“‘Glory to God,’ I say again, ‘All the glory to God!’” calls out the Dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, Charley Thomas. It was a poignant moment following a spontaneous silence of reflection on the life of the late Bishop David Njovu, who passed away in April this year. His absence was acutely felt as the Archbishop of the Province of Central Africa became visibly emotional while drawing everyone in the congregation’s attention that it was supposed to be Bishop David who had preside over the ordination service that Archbishop Albert Chama had to step in for. It was a contrast between life and death, the new and the old. Finding ourselves as a SOMA team from South Africa in that liminal space was sacred. It was a sharing of the sadness and longing of a people who loved their bishop tremendously.
It was a prophetic manifestation and embodiment of what the SOMA mission to Zambia came to be. Priests and leaders from Johannesburg and Natal went to Lusaka to engage with the Zambian leaders on their model of church growth. The Diocese of Lusaka finds itself on the cusp and frontier of a renewed vision that seeks to revitalize passion and a growth spurt among a new generation. For this, deep theological and social reflection is needed, and it was an honor for the SOMA team to be part of that process.
Measuring the impact of SOMA trips is difficult, but usually it is the testimonies that resurface a time after the actual mission that the power of God is revealed in response to the faithfulness of God’s servants who said yes to go. Whilst engaging with various diocesan bodies, encouraging the leadership and members to become more missional in their organizational operations, the one prayer that I felt when the Holy Spirit was most powerfully present, was during prayers of commissioning.
Zambia and South Africa have shared history of people desiring to break the bonds that limit them in their political freedoms and the psychological repercussions of certain beliefs. God desires that people be truly free in Christ. The call to global missions in obedience to the Great Commission is God’s vision of a reconciled world and of all creation to display the glory of God. In Africa there are still hundreds of unreached people groups, millions of people who need to hear the Gospel and have a Christian presence in their midst, to make a difference and display a freedom and peace beyond this world’s institutions. To go is therefore to anticipate the glory of God revealed. As one preacher said, “the healing is in the going, the deliverance is in the doing.”
Two significant outcomes and achievements of the mission are the establishment of a SOMA representative in Zambia, and a tentative exchange program of curates and priests between Zambia and South Africa. This is a strategic development in realizing global connectedness, bringing multi-cultural ideas together, and releasing missionaries to the world. SOMA has been doing this since the 1970s. Yet now, the world is ready like never before in its interconnectedness. SOMA has more opportunities than ever before, and the global church is eager for meaningful engagements. Young people are more serious and informed, and we have both a mandate and an opportunity to step into what God is preparing in and for the world. So, do not hesitate, go.