NOTES FROM THE FIELD
In this series, thoseinvolved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
A few years ago my wife Vanessa and I were in Zambia, traveling from Lusaka to Livingston. With us were Pastor Ibrahim, Pastor Yumba, and a student named Treasure.
Pastor Ibrahim grew up in Tanzania, where he studied in our Bible College near the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. A friend asked him to come to Lusaka, Zambia (three days journey by bus from his home), to start a Lutheran church. Ibrahim gladly went, becoming a missionary in a foreign land for the sake of the Gospel.
Pastor Yumba grew up attending a Lutheran church in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Later, when his church began to depart from the truths of Scripture, Yumba recognized the need to return to the pure Word of God, and he joined in our pastoral seminars in Lubumbashi, Congo. He is now the president of the Eglise Lutherienne de Confession du Congo (ELCC), headquartered in Lubumbashi.
After three weeks of travel, pastoral seminars, and church visitations, our party decided to take a day of relaxation and visit Victoria Falls. As we neared the city of Livingston, we ran out of gas. The full account of why we ran out of gas and the interlude between the sputtering of our engine and the eventual resumption of our trip is a story for another time. Suffice it to say that eventually we did continue our journey. But we left behind an angry taxi driver who thought that we had cheated him. As we started our engine and pulled out onto the road again, the furious taxi driver passed us and raced down the road.
When we reached the city of Livingston, there was the taxi pulled over on the side of the road. The taxi driver was talking to a policeman and angrily waving at us. The officer pulled us over and Yumba, Ibrahim and Treasure got out of the car.
What followed next was a discussion, but it was an African discussion. This means that there was a lot of very loud shouting. Vanessa was petrified. She was convinced that we were going to end up in jail (you can’t yell at a police officer like that!) But I assured her that this is simply the way they do things in Africa. To most westerners that discussion would have sounded like it was a hair’s breadth away from a full-on fist fight, but this is simply the way that Africans argue. Truth be told, it isn’t much different from the way my family argues. My brothers and I can fight with a tenacity and volume that would make most people think we are on the verge of total war. Yet a few minutes later we are laughing and joking without animosity or anger.
The discussion with the taxi driver and the police officer took a little longer than that, and was probably a little louder, but eventually an amount was agreed upon and paid to the taxi driver. Very soon we found ourselves standing across the crevasse from Victoria Falls, also called Mosi-oa-Tunya, The Water that Thunders. There, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water pour over the edge into the canyon each second, sending up a mist like the driving rain of a thunder storm. If the people of that land like to argue loudly and passionately, who can blame them?
Matthew Ude is a CLC foreign missionary serving India and Africa. He and his wife live in Chennai, India.