Can paedophiles change?


I was reading about the case of the baby who was allegedly abandoned in Thailand by his biological parents, who took his twin sister and brought her back to Perth. I subsequently watched part of an interview broadcast on 60 minutes. If anyone is unaware of the story, quick google search will deliver the story to you. Recently, it has been revealed that the biological father of these children has been convicted of 22 sex offences against children. In the interview, the father claims he no longer has sexual urges towards children and the woman interviewing him makes a statement to the effect that she has interviewed  many paedophiles and they have stated that they will always be paedophiles.

I understand that children should be protected and that we should be concerned with the safety of children, what I am trying to figure out is; is it right to make statements like “once a paedophile, always a paedophile”? If some paedophiles have stated that they will always be that way, does that make the statement true? We are constantly told we have  the power to choose our destiny, so why are we championing the view that people are victims of their biology? Where is the power of choice? In saying to people, this is how you are and you will forever be this way, aren’t we defeating them in the process? Can’t they choose to be different? Can’t they choose who they will be?

Are we making our society safer by making such statements or are we in fact making it harder for people to decide to change and be better? Are we saying, “you are broken and cannot be fixed” and throwing people in the “discard” pile. Doesn’t it seem weird that on one hand we say to paedophiles that they have no choice in the matter, they are who they are, and yet on the other we a so filled with anger when they offend. I think we are so angry because deep down we know that they have a choice and that they are responsible for those choices and it doesn’t come down to mere biological defect.

I personally believe human hearts  and minds can change. They can be renewed and made whole, and while I don’t think I would leave my child in a room with someone who has been convicted of sex offenses, I don’t believe anyone is beyond redemption. There is always hope and every human being should be looked at as an individual, not based on what others have decided about themselves.

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Celebrating life


This is probably the first year since my Uncle died four years ago that I have not woken up feeling low and depressed, or felt the need to feel that way. Today is my other Uncle’s birthday. So rather than focusing on what’s lost, I choose to give thanks for what I do have. In constantly focusing on what we will never again have, we sometimes forget that every single day, is a blessing and that we can be what that loved one was to us, to someone else. While there might always be a struggle for joy because of loss, it’s a struggle worth having. While sitting in the dark the whole day because of grief might seem attractive, if we allow ourselves to see it, there is a whole world out there that is more attractive than the depression death brings.

Celebrating life, requires we get up and live it, not drown our sorrows in alcohol or drugs or waste it spinning wheels of death as we do burnouts or encasing ourselves in darkness refusing to take part in the land of the living. I’m glad that when God chose to take Isaac, he did it on my other Uncle’s birthday because it gives us something happier to celebrate. Today I can look and say,  today God decided to call Uncle Isaac home, but today also marks the day that he gave us Uncle Solo, a man we love to bits and vice versa. I can celebrate the man who was Isaac and also celebrate a man who is Solomon. There is no shortage of blessings and even in death, Uncle Isaac continues to be a blessing, so I will enjoy the day, rejoice in it and be glad in it.

Precious…the birthing of a dream


she walked out of the house, throwing the blue new tropicals to the floor, she slipped her feet in and ran towards her grandmother who was walking down the dust path that led to away from their house and onto a dusty road. It was an hour’s walk to Chinfinsa congregation of the United church of Zambia. She could make it in 30 minutes if she picked up the pace but that was not going to be the case walking with her grandmother. she pulled the worn skirt made of chitenge material, to cover her belly button and walked beside her grandmother. She couldn’t hide her excitement at going to church today.

“natwendeshe” her grandmother called picking up pace. she wanted to make it to church before the St Marks Choir arrived. She never complained about the distance from Luano to their Church, which was in Munsenga, on the other side of the Chingola-Kitwe Road; a trek from where they lived.

“But mama, “she replied, “our service never starts on time.” Her grand mother insisted they get to church early every week. she had no watch but they always made it on time. Precious had never heard the St marks Bemba Choir sing, but her grand mother had told her,  how beautiful they sounded. her grandmother had heard them sing many times and had even visited the “mother” congregation. The announcement was made a week ago and everytime she thought about it, she felt her heart skip a beat.

they soon met other people headed in their direction “mujibi yepi?” the woman called walking towards them.

“emwani,” her grandmother extended her hand, clapping the other womans hand and touching her chest and repeating the gesture again in greeting; Kaonde greeting. She had grown up speaking iki Kaonde but now mainly spoke ici Bemba despite being in Lamba country. she greeted the woman and run ahead, knowing her grandmother would be fine with her walking companion for the day.

She didn’t care for the dust that was gathering on her legs with each step she took; the faster she run the worse it got, but she would be at the church in no time. She was out of breath by the time the Kitwe-Chingola rd was in sight. On the other side was the Munsenga junction. A small dirt road that meandered from one end, forming a loop and coming out the other. It was mostly bush on one side of the dirt road and houses on the other. she slowed her pace as she came to the road. It wasn’t as busy on Sundays, but she made sure there weren’t any cars coming before running across. There were other people walking down and she walked with them, not quiet feeling at home, she talked with them, maybe if she showed her excitement at what was happening at church today, no one would see the discomfort she felt.

*                                  *                                  *

Jahdel was glad she had made it to church on time. Her 2 friends Limpo and Mwansa were coming to church with the visiting chior. She was excited. Her and Limpo had become close friends, despite her vow never to become friends with men. He had reintroduced her to Mwansa who she had previously known but had not talked to in years. She walked to her sister Karen and the woman she was talking to. She watched as the young girl walked away from them. Her clothes were worn. Her skirt, made of chitenge was not as bright as it had obviously been before. she kept pulling the skirt that kept riding below her belly button.

“You see that girl.” the woman talking to Karen said, “takonfwa.”

Jahdel wondered why the girl was said to be naughty, she seemed so full of life.

“she sleeps around with different men,” the woman shifted the baby in her arms from one side to the other, settling her on her hip and leaning in closer “Bonse bali mwishiba.”

Jahdel was too shocked to respond, did this woman just say everyone knew her? She watched as the woman clapped her hands, as if shocked at what she was relaying, “ka moneka kwati kalonfwa, kanshi….”

“You honestly think that it’s her fault?” anger rose in Jahdel, “How do you decide she’s naughty on the basis that grown men sleep with her?”

“All I know is they pay her and if they pay her, it can’t be that bad. And she’s so young, imagine what she will be like when she grows up.”

The way she said it only infuriated Jahdel more; worse still, Karen seemed almost ready to agree until Jahdel spoke up

“So all you adults know about it. Even her grandmother knows about it?”

“it’s no secret, and her grandmother has tried to talk about it with her to get her to stop but she just doesn’t listen.”

“So you even know which men sleep with her?” she waited for the woman’s self-righteous yes before continuing, “and all you do is talk behind her back?”

“Yes but what are we supposed to do if that’s what she’s chosen.” the woman didn’t look upset at the challenge rather ashamed and disappointed that Jahdel did not share her enthusiasm at the gossip she had to share,

“No! you fight for her!” Jahdel could almost feel herself shaking but kept her voice calm, “grown men, should know better. It’s not her fault that they can’t control themselves!” she looked at the little girl who was walking towards them

“Anyway, that’s that little girl you see.” she clapped her hands and walked away.

“Baunfwa nsoni.” Karen chuckled to herself.

“she SHOULD be ashamed of herself.” Jahdel felt her whole body shake

Karen chuckled again, “they love gossip.”

“Niwebo nani ishina?” Jahdel asked turning to the girl. She didn’t look older than eleven.

“Precious.” she replied with a big smile,

Jahdel smiled at her, heart breaking, knowing this girl had no one to fight for her. Precious, her name spoke of how God saw her. She was precious in His sight, Yet to men, she was “easy pleasure”. Something they could ride, no strings attached. They talked for few minutes, Precious pointing out where her grandmother stood, when asked who she lived with. She was a bubbly little girl. Some thought her insane.

Just then the small Canter made its way onto the church grounds. Precious ran towards it, Jahdel waiting for the boys to disembark. She said hi to both Limpo and Mwansa and introduced them to Karen. Karen left them as they chatted for a while before they had to go into the church and sit in their designated areas. The men sat on the left hand side and the women on the right.

Jahdel was in a haze; her mind fixed on Precious. Would she make it,or would abuse devour her like it had Jahdel. She knew all too well the horrors it brought, the guilt, the suicidal feelings, the shame and pain that just made no sense. The feeling of being in the wrong body, unwelcome in your own flesh, feeling like dirt had made it’s way under your skin. As the service went on, she found it hard to concentrate. Those men, deserved death! She looked at Mwansa and Limpo and remembered Limpo’s words, How could he expect her to trust any man, when his species could be so heartless and selfish. She had to admit though that both young men were different. They seemed sincere; different, they spoke kindly and offered respect even when she was undeserving. But she couldn’t help but wonder.

After service, Jahdel talked to precious some more, hoping that she could find hope in words that didn’t raise her apparent failings. She talked to Mwansa and Limpo more as well before they all had to go.

Every time she saw the little girl after that, she talked to her, but with exams looming, Sundays at Chimfinsa became a rare happening, St marks or not attending church becoming the options because of the extra lessons she needed to do in order to get ready. Hope reigned still, Precious, was the birthing of a dream, just maybe, Jahdel would one day fight what many refused to see as present. Zambians frowned when they heard about paedophiles in the western world, yet in their own world, this child, had no voice.

Years after meeting that precious soul, reading another story of a girl used by her step-father, Jahdel remembered, knowing there were many such stories. burying her head in her hands, Jahdel wept. She would never forget Precious, she hadn’t the means to help her, but one day, she would fulfil a dream.

Influencers


This week past, has been a huge blessing for me. Monday to Wednesday night, we attended the Influencers conference in Perth Western Australia. It happens every year in Adelaide and Perth in January.

I was deeply challenged, convicted and encouraged to be more than I am now. One of the greatest questions I was asked amidst all the teaching was “Am I carrying my share of the burden?” Its a question worth asking any one of us, Zambian, Australian, those countryless…anyone. As a Christian, am I carrying my share of the burden? As a family member, am I carrying my share of the burden? As a Zambian am I carrying my share of the burden? As a person living in Australia am I carrying my share of the burden?

We all have something to offer even though we think otherwise, but it’s time we got over ourselves and lived for Someone greater than ourselves. Dr Ravi Zacharias said, it takes one man to lead people into untold evil but it also only takes one man to change the world for good. What is your contribution to this world? When will we stop waiting for someone else to bring change and be the ones that stand for truth and justice?

I was convicted because I know in whom I have believed and yet do not live my life as one with conviction. I am not a source of hope for broken people. There’s a need in the world, we are meant to meet. As Zambian’s what are we doing but sitting and waiting for change to come or seeking to better our own lives and not the lives of those around us? As people, we uproot boundaries wanting to live free but true freedom has some boundaries. The consequences of removing those boundaries will be devastating. When will we stand up for what is right and true?

I was challenged to live out my faith, to get over my small life, small world and focus on Christ and live for Him. I was challenged to forgive and move on, to not let the past determine where I am going; I was challenged to let go once again.I was encouraged because I have great dreams that I believe were planted in me. Dreams that seem impossible but I know that the one who placed them in me, will fulfil them, if only I believe. In the end, it’s all for His glory

If only


Lord, if men would realise that women are to be treasured and protected…not to be used to fulfil selfish desires but to be honoured…that girls will give sex in exchange for companionship, love and respect because they are disillusioned and that their hearts break when that love and respect is not shown…if only men could open their eyes and see that the girl they lie with today, is beauty that they might destroy. Worthy of the respect due a mother; she might one day mother their own son’s wife. That she is a grandmother, mother, wife; she is a child, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend; maybe even your own. If only they would open their eyes and see that she looks enticing, yes, but let the man who she was meant for enjoy her, just as you will one day hope to alone enjoy yours. That they owe their wives nothing less than what they expect, a man who is untouched. That as enticing as she seems, she might just be the seam ripper that makes you come undone…

That we women would open their eyes and see that if he loves “me”, He will wait. He will want the best for “me” even if it means he loses “me” . If only we would realise that compromise leaves us lost and broken…unsatisfied…pleasure lasts a moment but when it’s gone, what do you have left? If only we could treasure what is right and true, closing our ears off to the sweet nothings he whispers and hearing the truth in his words; hearing that we will get hurt and that he cares very little in the end.  Hear the truth in His words…the words of a loving Father…You are precious, loved and need nothing other than Him. That honour and respect; that love does not come by giving yourself away. That letting him have his way with you, deprives you, and if he hasn’t married you, he was no right to you…That there’s something more that awaits you, a man maybe, who will value you. If only we would realise that just because you gave in once, you don’t have to keep giving in, or that just because he denied you your right to “NO!” does not mean you lost the right…If only we realised that just because he ignored your “NO!” doesn’t mean that all men seek to take from us, by force if need be… If only we could see His tear-stained face, with arms outstretched, sweat beading, bleeding  for us, His deeds shouting as loud as His words, I love you this much!

IF ONLY…

Last day of 2012


Today for me marks the end of a very blessed year. When this year started, I was pretty close to rock bottom. I remember staying in the house the whole day, only coming out at night when my sister came home from work. I was bitter, resentment filled and angry. I was scared to leave the house because I felt if I did I wouldn’t come back. I imagined myself jumping in front of the train or just getting on the train and not coming back. I felt trapped and not needed.

Over the last 10 years I’ve experienced emotional strain and extreme darkness where I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day but I wasn’t willing to give up and I always came out of it but 2011 for me was the year I lost all fight…I crumbled…I felt crushed under the weight of my life this far, crushed by yet another failure, loss of loved ones, the loss of a friend. I felt crushed by my inability to get over my past, crushed by my inability to love the ones around me. What mother resents her own? Yet my love for my daughter was still present.

I had lost sight of what was important. I had allowed my problems and insecurities and people’s views to finally matter where they never had. I had allowed fear to reign in me. for grief and anger and resentment to become me. I remember talking to my brother on the phone, laying on the bed, tears flowing, unable to control them. I was unable to hold it all together. I remember him saying “you have a love affair with where you are at.” That was in January 2012. He had been talking to me about crying out to God but I couldn’t do it. I was in pain and yet I wasn’t willing to submit because I was afraid that what lay ahead with God might just be more painful. I felt wounded afresh at the loss of friendship. I remember writing “You healed only to wound again.”

At that point I had tried to get in touch with a counsellor and had failed. I remember talking to my parents and not being completely honest with them but at least the doors of communication had been opened and on my terms, eventually managed to find a counsellor. I remember invading my sister’s room and telling her things I’ve never told anyone else before. I had to be honest with my leaders at church. I remember sitting talking to my counsellor and telling myself I wouldn’t cry and yet breaking down.

I remember living with my brother and his beautiful wife, my elder sis and them challenging me to be better. I remember the birth of their child and the joy it brought…I remember mum coming and the blessing she was  to me. I remember connect group meetings…3 different groups where I was challenged…one controversial but causing me to analyse and re-evaluate where I stand. I remember a friend challenging me, refusing to accept I wasn’t okay, challenging me in my Christian walk. I remember getting to my counsellors house and telling myself many reasons why I should not knock on the door. I remember feeling like I had failed because I couldn’t get my life together on my own. The hardest thing for me to do is depend on people, even my family. I remember deciding to tell people the truth about going for counselling when they asked what I had been up to and it helped me get over the shame of it. I remember crying to God and journaling and praying and laying things bare before Him. I remember advice and hugs from those who have my best interests at heart. Those I kept up late when I needed advice or just a listening ear.

This year I got some of my confidence back. I had allowed life to reduce me to an unsure fear filled person and counselling was where I learnt I was really okay, not consumed by my past and I had to re-learn to be comfortable in me. To own my choices from here. Yes listen to what people have to say but in the end decide on my terms what course my life will take, because in the end, I can never blame anyone else for what I do wrong.

2012 for me was the year I saw a counsellor who helped me deal with some of my issues. I am in no way at the destination of wholeness but I’m on the way. It was the year I saw more transparently my father’s heart. I saw the restoration of a friendship I never thought possible. My nephew was born. My daughter turned 10, like previous years it has been a continuation of my journey. Where I see God’s hand. It was the year He again bent my knee to His will when I was unwilling and unable to within myself. It was the year I saw the most progress in my fight for purity. It was the year I stopped running. The year I attended a leadership course, the year I performed my own written poems live. The year I finally finished medical science. I got to get involved with life changers who are scattered around the world. people I love got engaged and married, babies were born in our family. This  year, my hope was restored.

So why am I telling you all this? Isn’t it funny how you hear Christians talk about going to the doctor for a common cold and demanding antibiotics when there’s no need for them, forgetting that Jesus is the great physician by whose stripes we are healed, and yet the same people will stand and declare that your faith is weak when you see a counsellor for emotional turmoil? We’re all different and while others have no need for counselling, others do. Do whatever it takes to get out. You can never tell whats around the corner. Darkness is relative to light. just because the sun is on the other side of the world doesn’t mean it stopped shining. Just because one door closes doesn’t mean you’re closed in. Sometimes all that’s stopping the light from trickling in is the walls you’ve built. Remember when in a dark room, you can’t see further than a few steps ahead of you and sometimes you can’t even see yourself. But feel around, stumble and even fall, if you take your eyes off the darkness and your predicament, you might just turn a corner and find hope, little rays of sun where there  seemed none, blocked by that one wall. Don’t give up! It’s okay to ask for help. Also never forget, that behind the smiles we see, there might just be more pain than we realise and you might just be what the other person needs to get through. Happy New Year and for those who have walked with me this year, may God bless you. Looking foward to 2013

Why I consider myself tribalist


Okay, the heading might be a little misleading, I’m not actually tribalists in the real sense of the word, I just happen to be all for preserving tribes and their respective cultures in Zambian Society. My reasoning is simply that diversity is usually a good thing. Just look at the great cultural landscape in Africa and the richness it provides; the different music, the different dances, ceremonies (some of which I don’t endorse). I love uniqueness and I believe that the different cultural practices of different tribes, generally, if we want them to, add colour to our lives. Also having to interact with so many groups of people, who might have slight differences or possibly major ones, does grow our ability to tolerate differences and improves our interpersonal skills.

I believe I was born a half-caste child for a reason ordained by God. I don’t believe any aspect of my being is an accident and it serves a purpose in the master plan. I mean God makes no errors. I’m half Bemba, half Nsenga, they are my heritage and I hold them proudly. I have to say though, before being any of those, I am Zambian, before being Zambian I am human, a family member, mother, daughter, sister, friend…but above all those, I am Christian and as paul said, “there is neither Greek nor Jew”. What should govern my view of the world is Christ hanging on a tree, not what my children will eat, neither maintaining a job nor having a husband and definitely “I’m Nsenga or Bemba, Zambian or Australian.

As hard as it is, the minute I identify myself as Nsenga above all else, I will live my life for the Nsenga people above all others, even to the detriment of other tribes. I am Christian first, and no, I don’t always get it right, but when Christ reigns, I see my traits and characteristics through the screen of “Christ died for the world and asks the same of me” and through that screen, I can live as umu Bemba/umu Nsenga and practice my culture without seeing “my people” as superior or inferior and that can be applied to every area of life.  What is it that governs your view of the world around you?

Mindsets


This post is sort of an edited version of a post I once posted on Facebook. That was back in February 2011, before I got fed up with Facebook and decided to delete my account…Long story!

So one of my greatest passions is my country. I love most things Zambian and feel burdened by the state of things in Zambia. Yes compared to most places in Africa, Zambia isn’t doing tooo bad, but we’re nowhere near where we should be close to 50 years after independence.

The truth is, Zambia will never develop until we, the Zambian’s change our mindsets. We expect our leaders to walk in integrity when we, the ones meant to hold them accountable, don’t hold ourselves accountable and don’t walk in integrity.

I remember a time when certain high school students (some were my classmates) complained about the state of affairs and how when people were voted for, they only cared about lining their pockets…interesting enough, some of them were the ones passing massive pages of notes in our biology exam…And the invigilator, incensed when summoned to the headteacher’s office, could not believe I had reported the matter…apparently I was meant to “help my friends”. I have never been able to understand that concept. How is sharing answers in an exam helping anyone??? How many of those students missed class, or rather went partying at the expense of studying and discipline and yet, I was meant to help them pass their exams. the fact is the student lacks the integrity in writing his exams and yet expects that when put in a position of leadership he would do a better job than those in power.

What’s going to change to make you get to work on time, when you arrived and left school at your desired time? Or missed school all together?

“Whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” Luke 16:10

Even in parenting, when children show themselves responsible and trustworthy in one area, parents usually increase the level of responsiblity and privileges. How can we take care of a billion dollar building when the $250 000 one is close to collapsing???

How many of us go on a trip and after having some chips, throw the packet out the bus/car window and then complain that the streets are a mess…regardless of what we say, the people in government did not litter our streets. Lets say the government did put bins around, what will stop you from throwing that can of juice on the street when in a rush and a fairways walk away from the bin…

How many of us who are Christian refuse to give money as offering because we have very little and yet expect God to bless us with much??? Or how many of us believe the devil is the one causing us grief when we are the one’s who put ourselves in sticky situations???

How many of us refer to the police as corrupt but never look at ourselves when we pay them a few Kwacha to get out of a road fine???

How many of us vote for leaders because they promised us outrageous things that we knew they couldn’t deliver and yet, we’re filled with disappointment when they leave government a whole lot richer and the country left with more potholes, more broken down buildings and a lot more jobless people?

How many times have you seen a shoprite checkout person refuse to offer the same service offered to a “white” person, to the “black” person? We then complain when the expatriates are given different conditions than the average Zambian. Aren’t both operating on the same principle??? Though there’s more to expatriate rate than meets the eye.

A lot of the time, we look at the “developed” world and see things we would like to have, but if we can’t be trusted to care for what you have now, how can we expect any better? If we see ourselves as victims of our circumstances, how then can we develop. Those circumstances should create in us a desire for change that causes us to think of ways of bettering our lives. It’s funny because I know of people who wouldn’t even consider getting a job as a garden boy when they do not have the funds to get into college or university, rather opting to stay home and wait for a “wealthy” relative to help them out. Others refuse to do odd jobs while applying for jobs after they finish studying even if their parents are struggling, because it’s not prestigious enough. Live your life regardless of how people will view you. Does it matter so much what people think if you know what you’re working towards???

Why do so many of us live in the extremes, either choosing to hold on to all aspects of our culture, even if they don’t benefit us or letting go of our culture altogether and taking on western culture because we feel it’s better. We can learn from the west and they can learn from us. Our differences don’t make us inferior or superior, they are just differences (some things are definitely wrong). Untill we learn to be comfortable in what makes us Zambians and untill we are willing to walk in discomfort and do what is right (not what we think is right but what is actually right based on wisdom) rather than quick fix solutions or copies of the west , we will continue in the same cycles