25 January 2006

Being diligent

"Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace." (Eph. 4:3)

This Scripture spells out the goal of the worthy walk: the unity of the Spirit. Jesus prayed for Christian's "that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me" (Jn. 17:21). Our witness to the world depends on our unity as believers.

This weekend we had the opportunity to officiate at the burial of the wife of one of our deacons. She had been sick for some time and the doctors were unable to find the cause of her illness. It is particularly striking, since her husband is a surgical nurse and familiar with and has access to many of the test procedures and yet, nothing had been identified. In keeping with the verse of the week, we saw believers from all over the Luanshya District and beyond come for the funeral and to mourn with the family. The unity of the Body of Christ for the purpose of being with a brother and his family in loss was comforting. Not a moment went by over the last 6 days when our friend wasn't accompanied and supported by a brother or sister in Christ. At the graveside he reminded everyone that his wife is in a far better place and well now, worshipping and praising the Lord. Please pray for those who attended
the services, that they may have seen the love of Christ and the unity of the brethren as they gathered around the family. Please pray, also, for the Chinoya family as they go through this period of loss, pick up the pieces of their lives and continue to witness of Christ and His love.

Early in the week Sherry met with one of the people who frequents the Christian Resource Centre. The friend had many questions about the role of the believer after one comes to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. "If the lifestyle does not change rapidly, is there a problem?" "How about if some years have passed and that person is still unfamiliar with faith and works?" "What about the role of the Holy Spirit in that persons life?" "When should the church step in and discipline the
believer?" Many of the questions tended to focus on the fact that the local churches are failing in the area of discipleship and a consistent mentoring program. People go out and evangelize, introduce the new convert to the church and abandon them. Sherry stated that there is much more to the Great Commission than "preaching the gospel". We are also commanded to teach, baptize and send these people out to fulfill the great commission as well. She went on to introduced the friend to some of the material we use at Fellowship Chapel and invited the friend to participate in some of the training seminars we run on Christian Growth. The plethora of study books in the library plus exposure to the bible correspondence aspect of the ministry should greatly help this searching soul. Please pray for those who seek to know the truth and grow in their faith.

Please pray for the unity of the brethren in each of the local churches. This being the rainy season, we find it difficult to get out to some of the more remote areas. Those church leaders who have been seeking advice and guidance are left to deal with some of their problems in seclusion. Pray that they make godly decisions as they lead their flocks.

Please pray for those coming in to the Resource Centre. Many children are still returning from the Christmas holiday. Grade 9 and grade 12 exam results are due out in the next week or two so we expect activity to pick up once the children know what lies ahead.

Thank you for remembering us in your daily prayers. You are an invaluable member of this ministry team and we appreciate the time you spend upon your knees. May God bless!

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

18 January 2006

How To Live The Victorious Life

18th January 2006

Greetings from Luanshya! There is no way of knowing if this message will be going out tonight or any time this week. Zambia Telecommunications (ZAMTEL) cables in Luanshya are wet and the rains have been coming down consistently day in and day out. Internet access is intermittent at best and completely non-existent most of the day.

Last Sunday I preached the first half of a message on "How To Live The Victorious Life." I had not planned to preach only the first half but as I began to speak I began to illustrate some of the points. The response from the congregation allowed me to go deeper into the illustrations. We love storytelling and there was a lot of that in this message. Next week will be the conclusion with the "Seven Steps for a Victorious Life." Please pray for hearts to be prepared and lives changed in service to the King.

Sunday afternoon we made a number of visits to members of the church and their families who had been very, very ill. When somebody here has "a long illness" it generally refers to HIV-AIDS. While very few people will openly admit that they have this malady, there are those who have realized that the first step in treating the illness is to admit that they have it. Part of the problem is the stigma attached to the disease. Since 99.9% of those infected in Zambia have either been promiscuous or
is married to someone who is, the tendency is to judge an infected individual. That is not our job nor our right: and it is certainly not our responsibility. As we visited with our friends, we were able to encourage them to follow doctor's orders, eat well, rest and remember that we love them as brothers and sisters in Christ. This disease always ends with a funeral. We know it. We have realized it. We plan for it. But, we do not have to fear it. Please pray for our Christian brothers
and sisters as they deal with the ultimate consequence of their actions. God has forgiven them and He loves them. We do, too.

Mr. Phiri has spent several days in the Resource Centre over the last week. He saw the books in the front window concerning Mormonism. He is not a Mormon but he has had them come to his home. He knew there was "something wrong" with what they were saying but did not know exactly what it was. We visited for several minutes one afternoon and he has been coming in almost every day to read the book "Mormonism Unmasked." He said today that he felt more prepared to answer their false teachings
even though he has not yet finished the book. He thanked us for making the information available and said he was sharing it with some of his friends in church. It is difficult to understand how a religion that is so openly racist can make any kind of advance in a country where they claim the entire population is "cursed by God." Please pray for Mr. Phiri and for the others who are seeking the truth about this deadly cult.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is election day in the mining townships of Luanshya. There are nine candidates running for Member of Parliament, which is one seat. All week long there have been political rallies, bullhorns, banners and occasional altercations with the police. So far no one has been seriously hurt but the next 24 hours will be "interesting". In our English speaking church there are four parties represented, that we know of, and everyone is getting along just fine. In the rural areas that is
not always the case. Please pray for peace during the election process.

God has been very good to us. We appreciate your prayers on our behalf.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

11 January 2006


Greetings from Luanshya!

As we write this week's letter, there is a monstrous storm heading our way. Wind has blown dust from the street higher than the buildings down town and people have run for cover. The raindrops have just now started beating on our metal roof. It looks like we may have a long, dark night. We rest in the assurance that there is no night so dark that the Master cannot see us.

Last Friday was the end of SCUBA-the Super Cool Undersea Bible Adventure. In spite of the rain we had about 30 children registered for that days program. At the conclusion of the lesson, all the children received prizes based on memory work, friends brought, attendance and carrying their Bible each day to SCUBA. Colin and John did very well in their participation in the program. Colin led the music and acted out the hand motions. John followed the lesson plan and taught every week. Sherry directed the program including games and crafts and our few volunteers filled in here and there. The children had a good time and said they learned a lot. Some have even attended our Sunday morning Sunday School. We also learned a few things as well, mainly conducting this kind of program during the rainy season greatly affects attendance. One of the questions asked by a child was "when are we doing it again?"
Thank you for your prayers.

School began Monday! The children from the Lighthouse all came into the Resource Centre to cover their exercise books (jotters) as prescribed by their teachers. This gave Sherry an opportunity to ask them about their first couple of days and how they were liking their new teachers. Sherry spent several hours with the children both at the Resource Centre and the Home to check on their wardrobe and school materials. It is quite a challenge when there are six of them. There is always the "bits and pieces" to collect or purchase at the last minute. They are all in class and are all doing well... so far. We will keep you apprised of their progress during the year. Thank you for praying for these youngsters.

We have received a number of boxes of books from Ireland that will be integrated into the Library and Reading section of the Resource Centre. These are welcome additions to an already extensive collection of materials. Some of the books we gave to a few church leaders who will make good use of them.

Tonight we continue with the Creation to Christ lessons. This is, of course, if anyone can make it in with the impending storm. This evening's lesson covers "The Arrival of Eve." The young men in the small group Bible study laugh when they thought about having a woman created just for them. We are enjoying our Bible study.

During the heaviest part of the rainy season it is very difficult for us to travel into the rural regions of Luanshya. Please pray for those church leaders who are living and working in these village areas as they continue to shepherd the flocks. These are dedicated men who have committed their lives to the Lord's service. Still, they face the same pressures and struggles that all leaders experience. We appreciate your remembering them.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

04 January 2006

First of the Weekly Updates for 2006

Greetings from Luanshya!

We hope your 2005 ended well and your 2006 began well. We had a bit of excitement at the end of last week when the entire country of Zambia lost power for over an hour. Not just our province, not just our town but the entire country. There have been a number of reasons (excuses) given by the Zambia Electrical Supply Corporation, but all we customers were told was "there was a problem due to an electrical storm." Last night there was yet another nationwide hiccup. The lights were not out for an hour, but there was obviously some problem with the infrastructure in the electrical system around the country. We appreciate your prayers in this situation. The unstable electrical current has already cost us one freezer this past year and we hope not to lose any other major appliances in the coming months. The rains are still upon us for the next 3 1/2 months.

Last Wednesday we studied the creation of man in our Firm Foundations small group Bible study. Have you ever wondered about the color of the first man? This is often a question raised by Africans who have seen pictures of Adam and Eve in art books or in some cases pictures in their Bibles. Adam and Eve always seem to be pink. Everyone here knows that the best soil for your garden is black soil. So... was Adam made from the best soil? Where would God have found pink soil? It is an interesting questions and I have to admit that I just don't know. These are not always the kinds of questions you might hear in a Sunday School class in North America, but then again, we don't live in North America and our Zambian friends often ask questions that cause us to look outside our "North American box." Whatever color Adam was, we know that he is the physical father of all of us. Fortunately, the sins of the first Adam were washed away by the blood of the second Adam (Christ). This lesson won't be covered for several months, but we are stressing the fact that all men came from the first Adam in order to lay the foundation for full understanding of the work of the second Adam. Please pray for the young men in this small group Bible study and pray for me as I endeavor to find the answers to their questions using the Word of God.

SCUBA comes to an end this coming Friday. The children that have been attending SCUBA were sitting in the second and third row of the main church service on Sunday. In the course of my introduction I made reference to the fact that we love God. The words "we love God" are key words in the lesson on Friday to which all the children shout "OK". The children forgot it was Sunday and not Friday and in the middle of the
service three of them shouted "OK". The adults and older young people were a bit shocked but Sherry and I enjoyed knowing that our teaching was sinking in to their young minds and hearts. We are also encouraged that they are listening intently to the Sunday morning message. Pray for this final session and that the children will take their knew knowledge with them as they return to school next Monday.

Sherry and I spent a big part of today making preparations for the children from the Lighthouse to begin school next week. We spent US$241 so far just for notebooks, pens, pencils and backpacks. We still haven't finished paying for uniforms and haven't paid school fees. We appreciate, beyond our ability to express it, those who have assisted particularly in this ministry. The Lighthouse Children's Home is a major challenge for us because we are raising children whose foundation has been severely damaged. God is rebuilding that foundation one brick at a time. Please continue praying for these little ones and for those of us overseeing their upbringing.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry