Fishers of men (and women)

Monday 14th April 2014

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Having got to Nthorowa we were keen to see the fish pond project in the next village that is operated by Zambezi Evangelical Church in partnership with Zambesi Mission.

As we parked in the village square our car was immediately surrounded by a gaggle of excited villagers keen to greet the ‘mazungu’ visitors. As we walked off along the path to the large pond dug by the villagers we felt a little like the infamous Pied Piper of Hamlin with a long line of children snaking off behind us singing the familiar chorus ‘mazungu, mazungu’ and laughing excitedly. This image was only enhanced a little later when one of the boys and the ZEC General Secretary (still a village boy at heart) tried to show me how to make a grass oboe!

It soon became clear that this was a great example of the church being salt and light in the local community as, avoiding the temptation to prefer the local Christians, the village community as a whole was fully involved.

It was a great reward to us for the dusty walk in the baking heat to be able to see this example of ‘love your neighbour’ in action, and an even greater reward for the villagers when they saw so many young fish rise to be fed and hence bring some promise of food security to the neighbourhood.

In sub-Saharan Africa where, perhaps understandably, communities have tended to become dependent on hand-to-mouth aid this pond seemed a
vindication of the ZEC and ZM strategy to help people help themselves. As the village woman leading the project asked for further training to optimise yields further, I smiled at this wonderfully literal example of the (sexist) old saying: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

But I was thinking of another kind of fishing that this demonstration of openhanded Christian love might bring about as I waved to the folk gathered in the shade of the village mosque to cheer us off.

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