Tshala Mwenga and Betty Tshala were far from home recently when they visited the Northern Illinois Conference representing the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church in the Mujila Falls Project in Northwest Zambia, a country abundant with challenges and possibilities.
Born in The Democratic Republic of Congo, the married couple works at separate but equally important missions with the shared goal of lifting the Zambian people out of poverty and fostering independence through education.
Betty’s mission is centered on women and children, teaching marketable skills to the women and providing food for malnourished children four days a week. “I teach women survival skills so that they may become financially independent,” she said. “We are teaching them sewing, knitting, crocheting.”
For women who have never known financial independence, the idea of earning a living can be a difficult concept to grasp, but with time and experience, Betty has seen progress in that area. “They become more confident so they want to continuedoing what they’re doing,” she said. “Most of the time the money is the only bridge. We want it to be so they can take care themselves,” said Betty, who holds advanced degrees in Hospitality Nursing and Nursing Administration.
Self-sustainability is at the core of the couple’s work in the Zambia. “We teach people that they can use the vast resources that God has given them: land and water and the sun,” Tshala said. “They have in much abundance to make use of those national resources for their own benefit.”
Tshala, who holds a degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources, serves as the Director of the Mujila Falls Agricultural Project. He feels confident that he is doing the work God has planned for him. “My calling was quite strong because my calling was to help people generate income,” he said. “It’s so sad because people have this abundance and these people cannot even afford a glass of milk. But knowing that, with my knowledge to milk cows and goats they can have those basic commodities. I’m happy to see people drink milk,” he said. Utilizing natural resources to the fullest extent possible is living within God’s plan, according to Tshala. “Because we live with the mandate that we should live life in abundance,” he explained. “We are there to teach them; it’s not that the kingdom is in heaven, it is here already here so we have to work hard and see the kingdom.”
However, implementing this philosophy isn’t without its difficulties. Obtaining supplies with which to implement the program is the dominant roadblock to the work Tshala has undertaken in the name of God. “My biggest challenge is transportation, to link up with a place which is almost 400 miles away from the site,” Tshala said. “To be able to teach people how they can make everything happen, some of the raw materials are very difficult to get, so it is a challenge.”
In that vein, Tshala hopes that, upon return to Zambia, he will have acquired funding to purchase a vehicle to further promote his mission. “I hope what will happen is that I will get funding for our project to get a truck (to drive) from the city to the place where we are working,” he said. Tshala stresses that the partnership between The United Methodist Churches and the missionaries abroad is vital to the program’s success. “I’d like people to know, because we are working there, face to face, the community becomes more special,” he said. “I’m hoping we will touch the hearts of people, that people will know that it isn’t only what they are doing or not doing, or only reading what is in the paper, we can link the face to the project,” Betty added.
The couple wants to assure those that have reached out in the past to know that their generosity has not gone unnoticed. “I really want to be very thankful because, so many times we have seen the people trusting people in mission field with their financial support and their prayers,” Tshala said. “We are witness in Christ, knowing, as missionaries we are always on the cutting edge; we are not alone. I want to be very thankful for the support we received. “We are the hands and feet of those who can’t reach there with support,” Betty added. “We are all part of Christ’s body.”
Both Betty and Tshala are supported by the Northern Illinois Conference. For more information on their mission and advance numbers visit www.mujilafalls.com.