The Time Has Come

CWO President Greg Yoder shares about the end to CWO’s ministry in Zambia.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

The season for a ministry to be born and planted in Zambia started over 18 years ago.  A young family began preparing to move from the States to begin a ministry in HIV/AIDS education, participate in some existing work and to share the Gospel with those they met.  As they prepared to leave some would ask, “Why even try?  You’ll make so little difference in an entire country.”  They were going to make a difference one life at a time.

The ministry grew and blossomed over the years.  With the growth came changes as God directed the ministry from focusing all its efforts on HIV/AIDS education to growing a ministry with the mini-bus call-boys later to be known as the Nephews and most recently beginning a ministry to the Deaf.

The season for the ministry in Zambia to end has now come.  It has come much sooner than any of us expected but God is leading in this direction.  This decision is not taken lightly and there are many reasons why.

The Zambian government has passed a new labor law much of which is directed at expatriates.  This new law requires expats to train a Zambian to replace them within two years.  This makes sense and was the original goal for the work there.  Over the years, the leadership and Zambian Advisory Board tried to find nationals with the desire to take over the ministry but to no avail.  They have found that the existing staff have no desire to take leadership and run the ministry.

This new law also puts into place new taxes, financial requirements and gratuities that would increase costs exponentially.  This would put a financial strain on the ministry.  Scaling back the ministry has been considered and even transferring all or some of the programs to another local ministry.  Other ministries are dealing with the same issues so are not willing to take on more.

There are ways to work around the new labor law but that would mean doing things that would be dishonest.  The ministry in Zambia has been built on integrity which is a virtue that has been taught to the staff and the Nephews.  It would not be a good testimony of Christian living to begin living differently now.

God’s leading is being sought and final decisions are still being made concerning the ministry in Zambia.  There are some who are working to find ways to continue the new Deaf ministry under the leadership of Zambians.  Assisting with the education of the Nephews receiving scholarships will continue until funding is gone.  This is because of generous donations for the Nephews education scholarships and the fact that one of the existing staff members has accepted overseeing the distribution of the funds and monitoring the Nephews school attendance.

The ending of this ministry as we know it does not end in hopelessness but is a season of hope because we know that God is in control.  So many verses come to mind as a reminder that God will continue the work He started.

Ecclesiastes 3 goes on to say,

I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever;
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.

What God started 18 years ago in Zambia will go on in the hearts and lives of those who have heard the Gospel and believed.  The lessons taught about making good, biblically based choices have been heard and will continue to make a difference in the lives of those who have accepted them.  The Nephews, who have been shunned by most, have seen God’s love demonstrated and lived out.  The Gospel has been presented clearly and God’s Word has been taught making disciples that will pass on the Gospel message.