• Ashton Rail

Zambia, Africa

Updated: Mar 19

"God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good".

In October I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Zambia for a week and share my story. I went with a group from my church and while we were there we hosted two-three day women conferences. The conferences included us sharing a story of a woman from the bible, worshiping, and then someone in our group sharing their testimony.

As a photographer, sometimes it'd hard to sat the camera down and not live life through a lens. So, I made the decision before I left that I didn't want to make photography my focus, instead I wanted to be fully in the moment. But, I was able to capture a few of my favorite moments.

Here are some amazing things I got to witness:

The women worshiping in their language. The women we led in Zambia worshiped God with beautiful music and dancing. They’d break out in song, dance, then pray out loud. In one moment you could here over 30 women praying in a different language to God. In these moments all I could do was close my eyes and praise God for loving all of us so much. The first group of ladies in the first conference were something special. On the second day they wanted to show us some songs and dances from their villages. This was truly a gift! We had the wonderful opportunity to surprise the women with bibles in their language. I have never experienced so much joy in my entire life. I’ve never seen anyone as thankful as they were to receive God’s Word. To them, it’s really their sword. They will be able to use it as comfort after their drunk husband comes home angry. Or as a tool against a witch doctor who wants to lead them astray. Right away they danced and celebrated when they received the bibles. Pure joy. Something I’ve never seen before and something that I’ll never want to forget. Everyone needs to witness something like that. I can’t describe more about it… It’s a moment when you just had to be there.

I have a lot more I could say... But at the same time, even though it's been over a month, I'm still trying to process it all. I'm still asking God to show me more of who He is and what truths I need to seal on my heart that I learned while on this trip.

(Go ahead and start scrolling to see the pictures plus hear a few more stories)

When we first arrived in the "Bush" to teach the ladies, we had no idea what to expect. Would they talk to us? Would they be shy? Would they be open to hearing what we had to say?

Right away the women opened their hearts to us. Even with a language barrier we found ourselves talking about families and little things about ourselves. One crazy fact is that this was the first time most of the ladies had seen a white person! Some of the babies were so scared of us that they would scream and cry when we came near.

Joy. Pure, explainable, heart filled, Joy. Since I came back home, God has been whispering to me that He is ALL I need. Literally, all. He is the only one that will fill me with peace, the only one that will fill me with joy. Living in the U.S. is hard. There are so many distractions that it's easy to pick up a tv remote then a bible. It's easier to fill our minds with endless lists of things we need to do for the day rather then sit, be still, and think about the hard things. We don't know how to have quite time. We don't know how to rest. We don't know how to be still long enough to allow God to be our everything, to love us. These women know how to do that. They know how to rest, how to live in joy, and how to let God love them.

This was one of the boys who was scared of us white people and screamed the first few days.

My mom and I shared our testimonies as they related to the story of Ruth and Naomi. I spoke about how I have been bitter, like Noami, because I have focused too much on myself and what hurts I’ve experienced. With our stories we closed the gap between us Americans and the Zambians. They realized that they could relate to us in ways they didn’t think they could. I was also able to share a lesson on grief. I spoke about Mourning, pain, joy, and heaven. (I basically wrote a small book).

Back in January of this year I began to ask God to open up doors for me to share my testimony. I wanted to share my "Hurt" project to a group of people here in the US, specifically here in NWA. But then my mom told me about this trip and the purpose in going: to share our stories. Africa was not on my list of places that I wanted to go. In fact, I could've gone to France instead with the money that I spent on this trip. But, Africa was where God had me go. I took me one day, after hearing about this trip, to send in my deposit. It wasn't until a few weeks after that when I began to freak out and ask myself why I did that. Then after the plane tickets were bought, I tried finding a way to back out of the trip. I wanted comfort, my time back (there was a lot of preparation for the trip), and I wanted to go to Europe instead. But God kept on saying "go". And I knew that if I didn't, I wouldn't be okay. In August I found an old bucket list from 2011 that had 14 items listed. The first was "Go to Africa". I have no recollection of writing this. But I think it was God preparing me, 6 years ago, for this trip.

"God is good, all the time. All the time, He is good."

-Repeated daily by the women in Zambia.

#2017 #travel

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