Home Christian News ‘Somebody Must Care.’ George Liele Award Supports Mission Trip to Zambia

‘Somebody Must Care.’ George Liele Award Supports Mission Trip to Zambia

Mission Trip
Larry Anderson, center front, director of church health and evangelism for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, at a community outreach event during the Zambia Partnership mission trip to Lusaka, Zambia. (submitted photo courtesy of Baptist Press)

LUSAKA, Zambia (BP) – When Ricky Wilson began taking African American pastors on mission trips to Zambia in 2008, he had to dispel a myth.

“A number of the Africans have shared with us, what they were told (in the past) by the white missionaries, is that African Americans don’t care about the spiritual state of Africans in Africa. And we shared with them, a number of the African American pastors articulated that that’s not a truism,” Wilson told Baptist Press after his latest trip to Zambia.

“Because of the conflicts and issues that African Americans were dealing with in America, (we) had a lot on our hands during those times. But it’s not because people did not care, If you notice,” the earlier groups told Zambian pastors, “we brought all these pastors. That lets you know somebody must care.”

Wilson took a team of 21 African American pastors and laypersons from five states to Zambia April 22-May 6 for a multifaceted mission outreach through the Zambia Partnership in founded 15 years ago. Wilson is senior pastor of Christian Faith Fellowship in Downingtown, Pa.

RELATED: How to Plan a Group Mission Trip

A $5,000 George Liele Scholarship, an incentive launched in 2021 by the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF) in partnership with the International Mission Board, helped cover expenses. Those taking the trip raised their own fare and other expenses in the two years preceding the trip, which Wilsons said amounted to $165,000.

The team held three days of simultaneous revivals at several churches, conducted pastors’ and women’s conferences and training, conducted community cleanup, held a multi-village cookout, and in advance of the trip, sent clothing and books. The partnership has built nine water wells since its founding, including two completed in 2022.

Revivals drew standing-room-only crowds. Vacation Bible School drew 500 – 700 youth daily, and the cookout planned for 300 drew about 1,000, Wilson said.

Jerome Coleman, NAAF Eastern regional director and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Crestmont in Willow Grove, Pa., describes the George Liele Scholarship as a recognition that African Americans have always been on mission.

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“Missions for African Americans starts in the community and expands from there. We take seriously Acts 1:8, ‘and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,’” Coleman told Baptist Press. “From South Carolina, to Georgia, to Jamaica, Liele embodied what it is to be a witness for Jesus.

“We are godly proud that Liele has finally been recognized, not only as the first American missionary, but if William Carey is considered ‘the father’ of the modern missionary movement, then George Liele is ‘the grandfather,’ since he left America and preached the Gospel in Jamaica 10 years before Carey left England for India.

“We are overjoyed that, along with Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon, (Liele) is now on the pantheon of SBC missionaries.”

Larry Anderson, director of church health and evangelism for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey (BRN), traveled to Zambia for the first time this year after making other mission trips to Africa.

The Zambians he ministered to considered themselves blessed to be able to worship the Lord irrespective of any wealth, Anderson said, with praise and worship lasting 45 minutes before the sermon was preached.

“It impacted me in a major way,” Anderson said, “in regard to the appreciation of the Lord and the worship of the Lord that wasn’t (based) on materialism. These folks were blessed. They were willing to worship and praise the Lord for hours. And they may have 10 percent of the materialism that we have here in America.