A Life-Changing Experience in Zambia

When my family and I boarded a plane to Zambia as part of Family Legacy’s Camp Life program this past June, we didn’t really know what to expect.

We knew we wanted to meet a 7-year old girl named Elina from the Chainda slum compound of Lusaka, whom we had been praying for since we started sponsoring her last year to attend Legacy Academy, a school run by the Family Legacy organization. And we knew we wanted desperately to help more orphan children like her receive love, affection, acceptance and attention; come to know and call on the name of Christ; and experience life more abundantly.  But what we didn’t expect was how much the underprivileged young people we had come to help would teach us about acceptance, joy and God’s power.

As part of Camp Life, my wife, our four daughters and I spent six days getting to know Elina, along with 39 other boys and girls from the same slum community Elina calls home, hoping to affect their lives in a positive way.

Every year at Camp Life, approximately 8,000 of these needy children enjoy a weeklong day camp where they get to experience the love of God. Most are looking for an escape from their everyday circumstances and hoping for sponsorship to attend one of Family Legacy’s schools, where they receive a classical Christian education, nutritional meals, discipleship, and emotional and medical care. Those highly vulnerable and at-risk orphans may also be given a sponsorship opportunity to join the Tree of Life Children’s Village, a 130-acre residential facility for the neediest Zambian orphans.

While we came to help, minister, and serve as a family, we found that these young boys and girls actually taught us a great deal about having true joy under the toughest of life’s circumstances. Together, we experienced the power of God’s love and presence — forever reminded that He is always there to provide, protect, prepare, and bless each and every one of us where we are.

Through one-on-one blessing times with these children, time evangelizing with “our kids” in their community and sharing communion at the end of our Spirit-filled week, God filled all of us with His love. We played with these kids, sang and danced with them, prayed over them, cried with them, and were prayed over by them and our partner translators in ways we had never before experienced. You have heard it many times before…God works in powerful and mysterious ways. Yet it was in the simple, unconditional acceptance, giving and sharing of His love, that we. as volunteers, strangers, mzunugu (white people). not only blessed and transformed the lives of these beautiful children, but also were tremendously blessed and transformed by them. God’s love knows no boundaries, no color, no wealth and privilege, and certainly no circumstances. It is pure and simple, genuine and complete, and unconditionally and freely available to all.

Before we traveled to Zambia, it was hard to imagine the conditions the poorest class in Zambia lived under. The country has the eighth lowest life expectancy in the world at 51.8 years, a median age of 16.7 years, and a youth dependency ratio of 91.3 percent (ratio of youth population, ages 0 to 14, per 100 people of working age, ages 15 to 64.) By comparison, the ratio in the United States is 29.4 percent. Among the country’s population of 15 million people are over 1 million orphans, many of which make up the children aided and served by Family Legacy.

Since their parents or caretakers cannot care for them, and they can be seen as curses or burdens, these orphans are often handed off to people who can barely provide for themselves. Sometimes, they are literally dropped off from villages in the capital city to fend for themselves.  In many cases, the youngest end up being raised by young children not much older than themselves. Not only are their basic human needs to be loved, accepted, and appreciated not met, these boys and girls also face starvation, a complete absence of medical care, and little to no education or opportunities for empowerment — thereby reducing their chance to dig out of the hole in which they neither chose nor created but were forced to start their lives.

The ministries of Family Legacy bring hope and healing to these children. They also provide transformational experiences for kids regularly told that they are not loved, not wanted, and that there is no place for them to sleep nor food for them to eat. They give these children opportunities to experience life more abundantly.

To my family and me, having the opportunity to help and care for these boys and girls was a privilege we hope we never take for granted. It was a life changing and transforming experience not just for them but also for us, and for that we will be forever grateful and forever yearning to return!

Many of the children we were lucky enough to spend time with are still looking for sponsors to attend Legacy Academy. To find out more about becoming a sponsor, email me at