My mom wrote this article for her church bulletin. She has given me permission to post it here. I only deleted the names of the people mentioned.
[The medical mission director] once told me, “More people in Africa are converted to Jesus through song than through preaching.” I learned of this truth on our way home from Similundu, a village about six hours out in the bush in Zambia.
The last day at Similundu had been hard on everyone—half of the American workers were sick with dehydration problems, and we had been experiencing rough, cold nights on the hard ground. We had seen about six thousand people in three days with at least a thousand people still waiting when we closed the clinic the last day to go back to Namwianga Mission. We were all exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I was tired and half-sick, and I knew that the ride home would prove of no comfort since our mode of transportation was the back of an old, flat topped ambulance; eight of us, sitting on narrow benches (all Zambian nurses and me) had to crunch over so that our heads wouldn’t hit the top of the ambulance; the door of the ambulance constantly swung open, and the gas fumes swept in through the opened back door; we put the windows down to get some air, but the dust poured in with the air. We were weary from three long days of tending to sick people and telling of Jesus.
I was grumbly, impatient, and was quick to ask the Zambian nurse,“May I please put my head in your lap.” She readily said, “OK,” and I lay my head in her lap. About that time the ambulance driver hit a pot hole, and I bounced off [the Zambian nurse's] lap into the floor of the ambulance. I thought, “Coming to Africa was a dumb idea. This whole thing is awful!”
The Zambian nurses (as if cued from heaven) started singing to me, “Yebo Jesu, Yebo Jesu, Nduwe Mufutuli wnagu” (You, Jesus, You are my Savior.) Kakandiyanda ndembi (You loved men when I was a sinner)Watufwida toone (You died for all of us) Nduwe wakandilungila (You are the one who paid) Umulanda woonse (For my sinful behavior) Bululmai nsibujisi (I don’t even have righteousness) Abusweyi boone (I am not even hospitable) Swena Jesu undisinizye (Come near Jesus and wash me) Sanzya moyo woonse (Clean all the parts of my heart)”
I thought about beaten Paul and Silas singing at midnight in the jail and how the jailer listened and was converted. My heart turned back to Jesus with thankfulness, and my complaining stopped.
But oh how my heart melted when later that night I learned that even though I had slept warm in the cold weather in my sleeping bag and comfortable on the hard ground on my air mattress, the Zambian nurses, who had comforted me with songs about Jesus, had slept cold without a sleeping bag and without an air mattress to cushion the hard ground. They had sung to me about wonderful Jesus even though their sleeping conditions had been ten times worse than mine had been.
Singing Jesus praises can convert and remind people of security and safety in Jesus. “Yebo Jesu, Yebo Jesu”(You Jesus, You Jesus, You are my Savior!)
My mom spends most of the summer in Africa these days doing everything from prison ministry to working with refugees to being a dental assistant at the medical mission. I hope that she has many more years of service in this way. I am proud of you, Mom.