As Faith and I went around and met the women in the dorm room (read about that here), I shared with them why I wanted to capture their stories on tape. I shared with them that while we in America have much to give, they too have something they can give. It may not always seem like it – to them, or even to us. We come bringing a wealth of resources, financially, educationally, etc. If we aren’t careful, we come with subtle condescension feeling so good about how we are going to help them…because we have so much to offer them. We do have a lot to offer them. Praise Jesus for that!
The thing is though, part of what we have to offer them is the opportunity to give to us. Part of what we can give them is the realization that they are rich in things which need, things like long-suffering, contentedness in all things, hope, faith, peace, patience, joy in the midst of trials, etc. They are rich in these things because they have overcome trials that we cannot even fathom. They have endured in ways that have strengthened their faith. They know what matters in life, because all else has been taken away and only that remains. It is their very poverty which makes them rich, because it takes away all pretense and brings them before the Lord in a way we all ought to come before him, stripped bare and desperate.
It is a richness that they don’t even recognize. I know this because as we went around and told them that they had something they could give to the Americans, they were obviously confused as to what that could possibly be. I’m afraid this is partly our fault (Americans in general throughout the years, not pointing fingers to anyone in specific), for coming in with a savior complex, thinking we could help save them, rather than coming in with the attitude that we are all part of one body.
The body image changes things. When I sprain my ankle I don’t think, “Wow, I’m going to go to my ankle and offer it what I have and make it better and save it.” I don’t feel good about myself because my ankle needs me. My ankle is me. And when it hurts, I hurt. When it is healed, I’m healed and I rejoice. I need my ankle healthy because I need it, not because it needs me, although that is true too. These fellow Christians in Zimbabwe are part of our body, not just some cause we help. We need each other.
As I told these precious women how much they had to offer us, and the truth of that began to sink in, their heads rose and their shoulders squared. We all need to feel that we have something to give.
Then, this one beautiful, older woman, Florence, who has suffered greatly (I do so hope to share her testimony via video with you soon), said with a steely conviction in her voice, “Yes, we are champions.”
We are champions. That phrase has been ringing in my ears ever since. She’s right. They are champions. They are champions because they have been “more than overcomers.” And as Beth Moore once pointed out, you cannot overcome unless you undergo. They have undergone more than I can fathom…and they have overcome. They are champions.
The very things which the mere thought of makes us tremble in fear, things like unemployment, poverty, starvation, loss of loved ones, AIDS, persecution, etc., these are things they face in reality on a daily basis. And you know what you’ll hear from every single one of them when you hear their stories? I thank God because… They thank God because they are champions, because by His grace they have overcome.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.