I took this image of Joseph in '07... I love it. And of course, ... I couldn't help but write a few words about him.
You know, there have been some very difficult issues to deal with as the spiritual team on ZMM... trying to work together as brothers and sisters of different cultures and sexes (and those two factors themselves are actually issues) ..but searching out the truth of God's will in complicated issues of culture and tradition.
Being a rather "outspoken" and somewhat (issue sensitive) passionate female, I know it had to be quite difficult for many of the Zambian male spiritual team leaders to "wrap their heads around" my presence on the spiritual team at first. Some of them made assumptions about me and my ideas, and I too made assumptions about some of them and theirs. Joseph, being older and rather quiet when we were gathered as a group, I assumed for the first couple of years that he would surely be on the "stauncher" side of some of these issues, and not inclined to listen to any of my thoughts or point of view. But God was gracious to me and allowed me to return on ZMM enough times to have the opportunity to experience the heart of my brother Joseph Siamungande.
Joseph was a man who although he had spent many years of study in the word as a christian, did not consider himself to know all the answers or be above learning from someone younger or of "lower station" than himself. He was a man of wisdom who quietly considered each situation, took it before the Lord in prayer, and sought to peacefully reconcile the lost to God, and brothers to brothers.
Joseph would have said that his faith had not yet even reached the size of a mustard seed, but I have seen evidence to the contrary. The most powerful example being this... I believe it was in 2004, when we first visited Kapoul. Two women came to the clinic and shared their stories of barrenness with Joseph and asked him to pray for them. To rural Zambian women, to bear children is to fulfill their purpose. One of these women had been married and unable to conceive for 9 years. The other for 15 years!! Joseph did not take their request lightly. He recognized the deep desire of their hearts and stood over each of them with one hand on her head and the other lifted to God as he prayed aloud with passion on behalf of his sisters. Joseph prayed with sincere and faithful BELIEF that God the Father would hear and that He had the power to grant these petitions! Joseph prayed in Tonga, but you didn't have to understand the words in order to recognize his humble faith... his heart was speaking God's language .... love.
The following year, we returned to Kapoul. Both women returned to see Joseph. Each one was bearing the most joyous countenance I have ever seen. Each was also bearing a child in her arms... one a boy, named Joseph and the other a girl, named for Joseph's wife. I have a photo of Joseph holding the babies. That photo is a tangible measure of the overflowing goodness of our intangible God.
Joseph will be deeply missed, but is no doubt receiving his promised reward. I am certain that he is dancing down the streets in praise to our creator, along with our other beloved ZMM saints that have already gone home. Joseph is dancing without pain, no longer crippled. And I'm sure my Martha is right in the middle of it all, welcoming him with joyous shouts and singing as Kelly watches on, knowingly shaking his head and chuckling happily as all of heaven welcomes another faithful servant.
Until we meet again, my brother. Shelli Starkey