25 February 2009

“We are loved.”

Greetings from Zambia!

It has been a few weeks since our last update. This is due to busy schedules and Internet issues. ZAMNET has been having problems for several months and our connection has been intermittent and poor. This past week the system was “spammed” and the entire mail server was shut down. We mention this because much of our incoming mail was lost in “cyberspace” so if you sent a message and we didn’t respond, please send it again. We have come to rely on the Internet as a form of communication and information gathering. In 1985 a letter took 6-8 weeks to go from Za├»re to the States. The response was equally slow. The turn-around time was 3-5 months. Today we are accustomed to responses coming within the hour (when time zones allow) and “instant messages” via FACEBOOK. It is truly a different world!

Two Sundays ago a young man came to me after the service and said he really wanted to be baptised. We spent some time together and he will follow the Lord in believer’s baptism in two week’s time. This gives him time to invite his family and friends to witness this event. He is very excited about this next step in his spiritual life.

Last Sunday I preached to a new congregation meeting in a school. The school is called “Twatemwa Basic School” so the new assembly of believers will use “Twatemwa” in their name. It means “We are loved.” I think it is a great name for a church. Nearly a third of the congregation of 101 people (including 25 babies) spoke Swahili so I felt right at home. The people have been meeting in the school for about 3 months. They asked me to spend time with them teaching them from the Bible. I gave them 500 gospel tracts and promised to arrange a schedule when we can meet for a Bible Institute. They also made a simple request: The would like to have some plastic communion cups. Even as a new church they realise the importance of remembering the Lord’s Supper. I don’t have any at the moment, but perhaps that can be sorted out soon.

We spent a couple of days over the past week travelling to and from Lusaka (the capitol city of Zambia). Sherry received a message that her “Entry Permit” had been approved, but her file had been misplaced. We made duplicates of all the papers and delivered them to the appropriate immigration officer. We return to the office five days later to collect her permit. This certifies Sherry as a “permanent resident” of Zambia. She has been here for over 18 years and the officer said “Welcome Home!” Zambia is, indeed, “home” to us and we are pleased that this milestone has been reached and her contribution to the community has been recognised.

Sherry also has a prayer request. She has had a persistent pain in her left shoulder for some time. Two weeks ago it got to the point that she could not move her arm without severe pain so she called the doctor. X-rays were taken and there is an obtrusive calcium build-up on both the upper arm and shoulder. She had extensive physiotherapy at the local hospital, but the doctor said surgery was required. He said it could not be done in Luanshya so we are going to go to South Africa next week to see an orthopaedic surgeon there. Friends of ours there have made the appointment and assure us that the surgeon has the highest recommendation in Johannesburg. Please pray for Sherry (and me) as we travel to Johannesburg for this operation. From what we have been able to ascertain it should be “routine” – but any time someone cuts it is not “routine” for me!

Blessing and challenges – Both come our way and we are thankful for those who stand with us in this ministry.

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry

11 February 2009

Rains

Greetings from Luanshya, Zambia.

The rains continue to come, but so do the blessings of serving here. This past week we have had several visits from across the spectrum of the Zambian society.

Bro Lumayi asked me to speak at a new congregation which is meeting in a school situated in one of the largest townships around Luanshya. The name of the school is “Twatemwa” – “We are loved” and the new assembly of believers will be using that in the name of the church when it is ultimately organised. Bro Lumayi was instrumental in starting another church several years ago and it is wonderful to see Zambian leaders accepting the responsibility to reach their own communities for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what we have been teaching for over 20 years! It has to start with dedicated local believers!

Within a few days came a visit from Bro Lukonsolo who came on behalf of one of the oldest churches in the Copperbelt Province in a place called Twapia. He said the church was in need of some specific teaching on three particular topics. There is some “discussion” about certain issues that were brought up recently and he had “heard from Bro Katandula” (The man with whom I started two churches in the Luanshya District) that they could rely on me to present answers from the Bible. Please pray for me as I spend a few days teaching and preaching in this rural setting.

Yesterday we had a visit from Mr Mukoshi, a “traditional judge” who works in villages as an itinerate magistrate. He hears cases on a very local level involving village disputes and conflicts. He comes into the Christian Resource Centre periodically to get answers from the Bible for his cases. His current study is on the blessings of God for peacemakers in the home. He said there is a great concern for “human rights” and many of these assumed “rights” by one individual seem to overstep the “rights” of another. Sherry made the comment that the Bible does not speak of “human rights” and the only “right” we have to go to Heaven is through the acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah and Saviour according to John 14:6. Mr Mukoshi said that was exactly what he needed and he left to return to “court.”

We are often amazed at the opportunity God gives to us to share His truth in Zambia. We serve the young and elderly, the new and the established, the urban and the rural almost every week. We asked God to “expand our territory” when He brought us together over 11 years ago. Sherry said to me when she was in the process of accepting my proposal for marriage – a simple “yes” would not suffice – that if we could not do more as a couple than we were as individuals, then we should not be married because God did not send us all the way around the globe to cut our ministries in half. Our ministry continues to grow. We are presented with open doors that are new outreaches for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your support and prayers as we continue…

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry

04 February 2009

Rains

4th February 2009

Greetings from Luanshya, Zambia.

The rains are heavier than anyone can remember and the Zambian Meteorology Society (yes, we have one) says the rains are going to get heavier still during February. This is, of course, good news for a place that has experienced drought for several years so the Zambians are actually "complaining" about the rain, but it makes life difficult when rural roads are knee-deep in mud and almost everyone is walking from place to place.

The Luanshya Copper Mine is officially closed meaning that over a thousand miners are out of work and several small companies that supplied the mine with special services are also on "forced leave" until "someone" - either a new investor or the government - comes in to restart the mining operation. There have been several suggestions, but according to one of the Zambian administrators this morning nothing has been approved yet. This is not the first time this has happened in Luanshya and the people here are cautiously optimistic that the mine will open again, but time is always the question. Please pray for the situation here. Zambians are, by nature, patient, but hungry people are desperate people.

Sherry was surrounded by several dozen school children this morning in front of the Christian Resource Centre. The teachers had an "In-Service Seminar" so classes were dismissed and the youngsters wanted to start "The Mail Box Club" lessons. Word of Mouth advertising has helped to increase the enrolment and this is great news. Many of these children are introduced to the truth of the Bible by "The Mailbox Club" Bible correspondence programme and carry these lessons to school every day. Just this week Sherry was stopped by a former student who is now an adult. He thanked her for making the Bible available to him when he was just a youngster. We want to thank YOU for making this possible!

John Banda from the Lighthouse Children's Home came to us this week with a very serious request. At his new school they are offering a computer class. He has not taken much interest in computers in the past even though we have two in the Christian Resource Centre. When he saw Andrew and Nancy enjoying their computer access he wanted to know more. His classes cost less that $10 per month and he was pleading with us to let him take the classes. Of course, we are thrilled that he wants to study something new and agreed. He is excited! We just received news that one of our first "wards" from 12 years ago is now working with computers in Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) and doing very well - both in his work and in his church there. As we see the children grow physically, academically and spiritually we are encouraged in what God has allowed us to do.

There are challenges every day. There are also victories that we are able to share. Thank you for praying for us through the challenges and celebrating with us in the victories!

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry