By Noel McCarthy
October 04, 2023
Five days in Livingstone, Zambia, in one of the poorest but happiest nations on earth, has not only challenged me, it has changed my life now and forever. When first invited to participate in this International Scripture Blitz, I was told that I would never be the same again. How right that was!
The first thing that strikes you about Zambia is the friendliness and great big smiles from everyone. It is so wonderful to see. There is a real sense of ambition and determination. Everyone is on the move.
2:00PM SUNDAY – Gideons met together and were split into six teams, consisting of one international Gideon, plus three locals. Lists of schools, clinics, hotels, lodges, hospitals were distributed to the teams. There were only 54 schools listed with more to find, but all have morning and afternoon sessions.
5:45AM MONDAY – Now it’s very real! As with all blitzes, the day started with early morning prayers, on knees praying, led by Chaplain Nyambe, praying for open doors and vehicles. We were under satanic attack from the start with flat tyres, broken starters and transmissions, but we left at 7AM.
First call was with the local Head of Education armed with a letter from The Gideons International, plus a letter of authorisation from the Zambian Government. We then moved 200 metres down the road to a school, to make a presentation to the whole assembly (only 730 children) and, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, I was able to boom my voice (no PA system) and deliver the message clearly.
Next was St Raphaels Catholic School. We met Godwin, the principal, who was not happy because he hadn’t been told about the distribution. I mentioned I had completely forgotten the present I had brought just for him, an Australian New Testament. What an icebreaker! He then jumped up out of his chair, yelling, “Come on fellows, let’s get this done!.
The word went out through the schools’ grapevine, with every school, doors open wide to the distribution of The Word! Fifty-six boxes to six local schools!
We worked at full steam ahead, school to school. We would greet the principal with a Bible, then go class by class, from Years 4 to 12. A local Zambian Gideon told them that Gideons have one mission, one goal, one task – to win the lost for Christ. He explained that, in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us to go to the end of the earth to spread the Gospel, but Noel from Australia has done the reverse, to which the younger children sat there – mouths wide open. Older teenagers let out cheers and claps – definitely a response that would not occur in any Australian classroom.
“The word went out through the schools’ grapevine, with every school, doors open wide to the distribution of The Word! Fifty-six boxes to six local schools!”
The Zambian Gideons went from strength to strength contacting hotels until, after visiting one large hotel (200 rooms with 510 staff), they came back disheartened. We went back and spoke with the manager, who said he would call his boss, who is the CEO of the chain. I stepped forward and handed Glen, the CEO, a blue Australian Testament. He exclaimed, “How amazing! An Englishman is handed a Bible from an Australian inside Zambia. 225 Bibles and 510 Testaments were distributed at that hotel.
One distribution was at the Livingstone Institute of Business & Engineering Studies It was terrifying to speak to 1315 students assembled, but by fervent prayer before and prompting of the Holy Spirit, the message was well received with loud whistles and cheers. They lined up to collect their Testaments. This was embarrassing as they all wanted to collect one from the Australian man – very, very humbling.
At one school, I turned around. There were three girls carrying the same box. When I asked why, they replied, “We want to tell our grandchildren that we carried the boxes when the white man, Noel, came from Australia to school to hand each of us a Bible.” I had taken their photo and wiped the dust from the lens with a handkerchief before – now the handkerchief was needed for another use. Enough said.
It was five days of hard slog, copious bottles of water, mouthfuls of dust, 13-hour days and shorter nights. The goal was to distribute 60,000 Scriptures out of the 73,500 Scriptures that had been sent, with the secure knowledge that the locals would continue the distributions well after the five Americans and the one Aussie went home.
In those five days we managed to cover:
- 92 schools
- 3 colleges
- 1 university
- 2 military camps (army and air force)
- 5 clinics & 1 nurses’ college
- 5 police and fire stations
- 56 hotels and lodges
- office of the district commissioner
- a total of over 47,000 Scriptures
Of that number 37,935 were handed out in schools. Now in Livingstone, with a population of 140,000 people, 47,000 Scriptures have gone out. That equates to 1 in every 3 people now owning a copy of God’s Word, with many thanks to the efforts of Friends of Gideons, donors and supporters to provide Bibles For The World.
“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations” – Malachi 1:11A