruce told them we travelled from America to bring the good news to them. Hayley, Faith and I took the children outside for a Bible lesson as Shak presented a message to the adults.

I would like to say that, since I am a professional communicator, that the children and I understood one another perfectly. However, I found myself very nearly lost as I tried to convey to them songs like “Father Abraham” and “Who is King of the Jungle.” Again, Faith truly saved the day with translation.

I was astonished at their Bible knowledge as we quizzed the kids at the end of the lesson. How is it that they have next to nothing and yet know countless facts about the most important book of all time? It was clear to me that these Christians know the value in the gospel. Again, I was encouraged, challenged and blessed beyond belief by our time with the Sidobe tribe.

I will never forget my first experience in Victoria Falls. Not only did I experience one of the most beautiful places in the world, but I was also challenged to be the hands and feet of Jesus with all that I am and have, just like the church in this wonderful city.