Eight months ago, as part of the July 2017 HOPEww Volunteer Corps (HVC), I had the incredible opportunity to travel to and serve in Lusaka, Zambia as part of an international team of 40, including campus students, singles and two families. In the two weeks there, we all worked very hard to refurbish a pre-school in Mtendere township, where vulnerable children attend, through activities such as painting, landscaping, and restoring and making new playground equipment, to name a few. Amongst all these activities, the trip was made all the more rich and memorable by meeting new people and building great friendships, learning and teaching devotionals, interacting with the local church and disciples, and experiencing the rich culture Zambia has to offer.
Since I spent a part of my childhood in Zambia, this trip was very special for me. Going into it, I expected that I would perhaps learn something about service and compassion, but what I found was that I learned another side to love. In my nature, love is very much about doing things but not necessarily about the heart behind it, and so I find myself doing things in the name of love, and yet sometimes with an apathetic heart. But seeing the gratefulness and love of the people we were serving, and of the Zambian disciples, and how they continued to give to us despite what little they had, made me realise that a deeper love takes sacrifice. To me, even with Jesus dying on the Cross, the action carries so much more weight because of the sacrifice and cost behind it. Coming back from this HVC, I decided I wanted to do my best to live my life with that same kind of love - not a superficial love, but one that is motivated out of a genuine care for others and at a cost to myself. This HVC has encouraged me to desire to grow deeper in my love for God and others.
Furthermore, during this HVC I had opportunities to grow spiritually and in leadership. Having quiet times, devotionals, and D-groups every day, evangelising and running Bible talks at the local university with the participants and Zambian disciples, and leading a Sunday service enabled all of us to grow by learning and leading these activities. This trip has also motivated me to learn more about leadership, both generally and spiritually, and to do more to help the poor and needy.
These trips allow individuals to remove themselves from comfortable environments at home, and engage with people who have needs that we sometimes don’t realise. Living every day by spending time with God and disciples, and loving the poor, has definitely helped me learn more about God and desire to grow closer to him and his church. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to go on one of these trips and experience the relationship building, cultural exposure, and lessons of love and service that are sure to follow.
Written by Dylan Panacheril (Zambia HVC, 2017)