Monday, December 21, 2009

One month

One month from right now, and we will have just arrived in Africa.
It feels like we have been in this preparing stage and saying our goodbyes for so long now. We head to see James's family for Christmas and then when we return we will only have 2 weeks until we depart from the US. We will be spending a half week in London before we arrive into Zambia.

Our house is still for sale, so please continue to pray with us regarding that matter.

Our small shipment of things and books to set up a library are somewhere in the sea right now. Hoping to arrive in Dubai and then be shipped to Kenya and then trucked inland to Zambia. We will see if it arrives shortly after we do.

As I look around the house it is still a bit overwhelming at what there is left to do, but that will have to wait until we get home from our Christmas trip. My desire is the last week we are here, to be living out of our suitcases with everything else gone. It can happen...but a lot to do when we get home.

We have a farewell dinner at our church, the friday before we leave, and have and will have several other last dinners and lunches and get togethers with our closest friends. We have truly been blessed with a church family that loves us and cares for us. We will dearly miss them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shot Day

17 more for the family.
We had an appointment for the kids today at the International Travel Clinic downtown.We had gotten them up to date on their general immunizations and ones that the regular pediatricians office carries, Hep A and B. They were due for 2nd and 3rd doses of those as well as others more specific to Africa. Meningitis and Typhoid.

If you want more detailed drama of the day you can read on. if not, just know that they got some more shots...


So we arrived at 12:45, our appointment was for 1:00. We met the 2 nurses in the elevator on the way up. The one lady said, I think you follow us. 5 kids scheduled for shots, and I guess it was easy to figure out.
So once we arrived the lady asked where our forms were. They were supposed to have sent forms to fill out to have ready when we arrived.
I told her we never received them and I have been quite busy, we were doing well to get us all there for the appointment with their current immunization records.

So she gave me a couple clipboards and 3 pens and James, Sarah and I started filling out the forms and questionnaires. After going through all the questions James said what a blessing it is that our kids are healthy. It is fairly easy to answer all nos with one quick circle, but to think about how much of a blessing that is!

So we turned those in and then she realized that I too needed an updated form since I was getting a shot today as well.
So I filled it out and then we sat back down. A few minutes later a nurse came out and asked to weigh all the kids to have that information. So a few at a time we went into the room and weighed them and then went back into the waiting room.

Jackson was scared, because he knew we were going for shots since yesterday and told me a few times yesterday and today, "I don't want shots". So even just having him stand on the scale made him apprehensive.

Then they called me back for the "consultation". They give you a printed out paper of the country and all the risks and recommended immunizations for that area. So we went through each shot and then talked about the immunizations they needed and all that involved. It was quite the process, I was probably back there for almost an hour. At one point we realized that the kids records were showing that 2 of them did not get the HepA on the same day everyone else did ( at the PED office) and I remembered they did, so we had to call the office and have them check their charts.
They realized they did indeed get them even though they happened to forget to list that on their record.

So after all the paperwork and discussion we were finally ready to start the shots.
The lady went back to get mine and I started praying because I realized with 5 kids and 17 shots between us, I really wanted everything to be clear and not have any mishaps with the wrong kid getting the wrong shot or the wrong dosage.
The clinic is great but the more shots and forms and papers you are working with, I realized the potential.

Everything went smoothly. We called one kid in at a time starting with oldest and James stayed with the other kids in the waiting room.
All of the kids did great and were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.
The nurse said she used to work at Kosair Children's hopital and she was very quick and made the process go smoothly.

I was most concerned about Caleb and Jackson. I had taken them in to the PEDS office in August for their 2nd does of HEPB and Caleb went first and I guess I didn't prepare him and he totally flipped out, screaming and saying no, no! which then made Jackson start crying as he was watching his brother receive his shot first before him. It truly was awful. I had to hold him down and he was so worked up.

So I was leary of today and which is partly why I asked James to come with us.
I am so glad he was there because of the amount of time during the consultation so I could think clearly and the kids were out in the waiting room with him, but then I also didn't know if I would be dealing with screaming kids, and if so, I would definitely need him there for that. I was traumatized by the episode last time probably just as much as Caleb and Jackson were!

So the little guys wimpered and maybe cried out a tiny bit for one shot, but they did so well! The Lord was very good to us. I was so thankful!

Afterwards they got to pick out some candy and then we drove off.
Unfortunately Jackson doesn't know this but before we leave in January he will need 4more shots, that are routine at 4 years old. So he will get them a month early, which is allowable by the CDC but not recommended routinely by the PEDS until they actually are 4. Given the circumstances of living in Africa where those diseases are prevalent the CDC does recommend administering them early.
SO I hope this does not pose a problem at the PEDS office. I have a prescription type signed note from the travel clinic requesting that.

We went to Barnes and Noble after the Clinic.
My Dad has started a tradition of giving all the grandkids a gift card to Barnes and Noble Bookstore for Christmas. He gave them out when we were with them at Thanksgiving and so it was a great day to go and use them. We got to see Mrs. Segura there and spent quite a while finding books for the kids.
So it was a nice way to end the day out in Lousiville. Thanks Dad! They got some good books. Jackson got 2 more of the 5 little monkeys.
5 little monkeys make a cake and 5 little monkeys with nothing to do. I love those books because I have 5 little monkeys! : )

Monday, November 23, 2009

Update on our house

We had someone look at our house Saturday afternoon and our realtor said they are very interested in it. And we hope to hear something soon from them.
Please keep praying with us and thank the Lord for this good news.

It is a couple with a 6 month old, and then the husbands parents and his sister all are living with them right now. So they wanted a walk out lower level for the extended family to live in and have their privacy, so it sounds perfect for what they were looking for. They are living in an apartment right now so there is no house to sell. More good news!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pray for Kabwe's wife

We got a note today, and Pastor Kabwe asked us to pray for his wife, as she has had malaria for the past 2 weeks, and has been in bed all this week.

Pictured below are Kabwe and his wife

Update on Pastor Hakanyaga

Pastor Hakanyaga is recovering slowly, and we are thankful that the Lord in his great mercy, allowed Dr. Zulu to oversee his medical care!

below is the letter from Pastor Kabwe



Dear Brethren,
I wrote to you a while ago that our brother Hakanyanga was taken ill to Luanshya Mine Hospital with the problem of the spleen and some of you have asked to find out how he is doing. He is recovering slowly from operation, he was dicharged from the hospital on Tuesday and I visited him on Wednesday, he is still weak recovering steadly from the operation wounds- the operation was successful -he had the spleen removed - which basically was damaged and malfunctioning. He was in the hospital for 10 days. We thank God for your your prayers and concern. He is scheduled to go back for review on wednesday next week.
May I aslo thank God for His providence, to have Dr Zulu, who is the Chief medical officer at Luanshya Mine hospitala serving aslo as fellow elder at central baptist where brother Hakanyanga is pastor-Dr Zulu literaly took it upon himself to have our brother operated on- despite the financial challenges of the same operation.Dr Zulu spoke to me in private from the professional point of view that the problem was actually fatal if there where any delays- he said our brother Hakanyanga had started losing blood through internal bleeding due to the malfunctioning of the spleen.
Continue praying for pastor Hakanyanga he will be on sick leave for some time before he starts work.
keep well and thank you
Kabwe

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pure Religion

This goes along with the last post.

My friend Becky sent me the following quote that she read while reading the missionary John Paton's autobiography. I thought it was excellent and wanted to pass it along to you also.

He wrote this after visiting George Muller and the orphanages in Bristol:

"Often, as I have looked at the doings of men and Churches, and tried to bring all to the test as if in Christ's very presence, it has appeared to me that such work as Muller's...must be peculiarly dear to the heart of our blessed Lord. And were He to visit this world again, and see a place where His very Spirit had most fully wrought itself out into deeds, I fear that many of our so-called Churches would deserve to be passed by, and that His holy, tender, helpful, divinely-human love would find its most perfect reflex in these Orphan Homes. Still and for ever, amidst all changes of creed and of climate, this, this, is 'pure and undefiled Religion' before God and the Father!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adopted for Life




I just finished reading this book, Adopted for Life
The priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches
by Russell Moore.
I highly recommend it! To everyone. Not just those who are thinking of adopting, but to everyone!

So many times as I have read the book, I have thought to myself and even mentioned to James, that I wish I had read this book 2 years ago.

I have read or skimmed at least 8-10 different books related to adopting and adoption, some with a christian theme, but mostly not. This is by far the best book on the subject. If you only ever read one book on adoption, or bought one book this would be the book.

Though Russell gives some practical advice and information on adopting, the book continually goes back to us, and our adoption in Christ by our Father God. It is not only used as one example of adoption, but as the model of how our Father has treated us and adopted us.

He writes in such a natural way, weaving throughout the book looking at our own adoption by God, and his family's story and experience with their 2 boys from Russia, and how the church of God is to be at the forefront of adoption, because we ourselves were adopted.

He explains that for some, this will mean supporting anothers adoption financially, and prayerfully, and for others it will mean actually seeking to adopt ourselves. But for everyone as christians to be promoting a climate of adoption in our churches.

Moore states, "The protection of children isn't charity. It isn't part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps.
It's spiritual warfare." (emphasis mine)

Hopefully, you'll want to buy it and read it now.
There are 17 reviews on the book. I don't think I have ever seen that many in a book. But after reading it, it was so good and helpful, I wanted to write my own review too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Preparations

The feelings of being overwhelmed seem to come and go these days.
There is so much to do that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The verse, "Each day has enough trouble of its own" has been said so many times over the past couple of months, and weeks. I was even just rereading that section in Matthew recently and was encouraged by it.

Since we got back from our New England trip, I have been trying to schedule all the last doctor and dentists appointments, as well as the time to go down to the International Travel Clinic for the last round of shots. My calender is filling up and I am trying to stay ontop of those types of things. One thing that has been helpful is having the Outlook Express on my computer with the calender. So anytime on am on my email my calender is right there and it reminds me of the things to do.

We have been in the process of waiting to see if and how we are shipping some of our items over to Zambia. One of our deacons and another man in our church that works in logistics, have figured it out, and we went today and got alot of boxes for books.

We are shipping pallets that will get put into a container and be shipped by sea.The expected time in transit is 2 months. (so I am adding 2 or 3 months to that) The majority of the pallets we will ship will be of books. That is one thing lacking over there, so James is bringing his books for the men to use and we will probably have 2 pallets of household things.

One of the challenges is to determine what to pack on those and what to bring in the duffel bags. I don't want to pack essentials in case they don't show up for many months after we are there, but then I really don't want to wait and pack everything in a duffle bag at the last minute. So I think some basic kitchen items, kids toys and games, clothes that they will be growing into, linens ( sheets, towels, comforters) a small box of cooking items, such as big jars of spices from Sam's Club, medicines and some small home decorating items.

It has been a great blessing to have 3 different women over there now with children that I have emailed asking many of these questions. Especially in regards to what they brought, what they can't buy there, what is really expensive, or cheaply made, and what did you wish you brought but didn't. What do you stock up on when you come back to the states... All helpful things, but as James has reminded me, when I am stressed about what if I don't pack something or plan it exactly right,-- that if the people we are going over there to live among and minister to don't have something than we can do without it to.

So I currently have about 8 different groupings of things around the house now in various stages.

Items to ship
Items to pack and take on the plane
Items to take to my parents at Thanksgiving
Items to take to James parents at Christmas
Items to store here in KY (possibly to get later)
Items we are giving away
Items we are selling
Items to take to goodwill

No wonder why the house feels in a bit of a disarray.

We have someone coming to look at the house tomorrow so if you think of us, please pray for it to sell, and that we would hear of an offer.

So, back to the section in the book of Matthew. The context of the verse "each day has enough trouble of its own, is in the same section where Jesus talks about not worrying about what we should wear. About not laying up treasure on earth, about not loving money... The chapter ends with "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things."

Very good things to think about.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pray for Pastor Hakanyaga

Pastor Mondesters Hakanyaga (pictured on the left with his children and wife)


The following is a letter written by Kabwe Kabwe (pastor in Ndola)

Dear Brethren,

I write to inform you that our brother and pastor Hakanyanga of Central
Baptist Church in Luanshya- has been diagonized with a problem on his
SPLEEN- I understand from the medical people that [The spleen is an organ in
the upper left side of the abdomen that filters the blood by removing old or
damaged blood cells and platelets and helps the immune system by destroying
bacteria and other foreign substances by opsonization
and producing antibodies].

Our brothers spleen is malfunctioning and is causing danger to his health,
the doctors, have recommended to operate on him and have the organ removed.
Right now he has low HB and will be undergoing blood transfussion on
thursday 5th Nov in preparation for the operation on Friday at Luanshya mine
Hospital.

He is currently on total bed rest- hence his absence during this week for
the November module- of the Copperbelt Ministerial College which started on
Monday. This time around we have our own men from Zambia as lecturers;
brother Lazarus Phiri lecturing on introduction to preaching and Conrad
Mbewe on Government and administration of the church - pray for the men
during this week - the wheather is not friendly it is just too hot
especially during the afternoon sessions, making it difficult for the men to
concetrate.

Until then

your fellow servant

Kabwe Kabwe

Friday, October 30, 2009

On Having a Generous Heart

I heard a message by Joshua Harris on Generosity and the Poor and Needy and he read this quote from Milton Vincent. I thought it was really good and wanted to share it


"Like nothing else could ever do, the gospel instills in me a heart for the downcast, the poverty-stricken, and those in need of physical mercies, especially when such persons are of the household of faith.

When I see persons who are materially poor, I instantly feel a kinship with them, for they are physically what I was spiritually when my heart was closed to Christ. Perhaps some of them are in their condition because of sin, but so was I. Perhaps they are unkind when I try to help them; but I, too, have been spiteful to God when He has sought to help me. Perhaps they are thankless and even abuse the kindness I show them, but how many times have I been thankless and used what God has given me to serve selfish ends?

Perhaps a poverty-stricken person will be blessed and changed as a result of some kindness I show him. If so, God be praised for His grace through me. But if the person walks away unchanged by my kindness, then I still rejoice over the opportunity to love as God loves. Perhaps the person will repent in time; but for now, my heart is chastened and made wiser by the tangible depiction of what I myself have done to God on numerous occasions.

The gospel reminds me daily of the spiritual poverty into which I was born and also of the staggering generosity of Christ towards me. Such reminders instill in me both a felt connection to the poor and a desire to show them the same generosity that has been lavished on me. When ministering to the poor with these motivations, I not only preach the gospel to them through word and deed, but I reenact the gospel to my own benefit as well.”

- Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians

Video of children in Zambia

video

First Impressions and Thoughts

In our traveling to different churches, many of you asked how it was for my first trip there, or how things were going. So I thought I would post this from my family blog, that I wrote just a few weeks after coming home in August. The Lord continues to stir our hearts and move us along and I am encouraged, but this is where I was at when we first got home.

August 15th, 2009
We have been home for a week and a half now, since our trip to Zambia. I thought I would write an update to let everyone know how things are going.

The honest answer is that it has been a very difficult 2 ½ weeks.

Our time in Zambia went very well in regard to everything we had set out to see and do. But so many realities were brought in front of us and that has been part of the difficulty. It is one thing to see a country and visit different places, but as soon as you head out to the place that you are planning to move to, everything changes.

Zambia is the 7th country that I have been to. So, I was not shocked to see life outside the USA or to catch a glimpse of poverty or the things that accompany a 3rd world.

I think the “shock” to me, was that in moving to Zambia, I will no longer be living in Kentucky in the good ole US of A. I will no longer be seeing dear friends that we know and love. That we live near and that are like family to us.

We will no longer be able to see our families regularly. Probably 2 whole years will go by, before we will be able to see most of them. Our kids with their cousins and grandparents and Aunts and Uncles.

We will not look out our windows as we drive around our town and see other people’s homes and businesses, rolling hills and green grass. Cows in the pasture and horses in their fields… We won’t sit on our front porch and look out and see what we can see now. ---We’ll look at concrete walls as we sit on our porch, or as we drive around town. Walls everywhere. That’s the life in the city, whether it is Lusaka or Ndola. That is how it is.

So as we came home last Tuesday, I was worn out emotionally, having not seen my kids for 12 days and then physically, not sleeping well and spiritually too. I really felt worn out, and some oppression from Satan. How he would love to keep us from ever even going to Africa. Let alone cause trouble there, how much more the “victory” if he could keep us from ever even leaving? So my heart and soul have been very heavy and sobered this past week.

I realized that my roots here, especially in KY go down really far and deep. Though we were out in Montana for 3 ½ years, the Louisville area is where we have been settled and have raised our family. This is home.

Sometime last week James asked me to list 3 things that are the hardest to think about in relation to Zambia. I told him, “We will not be here, we will not be here, we will not be here”. As I talked about how I was feeling briefly with Pastor Jim, he said, “you can see now why not many people go”.

I have been very thankful that several friends have been praying for me and us more specifically and that the Lord has been calming my heart and encouraging me again. It is hard when I have been feeling so much going on inside and am not quite sure exactly what it is or how to explain it. I think heavy hearted, sober and overwhelmed would be how to describe how I felt the last day in Lusaka and the first week home.

As I opened my weekly email that I receive from the Voice of the Martyrs, I was reminded of one of the reasons we are wanting to go and work in Africa.

The report was of another man in Eritrea ( country in Northern Africa) dying in prison after being captured and tortured for his faith in Christ. And just a few weeks ago in another country in North Africa, the report of 2 boys (ages somewhere between 8-12) being beheaded because their father was a Christian and they were trying to get to him.

What evil, awful things. But those who are doing such things are in need of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And our going to Zambia, and James helping in training men for the ministry could then have an impact upon these places, as these men are sent out into other countries.

So the Lord used that to remind me. It is easy to lose sight of things and focus on our losses and not on our gains, or on Christ or the people there.

The people we met, and in general, are all so very warm and kind hearted. We felt very welcomed in Zambia. It is such a huge blessing to be able to speak the same language and have several growing thriving churches there to fellowship with.

It will take time though. People are kind, but friendships are not formed instantly. And many times , easily either. Things there take a long time to do too. And though the city is more “western”, it is still Africa. Just an example… They had hot water which is a blessing, though hardly any water pressure and not really any “showers” just a handheld spiket which means just bathing takes longer than usual.

You can be 2 miles from something, or however many kilometers that is, (I need to learn the difference) and it takes 15 minutes to get there. Also, I found out that you can’t just “run into the grocery for something”. Getting there, parking, getting what you need, checking out and getting out of the shopping center takes a really long time. I think I have it down to a science, running into Kroger grabbing what I need and getting home, if I need to be quick.

These examples are not “problems”, but just things to get used to.

Pastor Kalifungwa was very kind in asking me how things were going one of the days I was there. He and his family are Zambian but they lived for a while in South Africa, and have been back for the last 3-4 years. He said that it is hard in the beginning, but then you begin to see why things are the way they are, then you get used to how things are, and then he said, you actually start to prefer them that way.

It was encouraging. Even now as I remember, I had emailed another American woman living there and she said that she likes it much better than in the states, though it took time, and that things are much slower pace and she feels like her family is much closer as a result.

The Lord brought those things to mind, as well as encouraging me in His Word, and through prayer before Him and being refreshed listening to songs of worship.

So Thursday I told James that I felt like I was ready to go again. I talked to a friend last night and was telling her the same thing and said that I know it is a direct answer to her prayers and others. We certainly felt the need to be lifted up before the throne of God. Which will only continue. It will not get easier, so we need that continual help and strength.
Thank you for remembering us.


And then this one was written in August also, a few days later...

I have been reading a book, picking it up a little here and there, titled "Heavenly Springs", by Andrew Bonar.

I brought it along with me to Zambia and the Lord used it to encourage me some, and then since I got home I have been reading it a little more.
It is a small book with 53 sections. ( one for each Lord's Day of the year) All about 2-3 pages each. It covers various topics and subjects and I have been very encouraged reading it. I thought I would share a few quotes from it. This post follows the other one on "How are we really doing?" So if you haven't read that one first, read it and come back to this so you can see the progression of heart and encouragements over the last few weeks...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Why are Gideon and Barack spoken of for their faith - Barak who said, 'If Deborah does not go with me I will not go' - and Gideon who said, 'How shall I save Israel?'
Their faith gained strength as they went at the Lord's bidding."


"The Lord went before them by way in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way" (Exodus 13:21) Their past experience was not of great use to the Israelites in their journeyings. They needed always to consult God. If you think you will get through anything because you got through before, you will certainly fail. You must ask fresh counsel of God and consult with Him continually; and since the pillar-cloud and not your own experience is your guide, see that you make it so. Perhaps some Israelite, looking on the burning sands all around and thinking of the scorching heat, would say, 'What if this continue? What if that friend should die? What if the little ones be worn out? Let us follow the pillar-cloud and not trouble ourselves with 'ifs'. "


"Let the love of Christ take possesion of your heart, and you will find you are living for Him without an effort."


"We have but one thing to do, we have but one Person to please. Has your life been thus simplified?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Work Visa

We heard today from Seke Lupunga, the Pastoral Assistant at Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, that James was approved for his Work Visa.

This was very good news for us, and we continue on with our plans to leave mid January. We have our tickets.

We have heard from a man in South Africa that is moving to Zambia to do pastoral training also, he just got his work visa as well. He had much difficulty in getting his, and they initially had expected to be in Zambia when we were there in the summer.
So we were very thankful to hear this good news and that there was no delay.

We still have no offers on the house, this is the last major thing to fall in place for us, so we would appreciate your prayers in that regard.

Thank you

"How American Christians Can Help Christians in Zambia"

This was published online this summer and we thought it was great.

How American Christians Can Help Christians in Zambia

By Conrad Mbewe


American Christians are already doing a lot to help Christians in Zambia, for which we are deeply grateful. When we see the church in eternity, there is no doubt that the American church's contribution to missions will stand out like Mount Everest compared to contributions from any other parts of the world.

And Africa has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of this missions output from the American church.

So if this article sounds a little negative, it must not be seen as betraying a lack of gratitude. Rather, 9Marks has invited me to present the perspective of one beneficiary who wants to help American Christians ensure that their help is more effective.

1) LEARN THE ZAMBIAN CULTURE

It seems to me that the best place for American Christians to begin trying to better help Zambian Christians is for them to take time to understand African or Zambian culture. When Paul said, "To those under the law, I became like one under the law…To those not having the law, I became like one without the law…" (1 Cor. 9:20, 21), the least we can say is that he took time to understand how people in both cultures thought in order to win them to Christ.

Sadly, we have far too many well-meaning Americans who climb off the plane for the first time wanting to correct everything they see. They don't realize that the sensational view of Africa presented to the American people via CNN is often very superficial. A person needs to be on Zambian soil for some time, observing and asking questions about the presuppositions that make up African culture, before one can effectively minister here.

Space forbids me to apply this lesson to the huge area of modesty, decency, and propriety, especially when American young people are sent to Zambia on short-term mission trips. We often blush on your behalf!

However, let me say a little more about another area. Like most Africans, Zambians rarely want to give offence to anyone. Hence, when an American comes and appeals to his hearers to repeat a sinner's prayer, many Zambians comply merely out of a desire not to offend him. The deceived evangelist goes back to America with glowing reports of the number of converts he has left behind on African soil. But the truth is that no sooner was he on the plane crossing the Atlantic than his "converts" went back to their life of sin. They were not converted at all!

2) PARTNER WITH THE ZAMBIAN CHURCH

American Christians should also realize that the pioneer stage of missions in Zambia is largely over. The church of Jesus Christ has been firmly planted here. Therefore, American Christians should not do all their planning while in America, or try to do all their work through sending missionaries to Zambia. Instead, they should consult and plan with indigenous Zambian church leaders. Once this is done, it will soon become apparent that our greatest need is not for more missionaries from the West but for us to be challenged to send out our own missionaries (perhaps with your support).

I am not suggesting that there is no need for Western missionaries. We could do with many more hands! Rather, I am saying that if you plan with indigenous church leaders here the emphasis will certainly shift. It costs ten times more to send and keep a Western missionary and his family on Zambian soil than it does to briefly support an indigenous missionary as he begins to minister among his own people. So, even from the angle of stewardship over the Lord's resources, the present emphasis needs to change.

3) DEMONSTRATE BIBLICAL CHURCHMANSHIP

Western Christians entering Zambia as missionaries are generally very good examples to us with respect to their personal and domestic lives. In these two areas, we see a very clear difference between them and their non-Christian counterparts from the Western world.

However, where we see no difference is in their commitment to the local church. Their church attendance is scanty to say the least. They do not join a local church. We do not know where they give their tithes and offerings. They are not involved in any local church ministries (except to preach when they are asked to do so), and so on.

As a result, our young professional Christians believe that this is enlightened Christianity. They also end up having a very loose relationship with the church. I really think that this has been the Achilles' heel of the work of Western missionaries in Zambia today. They are not good examples of biblical churchmanship!

We need to find a way in which Western missionaries can maintain relationships with their sending churches and at the same time exhibit biblical accountability to local churches where they labor, so that they can be good examples in this area to those whom they win to Christ.

4) ENSURE EQUITY IN CHRIST'S BODY

If American Christians are really going to help Christians in Zambia, one other area that needs some serious thinking is the price that your books cost when they arrive on this side of the Atlantic. They cost an arm and a leg!

The biblical principle is that "he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little" (2 Cor. 8:15). That is certainly not what is happening. Books are priceless when it comes to the work of ministry, and Zambian pastors need books just as much as American pastors. Yet in addition to the discrepancy in salaries between pastors there and here, add in the cost of transportation and the books become too expensive for the average Zambian pastor.

I do not want to be unfair to book publishers and demand a pricing system that will put them out of business tomorrow. All I am saying is that there is need to implement the biblical principle of equity in Christ's body if Christian books are not just to be a form of business but also a true spiritual ministry to the worldwide body of Christ.

5) COMBAT AMERICA'S CHIEF, AND WORST, SPIRITUAL EXPORT

As I close, I wonder whether Reformed and conservative American Christians are aware that the charismatic prosperity gospel is America's chief spiritual export to our shores. In Zambia, the only free television channel that we have twenty-four hours a day is Trinity Broadcasting Network. It is the most unhelpful thing you can give us!

As a result, the kind of preaching now taking hold in Zambian pulpits is being modeled after preachers like Joel Osteen. Preaching is fast becoming nothing more than motivational speaking. Reformed and conservative American Christians need to do more to be helpful to the church in Zambia before the damage presently being caused by America's chief spiritual export becomes irreparable.

As someone has rightly asked, "Why is it that false teaching is often halfway around the globe before truth finishes tying its shoes?" I hope the readers of this article will, therefore, not just sit there but do something about it!

Conrad Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Africa needs God

This article was circulated earlier in the year. I wanted to add it to the blog, as I thought it was helpful to read.


As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God
By Matthew Parris, from The Times Online

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding—as you can—the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world—a directness in their dealings with others—that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.
We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers—in some ways less so—but more open.

This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety—fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things—strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds—at the very moment of passing into the new—that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation—that nobody else had climbed it—would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.




Sunday, October 18, 2009

Traveling

We are in New York right now, heading to New Jersey.
We have been on the road for a week and a half, and have about another week and a half. We have been visiting more churches, as we did this spring, and presenting the work in Zambia. We have had the opportunity to stay and visit with friends, as well as meet new people and make new friends.

In September, we visited a couple churches in North Carolina and one in Roanoke, Virginia.
This past week, we visited churches in Maine, New York and now New Jersey and will have a couple in Pennsylvania next week.

It is exciting to me and encouraging when others are interested in what the Lord is doing in Zambia, and what we will be doing over there.

Several times when we are weary of traveling or tired from all the preparations and planning, God brings us to a church, and has someone specific come to us and encourage us or tell us they have been praying for us already and will be a prayer warrior.

That is such a blessing and a huge help to me, when I am getting "bogged down" in all the details. To think back again over what we are doing. Even just watching the video and the powerpoint for the (20+ time) reminds me again of the Lord working all these things.

So I want to thank all of you, who have encouraged us along the way in our many travels, or who have been praying for us. Whether in Tennessee, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, California, Arizona, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or our beloved Kentucky! The Lord has used you.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hope for the Afflicted Sunday School Videos

One of the teachers speaking about the challenges in teaching the Sunday School class. Which has grown to about 120-130 children.
video


July 26th Sunday School Videos "Plans to give you a hope and a future"
video


Passing out the snack. A bread roll and an orange energy drink
video

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Church Plant in Luanshya

Here are a few pictures of the church building in Luanshya.
They hope to have a roof on the building by November, due to the gift of a few churches in the US.



Dr. Zulu (on left) giving thanks for the gift.

After the Sunday Service


Discussing the building plans

Monday, August 24, 2009

Copperbelt Ministerial College

The administrators of the college
Kabwe M. Kabwe, James Williamson, Choolwe Mwetwe



One of the instructors for the July module, Ron Baines

Students of the college



Classroom at Grace Baptist Church, Ndola

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meeting with Orphans and Guardians --Saturday July 25th

Teachers of the Hope for the Afflicted Sunday School


Wil Hardy ( deacon at RBC Louisville) and Christopher Ndumba. Christopher lives at the home that is rented for the Hope for the Afflicted ministry. Christopher was converted in prison and then started a reformed baptist church there.



Front of house


Side of House


Back of House




CHILDREN








These 3 girls are sister living with their grandmother.
The 2 girls looking at the camera have HIV and are on the ARV's.
Joyce 8 years old Grade 1 and Prescobia 13 years old Grade 4


Lollipops! We handed them out and even the guardians were pleased to have a little treat.


Joseph ( white shirt) 17 years Grade 10
Joshua (green Shirt) 15 years Grade 10



Lawrence 11 years old Grade 2


Friday, August 21, 2009

Sunday- July 26th Ndola, Kawama and Luanshya

Today we went to the Sunday school class in Kawama. It was initially started for the orphans in the shanty town. The class has grown to include many of the very poor children in the area as well. About 120-130 children attend each Sunday morning. The church ( Grace Baptist, Ndola) rents a classroom that meets at a school compound. Many other church groups have rented out some of the other classrooms.

It is exciting to see so many children that are there in the classes hearing the Bible taught. There are many challenges for the teachers though. There are usually only 2-3 for all of the children. They have started separating the kids into 2 groups. The older ones, and then all the younger grade school age kids. As part of their ministry they provide a roll and an energy drink to the children after the lesson.

Other kids have heard and therefore many more children are coming. Also several of the school age kids bring along their baby siblings in order for them to get a snack as well. It is very hard for the teacher, today for example, one teacher in a room with about 100 kids! Some of the very little toddlers were crying, talking or arguing, while the teacher was teaching. SO she not only has to stop a lot and tell the kids to be quiet, but is often talking over the noise of the little ones.


They had told us yesterday at the meeting that they need more people to come and help sit with the children. When we sat in on the class today I was able to move around the room a little trying to keep a few of the kids quiet. If they become very disruptive the teacher sends them out of the classroom to go and find their guardians/parents. They listen to my “shh’s” some of the times, mostly because it is unusual to have white people in their class.

It is cold season here and as I sat in the class, there were so many of the children coughing. And as I looked around at their faces, so many of them had runny noses that if I tried to get to all of them with a box of tissues I would probably not have been able to.


The Bible story today was about Joseph and his brothers being jealousy of him. The teacher speaks to the children in Bemba and in English. After she had taught some of the lesson she stopped and asked for the kids to say some things that they might be jealous of.
The things the children said were truly heartbreaking in and of themselves.

I might be jealous if someone has a

Pencil and I do not have one
A box of crayons and I do not have one
A notebook and I do not have one
A book and I do not have one
New Clothes or shoes and I do not have them

Food… If someone has food and I have not eaten that day. Then I might be jealous of them.

I could not help but think about my own children and our kids at church. Take the same Sunday school lesson and teach it in any one of my kids classes and if you ask the very same question I guarantee you will not get the same answers.

When the lesson finished the teacher started to pass out the rolls and drink. I saw the amount of children and the amount of food and wondered how it was going to all work out. There were way too many children for the amount of food that was available. This snack was very well the only breakfast and lunch for many that they would eat today.




The teacher had to share the roll between siblings and other siblings were given a drink to share. They all were crowding around holding out their hands for the food.
The class was dismissed and the children all gathered in the courtyard. We had brought Smarties to give to the children. Courtesy of Pastor John and Venessa Grevious. He gives them out to all the kids at our church. He is very generous with them too. “Theoretically” a kid could go to him before Sunday school, after Sunday school before the morning worship, after church and then before and after the evening service as well—and Pastor John will keep handing them out .

So we had 5 bags of them totaling about 500 Smarties. It was safe we thought to give each child 2 . But we decided to start with one first. Terry, Wil, Rayna and myself started handing them out. We were rushed upon and literally had hands reaching up all over the place. It started out fine, each child saying thank you and moving away but then all of a sudden chaos began. The older kids were pushing in and pressing against the other kids, little ones were being pushed and falling to the ground crying and then another girl was crying because she had a smartie in her hand and someone took it away from her.

I was quite overwhelmed and after a few minutes Pastor Kabwe came over and said we needed to go, that we were late for the morning service in Luanshya ( a city about 30 minutes away). I gave him the bags of smarties and he was going to give them to the teachers to take care of.

I told him I was sorry for any trouble it caused and I really did feel bad. Something that was supposed to be a happy thing all of a sudden turned not so happy, actually quite sad. The tears started welling up in my eyes and I really did not want to start crying right then and there. We walked to the car and Pastor Kabwe told me it was fine, we just needed to go and that the kids liked to get the sweets.

There obviously was a better way to handle that situation, it just didn’t happen that time. It was a good lesson to learn though. I now can truly understand when people speak about a stampede or when you see in the news or such videos or pictures of refugees lined up for the food truck pushing at each other and fighting over it.
Terry said she now understood when the Bible speaks of the crowds rushing upon and pressing in on Jesus.

I was glad to go and see the Sunday school, but it just brought out more of the great needs they have there. Resources are limited and yet there is so much that needs to be done.

We went to Luanshya after that and James preached at a church there. Afterward we went to see the building site of the church, walls up but no roof. In fact last year in the rainy season because there was no roof the weight of all the rain broke down the back wall and it had to be built up again.


We went to lunch at one of the pastors homes and enjoyed a good time of fellowship. We had good discussions about things in Zambia and the culture and the different provinces. 2 men in particular had a good time of teasing the other and told us that those in the eastern province were suppose to always tease those in the Northern one and they were to take it all in good stride and not ever become offended. The joking rivalry between provinces reminded me a bit of the Northern and southern rivalry in our country.

Before we left, they opened an envelope with a letter addressed to the pastors sent on behalf of a church in CA and Nebraska. Their pastors were here in April and they were compelled to help with the building project. James had carried the letter and money that was given to them from the states. It was sweet to hear them speak of their thankfulness and their desire to send the progress updates and pictures to the churches to truly be accountable for the money they were given.

We drove back to Ndola and made it just in time for the evening service. After the service James and Wil had a meeting with the deacons and elders of the church. They had many questions and things related to the sending of funds and the quarterly reports that the church in Zambia sends to tell how the money was distributed and accounted for.

So the church people cleared out and Terry and I were left waiting on our husbands in a meeting on a Sunday night. I told her, “ Well here we are…who would of thought that you and I would be waiting for our husbands in a meeting in Zambia!”…. We both laughed hard at that one. Since that is often our sunday night routine back home.

2 hours later they were finished and James said the meeting went very well and he was so glad to be able to sit face to face and communicate the financial matters.
We had a good time just talking the first hour, as we have been very busy and not had much time to just talk about some of the things we have seen and experienced.

The other hour we spoke with one of the men in the church who had come in later to wait on the pastor. It was very encouraging to hear him talk about how the Lord saved him and his many opportunities to speak of Christ in the business school where he teaches. He has a neat story.

We ended the night with a visit to our Lodge by Adamson Shamfuti. A friend of James’s that he met 4 years ago. We had planned to meet his family tomorrow and give them a few gifts we had brought. They too are a very poor family.
But we were able to give Adamson the laptop we had brought for him. He was so thankful! I don’t think I have seen anyone in quite awhile that truly was so appreciative to God for this gift. He hugged James for a little bit (which is the most expressive I have seen a Zambian yet) and kept saying, “oh thank you, thank you!” I knew it would be worth it in the end to carry that around for the last 3 days in my backpack, but I did not “really know”.


Tomorrow we will stop by and meet his wife and children and then visit the classes in session of the quarterly copperbelt college module and then get on a bus to ride to Lusaka!