Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Starting to Thresh

 

 by James

                The Scriptures tell us, “Don’t muzzle the ox while he treads out the grain.”  In the New Testament, Paul takes up this principle and applies it to the pay of Christian workers.  He says that ministers of the gospel ought to be provided for by their people in such a way that they are not hindered from being able to do what they are called to do because they have to worry about how to feed and clothe and shelter their family month by month.  In another text, the Scripture says, “Let him who enjoys the Word share in all good things with him who teaches” (E

It is an interesting picture.  You have this ox whose strength is leveraged by its owner to grind tons of grain to his profit and the profit of his family.  Here’s a description of how grain is threshed on a threshing floor:

Threshing floor: the site where harvested grain (barley or wheat) is spread out to dry so the seed kernels can be separated from the chaff. This separation can be accomplished by beating the stalks of grain with a flail, but it most typically involves the use of a threshing sledge. This sledge, made of a heavy board or boards into which stones have been embedded, is dragged repeatedly by an ox or donkey across the grain, separating husk from seed.[1]     

 

 

In other words, this ox walks around with a big heavy sled-type thing tied to his shoulders, pulling it back and forth across grain to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Now, if the ox is threshing out grain for you, then it would not be fair to place a muzzle on his mouth, so that he can’t even eat from all the grain being produced.  Don’t be chincy; it’s OK—let him take some gulps of grain.  In this way, he will have the nourishment and strength to be a useful instrument for you!  The idea is that if you just keep the ox fed well, and he is an ox, he will keep on threshing and be far more productive than if you starve him out.  The ox is an asset for your well being, so don’t make it hard on him.  This word picture illustrates a basic life principle.  The principle is that we should not begrudge the pay of those from whose work we receive benefit.  All of us as employers should see to it that those who work for us are provided for and can testify to the fairness and generosity of their employers.  It is the opposite of forcing people to “make bricks without straw.”

Enock (one of our employees—and yes, that’s how he spells his name) expressed recently his appreciation for us providing him a bicycle to get to work, and for a good salary.  I have to confess that there was more than one motive involved: on the one hand, I wanted to deal justly with him before God, and keep the command of this text.  But also, I know how we all are by our nature.  When we are well taken care of by someone, we are happy to work for them, and we seek to do a good job.  Our welfare is connected with how we pay others to some degree.  I told my wife recently that the last person you want to slight is the guy guarding your house at night!  It is in my best interest to see that he is provided for, and that he knows we care about him and his family (which we do indeed).

While this is a general principle, the Apostle Paul takes it up to apply it to pastors’ pay.  A pastor ought to be paid in such a way that he is freed up to do his labor effectively.  He is the main laborer for the well being of the congregation, and he ought to be materially compensated for that.  Many times, people think of pastors as being on some spiritual plane where there are no earthly needs or demands tugging at them.  But this is far from the case.  Pastors still have bills to pay, shoes to buy for their kids, appliances that break and need repairing, etc.  It has been interesting to see here in Zambia that this same failure to connect labor and recompense for ministry work exists.  There are churches here who, out of neglect and not lack, fail to pay pastors at the end of the month.  Or, they squeeze the pastor’s salary to set aside money for a building fund.  So, I can now declare the criminal neglect of the pastor’s material well being an international offense on the part of churches.  I’ve often felt sorry for such men, but haven’t had any real recourse to do anything for their good.  Perhaps this blog gives me that opportunity: If you are in a church with a pastor who does “thresh” faithfully, and cares for the people, and preaches the Word, please make sure you know he’s compensated well for the task.  You will be the main recipient of the benefit as he is freed to study the word rather than scrounge around for a way to keep his lights on! 

But this is all fairly one sided.  It’s all about the owner’s responsibility.  What about the ox?  If the ox has been freed up and well fed, what is his responsibility?  Is he not obligated to thresh and thresh and thresh some more?!       That idea has been percolating on my mind the last couple of months.  We have been well supported by the sending churches whose financial contributions paved the way so that our desires to work in Zambia became a reality.  We have what we need, and are not feeling the pressure to go and find extra income to make ends meet here.  We have a good, decent house, a tough and dependable vehicle, and beds and furniture and such as well.  Also, I’m typing this note on a computer purchased by my church a couple of months before we left home, and using the Logos Bible Software that another church in Maine purchased.  (In fact, that’s where I got the article about a threshing floor.)  In a word, we have felt “unmuzzled” to do what we need to do to get settled into life here.  And we are exceedingly thankful for that provision of God to us.

I think that many times the idea behind not providing well for a pastor is the fear that he will get fat and happy and lazy.  That is certainly a danger for a man who was never qualified in the first place to take up the gospel ministry.  But, for the person who does have a heart for the lost and for the Lord’s work, it only compels him to be more zealous in his labor and more generous with the “grain” that he’s given by his employer, so to speak.  For myself, a sense of thankfulness for the kindness, and of accountability for the trust which God’s people have shown, compels me to see that their investment reaps “forty, sixty, and a hundred fold.”  That is, that there would be no doubt but that you got your money’s worth out of us—that we labored diligently and faithfully, not for you first, but for the Lord.

Some of you who know me best and with whom I’ve corresponded individually sensed an anxiousness about getting to the work in the first couple of months we were here.  Honestly, that was there long before coming.  When you see that God’s people are giving so that you can occupy a home and minister in a certain area, it stirs up even more the sense of responsibility to be an effective worker for the kingdom.  At the same time, many other responsibilities—especially to my family—took rightful priority and I don’t regret any of the time away from ministerial duties that was spent settling in.  The Lord has blessed it to the good of our family and given us a sense that we have our feet underneath us now, and can do the work. 

But what a blessing it has been the past two weeks to be trudging up and down the threshing floor!  It has been a joy to be studying, meeting with people, working out plans for future ministry, and such things.  Certainly, a deep sense of obligation and accountability to God compels me on, and a sense of responsibility to the brothers and sisters who support this work spurs me.  But also, there is the sheer blessedness of the Christian ministry.  I miss the work, and have thoroughly enjoyed digging into it again.  It still has all the challenges and obstacles, but it also has the wonderful rewards of fresh discovery in the Scripture, of seeing someone helped or encouraged by His Word as the Spirit applies it, and especially of the fellowship of God which comes in the midst of the work.  Eric Liddel in Chariots of Fire says about his sense of God’s presence, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”  I think there is something to Christian vocation, of whatever it may be, wherein we feel that we are doing what God designed us to do—where we “feel His pleasure.”  This feeling is not exclusive to the ministry.  See, for example, the craftsmen in Exodus 31:1-11 who were “filled with the Spirit” to do this particular work.  May it be that whatever threshing floor the Lord has you on will become for you a “Bethel”—a  house of God, a place where you feel His pleasure.

 

 

 





[1] Freedman, D. N., Myers, A. C., & Beck, A. B. (2000). Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (1305). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans.

feeling better

Maureen spoke with her son today and he was feeling better.  He actually was wanting to go to school today for a test he had.

She said then she knew he was doing better.  She was so glad to talk to him because she thought maybe since she was so far away her sister might just be saying he was doing better, when he was still very sick.

I told her I was so glad to hear and that many friends were praying for him. She said thank you.

 

Then I asked about Jack and she said he threw up in the night on their bed  and that he had very bad diaper rash.  I said, “Wait just a minute!”  and I went to the linen closet and pulled out the tube of diaper rash I had brought over (left over from my stash of things we took to Ukraine).  I was so happy to have that to give her and told her how to use it and to change him often. 

 

I have been very glad to have a few baby items on hand,  to give when there has been need.

 

So thank you, and I will keep you updated!

 

 

Sarah's visit to the orphanage

Today I went with my mom to the orphanage.  There were a lot of cute babies there. We held them and fed them baby cereal.

There was this one baby boy who would cry when I put him back in his crib. So I held him several times.

When we went into the toddler room, a lot of toddlers started crying because they wanted us to hold them and get them out of the cribs.  This one little boy held onto me and kept crying so after I put the other baby who cried back in his crib I got that boy out and let him walk around.   Then when it was time for the toddlers to eat, they all started coming out of their room to go to the dining room. When I tried to put the little boy on the bench he kept crying so I held him a little longer and then when I had to put him back down, he cried.  It was pretty sad because they don’t get much attention. After they ate they all went to sit on these little potty chairs.

Then we held some more babies and mom held this really sick baby, we found out his name was Akim.  Today he had the IV place on his hand.

Then the little boy after they finished eating came back over to me and I walked around with him until he had to go to the potty.

 

Then before we left Mom held the really cute little baby, that is very tiny until she fell asleep and I held the baby who cried until I had to put him down and he cried some more.

The little tiny girls name was Wamasa.   (we think).     Mom mentioned these 2 babies on the blog and she found out their names today.

 

 

 

Monday, March 29, 2010

update on Maureen's family

Thank you for your prayers for baby Jack.

He was doing slightly better today. Though he just laid in the play pen and did not eat anything or even drink his milk.  Maureen said he only was drinking juice and so she ran out of juice and was giving him sugar water. So I gave her some orange juice I had.

 

This morning though she was quite concerned about her son Richard who is 10. He lives with her sister in the Copperbelt.  This same sister is the one that raised Maureen. Her mom died when she was 4 years old.

I am slowly learning more of her family and background.   She also has a brother who is a chief in a village in the Northern province.  (Maybe more on that another day)

 

They thought Richard had malaria again. (He had it a few weeks ago)  So her sister gave him the strong dose of anti-malaria medicine, and they took him to the clinic.  The male nurse on duty was drunk and gave them the wrong prescription. He started getting sicker today from the malaria meds as well  and they took him back to the clinic in the morning and  got the right prescription.  It was very scary and Maureen was quite worried about him.  I told her she could take time off to go and see him or bring him here, but she said with Jack being sick, she couldn’t go on the 5 hour trip (one way)  to get him.

She mentioned as well that he has severe nose bleeds and is sensitive to light and will get headaches too.   So this was compounded with this recent illness.

When she talked with her sister again at the end of the day, she said he was starting to feel better.  But please do pray for him as well.

 

 

I couldn’t imagine the clinics that the poorest of the poor go to.   We talked briefly about that. Even bringing maureen and Jack home from the clinic the other day  I was asking her a few questions about what the doctor said, etc.. and she said, “They don’t tell you anything”.  They just look at the child,  do some tests and then give you a prescription.  There are so many people there to be seen, so you wait a long time and they move you through without much thought to explaining things to the patients, or their parents.

 

A few weeks ago Jack was sick with a cold and was having trouble breathing. She took him in, and when they asked her how long he had been having trouble breathing she said just today, it started in the night.  She said they told her, “No. You are lying.”   

 

I told her I was sorry she had such a hard weekend, and she said   “ yes.  I was just asking God,  what is going on?  When Jack is sick and I can’t go and be with my other son.”

She has a 12 year old daughter that also lives with her sister.  They have been there since December. I haven’t asked yet,  why or how long they will be there.  I am assuming  she wasn’t working and so couldn’t take care of them.  It is so common to send your children to another relatives for them to care for when times are tough.   

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pray for baby Jack


Please pray for baby Jack.
He has Malaria.

He is the son of our house helper Maureen. We took them to the clinic today and then later to get the dose of medicine. He is only 5 months old.
Also today she heard another son ( 10 years old) who lives with her sister in the Copperbelt also has malaria, back for a second time.

Thank you

Lunch and a concert

We invited our workers and their families over for lunch today and then to an Evangelistic Music Concert at Kabwata.

James was going to Braii. ( BBQ )
I made my aunt Sue's super easy and delicious parmesan potatoes. ( Down to half a bottle now of paremsan...), rolls and we bought a water melon. I also made chocolate chip cookies!

It started raining just as the coals were good and ready to grill over.
So we ate lunch later than expected, which was ok, since it's zambia and they are zambians!

They all really seemed to enjoy the lunch. It was pretty fun to hear them talk about the cookies and how "nice" they were. It's neat to make chocolate chip cookies for someone to taste for the very first time in their life! I told them everyone in America loves them and they are very popular.

We took some pictures afterwards.
This was at lunch. Emma took the picture so it's at her eye level. I am not sure what they were talking about, but you can tell it was something funny.




Mr. Chipata and his wife and daughter. The daughter is 6 months old.
As soon as I took the picture and showed them, THEN they let out a huge grin.
His wife does not really speak English, so I smiled and oohed over the baby but that was about it. Thankfully they are good friends with Enock and his wife so once they arrived, they felt more comfortable.


Maureen and Jack.
She has been a blessing to have working for us. She stayed with the children the other day and they played Dutch Blitz and Phase 10, and Emma said she laughed alot.
I think she feels more comfortable around children, and comes out of her shell then.
(I think that's how I am too!) though she stayed later one afternoon and helped me prepare dinner and it was nice to be able to chat a little bit.


Mr. Kapasa ( Enock) and family. His wife and son, Fortune ( his english name)
They wanted their picture taken by the rose garden that Enock planted.



At the concert. Kids are kids the world over. It gets long and they get fussy. James took his watch off and gave it to the little boy to play with, and then his keys, just like he did for our kids when they were little.


They all seemed to really enjoy coming and commented on how nice the singing was.
We got home later and James is gone now, driving them home. Mr. Chipata lives about an hours walk away and Enock, an hours bike ride away.

I liked the signing too it was very nice. Different people sang. There was one quartet of me that sang a song in Bemba about the valley of dry bones from Ezekiel.
They were really good. Then there were a few songs by the kids choirs and then individual groups. It was very nice. And African sounding too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Locked up at home

(by James)
We’ve been adjusting to many different changes in life here. There are some that have gone rather quickly and smoothly. I’ve gotten quite used to driving on the left side of the road, although I still occasionally walk up to the wrong side of the car to get in. When that happens and I realize it just before, I try to casually keep going around to the driver’s side without looking foolish! In fact, once Megan and I were somewhere, and when we came back to the car, we BOTH walked to the wrong sides, and then realized it and had to switch. On another occasion, I went in front of Megan to open the door for her, but she went to the other side thinking I wasn’t being gentlemanly, until she saw the steering wheel inside the door on her side.


An adjustment that has taken longer is getting used to how long it takes to open up and close up each day at the house. Sometimes I feel like a school janitor with about 15 keys on my key-chain.

Most of these are used in the course of the day. For example, each morning that we wake up, we unlock an inner iron gate that leads to the hallway and bedrooms of the house, separate from the living room and kitchen.

Sarah, Ian, and I head out of the house after breakfast at about 7:30, and have to unlock the kitchen door that leads to the outside and the iron gate over that door before getting into the car.

( note from Megan: you can notice on the door a pink sticker. Because each key is for a separate lock and they all look alike it was hard to know which keys were for which doors. So James put color coded stickers on each door and the key to match that were labeled and now we can find them easily. So smart I tell you!)



On Lord’s Day mornings, we also have to unlock two locks on the main gate at the wall of the house.
We also unlock two doors for the front door on days we will be around here through the day, and then the back door and gate. There is also a key for the storage shed for the workers’ tools, a key for the gate around the pool, etc. Most of the day, the front and back doors and gates stay open so that we get airflow through the house, since there is no AC and it can get hot. (Of course, we haven’t seen “HOT” yet for Zambia—that will come in Sept-Oct.)

Most of the windows are open through the day as well, though they are barred also. On top of that, we have an electric fence on top of the wall (which is about 8 feet up), and that stays on at all times. One cost associated with our car was an alarm system that not only makes the usual alarm sounds and flashes when someone tries to open the door, but also warns and then disables the car within a couple of minutes of leaving if you don’t know where inside the car to press a special safety button. It is an “anti-hijacking” feature.

You would think we are in a war zone, but all of this is simply to protect against what the Zambians call “petty theft.” With so much poverty, people are willing to risk getting into someone’s yard or car just to grab a few things they might be able to sell for a little money. Pastor Mbewe’s wife Felistas was telling us of some thieves who broke into the church only to steal some parts out of the toilet! We’re told that most of the time, thieves who strike randomly like this are just there to get a little something for money. When someone would actually come into the house, it is because they know the house and the situation, etc.

At this point, I’m sure I’ve alarmed some parents and other caring, protective readers. It might surprise you, therefore, to know that the Zambians often feel unsafe in the US just because these kinds of security measures aren’t in place. Without seeing the security, they don’t feel as secure. Of course, those with property have to rely on their own means of security more than in the US, since the police force is less mobile and responsive than what is available with a 911 call in the States. As well, I can say that even in the downtown areas, there is much more friendliness and openness of people than back home. Zambians explain that there is a great degree of fear/concern that if anyone assaults or offends foreigners, then they will stop coming and so will the money flow. So, they are generally wary of doing anything to harm those from outside.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A second visit

I appreciate all the encouraging comments regarding visiting the orphanage.

Thank you!

 

I went yesterday, all by myself. I prayed for help and not to be nervous. The Lord answered those prayers.   I found the place with no trouble,  even when I honked the horn for the gate to be opened, I spoke to the guard and said I was coming to visit the babies. He let me in fine, I parked and walked over to the area where the rooms are.  I passed several people just hanging out in various parts of the facilities ( It is a large facility with older kids as well) and said hello.

When I got to the room,  all the workers were outside sitting on the ground.  I said hello, and asked if I could help today.  One of the ladies  said, “Are you alone”  meaning not with my friend Stephanie  and then told me all the babies were still sleeping. I said Ok. Well what time do they wake up.  14:00.  It was 13:30,  so I asked if I could come back.  She said yes  and then I left, told the guard I would be coming back soon and ran an errand.

 

When I came back,  it was feeding time, and changing time.  I started helping feed a little boy.  He was hungry and eating all his cereal. He did this really cute thing clapping his feet together almost every time he took a bite.  He ate the whole bowl and I so I asked if she wanted me to feed another one. So she poured more cereal in the bowl and then pointed to a little girl to feed. The boys had a “green”  runny nose so again, my instinct to share spoons and germs with another one was telling me, “no…”  but those things really aren’t important and so I kept quiet and feed the other baby.

 

Then I heard one of the babies crying.  He was quieter but consistent.  I went over to him and picked him up and held him for a minute and realized he was soaked all over again.  The worker was coming next to him so I put him back down and he was changed in a few minutes and he was still crying. So I went back over and his shirt was still wet and he had formula all over him,  I found a shirt and changed him and held him a little  he was happy a few minutes but then started crying. I found his bottle and started feeding it to him.  I kept walking around the room and one of the ladies was cleaning the floor it seemed like I kept stepping in her water.

So, I went outside and a few minutes later a large group of high school girls from a local catholic school came in and started picking up all the babies and holding them and oohing and ahhing over them.

 

Thankfully at that point I was sitting outside the room on the porch/veranda feeding the little guy a bottle.  He drank the whole thing and was finally happy and content.  A few girls came out holding a baby and we talked a few minutes. I asked them if this was a field trip and she said no,  we are all supposed to go visit an orphanage for LENT.

I see.    I watched as the girls walked around laughing and playing with the kids and then they left.

And I thought to myself…   Is that what they might see me as doing?  A whirlwind in here and then gone? 

 

Things to think about… I don’t know what they think though, but the encouraging thing is God knows my heart.

 

 I stayed a little bit longer, put the boy down who was now happy and picked up  the little boy who is so tiny that I mentioned last week.  I noticed when I went in right before all the girls were leaving that  I saw most all the kids were picked up and out of the cribs except him.   How sad.  Looking at him, you see how frail he is and maybe other factors going on. But in that moment my heart went out to him.  He wasn’t crying,  but  just to think about him not being “lovely” and that how often are we drawn to the “lovely ones “ and not those that are frail and weak.   

But Christ was drawn to the weak and despised.   

 

When it was time to go, I said goodbye and they said thank you.

I went to pick up the kids,  came home and checked my email and had a few encouraging comments, to keep going!    So,  even the timing of getting those was an encouragement to me.

 

It wasn’t until later that evening I was talking to James about it.  He was encouraging me,  and then I stopped to think a minute and told him of 2 encouragements that day.

The one boy that I spent most of my time with, who was initially fussy and crying   was happy and content when I left.    So, I helped him.

The other encouragement was that I realized the boy that I fed  that was happy and clapping his feet,  was the same boy that last week would not even open his mouth for me to feed him.  He just kept it closed and looked at me.  The worker had to take over and feed him and I went on to someone else because he was not eating.    So that was progress! 

 

 

Thanks for being interested.  I don’t plan to  blog every time I visit,  but maybe just these initial visits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

McDonald's Farm

 Donald McDonald has a farm.

He and his wife Christie,  have 27 boys and 3 girls that live on that farm. Along with all the animals and crops that they are growing.

These 27 boys used to live on the streets of Lusaka. Many are orphans, but some ran away from home and have no parents in their lives.

 

The McDonalds are a couple from Scotland, with two biological daughters,  and  now many many more children.

Several years ago, they started inviting boys home for a meal.  Now they run a  boys home.  As we talked with them, they said 9 years ago, they never would have imagined they would be doing what they are doing now.

 

Kabwata  sends a man out to their farm every week to preach to the boys and the family and the workers that work at the farm, and a few people from the surrounding farms.

There are plans developing now, to plant a church out in their direction and continue meeting with the boys and seeking to reach their immediate community.

 

We went today to church there.  We went to Sunday school at Kabwata, then picked the kids up from their classes and drove out to the farm.  Jackson said to me in the morning, “ We are going to McDonalds?  I didn’t know they had McDonalds in Zambia”.  Well I had to disappoint him, no McDonalds  here.

  

But we went to church and sang and heard the Word preached. To those who could see and understand what was going on,  It was far better than McDonald’s ( of the Ronald type) .

 It was very encouraging first to see all these boys that are off the street, but secondly that they are hearing the Word each week. Simply brought to them in English, with their vernacular language interspersed. 

 

After the service, James and  Kasango Kayombo ( a deacon at the church ) met with the McDonald’s and talked about plans for planting a church in that area.

 

Possibly in the next week or two they will have a follow up meeting after  they meet with the elders at church and then will move forward.      Just like that.   

Donald was to look into possibly renting a school classroom and having a meeting place other than their large living room.  So I will keep you posted on developments with that.  If the Lord blesses their efforts,  as he has with several other works in the Lusaka area,  that would make about 12 different churches,  and church plants,  in the areas surrounding Lusaka.   

Please pray for this new potential church plant.

 

Visiting a local orphanage

 

Thursday I went with a friend to a local orphanage.  I have wanted to find one to start volunteering at once a week.  My friend told me about the one she goes to and I asked if I could join her and her girls, for the first time.  So Emma went with me.

 

My friend had described the situation and then told me to be prepared to be “shocked”.

I don’t think I would say I was shocked, but you certainly have a lot of emotions working in that situation.     Going in I felt glad that I could actually go in and hold the babies and try to help. 

From our time in Ukraine a year and a half ago, I wanted to at least be of some use.

 

When we were there in Ukraine and the adoption we planned and hoped for fell through,  we had a couple weeks of just sitting around waiting for another appointment.  All the while knowing that there were hundreds of children in that area that were orphaned, and yet because of the “laws”  we could not even go into the rooms at the orphanage and see the children, let alone touch them or hold them. 

 

So we went into the 2 “baby” rooms.  The first room had toddlers and the other one has babies.

My friend had mentioned the cribs and once I saw them I too was fearful for the children.  They come up to about your waist and the mattress is at the upper 2/3 of the crib. So the toddlers that could stand up in their cribs would stand and the top rail was about at their thigh.  Instinctively I lunged a couple times when I saw them, not necessarily because they were falling out, but because if they leaned to much they could fall out.

 

When we came in all the toddlers were just sitting there in their cribs. I don’t know how many, probably at least 20.

Ironically, and we saw this in Ukraine, they have toys on shelves still in the packages that don’t look like they are ever played with.  But at least they can say they have toys and there is something to look at if you look up high enough.

 

Stephanie had said they let you do pretty much whatever and do not speak English very well.  So when we walked in they were finishing changing the diapers and getting ready to feed the babies.  A few of them eat baby food and the rest of them were given bottles in their cribs. Propped up or laying next to them.  

 

We spoon fed the older ones, (you share the same bowl and spoon and feed a couple at the same time)

And then we started to pick up a few with their bottles to feed.   Stephanie noticed that some of them would not continue eating if you held them.  But many of them then were soaking wet and were laying in milk and spit up, running down their neck.  One little girl I picked up, probably somewhere 3-5 months old and her whole dress was wet and her hair. So I asked if we could get clothes and you go over to a big cabinet and we grabbed something and then I changed her. 

 

So we were there about an hour and a half and spent the time holding the babies, and changing diapers and feeding them. 

Emma held a few and fed one or two for a little bit. Then she took a few of the toddlers out of their cribs, one at a time and held them and tried to play with them. 

 

The difficulty came for me, in seeing these older ones scream and cry when you put them back in their crib ,  to give another child a few minutes out of the crib with someone to hold them. 

One girl just screamed and screamed  and another little boy just sat there, more quiet, but he had tears in his eyes and was quietly sobbing.  I went back and picked him up for a little longer and then put him down.

Emma was holding one little girl and she tried to put her back in the crib and she physically kept herself from going in. She wrapped her foot on the outside and was very strong in showing that she did not want to go in the crib.  So Emma held her a little longer, and then I helped her put her back in the crib.

 

We wondered if they take the kids out to play any during the day.  There is not space in the room or a play area there, so it seemed like that’s where they  spend a great part of the day.

 

I told James I wonder if these that “put up a fight” to go back in the crib might be those that have been more recently abandoned or left in the orphanage for a time.  Maybe they remember their “freedom”, more than those that have been there long term or don’t know any different.

 

In the little baby room, there were maybe about 14 children.  I tried to hold several, wiping off their faces and mouths from the bottles.  Changing a few diapers, and learning the Zambian way to fold a cloth diaper.  One little girl’s diaper was falling off and she started going to the bathroom all over the crib,  thankfully I saw it as it was happening  and we were able to get it cleaned up and have her be fresh again.

 

A couple children stood out to me, and that night I was thinking about them as I went to sleep.  One little boy looked very frail and sickly.  I picked him up to try and feed his bottle and he sucked on it, but did not seem to be swallowing.  He was so tiny and thin. His little legs were so small and the skin was very loose on him.  When I held him, his tiny backside could have fit in the palm of one of my hands.  He looked as if he was older than what his size was saying, but he looked malnourished.   

 

Then at the end I held a little girl who also was very frail.  She too was very tiny and felt warm when I picked her up.  She had an IV next to her crib, so I thought maybe sometimes she is hooked up to it. 

But she had beautiful eyes and she just looked up at me and smiled the whole time. But so tiny.

 

For part of the time, it seemed like “are we even helping any?”,   especially when we were in the toddler room and there was more crying from kids having been held and then put back,  then there was when we walked in the room in the beginning.   And what a sad thing to just look out and see them, toddlers all in the cribs.  Several of them rocking back and forth in their cribs, sitting on their knees.

 

If you see a room of toddlers, they are supposed to be all running around exploring and getting into everything.  A lot of happy chaos.  Not sitting in their cribs.

 

So one could easily be discouraged.  You don’t walk away with a happy feeling from that situation. But what I tried to keep in mind is that the Lord can use any small amount of love shown, to these precious little ones.  ANY amount of love.  Maybe even just to hold a child and pray for that child. Only the Lord knows what that does for the child and those around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hope for the Afflicted in Ndola

Hope for the Afflicted Update

We had Pastor and Mrs. Kabwe in our home last night. Pastor Kabwe is the main contact person along with James for the work at the church in Ndola. (About 4 hours north from where we are living now) This is where the Copperbelt Ministerial College is, as well as the Hope for the Afflicted Orphan Ministry.

He gave us an update on the Orphan ministry. There are now somewhere between 35 and 37 orphans that are supported. These children live with some form of guardian whether it is a grandmother, an aunt or an older sibling. Nearly all the financial support comes from a few churches in the United States. Food is bought and given to the families, school fees are paid, if the child is sick, they are taken to the doctor..etc. A few of the orphans are HIV positive and they are given extra special food to go along with the ARV medications that are provided for them as well.

The children then meet periodically at a house that has been rented for meetings with the guardians. The medicine for those that have HIV are given out at the house, as well as the food. They hold a Sunday school class for these orphans as well. Currently they are meeting in a school building, renting 2 classrooms. I wrote about our visit to the Sunday School class when we visited last year at the end of July.

The classrooms were near other church services being held in the same building. For quite a while, after the lesson, the children would receive an energy drink and a roll. For some this was the only thing to eat for breakfast and lunch. The numbers grew and when we were there over 100 children were coming. Many children would bring their baby siblings with them, just to get the snack afterwards.
Some children even were sent by parents who were there at the school in other church services.

The number was very difficult to manage as there were usually only 2 to 3 workers for all the children. It was a sad situation because you know these kids are hungry.
But they stopped giving the roll and drink out, and instead just give out a bag of snackies, like crackers or chips. There are now about half the number of kids coming. Somewhere around 50.

Mrs. Kabwe said it is better now, because they feel like they can actually concentrate on the children and the children listen better to the lesson. Less chaos.

They have had desires for some time, though to build a metal structure on the side of the house they rent. This would be used for a Sunday school classroom, and other group meeting throughout the week. Right now their interaction with these kids is fairly limited partly due to the logistics of having a space for these larger meetings.
But Kabwe shared as well that they are having difficulties with some of the children not coming to the Sunday school, even though they are supposed to, in light of the support that they have been given. Sometimes he said, the guardians will have them do some kind of work and they will be the ones hindering them from coming.
He said that they have dreams and a vision for helping these guardians. Teaching them literacy and hygiene and health care as well as maybe teaching them to sew or another income generating skill.
If they can reach out to these guardians of these children , you can see that it will not only help them, but will help the children as well.

So Pastor Kabwe again mentioned the need to have this “building” so that they could start to meet in other ways and expand this ministry. We talked with him last night and after we said goodnight, ( they were staying the night at our home) I told James, I know what we need to do. We need to ask someone to help with this project. And I knew exactly who! I remembered a friend that had mentioned to me, “Let me know if there is anything that we can do to help”. Before we left and again while we have been over here.

Usually people want to help and might say that in general, but you tend to know when someone is serious. When an offer is a real genuine offer, and you know they have the means to act upon that offer.

So I emailed a friend and a heartily reply was given that YES they wanted to help and the Lord’s timing in these things was perfect.

We told Kabwe of the help that could be given and he said, “This is an answer to prayer!”.

What a blessing to be able to hear of a need and then immediately know of someone who could tangibly meet that need. The Lord delights to use people to accomplish his plans.
When we get to be involved in the process it is joyful!

So please thank the Lord with us and pray that we would continue to see opportunities and that people would want to help in those needs that are seen.

So when we visit Ndola at the end of next month, they should have the structure up and we will be able to take pictures and report back on how this was a blessing to them there.


Here are some pictures of the house and of the children. These were all taken in July 2009.
I hope to get many more next month.







The side of the house, where the new metal structure will be attached


The front of the house


The back of the house

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Buying a Hoe to Help Build the Kingdom

(blog post by James)

Over the last couple of months, most of my time has been spent in doing immigration paperwork, negotiating the contract on the rental house, securing a vehicle and registering and insuring it, etc. I’ve also been doing a lot of appliance and furniture buying. Typically, you have to go to several stores before you find what you’re looking for, and especially before you find it for a decent price. Of course, most of the time I don’t know what the decent price is without asking around from brothers and sisters in the church or more experienced missionaries here. Once I know a range, then I can get going on looking for something. Often, there are no prices on the items you’re looking to buy, and you don’t know what a white face means to the person to whom you ask, “How much is this?” Most of the time, it means “add to the standard price.” Sometimes, it means “double the price and see what happens.”

But, there are some shops or roadside salesmen who will quote you something reasonable up front. It is a relief when this happens, because it means you don’t have to start into a complicated negotiation where you’re trying to change kwachas to dollars and back again in your head, all the while the person is asking if you accept their offer. As they say, “I give you good price!”

Well, all of that to say that several of the things we have purchased were tools for the workers to do their jobs. For example, it was about a week before I found a whistle for the guard to use in case of emergency. I ended up paying 5,000 kwacha to someone offering to help me find what I needed when I was shopping downtown. It ended up that the whistle itself was 5,000 also. So, he made as much as the item’s value just to take me to a place that sells them. Lest you worry about me being “taken,” 5,000 kwacha is about $1.20, so I was glad to get the task done for that.

I also shopped around for a wheelbarrow, (which took about 7 different stores before I found one and found it for a good price) a bow saw for tree trimming, and other garden implements including a “reef lake.” I call it that because though our gardener Enock speaks English well, the folks at the hardware stores where I hunted for a leaf rake tended to switch the “r” and the “l” in the term rather consistently. It sounded like I was shopping in China! Well, the rake was probably made in China anyway!







So, back to the hoe I mentioned in the last post. I had to go probably four or five places to find a hoe, and get one at a decent price. The gardener uses the hoe almost every day—it’s his most basic tool for the work. So, I found myself in this sort of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” kind of situation. If you move to Zambia to do missions, you need to rent a house. If you rent a house, you are responsible to take care of the yard (or “garden” as they call it). If you need to take care of the garden, then you are expected to hire a gardener. If you hire a gardener, he will need a hoe. If you need to buy a hoe, you will need to drive around town for a day or two to find the hoe at a decent price. And, if you drive around town for a day or two getting a hoe, you will contribute to settling your family and home. If you settle your family and home, you will be better prepared and more fit to do the work for which you came!

You can see, though, that this could be a frustrating way to spend the last couple of months. The series could have ended, “And if you drive around town all day, you will never get around to the missions work you came to do!” It certainly has felt that way at times. But then, at other times it has been peaceful and even enjoyable. We have tried to think about all the things we’re buying as part of the work of the mission we are on. We pray that they will all contribute to our capacity to do the work the Lord has us here to do, and that they will all be laid at His feet for His purposes. And at the times when, by God’s grace, we’re able to have that perspective, the pursuit of a hoe or the best price on a rug or a couch or whatever, is filled with meaning.

When the kids ask why we are driving around Kalingalinga again, stopping at little spots on the road where there is a dresser or a set of bunkbeds until we find someone with a good price, we have a very good answer. We’re outfitting our home for a work. We’re getting things ready so that we can effectively serve the people of Zambia and the church in particular.

A couple of years ago I read some about Lewis and Clark and their historic journey through what was then unknown territory all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I remembered that they spent the first couple of months just getting their boat built properly and buying supplies and hiring crew members for the journey. It was not an interesting part of the story to read, but it was an essential part of their expedition. If they hadn’t prepared well and stocked up properly, down the road they would have certainly met with disaster!

More than Lewis and Clark, I was reminded of the fact that for most of us, a large segment of our daily activity is tied up in the mundane of buying and selling or taking care of secretarial or administrative details, or being engaged in some sort of less-than-stimulating labor. Are we to simply wait for this time to pass before we can serve God or enjoy Him? If so, then we will lose and waste a lot of our lives. It is not without purpose that the Lord exhorts us: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” and “Do your work heartily to the Lord, not unto men.”

The Lord is fully aware of how the fall and the simple responsibilities of life have a downward gravitational pull that can make us unmindful of Him and even generate a sense of purposelessness. But nothing is purposeless when it is done in the Lord’s name. We must simply follow the “ifs” through to remind ourselves why we are doing whatever it is that is going on in our lives at the moment. For some of our activities, we will find that they simply need to be cut out altogether. They just don’t fit into the ultimate objective of serving God and His kingdom. They waste time and take us away from our true calling as Christians. They may even be spiritually harmful in themselves, poisoning our minds and deafening our ears to God’s Word.

But we must not think that if we become truly godly, we will never have to go to the hardware store. If we are truly spiritual, we won’t need to try to figure out the best places to get the best prices for groceries. No—our lives on this earth will of necessity be “earthy”—they will have a lot of the mundane punctuated by some ecstatic, glorious experiences. But the test of the health of our lives and whether they are truly fulfilling in a Biblical sense is in how we execute the mundane tasks.

Is one eye cocked toward eternity and the glory of the Lord, while we compare with the other two refrigerators to decide which one to buy? Are we inclined to pray throughout the day for God’s wisdom and help for each little thing, and have as our companion on our errands none other than the Lord of hosts? This is life lived in the presence of God—the fullest, richest life available to anyone on this earth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A White Plate and some Milk

We met a man this week who has recently become engaged to a young lady in the church. He was describing the process to ask for her hand in marriage.  It was very interesting and I thought you would like to read about it.

When the man decides he is ready to ask permission from the woman’s father,  he tells her that he would like to visit her home in the next few days for that purpose.  Then a day is set to come for a visit.

On the day of the visit, the man shows up with his negotiating team, which consists of members from his family, and one church member if  he is a Christian.

He brings with him a white plate to present to the father.  This plate is wrapped up with a white cloth and on the plate there is money. Often a  50,000  kwacha.   He offers the plate and if the plate is accepted then the negotiations for the woman and the bride price can begin.

Even as in many cases now they have already known each other, it is as if they are introducing for the first time.

The man is asked, “Who are you here for?”   Then the father, or head over that household will bring out all the single women of the household.  In this man’s cases there were five brought out and he was to point  out which one.  The woman is then asked if she knows this man and if she wants to marry him.    Once that has been decided then the groom leaves and his Negotiating team stays behind to work out the bride price.

In this situation the price started at 9 million kwachas  and  was accepted it at 6 million. 

The groom can pay that amount in installments, but it must be paid before the wedding.  The groom still then has to pay for the entire wedding as well. A moderate wedding would be around 20 -25 million, which would be around $5,000 USD.  That is a lot  of money in general, but especially for a Zambian to come up with. His family can help with those expenses if they are able but if they don’t have money then the man is on his own.  He is responsible for paying for the wedding dress too.

 

So the man we talked with actually was at our home for lunch this past Sunday.  I prepared an American meal of Meatloaf ( A Paula Deen recipe, which is great!)  and Mashed potatoes and a couple other things. We finished off the meal with homemade chocolate chip cookies.  My first batch from the stash of chocolate chips.  They were really good.  In order to make them last I told Sarah if you make the cookies, only use half the amount of chocolate chips.

He said he enjoyed the meal and it was sumptuous. Or maybe it was scrumptuos.   (I know it wasn’t scrumpdidliumptuous though) At any rate, he liked it.

When we were eating the cookies, we got out the milk and had a glass of milk with our cookies. 

James asked me for the milk and since I was across the table from him (which is very wide-a large square table, a little over 6 feet by 6 feet. )    I slide it across to him.

 Now, since we got the table, we have been doing that for fun when we pass things. Just the family. That’s the key, just the family. 

So since the context of our discussions with this man had been about culture, he said, “Now doing something like that would be very disrespectful in our culture!”

Then he said that the women are supposed to serve the men, on their knees.  I was quite embarrassed, but we laughed a little about it (James and I ) and then he said things are changing in the city though and not everyone does that now.

Though I slid the milk, I was especially glad I had served him and James and all the kids their plates of food, for lunch and not opened it up for a buffet!

I’ll know for next time we have Zambians over for dinner. Which is tomorrow evening! 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Immigration and Integration

(blog written by James) 

                When we were preparing to leave for the mission field, we received a lot of excellent counsel from friends at home and those who had served overseas.  However, one thing no one ever covered with us was how to buy a hoe for your worker.  In fact, we gave little thought to the idea of having a worker at all until we had gotten a house.  We knew that most of those from the US in whatever capacity, including missions, had people working at their homes, but we didn’t know that less than two months after arriving here, we would have three people employed by us.  And we didn’t realize how much work is involved up front in having workers!

                What we learned upon arrival is that most Zambians with decent jobs employ one, two or all three of the following: a gardener to take care of the outside of the property, a housekeeper to take care of the inside (of course!), and a guard to secure the premises.  It is considered stingy and offensive for someone from the West not to employ anyone.  In an economy where 50% of the people are unemployed, it sort of makes sense that the folks would expect those with means to provide jobs whenever possible.

                In God’s providence, we were able to get a house for a very good price—about half of its normal asking value for rent.  But that also meant that the house needed a lot of cleaning work inside and the large yard needed a lot of help getting into shape.  Of course, if you are white in any neighborhood, you need a guard for protection against petty theft (I hope to write a blog soon on this one!).  So, we find ourselves with three employees for whom we’re responsible.  We pay them above average wages for Zambian workers, and yet still our cost for the workers and their provisions is very reasonable.  For example, it costs us less to employ a gardener full time than it would to pay someone twice a month to mow our yard.  So, with the same pastor’s salary we received at home, we are now providing for our own family, and also to some degree for four other families.  The guard and gardener are both married and have one child, and the housekeeper has a son as well (which you know from previous blogs).  We are providing her a home, and also a home for the church secretary Patience and her sister Amanda.  It is a blessing to have the means to do all this, and we’re thankful for the Lord’s provision and for His guidance in giving us good workers who do their jobs well and who we feel we can trust.

                As well, it is a heavy responsibility.  These four families are dependent on us.  They have become added to our daily prayers as those connected with our household, and to whom we have a measure of responsibility.  They need tools and equipment to do their job, food for their lunch, and sometimes help with medical care or other family needs.  And they are looking to us to provide that for them.

 

One missionary manual that we read recently stated, “ It helps to think of your workers as extended family, though still employees. You are responsible for them and to some extent for their families, and they are responsible for taking care of you.  Treat your workers with respect and generosity, sharing what you receive. On the other hand, do not treat your workers as equals (friends rather than employees), as this is confusing in this pecking-order society. This may encourage them to act more like friends than workers (taking extra time off, using food not allotted to them, etc.)”

So you can see the difficulty in keeping the proper balance.

One of the greatest and best changes for us in being here is seeing how interconnected people are as opposed to the states.  Through the close proximity of life and living for people here, you are forced to be part of many other peoples’ lives, and they are of necessity part of yours.  Only a hardened and incurable individualist could manage to avoid this interconnectedness.  One missionary friend here, Steve Allen, who has been a great help and encouragement, said that many missionaries who move here become embroiled in controversy simply because they’ve never had to live in community with other ministers and ministries, much less with a whole other culture.  They have petty problems within their missions team and often end up going back home as a result.  May the Lord spare us!  And may He help us to develop with wisdom and grace the many new relationships that have come into our lives.  It is certainly a challenge.  We just don’t realize how much we treasure what we think of as “our space” and our privacy until both are assaulted constantly in the shoulder-to-shoulder, sunup-to-sundown involvement in people’s lives that is part and parcel of the culture here.  Jesus’ maneuvers to get alone with the Father make more sense than ever now, since I am not down the hall in my office by myself for hours every day.  And the necessity to still find that time with the Lord has also been made clear in these days. 

But our Lord chose to be among people, because it was for our good and our salvation that He had come into the world.  And it seems that almost any occasion for being in proximity to Jesus provided the opportunity for a transcendent experience—for a revelation into eternal things, for a spark of the divine to flare up in the midst of the everyday and commonplace.  Jesus was the Master teacher, we know.  What made Him so effective?  Was it not in part, at least from the human perspective, due to the fact that He was always with people, and studied them, and knew what they were about?  John tells us He did not need to be told what was in a person, because He knew…  And He was so effective as well because He took advantage of walks with His disciples, of meals, of weddings, of news items told to Him, of disputes and conflicts between people—of anything and everything to turn the occasion into a time of valuable insight and instruction.  More and more, it is my prayer that I will use interactions with my workers (one of whom is a Jehovah’s Witness) to show and speak the truth of the gospel.  And it is my prayer that I will spread the seasoning salt of God’s grace when I’m buying and selling in the markets and on the side of the road, when I’m riding somewhere with someone, or they’re riding with me.  I want it to be the case that anyone who spends half an hour or more around me would be able to take something positive away from the experience.   

Pray for us (and for our often overly-individualistic homeland) to be more comfortably community minded, more willing to share our lives, more willing to be “incarnate” in this country and context God has placed us in.  And at the same time, pray we will be spending the time with our Savior that makes all our interactions with others have the savor of His presence.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

FW: test

 

 

Hi friends, 

I am testing how to email posts to the blog.

I am supposed to be able to add pictures this way as well.

So if you see a note and a picture…It WORKED,  and thank you Steve Allen!

(you can check out his blog www.aliveinafrica.com)

 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blog comments/ Address

Thank you to those that have written comments to encourage us on the blog.
We welcome them, so please anyone feel free to do that.

Also some of you have asked for getting in contact via email or address.

So please email us at lionofzambia@gmail.com for both James or Megan and we can get in contact directly with you.

Thank you for your support!

Time of Refreshment

We spent the day at Chaminuka yesterday. Its a private game reserve about 30km outside of Lusaka. We were glad to have the opportunity to take the children, as ever since we talked about moving to Zambia they have talked about the animals we would see.

It was a nice clear day and it was good to be together as a family.
We had a great lunch there as well. Last time we were there with our friends Wil and Terry, we ate kudu. This time they served Impala. I ate Impala steaks and they were really good! The kids also loved the meat ans said the lunch was also a highlight of the day.


There is a village of huts on the drive there.





All the boys brought binoculars


Antelope


A Wildebeast


Giraffe





We also got to walk up to the elephants and touch them.
I thought this was a cool picture, as the elephant was flapping his ears


We saw Zebras
We spotted them in a far distance and the safari driver got off the main rode and we were driving through the tall grass, on the hunt to see some zebras!
It was really neat. Last time we had only seen them from far away and it was dry and dusty. This time we got to get up close to see them.





We had a nice day, and I told James it was a nice thought as we were driving home in the dark that we were going back to our house this time. Not to stay in a hotel, as we did last time we were here on visit, but in our own place.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Article From Pastor Mbewe's blog

This is a blog post written by Pastor Mbewe. I thought it was very good.
His blog is www.conradmbewe.com


The Insecurity of Potential Missionaries

“To another Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-62).

We have just had our 2010 in-house missions conference at Kabwata Baptist Church. It is always a glorious time, as we hear reports from the various missionaries sent out by the church. The “great works of Christ” are always heart-warming. Coupled with messages from actual missionaries, such an annual feast always leaves us challenged and refreshed.

The missions conference is also a time to listen to those that the Holy Spirit is prodding to consider the cries from the unreached millions all around the world. What is it that is stopping them from laying both hands to the plough? The common answer to this question is something along these lines: “I need to build a house first before I can go.”

The common understanding of those who are seriously considering the call to the work of missions is that you need to secure an extra source of income and your retirement package before you commence working for God—otherwise you will bring untold suffering upon your family. The church will only pay you enough to stop you from starving to death. So, issues of clothing and educating your family, and finally having a roof over your head and food in your stomach after retirement must be your own problem to solve.

Thus there are many individuals among us who ought to have been in the mission field aeons ago were it not for these feelings of insecurity. They cannot do so until they have built themselves their retirement homes, which would also bring in that little extra money from rentals. This perception is really worrying. It is disconcerting because, to me, it is a form of practical atheism. It suggests that God may call people into his service but fail to provide for them and their children. Perish the thought!

Granted, in the case of most of our people, answering a call to missions often means a reduction in one’s income and going to live in a social context that is lower than the one the missionary is coming from. There have been a few cases where it is the opposite, but for most of our missionaries it certainly involves a cut in their salary. Our policy as a church is that a missionary must live among the people he is serving like one of them. This must especially be the case when he becomes their pastor. I may be wrong, but I fear that the first-let-me-build-a-house phenomenon speaks of reluctance on our part to live at the social level of the people we are ministering to. We want to have a secret well that produces water for us and enables us to live above the average income of the people paying our salary. We also want a form of security that is independent of God’s people.

I find this most unfortunate because when Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth, the Bible tells us that he “tabernacle” among us (John 1:14). He did not need to be born in a cow shed. He did not need to get tired and dusty because of travelling on foot in the dusty paths of Palestine. He could have jetted down from heaven on angel wings and continued gliding over everyone’s heads at supersonic speed as he went from town to town preaching the gospel. However, he lived exactly the way in which the people of his day lived—the people among whom he had come to minister. Judas needed to kiss Jesus in order to differentiate him from his disciples when he brought soldiers to arrest him. That was how much Jesus fitted in with the people among whom he ministered!

However, it seems as though our clear message to the Lord is that if we are to serve him in missions, he should keep us at the social level we were when we accepted his call, or else we will provide for ourselves so that we keep up that standard of living. What are we saying to our parishioners if we live outside their social context and only come in to handle church services and disappear again to our comfort zone? What will we be saying to our people if ours are the only or most expensive cars in the church car park on Sunday? What message will we be sending to them if our children go to expensive schools which none of our parishioners dare ever dream of sending their children to? How shall we convince our people to give their tithes and offerings in spite of their poverty, when rumour has it that we have built a few powerful mansions somewhere that they can only dream of owning in heaven? All I am asking is, isn’t this going to send wrong signals to them? Does this not go against the incarnational nature of missions work?

I fear that with this kind of attitude, if there was a call for Zambian missionaries to go to the USA, there would be a stampede in the church that may even result in some people being trampled to death. The motive would not be to rescue the perishing but to upgrade our standard of living.

I need to be fair. Not everyone struggling with this first-let-me-build-myself-a-house syndrome wants to insulate himself against the standard of living he may be called to live in. For many it is just a sense of insecurity. They have fears about the future that brick and mortar seem to dispel.

However, my appeal to those who suffer from this syndrome is to think of the great and precious promises of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus, which we need to trust in so that we are not weighed down by energy-draining anxieties. For instance, the Lord Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on... Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ...And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-34).

Brethren, how shall we preach on passages such as these if those of us who occupy the pulpits of the land, as missionaries and pastors, were first clever enough to take care of ourselves before we could trust God to take care of us? How shall we tell the flock to seek first God’s kingdom and then “all these things” would be added to them, when we ourselves sought first “all these things” before we sought his kingdom?

Having said all this, I must quickly add the fact that the Lord’s service often includes hardship and suffering. These are often part of the Lord’s way of purifying and strengthening his servants. Read the biographies of missionaries and it will be as though you are reading Hebrews 11 re-enacted. Most of these missionaries left the comforts of the Western world never to go back again. They lived in jungles infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes and ferocious wild beasts. Some of them even died or lost their loved ones because of these dangers. They chose this because of the preciousness of the gospel and the souls they were seeking to reach.

My argument here is that the worthiness of a cause can be seen by how much people are willing to suffer for it. Look at the price that Jesus paid when he incarnated among us. He left the splendour of heaven knowing his destiny was not only the lonely hill of Golgotha but also years of hardship and tears. Why? It was because of the worthiness of the cause. His sacrifice was going to result in the salvation of billions and, above all, it was going to bring glory to our great God.

Look also at the great pioneer missionary, Adoniram Judson. When Judson arrived in Burma there was not a single Christian in that entire nation. The story of his twenty months imprisonment alone is enough to keep weak-hearted individuals from going to the mission field. He outlived two wives who both died prematurely on the mission field before he reached the age of fifty-seven. All his children from his first wife, Ann, died in infancy—with the last one dying a few weeks after her mother died. Yet, by the time Judson died, there were over sixty Burmese churches and about seven thousand Burmese Christians. A century later, there were many splendid Christian high schools, hundreds of village schools, some 800 self-supporting churches and a Christian constituency of more than 150,000. Is this kind of fruit not worth living, suffering and dying for? Where is this spirit of heroism today?

Let me end with an appeal to all of us to bear in mind that the Lord will certainly reward us for any sacrifices we make on his behalf. He is no man’s debtor! When Peter said to Jesus that they had left everything to follow him, his reply was, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30). Think on these things!

Misc. family and daily life stuff

We hopefully are on the mend. The virus ran through most all of the family. Sarah had an ear infection and is on some drops now, and Emma has been having her wheezy croupy cough, so she is on albuterol now and hopefully they are on the mend.
I have had a sinus headache and was feeling pretty bad yesterday and a little better today. I had planned to go to bed early, because I did not sleep well last night, but I couldn’t fall asleep and I had much to write so we’ll see if this blog gets posted tonight.


I went this morning to Zesco, the electric company to get more power on the prepaid card, since we were running low. So I came home with the code and card. Then we left to go to someones house for lunch today, as it is a holiday-Womens Day.
When we returned about 4 hours later, maureen said the power was finished. I didn’t quite know what she was saying and then realized, we had bought the power but unless you type the code into the box in the kitchen, you run out! So minor power issue, our own fault!

We had more visitors today, Pastor Bota and his wife Mavis. They came to “call” on us and I again served tea. Since people eat dinner so late here, it is perfectly normal and acceptable to “call” during what we would think would be dinner hours. (5-6:30)
We had a nice visit with them. It has been very kind for a few people to stop by and welcome us.

The church has cell groups weekly in each neighborhood area and so hopefully in the next few weeks we will start to attend the one that is in our area.

The kids were off school today, and enjoyed their day off. We finished arranging and unpacking a couple of the kids boxes, and got the books all on the shelves.

We hope to get internet set up at the house this week.
We had called a few weeks ago, and they came out to the house, did a survey and then told us the equipment we needed to get the signal.
Then they told us that they did not have the equipment. They were out of it. The have it on order, but who knows when they will get it, as the man said because it is coming from South Africa and someone else may have priority to get the equipment first.
And maybe we could sign up with another company, get their equipment and then transfer to their services.
I was a bit dazzed and confused when they left.

Since that time, we had a man show up at our gate (from the company) with the equipment saying that another white man was moving and he had this equipment, did we want to buy it and get the internet set up?
So tomorrow James is planning to go downtown and talk to them and hopefully get it set up. Crazy how things work sometimes…Or rather, don’t work.
Last week Pastor Jim finally was able to get a hold of us, he has called several times. When he called I was laughing because we were in the middle of getting bookshelves negotiated and strapped to the roof, but the bungee cord was breaking and it was not working out! At that point, it was just funny. “Hi, this is what we are doing right now!”

I must say James is getting pretty good at these negotiations. Its embarrassing sometimes though, because I am not used to it yet.
We were buying a rug, or piece of carpet really, for our Living room and I was along and he and the man were going back and forth with prices, and then there is the dull silence for a few minutes while they are thinking and looking around at the item then at you, and you are not budging and then they say "ok".

I negotiate some, like this past Saturday, a woman was selling me something at the craft fair and she had a clay pot and it was the end of the day and she said “please” buy this. I have a baby, (that was nursing while she was carrying a pot and trying to sell it) and I need money for transport and food.
I had a 20,ooo kwacha in my hand, left over from buying some mugs and she was asking 40. I really did not need the pot, but I thought maybe she does need some money. I stayed firm on my 20, saying this was all I had in my hand. And she accepted the deal.
Then another woman came by a few minutes later (probably heard I had already bought one) and she had an identical pot for sale. She said the same story and I realized I was being suckered. A man was behind her saying, please buy it she has a baby… I asked were the baby was and she said back at the tent. So I bought it from her only at 25, after I said 20 for the first lady. I came out good in the deal, 2 big clay pots for a total of about $10.oo. Really good actually. But as we were driving away, I saw her smiling and laughing with the man and she handed him part of the money. I must have had the look of , “What?!?!” on my face and they smiled and he said, “she is my wife”. Likely story…

So sometimes you get a good deal and still get suckered out of it as well.