15 April 2009

The Bible Says

Greetings from Zambia!

Funerals are never really a happy experience. This past week a dear friend and colleague suffered a stroke and slipped quietly into eternity. Bro Medford Chintende had worked as a mine administrator for many years until retiring early a few years ago and serving full time in his church. His funeral was remarkably different from so many that we have attended in past years. There were tears, of course, and the loss of husband, father and grandfather will be felt, but most of those who mourned did not mourn as those who have no hope. The theme of the sermons, poems and eulogy was that this is not a permanent "goodbye" – it is "See you later." The message of hope and the declaration of the Gospel by Bro Kohokola was strong and clear. Even the music declared that believers would be united at the resurrection of the saints when the Lord Jesus Christ calls His followers home. It was a blessing to see and hear these believers express their faith in the midst of their grief.

Bro Parlin teaching the participantsThe Encounter Revival Ministry (ERM) team from Harrisburg, PA, USA, is visiting Luanshya in partnership with Bro Leonard Bwalya and the ERM team of Zambia. This is a group of 25 young adults who spend a year between high school and college travelling around the United States and making one trip to a mission field during the year. Mr Ardy Parlin has been working with this group for about 17 years. Bro Bwalya started the Zambian ERM team five years ago and has groups in Luanshya District as well as two neighbouring districts. He has over 60 young adults singing, preaching and teaching in churches and schools throughout the year.

Bro Leonard Bwalya (yellow tie) addressing the groupThe US team arrived last Tuesday with Bro Parlin and four other adult team leaders and have been all over Copperbelt Province singing in schools, preaching in churches and training church leaders. Today they are conducting a church leadership conference at the Christian Resource Centre in Luanshya. The 50 church leaders, elders and pastors were introduced to and encouraged in leadership principles, life strategies and practical Christian living as leaders. One major theme is that Christian leaders are to serve the Lord by serving others in the church and the community. Some of the young men were school boys when Sherry and I first arrived in Zambia and we have been able to watch them grow and mature both physically and spiritually to become leaders in their churches. The ERM US & Zambian teams singing in both English and BembaIt was a privilege to host this meeting. We were also able to introduce the men at the conference to the ministry of The Christian Resource Centre including the library, audio-visual materials and Bible Correspondence School. Please pray for the leadership of the churches here in Zambia. They face many of the same trials and temptations as those who lead in "developed" countries, but all too often they do not have the support of trained counsellors with whom they can share, encourage and receive encouragement.

The schools are closed for their regular holiday for the next three weeks. This means that students are travelling across Zambia visiting family while those in exam classes (grades 7, 9 and 12) are attending intensive review sessions preparing for exams in November and December. This also means that children are visiting the Christian Resource Centre throughout the day because they are not in class. This is a great opportunity for us to reach into their homes and lives and parents are pleased that they are here. Even children whose parents will not allow their children to attend a church other than the "family church" are happy to have the children come to the CRC because they know it is a safe atmosphere. The children are able to read, watch Christian film and play games in a drug-free, alcohol-free and temptation-free zone. Pray that we will be able to see lives changed.

This coming Sunday I will be preaching in another long-established church here in a township in the Luanshya area. I last preached in this church about five years ago. They have had a few questions come up in discussion in the church and they have asked for "clarification from the Bible". As churches grow people come in from various backgrounds and they wonder why things are "different" in churches that are Bible-centred as opposed to "denomination-centred." Many of the older members remembered the phrase I stress everywhere I preach: "The Bible Says..." They have asked me to return and emphasise what "The Bible Says" about particular questions. It may be a long day, but that is why we are here. Please pray for wisdom as I answer the questions presented.

The more we do, the more there seems to be to do. We are honoured to be able to be here and "do" what God has asked us to "do". Thank you for your prayers and support.

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry

07 April 2009


Greetings from Zambia!

This past Saturday the government of Zambia held the national Indaba (meeting) where representatives from various governmental and non-government organisations gathered to talk about the financial affairs of Zambia. Guests were invited from other countries and the vice chair of the World Bank was also in attendance. Many things were said, suggestions made and everyone had a "way forward" for the future. We don't actually know how many of these ideas will be put into action, but there was a frank discussion on issues of national and international concern. One of the issues floored was the fact that many of the plans for development are waylaid by bureaucrats who are comfortable with the status quo and simply fail to forward the proposals which, in some cases, have been sitting on their desks for years.

Sometimes in long established churches the same kind of neglect takes place. Last Sunday I visited a church on the outskirts of Ndola (20 miles from Luanshya) which had been started nearly 55 years ago. The members and leadership of the church were quite comfortable with their programs and the schedule of events was on a well-worn piece of paper that had seen many Sundays. As I preached, I talked about the fact that the Lord Jesus came to present something new to the world, but the organised religious leaders of the day were comfortable with the programs that they had known since childhood. Christ's new "love your enemy" philosophy contradicted the "Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" mentality of the Scribes and Pharisees.

At the end of the service I spent two hours with the leaders in the church. They had many questions concerning church organisation and discipline. While discipline is important, it is also necessary to realise that those who have slipped into sin also need healing, not just punishment. Many in the church are more like police officers than doctors. They are ready to condemn rather than restore. We had a good time of bible study and prayer. They have asked me to return so we can continue the teaching. Please pray for this and other congregations as they leave their comfort zone and discover the true meaning of ministry.

Sherry's youth class will be meeting in two weeks time to discuss "The Living End" as seen from Daniel 8. A few weeks ago the young people learned about Nebuchadnezzar's statue. Daniel 8 reveals, in a sense, the nations represented by the statue, some of the events that will or have occurred since Daniel's day, and give a view of the impending end of this world as we know it. Many have been caught up in the studies and are expressing a deep concern for their friends an schoolmates, so much so that they have invited them to the meetings so they, too, can hear God's plan for the future, their future. Pray for the young people as they discover a new way of life, with vision.

Yesterday I had a meeting with Leonard Bwalya, the director of Encounter Zambia. This ministry is another “outside the box” outreach that works specifically with young adults. They are planning a two week series of meetings in the Copperbelt. I helped him design a brochure and tract for the outreach. We will be hosting one of their meetings in the Audio/Visual room of the Christian Resource Centre. This young man has a desire to reach the youth of Zambia and we are privileged to be a part of that dream in providing a facility and expertise.

As we enter this particular season, we remember the ultimate sacrifice that the Lord Jesus Christ freely made to purchase our salvation. We consider it an honour to serve Him in this place and thank you for making this service possible through your prayers and support.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

01 April 2009

No Foolin

Greetings from Luanshya!

When I was a boy I would get up early on 1st April and exchange the salt and sugar in the kitchen. It became a “custom” in our home. It just wasn’t April Fool’s Day with one of my brothers (or my Dad) putting salt on the corn flakes. As we get older the pranks change (and we get concerned about sugar on anything!). I can remember glue on a pencil, nailing a chair to the floor and even removing the tyres from a friend’s car while he was at work. All of this was done in good fun, but when our communication breaks down it isn’t funny. Sadly, our Internet access has been poor for several weeks and nobody could find the problem. Yesterday the antennae on top of our house finally fell off the mast. Apparently it was loose and the reception was affected. Currently it is hanging by the coaxial cable and there is zero Internet connect so this is being written for future transmission – we hope before the week end...

Having no Internet access also means no email, no SKYPE, no FACEBOOK and no Google searches for sermon and lesson illustrations, but it does not slow the ministry down much here. We are still providing counselling and meeting new people every day in the Christian Resource Centre. I spent 1 ½ hours with young Mr Jere this week in discipleship. His answers to the questions are becoming more in depth and his questions concerning the Christian life are deeper every time we get together. He is looking for work to pay for his last year of school to finish his accounting course. Please pray with us about this need.

The youth continue in their Friday study with Sherry in the book of Daniel. They are studying about the anti-christ and this always generates a lot of questions. Sherry avoids speculating on who might be alive today that could fit that description. We do know, however, that the Saviour’s arrival is imminent and our first priority is to reach all we can for that event. Several of the young people have been bringing friends to the youth meeting. We are encouraged to see them concerned about their classmates.

This Sunday I’ll be preaching at one of the oldest churches in the area. This particular assembly of believers began over 50 years ago. The leadership is completely in Zambian hands – as it should be – but they came and asked specifically for me to preach on the Passover and how it relates to Christians today and to help them reconcile a difference that has developed in the congregation. It will be a long day, but I am pleased that they have placed their confidence in me to help them come to a peaceful and Biblical resolution. I will appreciate your prayers as we seek the Lord’s will in this situation.

Sherry continues to improve after her surgery. For the first time in over ten years she can lift her left arm above her head. This is an answer to many prayers and we appreciate you for remembering her. The “physio-terrorist” (his word) said the process would take several months so Sherry is faithfully following the protocol and looking forward to a complete recovery!

Between the first paragraph and this last one the ZAMNET technician came and reconnected the antennae so the Internet is back up. However, moments ago a storm started pounding complete with lightning and thunder so we are about to shut everything down… Good news – Bad news!

The great news is that we know that we have a great team of supporters with us in this work and we thank you for making it possible for us to represent you here in Zambia

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry