The mission of the Church is that of Christ, who is the role model for any one aspiring to be a religious. It is for this reason that the formation timetable in Zambia gives the novices’ time to go for pastoral work once a week. In the Gospels we see the pastoral work Jesus did through healing different diseases that people suffered from as well as feeding the hungry.
My experience of pastoral work has shown me that we need to be at the service of others and render support to the needy which can be in the form of spiritual, moral, physical and financial help. My experience in Ngo`mbe has proved to me that pastoral work is more than that. I go for pastoral work in Ngo`mbe Compound, one of Lusaka`s big, crowded and poor compounds. I work with the Home Based Care (HBC) which has a centre within this area. It is part of Roma Parish of the Assumption and the centre is spear headed by Sr. Marie O’Brien OSF (Franciscan Missionary Sister for Africa). The centre provides different services to the local people but I have been particularly involved in home visitation, visiting the clients who are sick, HIV/AIDS patients on drugs, those still in denial and also those who are challenged in one way or another.
My experience of interacting with the sick poor and the marginalized has given me a wider understanding of pastoral work. It has opened my eyes to see beyond the situation and allow the poor to evangelize me. I have experienced this from different clients I have encountered so far but I will talk about one particular client Lyford. Lyford is 24 years old, living with his single mother in Ngo`mbe. At the age of 6 he discovered that he was sickle cell and has another complication. His brother, who later died, also suffered from this disease. Lyford is disabled, paralysed and he spends his days either lying on his bed or sitting in his wheel chair. Despite his physical infirmities he still has a good memory. He can write and read and he can feed himself with help. In school he only went up to grade nine as he became more sickly and couldn`t even write the exams. Disability is not inability as the saying goes and this is true with Lyford. He has lots of potential, is so ambitious and gifted. He has accepted his present status and feels he has a lot to offer society and he believes he has one purpose which is to praise and serve God. He has great faith in God and he is able to see God even in his sickness. His one and only desire at the moment is to build a personal relationship with God, to worship him and serve him. Lyford wants to spread the good news of the Gospels through music. He has composed and is still composing songs hoping to come up with an album. His songs are based on his experience of God from the time he got sick, God`s love for humankind and asking God to give him strength.
I must say I really feel enriched talking with Lyford, motivated and challenged. He challenges me. He has helped me to realize and be convinced that I can do something simple for God, that I have something to offer and I was created for a purpose of knowing, loving and serving God. Interaction with Lyford has increased my desire to serve God as a Sister of Charity, my desire to share my life with people like him who have so much to offer. Sharing my faith with him is more like faith-sharing for he also shares deeply about his own experiences and these have been moments of spiritual growth for me. The way he desires God has been a challenge to me to use my novitiate time to develop my own relationship with Christ and put Christ in the centre of my life. It has been an experience that has given me strength, joy and a reason to persevere on my formation journey and remain determined in what I want to do. Interacting with him has encouraged me to remain zealous and keep searching for the will of God.
In conclusion, the pastoral work helped me to seek and find God in every experience, person and in creation. It has given me material for reflection and time on my formation journey to interact with the people of God.
Second year Novice (Zambia)