31 January 2008

Holding On

Greetings from Luanshya!

Last Saturday was a phenomenal day. A young man named Leonard Bwalya has been working with youth in the Luanshya area for a number of years. The focus group for his ministry is the young people just out of high school who are preparing to enter college or the work force. This group is often the most vulnerable when it comes to issues of morality and Leonard has a burden for their spiritual well being. In the past the group has been meeting at his home in the back yard. As the group has grown, the need for a dry place to meet became evident. We have offered the use of the Resource Centre for this specific purpose. On Saturday there were 60 young people who gathered for a time of prayer and bible study for two hours. It is refreshing to see a young man with a burden to help teach and prepare other young adults. Please pray for Leonard in this growing work.

Sunday morning Nancy Chanda, Sherry's associate Sunday School teacher, taught her second lesson. She began by interviewing the Prophet Jeremiah about his calling as well as his writing of the scriptures as spoken by God. Due to the heavy rains the class was very small but Nancy's enthusiasm was undeterred. We are proud of her growth and interest in teaching the young ones.

Sunday afternoon I was asked to speak to a congregation I had never visited. The young leader is a frequent visitor to the Christian Resource Centre, accessing many of the study tools. He is trying to lead the flock away from many of the false teachings they had observed over the years in their various church experiences. He has grown tremendously and wishes to see this local group come to a saving knowledge of Christ and mature in their new life. He asked me to begin a series of lessons on "New Life In Christ". Many of these individuals have come from a variety of church backgrounds. Some are believers, others are not. I began with a definition of salvation and then went into God's purpose for our lives. Speaking to this group of people was very unusual in that they were both apprehensive because they were listening to a complete stranger and yet eager to learn from the Word of God. I made it clear that the Bible was our only authority and we were going to use the phrase "The Bible says" extensively. When I came to the area of security, I illustrated John 10:27-30 by holding onto a young man's arm. He held my arm and I held his. We were inseparable as long as we both held on. I told him to let go of my arm and sit down. As he began to move, he realized that he could not return to his seat because I was still holding on to him. I insisted that he leave and sit down, but he insisted that he could not as long as I remained connected to him. I explained that this is the way it is with God. Even in our moments of weakness when we might lose our grasp, once we become a child of God, He never lets go of us. The congregation was silent for several moments until they finally realized the truth of the scripture. After the service, one of the older believers came up to me and said, "I have lived in fear of losing my salvation for years. Today I discovered that I am His forever." What a thrill it is to show believers their freedom in Christ.

Last week we mentioned the problems of the flooding caused by torrential rains in Zambia. Sherry and I have been working on a project. I will be going down to Livingstone, in Southern Province, to oversee the distribution of relief materials for about 2,000 people which we ordered last week. Sherry will be remaining in Luanshya to coordinate and maintain communication with the partners in the United Kingdom. We have contacted a missionary working in the Livingstone area to help us obtain Bibles for each of the families affected by the flooding, in their mother tongue. Please pray for us as we endeavor to reach out to our "neighbors" and share the gospel in the process. The flooding in Zambia is nationwide and hundreds of families have lost everything. We are doing our bit in our part of the country and to the south. Please pray for those who have been affected by this emergency and for us as we endeavor to meet their needs both physical and spiritual.

In His service,

Patrick & Sherry

23 January 2008

Greetings from Luanshya!

This is actually coming from MY computer which is feeling better, but not quite 100%, after being attached by "many viruses" (according to the technician who finally found them). We are also sending it out early because of the subject of the next paragraph…

Few things are more romantic than a candle light dinner. That is, of course, if it by choice and not under duress. For three of the last four evenings the entire power grid of Zambia has gone dark. This means that every light in every direction which is connected to the Zambia Electrical Supply Company (ZESCO) has been doused. This includes water pumps, fuel pumps, security lights, the Internet connection and hospitals. None of the hospitals in our area have a generator which means that babies in incubators, patients on respirators or dialysis and anybody on operating tables are immediately put at risk. There are no immediate records of the numbers of people who have died because of the outages, but the citizens are becoming more and more irritable. Yesterday the ZESCO vehicles were being stoned in the capital city of Lusaka. It is not the technicians who are driving these vehicles who are at fault. They are simply the targets at hand of frustrated clients. Please pray that this situation is handled quickly and reasonably before the infrastructure of the entire nation is affected.

In spite of these challenges the ministry continues. Last Friday the youth meeting attendance more than doubled. The topic under discussion is "Joseph - A Man of Integrity & Forgiveness". This past week's focus was on "Resisting Temptation". The conversations that were generated from the lesson gave many a pause. Continue to pray for the young people as they learn from the life of Joseph. This week the lesson will focus on "Imprisoned & Forgotten" from Genesis 39:20-40:23.

This Saturday morning we will be hosting a youth meeting for the African Encounter Revival Ministries. This is an evangelistic emphasis gearing young people to share their faith. Most of these young people are post-high school. The evangelist, Leonard Bwalya, has a real burden to help these youths in the practical expression of their spiritual gifts. Some months back I turned over the "Caddy Chapel" ministry to brother Bwalya. Pray for him as he uses our discipleship program as a source material with those that attend the weekly meetings.

Due to the torrential rain storms over the last few weeks, work at the building site has been seriously delayed. The door and window frames have been completed, but the security bars have not yet been installed. We are doing everything we can to make this happen. While delays are frustrating, we know that God controls the weather.

One other avenue of service has presented itself. Severe flooding in the southern part of Zambia has left hundreds of families homeless. Most of their worldly goods have been completely washed away. I have been asked to help coordinate a relief exercise and may be going down to Southern Province in a week or so to oversee the relief work. We will have an opportunity to help restore some sense of family order and will work with the Zambian government in this process. Pray for the believers who affected by this disaster as well opportunities to share Christ and His love by our ability to "love our neighbour" in a practical form. We are trying to source Bibles in the Tonga language for each family we help.

As always, your prayerful support of this ministry is important to us. We appreciate your faithfulness.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

09 January 2008

New Classes, New Students, New Lessons

Greetings from Luanshya!

This is an incredibly busy time of year. The school year in Zambia begins in January so we go right from Christmas to "back-to-school". Having five children in four different schools, each with their own uniform style and other special requirements makes life interesting. We spent much of this week traveling from school and from shop to shop making arrangements for our youngsters from the Lighthouse Children's Home to begin classes on time. New shoes, new trousers, new shirts, new skirts, new blouses and dozens of notebooks have been organized and each of the children is good to go. Please pray for our youngsters. Most of them are in new schools with new challenges.

With the new school year we also have new opportunities to reach into these schools and present the Source of Light Bible Correspondence School ministry. Our goal is to do this within the first month of school. This always brings a large influx of new students both from the student bodies as well as teachers. Sometimes, even the parents will come along and see what their children are doing. We appreciate your prayers in this particular ministry which has grown exponentially over the last decade.

Sherry's youth class is starting a new series of lessons based on the Life of Joseph "Favored Son, Hated Brother". They will learn many interesting characters traits as well as the importance as the sovereignty of God in our lives. Joseph's life went from bad to worse in his eyes but God had a plan to put him in place to the salvation of a nation and a people. All too often Christians look at individual events in their life and decide that all is lost, woe is me. God, on the other hand, sees the whole picture and knows exactly where we are to fit in His plan. If we could only know and understand the flow of God's grace, we would live in the peace and contentment that God has designed for us. Yes, it is easier said than done. The natural man all too often wants it done "his way" thus blocking the flow of God's blessings in our life.

Pray for the young people and for Sherry as she prepares each week's lesson.

We have a very pressing and immediate prayer request. Patrick's computer was attacked by a "worm" of some sort and technicians have worked for the last two days to try to sort out the problem. The temptation is to throw the whole thing out the window but there is way too much information on the computer that he does not wish to lose. Please pray that we can get this sorted out before he reaches for the hammer.

We appreciate your prayers on our behalf as we continue.

In His service,
Patrick & Sherry

02 January 2008

Great News in the New Year

Greetings from Luanshya!

The New Year has started with great news. All three of the children from the Lighthouse Children's Home who took the grade 7 exam passed with flying colors. Nancy received an invitation to attend the Luanshya Girls Secondary School. She will be part of the last grade eight intake available at LGSS because the school is upgrading to high school only beginning next January. In fact, they are only taking half as many grade eight students as they would ordinarily take. We spoke with the headmistress of the institution this afternoon and made arrangements for Nancy's school fees and uniform on Monday. We went by Luanshya Central High School where Shadreck and Dickson should be attending but the school administration offices were closed. They will be seen tomorrow to make final arrangements. Thank you for praying for the children as they prepared for their exams and successfully completed them.

The correspondence school ministry moves forward. During the last period 278 lessons were distributed and just as many were marked. We had 23 new students and were able to award 30 certificates. We are planning on visiting some of the local schools to introduce new students to the curriculum as well as to the youth ministry available at the Christian Resource Centre. In Zambia we still have access to students in government schools. We praise God for open doors. Please continue to pray with us for the youth of this nation.

Mr. Siwale is progressing very well through his discipleship program. His work schedule allows us to meet twice a week so we are literally going twice as fast as students of the past. Tonight we talked about integrity. I have always defined it as doing the right thing even when no one sees you. Basically that means don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal… ever! There is always the issue of culture when teaching things in Africa. The issue of integrity in the home always brings interesting side bars into the conversation. The wife is supposed to be submissive. In every conversation with the husband the question arises: "How do I make my wife submissive?"

I ask the question, "Who gave you the responsibility to make your wife submissive?" The Bible says the husband is supposed to love the wife. It does not say "husbands MAKE your wives obey". Culturally it is not unacceptable for husbands in Africa to spank their wives when they are bad. I know this is going to raise eyebrows for both husbands and wives in North America. So, I suggested an alternative to the spanking. I proposed that when his wife is having a difficult day he should try a different tact. I told him to say something like "Sweetheart, I know you are not feeling well and you have worked hard all day. How can I help you?"

He said, "So, showing her love will make her submissive?"

I said, "No, showing her love makes you obedient to God. That love will be returned in due course and submission emanates from love. Mr. Siwale left our session with a lighter step. I suspect I will hear the results on Sunday. Please pray for our families. They are under the same pressures you have.

We look forward to sharing our hearts and lives with you during 2008. Thank you for being our partners in ministry.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry