26 September 2007

Growing Up

Greetings from Luanshya!

The power cable to the broadband antennae "died" yesterday, so we are back to s l o w Internet access!

This afternoon young Andrew, from the Lighthouse Children's Home, came into the Christian Resource Centre with a very serious question. He is the youngest child in the Home and probably the most brilliant. He sat us down at a table and said he was taking music lessons after school and would like to use the keyboard that Colin used when he was still living at home. There are 16 students in his music class and he realised that he really does not get enough time to practice during that one hour. He has heard Colin play and wants to be "just like Colin." We explained the rules: only he touches, he only touches what he is supposed to touch, and he only touches when he's supposed to touch it. So, tomorrow I will set up the keyboard and Andrew will come in several times a week to practice his lessons. We are thrilled to be able to have this opportunity for Andrew to learn. Please pray for him as he continues to practice and use his talent for the Lord.

Earlier in the week a friend came to see us with a very heavy heart. His 14 year-old son was swimming with some friends over the weekend during church camp and drowned. Victor and his wife are heart broken with this tragedy. His comment to Sherry was that every place they look in the house they see the memories of their son: his shoes, his toys, his clothes, even his school books lying open on his desk bring tears to their eyes. The only encouragement they have is that they will one day see him again in heaven. Please pray for brother and Mrs. Zulu, their family and their church as they go through these deep waters. Pray for us as we encourage our friends.

Last week we mentioned the fact that we were planning to put the roof on the Buntungwa Chapel sanctuary. We also mentioned the fact that we would be gone for a few days and that the work would begin this week. While we were gone another missionary, who has never been to that particular assembly of God's people, showed up with a group of his friends. When he realised that the timber for the trusses was there and a lot of the work had already been accomplished, he offered to do the job for them. When the Christians there said Brother Coleman has a team coming on Tuesday to do the work he told them that he would do it instead and have his team there on Monday.

We are not really geared up for competition between missionaries. Nevertheless, we are deeply disturbed when people who are supposed to be colleagues step in and assume a ministry in which they have never had a part. This particular missionary has a dislike for anything "American" and Americans in particular, but his actions are inexcusable. We are also disappointed by the actions of the local leadership who did not have enough integrity to insist that the work had already been started and his interference was not necessary or appreciated.

In the final analysis it is important to remember that there will be a roof on the church building. The building belongs to God. We have many other areas in which we serve and this will ultimately be water under the bridge. It does, however, sting when brothers and sisters compete in ministry. Please pray for the leaders of the church in Buntungwa and the offending missionary. This kind of activity could have been a victory for Satan.

Finally, we have received a picture of Colin, our youngest son, in his United States Air Force uniform. We have, of course, shown it to anybody we can stop long enough to take a look at the photograph. One of our good friends who is known to Colin as “Uncle John” Kanyakula remarked, "Our little boy has grown up." He has indeed and we are proud of our youngest son. Please pray for him as he continues his preparation for service to God and country.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

17 September 2007

The Ultimate Goal

Greetings from Luanshya!

When we opened the doors of the Christian Resource Centre, ten years ago, we did not really know what kind of reception there would be in the community with regard to a Christian reading room and library. Our desire was to see books that had been a help to our ministry become available to help others in ministry who cannot afford to buy their own. As we look at the different people using the facility and the various subjects being studied, our goal has been accomplished.

This past week alone Mr. Kafunda was doing an in depth study on the Christian and ownership. He is looking this from the perspective of a national believer "inheriting" the ministry of a long time mission which is in the process of handing over a particular aspect of ministry to local leadership. This should be, of course, the ultimate goal of all missionaries. However, it is often difficult both to let go and to assume leadership and all that entails.

Mr. Silungwe is an older brother in the Lord of about 70 years of age. He is doing detailed study of Psalm 23. He is interested in learning about true joy in the valleys of life. He suffers from high blood pressure and peptic ulcers. He has outlived all of his siblings and many of his nieces and nephews. He is considered to be the patriarch of his family and he sees many of the next generation ignoring the things of the Lord.

Mr. Muke is a local church leader. He is in the process of training new believers so is preparing lessons on the New Testament Church. He was reviewing a book on the Lord's Supper and worship.

These three men are examples of the kind of people we see every day in the Christian Resource Centre. None of them could afford to buy the books they are able to use here and certainly none of them could afford to buy the laptop top computers from which they gather much of their material. This has all been made possible through our personal library, contributions to this library and those who have generously provided laptop computers for this ministry. We may never know in our life time the ultimate fruit of this labour but we do witness the gratitude shown by those who utilize these resources on a daily basis.

For those who have been praying specifically for my cancer review, the doctor has given a clean bill of health once again. Sherry is elated, of course! The next appointment will be in March 2008. Please continue to pray for good health for both of us. We are a long way from acceptable medical services.

As always, we thank you for your support and prayers.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

13 September 2007

Transitional State

Greetings from Luanshya.

As I write this note I am preparing to go to South Africa for a medical check-up from my cancer surgery in 2005. There is no problem that I know, but this routine check-up every six months is to make sure there are no “surprises” on the horizon. I appreciate your prayers. Sherry will be staying here with work on her calendar. My trip is a quick down and back. I leave this afternoon and return Thursday afternoon.

Sunday was a marvellous day! After the service Kunda, a young lady who has just finished high school and is waiting for a place in university (another story) came to Sherry and said she was convicted by the message. I had preached about loving the world enough to sacrificially give to present the message of the Lord Jesus Christ to them. She said she had sat “long enough” and now wanted to serve in the church. Sherry had tears in her eyes as Kunda repeated her words. Please pray for Kunda as she begins her service to the Lord.

Often we talk about the “transitional state” of our town. People come to church, hear about Jesus Christ’s love for them, receive Him as their Lord and Saviour, then move away because there is no work to be found in Luanshya. Such is the case with two of the men in the English congregation. Both are highly qualified and educated. Neither can find decent work anywhere near Luanshya. They have asked us to pray for them. They either need work close or they will be forced to relocate to areas where work has been offered. Please join me in praying for them.

The film series continues in the subject of the end times. The group is getting larger and more questions are being asked about being “Left Behind.” One pressing question is “will people have a chance to repent if they are left behind?” My comment is – and has always been – why would you want to wait and take that chance? The seed is being planted. Please pray that fruit may abound!

We are often asked about our lives and are their “special requests” that we have. Sometimes things “pop up” without notice and we just have to deal with them. Yesterday, for example, the water stopped at the house. The overhead tank went dry. No warning… the water just stopped. In some parts of the world you can just call the water company and tell them to send their work crew over and fix the problem. When the water you get comes from a well there is less of a chance of “fixing it” quickly. We called the technician who said it might be one or more of several problems. He said he would come tomorrow (today) and see what he could see. Now comes the point of the story. We know that people are praying because (1) the crew DID come this morning, (2) the problem did not involve replacing a lot of expensive parts and (3) it was fixed in a matter of minutes instead of the expected matter of days. An underground hose had come disconnected and the technician simply put it back together!

As you can see, your prayers are deeply appreciated. Even before we can tell you about the problems they are sometimes solved. What greater evidence of your faithfulness in prayer is there? Thank you in advance for your continued prayers!

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

05 September 2007

We never really know

Greetings from Luanshya!

Sometimes we don't realize how expansive our reach may be when we touch a life. Mwenda Kasonde was one of Sherry's students 12 years ago when she taught Religious Education in the local government schools. Over the course of time Mwenda has been in contact with us through the Source of Light Bible Correspondence School, weekly youth meetings and recently appeared in the Christian Resource Centre during a school break. He is now a student at Copperbelt University and is doing research for one of his courses in Poetic Expression. He uses the medium of illustrative art. Sherry was able to suggest the book "Water From The Well" a devotional book as a basis for further ideas on illustrating biblical truths. His hope is to use this medium as a way of witnessing to his professors at the university as well as to his fellow schoolmates. We never really know what will become of the seeds we plant in the hearts of youngsters. Please pray for Mwenda as he continues his studies as well as for the youngsters with whom we are working today.

Roy Sakahundu has been working through the discipleship program for the past two years. Because of his work situation, he has not been able to meet with me every single week but he has been faithful to complete the assignments and his growth has been phenomenal. Last Sunday he completed the final session which was the end of the survey of 1 Thessalonians. When we finished the hour, he looked at me and said, "This is the end, but it is also the beginning." We are very pleased that he has been able to achieve this accomplishment and that he is using what he has learned. For the next two Wednesday Bible studies, Roy will be the teacher. We look forward to seeing what he can do. Please pray for Roy as he continues to grow.

Good news concerning the building of the Fellowship Chapel sanctuary. Six thousand bricks have been molded and are awaiting the Mobile Missionary Maintenance construction team. I spoke with the project manager this morning and the team should be on site next week. So far the bricks have cost us just over US$2,000. We are the process of negotiating the construction costs of putting up the walls. Pray with us about this project. We would like to see it completed before the end of the year.

School has started! Sadly, it is only the third day term, an exam term at that, and the teachers at the high schools are going on strike. Students are very upset because they are preparing for their end of year exams and they know that the teachers are doing this in order to put the Ministry of Education over a barrel. If the teachers don't teach, the students don't pass. Please pray for the situation and that it does not become volatile. We are fortunate, however, that the children under our care at the Lighthouse Children's Home are all in private school where such activities do not occur.

It has been a marvelous week and we thank you for your prayers.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry