As we drove up, I traveled back to 2011, to teaching under the trees outside the Sooka UCZ Church, using a white board hanging by rope from tree branches, and enjoying eager students sitting on benches in the sun while I stood in the shade. It was a serious class, a good class and it was further confirmation at the time that we were on the right track.
Entering the church compound, I saw the familiar faces of several of our former students, including Lemmi who was standing outside with his pre-school class. He's the teacher of a class of twenty or so students drawn from the surrounding villages. At a cost of K15 ($1.40) per month, it's a serious investment for parents and Lemmi has worked hard to help them understand the benefit of early education. It has not been easy and has required many home visits and lots of follow-up.
Lemmi is an unlikely teacher for this age group in Zambia where young children are typically taught by women, just like in the States. But, as we were to see, he's a natural and the kids love him. Abby dove right in with the kids, of course, singing songs and enjoying the class, and Lemmi introduced each of them with a song highlighting their names. The Lozi culture is a musical culture so this was no surprise.
Live School is designed to multiply church planting and mission through its graduates and we have certainly seen many great examples of this, and Lemmi is certainly one of them.
"I guess you could say, maybe I could say, it's my calling," Lemmi offered quietly. We enthusiastically agreed, affirming the legitimacy of his call and strongly encouraging him.
We also heard about the level of sacrifice his call has required of his family. His wife and kids live in Mwanamatuku, a bush village which is a five hours walk away. They stay there because that is where their farm is. Every Friday, Lemmi walks home to spend the weekend with his family, work the farm and worship in his home church, and every Sunday afternoon he walks back to Sooka to teach.
As we looked into the faces of the children, we couldn't help wondering what the impact will be in their lives because Lemmi has answered God's call. Imagine the possibilities!
Please pray for Lemmi, his family and the kids. Pray for their parents who sacrifice financially so they can attend pre-school. And, pray for us that we are faithful to God's call in our lives while we are here in Zambia!