I recently came back from an assignment in Zambia. It was very special to me. This was my first overseas assignment since the COVID-19 pandemic halted opportunities to travel abroad.
Having primarily taken photos in Asia and Europe, Africa is an exotic land for me. I was able to capture images that I believe show the reality of life in these remote African areas: dirt roads, children playing with sticks and rocks, etc.
One night our International Mission Board missionaries went out to a village to show a movie about Jesus. As they were setting up and waiting for it to get dark, I moved around to shoot photos and noticed several children coming back home from a far-off well. They were carrying buckets of water on their heads. With a beautiful sunset sky in the background, I intended to shoot them as a silhouette. However, while editing the photos I played around pushing the shadows to their limit. It is amazing how much detail you can get with modern cameras.
An up-close look
The shots revealed much more detail than I expected. Capturing and processing these photos showing the children’s hardened bare feet and sweat rolling down their soft cheeks from carrying heavy buckets of water on their heads brought pain to this grandpa’s heart. I couldn’t help but think of my grandchildren back home playing with [name brand] dolls, electronic gadgets and running around in fancy shoes.
When asked about the effect of COVID-19 on the village, the missionary said, “Yes, there’s COVID, but there’s a greater problem people face here daily.” Immediate physical needs from hunger, malnutrition and other diseases eclipse the effects of COVID. The people in this village still lack clean running water, electricity, sanitation and other basic needs we often take for granted.
Even as I was setting up for the showing of the “JESUS” film, many children gathered with excitement. When it got darker the community seemed to be out for the show of the century.
For two hours all eyes were fixed on the screen. According to our missionary, in some remote villages people may walk up to seven hours just to watch the Jesus Film.
Hearing the gospel for the first time
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live. When you hear the gospel, whether for the first time or for the hundredth time, you must make a personal decision to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, or not. Because you give, people in Zambia are hearing the gospel and making eternal decisions.
Your giving allows our missionaries to continue to share the gospel around the world, and giving to Send Relief meets human needs.
EDITOR’S NOTE — These photos and story were compiled by Luke In, a photographer for the International Mission Board.