Serving at the heart of Zambia

A look at The Salvation Army’s Chikankata Mission

by Beryl Pierce, Major –

The Chikankata Corps enrolled six senior soldiers and nine corps cadets–members who have undertaken a five-year leadership training course. [Photo by Beryl Pierce]

Major Beryl Pierce, a Western officer serving in Zambia, details her most recent missionary appointment.

Since last November, I have served at the Chikankata Mission in Zambia as the corps officer and hospital social worker. I also have three outposts attached to the corps. This appointment is by far the biggest challenge I have received thus far in my officership. But by God’s grace, I am managing to make a difference in the lives of his people here.

The mission is very big—without a doubt the heart of The Salvation Army work here in Zambia. It houses a 200 bed hospital, a boarding high school with 800 students, a nursing school with close to 100 students and a newly opened bio-medical college with 50-60 students plus all the staff and workers and their families. The total population is somewhere around 2,000. The Mission Corps has 185 senior soldiers.

Accompanying me on my first trip to an outpost were my corps sergeant major, the youth secretary and our junior home league secretary. Navigating the village roads—if you can call them that—was a challenge. At many points the rains had washed out the path so we straddled or went between huge ditches created by the rainwater. Much of the way I was crying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” but God is great and he saw us through.

When we got to the outpost in Chipola a small crowd of about 25, including babies, gathered for the worship service. After the service we held a local officers meeting. We discovered two of the key local officers had moved away and no records or books existed for the past year. I had a packet of report forms and record books that we distributed and explained how to fill out.

I am finding that all five of my positions could use me full time. In the hospital I am getting to know all the departments and how to source the assistance needed for my clients. I am still challenged by those who need psychological counseling. I attend an educational seminar every Wednesday evening and other seminars as they come along. I have been learning recently about HIV and AIDS, which is the major training done here at Chikankata hospital. I go to the villages and interview and assess clients and patients who have been discharged from the hospital.

We have been preparing for the World Day of Prayer service to be held here. The church in charge of it has few representatives in the area, so the task has fallen mostly on a team from the Chikankata Corps. I received materials last week and we met for the first time last night. We will be inviting the different churches and institutions to come together, as well as the chieftainess and her husband as our guests of honor. It is quite a challenge in just a short time. We are also restricted to a three-hour gathering, with no food or drinks, because of the cholera threat. This makes it difficult for those who come on foot from a distance.

The outposts need a lot of encouragement and training. And though at times the road looks rain-washed and rutted, I trust that if God has called me to Zambia, then he has also given me the tools I need to perform the task successfully.


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