30 March 2005

Good News / Bad News

This week we have a "good news / bad news" update. First the good news...

On Sunday morning I was not at our “town centre” church. My primary task in Zambia is to train national leadership. We again had a “full house” with many visitors. We have a number of follow-up visits to make this week.

I went to a rural church that I helped start two years ago. Buntungwa is called an “overspill township” because is for people who cannot afford to live in more permanent housing within the “town limits” of Luanshya. All the houses are mud brick. The roofs are made of whatever the residents can find (flattened oil drums, discarded roofing sheets from other buildings, grass and plastic sheets. The “roads” are all dirt and - since it had been raining since 3:00 am - they were all mud. Time is an abstract and the “well-to-do” have a bicycle. None of the houses have electricity, but several have car batteries for their radios. The house in which I had lunch had a telephone sitting on a table. When my host realised that I had seen it he sheepishly explained that he had found the telephone in a road-side dump and brought it home “for decoration.” (Most Americans have equally useless junk “decorating” their houses, too.)

When I arrived at the church site I was greeted by Bro Chomba, the man who had come to me two years ago with the vision of starting this church. He was thrilled that I was there, but embarrassed that most of the church members were not. I spent a few minutes explaining that I was not concerned and I understood that people were not likely to walk to church on mud roads through a driving rain. We waited. The service started 45 minutes “late” and only about half of the expected crowd arrived. It continued to rain and the people came in slowly. One man apologised for his appearance. He had slipped in the mud and fallen. He was covered in mud and was hesitant to come in. I invited him to sit next to me.

The church building is made of mud bricks and has a grass roof. It was built entirely by the members of this church, though I helped them with the transport of the grass and a few metres of plastic sheeting. The benches were rustic and crooked…and hard. The pulpit was also made of mud brick and also very crooked. The bamboo that was used to hold the grass roof in place was being eaten by termites so all though the service there was very fine dust ­ like saw dust ­ falling from the roof resembling a light snow. By the end of the service everything in the building had this “dust” on it ­ including me. Nobody noticed! We were in God’s house!

Immediately after the communion service which followed the service the men of the church met with a “brick maker” who was being contracted to make burnt bricks from the ant hill on the church property. His initial price was 21¢, but they got him down to 13½¢. They will need about 4,000 bricks so every ½¢ counts! They will be saving every penny to get this money and may even have extra bricks made so they can sell them to pay for the ones they need.

After the negotiations we went to lunch. The chicken we were served had been quite an athlete in his younger days. He have been on the Zambian poultry Olympic cross country team! The drumstick was nearly 6 inches long, but the meat on the end would not have filled a serving spoon on an American table ­ and was tough enough to give a pit bull a challenge. Still, it was a feast for them and I was deeply appreciative! I finished my meal with a resounding “Mimi nashiba” (I am full) and we gathered together for a final word of prayer. All in all, it was a typical Sunday for me. There were no PowerPoint presentations, no Easter Cantatas and no sun-rise services, but the fact that the tomb is empty was preached far and wide.

Now the bad news... We just received a telephone call from the doctor at Mkushi - where Colin goes to school. Colin was playing rugby and broke his femur. The doctor said it was a "clean break" and can be easily set, but he will be in traction for at least 21 days. I am leaving early tomorrow morning to be at the hospital. Please pray for Colin - and us - during this time. At last count this is the eight time he has broken a bone. His first break came when he fell from a kitchen counter at the age of three. It doesn't make it any easier on Dad and Mom!

What a week!

In His Service, Patrick & Sherry

23 March 2005

News from Zambia - 23rd March 2005

Greetings from Luanshya!

Tawanga is a young lady taking courses in the Source of Light program. As she handed me her lesson on Monday, I glanced at the answer sheet and noticed that in her answer to the question: "Have you asked the Lord Jesus Christ to save you"? She wrote "Yes". The next line asked "when"? Her answer was "Yesterday". I said, "Tell me about when you asked the Lord Jesus to save you". She told me that when she finished the lesson, she realized that she needed to ask Christ to be her Saviour. So, she did. This is why we are here, telling people about the Lord Jesus Christ, His love for them and what He sacrificed to pay for their eternal life in heaven. You will never meet Tawanga on this side of glory. But, for those who have had a part in this ministry when we all get to heaven she will be one of those saying thank you.

The College and Career class visited the life of Asaph last week. The name of the subject was "Looking to the World or Looking to Jesus-Where is Our Gaze Focused". This particular age group tends to look for approval in their circle of movement. Many seek connections with things not quite helpful in the believer's life. By focusing our gaze upon the Lord, we can more easily discern what our goals and objectives in life out to be. This is especially true when we remind ourselves that we are but pilgrims on journey with a mission to tell the world of Jesus Christ and His love. Pray for the many who have been coming and those who will be attending in future.

On Saturday morning we had a very unusual ladies fellowship. Sherry was asked to lead the Bible study for a group of ladies from one of the rural villages. It was agreed that she would teach in English and one of the ladies would translate to Bemba. In this way those who worked in English would be able to enjoy hearing an English lesson. Those who did not understand English would be able to understand ciBemba. When the ladies arrived, Sherry discovered that none of the English speaking ladies had been able to come. Since her notes were all in English, we improvised. She taught in English. I translated to Swahili (about half of the women from this village are originally from Zaire/Congo) and one of the ladies would translate from Swahili to ciBemba. Mid-way through the lesson, two of the ladies from our church arrived who spoke both English and ciBemba. But, we did not interrupt the flow of things since Sherry was well into the lesson. We had a good time. The ladies appreciated hearing the lesson in many languages knowing that the Bible is the World of God regardless of the tongue spoken.

This coming Sunday I will be speaking in a rural church out in Buntungwa. The people there are good friends. I have been there several times. I am looking forward to the service and they have invited the entire village to be present to celebrate Resurrection Sunday together. Please pray for this service. It will also be multilingual (Swahili and ciBemba).

Through the experiences of this week, we have had great victories, exciting services and harrowing adventures. Through it all God has been faithful and we continue to enjoy His blessings. Thank you again for being a part of our lives and ministry.

In His Service, Patrick & Sherry

16 March 2005

News from Zambia - 16th March 2005

Greetings from Luanshya!

This has been one of the busiest weeks in the Christian Resource Centre
that we can remember. We have enrolled nearly as many students in the
Bible Correspondence School in the last five days as we did in the
entire month of February. A number of the students are asking pretty
penetrating questions. One man specifically wanted to know if there was
any hope of salvation for the "mad" people that are wandering around the
streets of Luanshya. I explained that we do not know the full
circumstances of why they have lost control of their mental faculties.
Some of them we know are a result of substance abuse. Others we really
have no history. At least we know that there are people who are
concerned for these individuals and are praying for them.

Sherry's College and Career Class continue on Friday. Last week they
spoke about depression and the comfort of God and how the apostle Paul
dealt with situations in his own life. One must experience suffering in
order to truly know God's comfort. Paul had experienced trials,
afflictions, sorrows and suffering and through it all he learned of
God's great mercy and love. His experience in suffering did not make him
bitter, but thankful for the experience that he would be able to share
with real heartfelt understanding the experiences of others, and share
also with them the "God of all comfort." Paul had drawn near to God in
all his distress and times of tribulation, and God did not fail him.
Please continue to pray for those who are participating.

The rain situation is becoming serious. Though we have had a lot of rain
this season, the farms are concerned that the late season rains are
insufficient. One of the families in our church who have a small farm
have had to early harvest some of their crops because the field is
getting dry. Last year Zambia boasted a bumper harvest. This year we may
be struggling in some parts of the country. Please pray for our
situation and the believers who will be affected. Almost every adult
member in the churches where we serve has at least a few acres of
farmland on the outskirts of town.

This coming Saturday Sherry has a ladies meeting with women from several
congregations. She will be teaching about Elijah and the fact that
fatigue makes cowards of us all. Time management is a very necessary
component in the life of any busy individual and Zambian women are
incredibly busy with house, home, family and very often a business at
the market place. Pray for those who plan to attend.

We appreciate the fact that you share in our ministry. We are here
because you care.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

09 March 2005

News from Zambia - 9th March 2005

Greetings from Luanshya!

This past week we received a very pleasant surprise. We received two
very large boxes with gifts in them from Samaritan's Purse. The boxes in
the boxes were prepared by children in the United States for
distribution to children in more needy areas of the world. We heard
about this program and have actually seen children in the USA bringing
these shoebox sized packages to Sunday School to send overseas. However,
we had never been the recipient of one of these special packages. Last
week we were able to distribute "Christmas gifts" to all the children in
our Sunday School program at Fellowship Chapel. The looks of amazement
and sheer joy on the faces of the children cannot be explained. We wish
to give a very special thank you to all the children who participated in
this program. There is no way for us to know if any of the boys and
girls we saw preparing boxes actually had their boxes sent to us, but
somebody prepared and somebody received and the Lord will bless those
who participated. (A photo is attached to this letter, but more can be
viewed at www.colemanministry.org in a day or so.

The Christian Resource Centre has been abuzz the last couple of weeks.
In February we enrolled 50 new students, distributed 254 lessons,
corrected 212 lessons and awarded 11 certificates of completion. Just in
the last 9 days of this month we have already enrolled over 35 new
students. The library has been busy from opening to closing every day.

One interesting note concerning the Source of Light program: We always
ask the students what church they attend. The purpose in this exercise
is to help us during the marking of exams to understand why certain
responses were given and how best we can go about correcting those
Biblical errors and hopefully lead some to Christ. Almost every person
claims to belong to one church or another even if they never attend. In
the last couple of days we had two unusual responses when we asked about
a home church. One little girl actually said "none" while another young
lady said she went to the local mosque. Obviously the student from the
mosque is not going to be coming to a Christian church, but we are
thrilled that she is taking our lessons from the Christian Resource
Centre. Please pray for her as she is introduced to the story of the One
True God.

This past Sunday I enjoyed presenting the message in a unique manner.
The text was "Man looks on the outward appearance; God looks upon the
heart" from 2 Samuel. I used the illustration of an egg explaining that
one can never know what is on the inside of an egg by simply looking on
the outside. I boiled one egg, blew the yoke out of another and left the
final one fresh.

Over the course of the message I tossed the empty egg to one of our
young people while he held another object in his hand. He panicked (as I
assumed he would) and dropped the empty egg on the ground. I explained
that he was so careful to protect the non-fragile object in his hand
that he failed to protect the fragile egg coming at him. I stressed that
we often focus on things of little value and forget or neglect the
things of eternal value. After the message one of the adults came to me
and said she really appreciated the message because she has been
struggling with focus in her life. She also said that her youngest
daughter - who has Downs Syndrome - was enthralled with the illustration
because she loves eggs. Nevertheless, she was very disappointed at the
fact that we broke an egg and it was "empty". (she also does not want
Mom to buy eggs that come from that chicken!) [Photo of Desire attached]

Thank you for allowing us to focus on ministry and the lives of those
whom God sent us to serve.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry