UPDATE from James
Thanks very much for your prayers and support of the work in Zambia. It is almost three years now since we moved here, and we have seen God's kindness in many ways over that time. That has continued into 2012, and the Lord has been pleased to bless the work this year in several ways, for which we are very thankful. I'll list some quick prayer points first, followed by a more detailed account of the ministries.
-Help to provide better schooling for the kids of Hope Kabanana
-Continued transformation in the lives of the CMC and LMC students
-Blessing on the transition of leadership at LMC
-Direction and provision for another worker here for ministerial training
-God's blessing on the family and marriage of the Williamsons
1. ORPHAN MINISTRY. We recently had all 43 kids we sponsor over to the house for a day of swimming, eating, and fellowshipping together. It went very well, and the kids had a great time. With the increased number of kids, we have needed to hire new workers. Fanny Banda, who was doing a great job as a volunteer for us, has now become a full time employee. At the same time, Katryn Belke is engaged to be married and will be moving to northern Zambia. Congratulations, Kat! We'll miss her, and are thankful for her work here the past two years. Thankfully, the Lord has provided a Zambian man to fill that role. It should be a big help to have a male worker, since the majority of our sponsored kids are boys. He is scheduled to begin working in January, Lord willing.
Because of the state of the schools in the area, we are hoping to develop a school for the kids in addition to the tutoring which we already provide. This will require a lot of work as well as funds, but we think it is an important part of the ministry to provide a quality, Christian education to these young people. We don't want their school to undermine what we teach them one on one and at church, but rather to reinforce it. And it seems the best way to do that is to school them ourselves. Pray about this!
2. COPPERBELT COLLEGE (CMC). We have been blessed to see the Copperbelt College grow a lot in the last year. This past week's classes had the highest attendance yet, including three Malawi brethren whom I met in August on a short trip there with Pastor Ron Baines from Maine. Many of the present group of students are having their first exposure to Reformed teaching, and it is not uncommon for that to shake them and their churches up quite a bit. I was struck just last week with a student who said the teaching of this college is having a great impact on himself and his fellow ministers and they are committed to come to the college from afar to get this teaching, because it's nowhere to be found in their region. It reminded me of the importance of this work of providing solid teaching to such men. It was also striking because I hear that kind of thing literally every month or two from some student or another! Let us not grow complacent and take these blessings for granted!
3. LUSAKA COLLEGE. As we have turned over the work of CMC more and more to the brethren there, we are seeking to do the same here in Lusaka. Isaac Makashinyi is set to take over from me as principal in January. I will still have a lot of the day to day responsibilities since he is also pastoring his church, but he will be the man in charge. Pray for the Lord's blessing on this transition. We have had about 5 or 6 new students interested in joining the college in the last two months, which is also exciting. They should start when we resume in January. I have taught Foundations of Theological Study, the Pentateuch, and other courses this past year at LMC and elsewhere, as well as preaching and teaching regularly in the churches around here.
4. COME OVER AND HELP. We continue to receive requests to work in other parts of the country and beyond. Zambia has more qualified Reformed pastors to teach than the rest of southern Africa, and some countries have almost no such teachers. As a result, we have sought to send local pastors to Botswana, Malawi, and Kenya, and I have gone to those places as well. There are also opportunities in parts of Zambia where the Gospel has made less impact and the pastors are fairly ignorant of basic Biblical teaching. With the increasing requests and demands, it would be helpful to have another full time worker involved in one or more of these places. We are doing what we can, but the "come over and help" we are receiving is also being passed on back to you brethren in the States and elsewhere. We are seeking the Lord's direction concerning the future of the work of ministerial training, and what may be needed for that work. Please pray for the Lord's direction about and/or provision of someone who can teach pastors here and elsewhere and help in the development of new regions for ministerial training.
5. FAMILY UPDATE. It has been a busy and trying year for the family here. There is never a dull moment with six kids around! With Megan gone right now, I've already had two or three Daddy questions just while writing this note! We're thankful that the kids have all done well in school, and have made new friends. The three older kids have especially improved in the area of friendships, as they've met some American missionary kids and others who they could connect with, as well as developing some friendships with Zambians at church and school. Grace, our adopted Zambian daughter, has adjusted well overall in her two years with us, though she has been a handful! We have come to realize that in so many things she is having to go through the emotional stages she would have as a baby, and that requires a lot of patience on our part. Even her school teacher said she is "hyper active"! But still adorably cute. Megan spends 1 or 2 days a week helping oversee Hope Kabanana, the orphan ministry in Kabanana, which will increase a bit this month with the Christmas gift time approaching. She does a good job with that ministry. The rest of her week consists of dropping and picking up the kids from school, shopping for the family and supplies for Hope, etc. Thankfully, most of the housework is done by the housekeeper, Miss Catherine.
Since moving to Zambia, the need for a strong family and marriage has been very evident. Since coming here, we have seen a lot of changes to our family life, some for the better and some for worse. I have felt the responsibility and weight of needing to lead the home far better than I have, especially since I am supposed to be a good example of a godly marriage and family to the pastors I teach. That has not been the case, so we are seeking the Lord's help and direction on that very crucial matter.
The kids just finished school and are on break until January 7, so the house is much more full and active during the day. We hope we can do a family vacation before they go back, since we haven't had one this year.
We are keenly aware that without the Lord's upholding grace, we would not make it. He has been exceedingly patient and merciful toward us. Please continue to pray for the Lord's work here. May His beloved Son the Lord Jesus receive great glory in response to your prayers!