27 February 2008

Hitting Home

Greetings from Luanshya!

Great news! The builders are back. After dealing with torrential rains, sick professors, end of the year and school holiday, the young men from Mobile Mission Maintenance are back at the building site to continue working towards the ultimate goal of finishing that building. The window and door frames have been completed and will be installed this week. Pray that there will be no other situations that delay the project.

Monday I spoke at the chapel service of a small Bible college to about 90 students. Their theme for the year is "Passion For Change". After watching the American political scene on the international news, it appears that everyone is claiming a passion for change. I told the students that the most important change in their lives would be the attempt to go back-back to the standards that God gave His servants; back to the command to spread the gospel and back to the dream of seeing the world come to Christ. Too many Christians want to make the world look like Christians. We clean people up, feed them and educate them without really giving them what they need: an introduction to the Lord Jesus Christ so that they can have a personal relationship with the Saviour.

Last night I had a conversation with a local pastor from a large church here in Luanshya. He talked about the social work they were doing and meeting the needs of the poor in the community. While these are good things, they are not the main thing. When I asked him what he would say to somebody who asked, "What do I need to do to go to heaven?" he gave me a blank stare and said, "Ah, that's a difficult question." He promised to meet with me later so we can have a discussion on this issue. Please pray for Pastor Bowa. He also needs to meet the Saviour.

The youth continue in their studies on the life of Joseph. There were three main points we wanted to get across to the young people:

1) recognize and admit your negative mentality,
2) force a vertical focus until it begins to flow,
3) stay open to a new idea for at least five minutes.

The goal was not to imitate the actions of Joseph's father who looked for any reason to avoid having his youngest son go to Egypt with the brothers. Even in the end, he looked towards "bribery" as opposed to the Lord's protection of his son and his return. In a place where bribery is commonplace, this really hit home. Continue to pray for the Friday afternoon youth meetings.

Many of the local churches around us are struggling with leadership issues. Some of these divisions are tribal while others are simply power plays. It is really sad to see an assembly of born again believers openly fight over who is in charge. In order to avoid this kind of situation we are starting a men's Bible study on Sunday afternoon at Fellowship Chapel. We are going to start by "Experiencing God". The men are excited about this. Please pray that the excitement grows and we can experience unity across tribal lines.

Thank you for your prayers on our behalf.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

20 February 2008

Practice and Perfection

Greetings from Luanshya!

Working with young people is one of the many focuses of our ministry. Last week in the youth lesson the young people studied "Activating A Seared Conscience" from Genesis 42. Obviously, the point of the lesson is for the youth to consider their actions before they developed a "seared conscience". Many of the adults with whom we work struggle with this phenomena and cannot understand why some of the things they have always done are wrong. "Practice makes perfect" is not always the case-especially if you practice it incorrectly. Please remember to pray for the youth. Many of their role models are "doing it wrong" and they will follow in the footsteps of those they see.

Yesterday morning I met Mr. Phiri. He is 72 years old and has been attending one of the larger denominational churches in town for most of his life. In his endeavor to fine the truth of God's Word, he has stumbled through a myriad of religious philosophies and opinions. His confusion led him to the Christian Resource Centre simply because we are a library filled with books and he wants to know more and more and more. As we sat and talked about how we can know that we have eternal life, he was unable to accept the simplicity of God's plan of salvation. With every verse I read, his response was, "But.". I gave him a list of scriptures to read along with one of the Bibles we had recently received from a friend in California. He promised to read the scriptures and study the tracts that we had and come back to us in a few days. The temptation we often have when talking to senior citizens is to press them for a decision. Mr. Phiri has been pressed for 72 years and as we mentioned in the previous paragraph, has been practicing it all wrong.

The windows frames for the new chapel have been completed by the manufacturer, finally! The door frames-which had to be returned because they were done improperly, should be completed by Saturday. On Monday the students from Mobile Mission Maintenance Vocational Centre will return to fit the windows and continue working on the inside of the building. We were very excited about the progress of the building and have been rather frustrated by the delays caused by the manufacturer and the torrential rains, which of course hold everything up. Nevertheless, we know that God is ultimately in control of all of these issues and look forward to completing this building for His honor and glory.

The entire community has been affected by an annoying flu. Sherry got it last week. I have this week. And we are sure the kids at the orphanage (Lighthouse Children's Home) will have it next week. Please pray for everyone's health. It is also during this time of year when there are outbreaks of cholera. We are fortunate that this has not yet occurred in the Luanshya. Please continue to pray.

Your partnership in this ministry is appreciated beyond our ability to express it in words.

In His Service,

Patrick & Sherry

12 February 2008


Greetings from Luanshya!

In our last letter, two weeks ago, we mentioned the fact that the torrential rains had caused wide-spread flooding from Zambia, to Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Literally hundreds of families have lost their homes, livelihood and possessions. I traveled to Livingstone, in Southern Province, to survey one of the worst hit areas in the country. Entire villages were swept away and some of the poorer houses in the townships had literally crumbled to the ground.

Click For Larger ImageWe contacted an agency called Shelter Box Trust, based in the United Kingdom, and asked about the possibility of getting some help for the worst affected.

The response from Shelter Box came back within 46 minutes. Their offer included two hundred plastic storage boxes which contained a tent which would sleep ten (including children), six blankets and ground mats, two large cooking pots, two water jugs with water purification tablets, two insecticide treated mosquito nets and assorted tools to help the families rebuild their homes when the floods recede.

Click for Larger ImageEach of these boxes cost approximately US$1,000. So the contribution came to US$200,000. To give you some idea of the cost of getting these things locally, one six-man tent manufactured in Zambia would cost US$2,500 and would include none of the items mentioned above. We distributed these Shelter Boxes with the help of volunteers in Livingstone, Kazangula, Sesheke and just this past Friday (in our own backyard) Chipulukusu. The pictures attached are self explanatory.

Click for Larger ImageIn the distribution of these boxes we did not limit it to those who were members of the household of faith. We decided it was better to share it with all in need beginning with those who were the worst affected. In doing so we were able to exemplify Matthew 22 by simply loving our neighbour and sharing with them the love that Christ has shown to us. We do not know the ultimate outcome but trust that the believers we left behind will continue to share the gospel with their new neighbours. While in Livingstone I spoke with a member of the local Gideon's camp who said he would make sure that Gideon Bibles were distributed in the new settlements in Southern Province.

Please continue to pray for the situation in Zambia. The rains are expected to last another two months. Currently, we have had heavier rains than have been reported since 1957. Local government agencies are doing their best to cope with the situation but the sheer amount of rain has detracted from what little help has been available and the logistics have been a nightmare.

We wish to express our appreciation to those who were praying for us in this effort and for those who helped make it possible for travelling to facilitate the relief program.

In His Service,
Patrick & Sherry