27 May 2009

Never Actually "Mundane"

Greetings from Luanshya!

Life here is never actually "mundane." There are always surprises on the horizon and that brings both good and bad experiences. A flying stone send from the vehicle ahead can crack a windscreen (windshield) in an instant creating a very interesting design right across my field of vision. For "just $1,000" I can get that replaced. I didn't know that "just" and "$1,000" could into the same sentence. This is not good news!

The current teachers’ strike is not a good thing, but we have had an increase in students coming into the Christian Resource Centre for the past week. Many of them come in school uniform because they go to school hoping that classes have resumed only to find that the teachers are still refusing to work. Consequently they come to the CRC to read the books we have. A number of new students have joined the Mail Box Club programme that Sherry oversees from the CRC. We are encouraged that people are sharing what they have learned through their lessons with others. This is good news.

Work among the youth continues. During these "days off from school" a number of high school boys have been spending their time in the Youth Centre keeping occupied with the various board and table games. This ministry has been a true blessing to many and we are pleased to be a part of keeping the youth out of the bars. Sherry has just begun lessons on the final chapter of Daniel during the weekly youth meetings. This week the young people will look at the first four verses of chapter 12 and next week conclude the chapter and book. It has been a long haul through the book of Daniel, but the youth have grasped some of the events that will be taking place in those last days as well as examples to live by through observing the life of Daniel. Pray for the young people of Luanshya as they seek truth.

In the Men's Bible Study last Sunday we examined Acts 4. Some of the questions included: What risks do we take when we try to witness to people about Christ? When, if ever, have you been challenged or threatened because of your beliefs? What steps can you take to better prepare yourself to explain the gospel to unbelievers? When has the testimony of another believer strengthened or encouraged you to boldly witness for Christ? Finally the question that stopped the class cold: Who is one person you can tell about Jesus’ offer of salvation this week? Each of the men was asked to name one person to whom they would talk about the Lord this week. The men had to look at their week and decide who would be approached about their eternity. One man said, "Several." I asked him to name one. He stumbled. When we think about reaching the "world" for Christ it seems easy. When we think about the individual and concentrate on how to reach that one person for Christ the question becomes personal. Ultimately each man mentioned a name of someone they would either invite to church or at least give a book about the Lord. It isn't evangelism if we aren't evangelists.

This week I will be in one of the rural churches. I went out to the village a few days ago to meet one of the leaders. The road is horrible and it will take nearly an hour to get there. I am glad I went then because I would have been 30 minutes late for the service – not unusual for them, but unheard of for me.

On a personal note, Colin finishes his course in San Antonio on Thursday. He is a "Aircraft Load Master". He now goes to Florida for a few days to learn how to parachute. Actually, he will learn how to land when parachuting. That is the hard part. Jumping from the plane is apparently "easy". Then he will spend a few weeks in Washington State learning how to live on bark and leaves. Then he will go to Oklahoma where he says "the wind comes rolling down the plain." After all the training he will be in Hawaii for 3 years. Thank you for praying for him during his training and for continuing those prayers as he is begins his assignment. With the excitement in Asia over the past few days this is cause for concern.

We appreciate your prayers on our behalf. With the planned ministries and the unplanned events, we know Who hold the future.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

06 May 2009


Greetings from Zambia!

I spent part of the first three days of this week doing something "different." (My children will attest that doing something different is not all that "different" for me.) I took each of the older three boys from the Lighthouse Children’s Home out to lunch. John is 6 months away from his 18th birthday; Dickson has 10 months to go until his 18th birthday; Shadreck will turn 18 in 16 months. This means that all three boys will make a decision about what they want to do in the next few months. We have said that the children can stay in the Lighthouse Children’s Home after they reach their 18th birthday with a few conditions:

First, they must continue in school thought the 12th Grade. All three of these boys will be older than 20 when they graduate from 12th grade. They will become legal adults at 18, but if they want to stay in the home, eat our food, sleep on our beds and go to schools that we pay school fees for them to attend, then they have to stay in school – and pass their exams. At 18 they go from "wards" to "houseguests." All have agreed to this condition.

Second, they must not drink alcoholic beverages. The legal drinking age in Zambia is 18 years so most of the boys and many of the girls who are still in high school at 18 are allowed to go into bars and drink alcohol (and most 18-year-old young people in Zambia are still in high school if they passed the exams to get into high school). The result of this freedom is a general failure of most grade 12 students to get passing grades on their final exam. Some retake the exam the following year, but most simply consider themselves as having "completed" grade twelve. Sadly, many of them do foolish things while under the influence of alcohol and the cemeteries are proof of that fact.

Third, they must obey the rules of the house including care of the property, helping with kitchen duties and working in the garden. While they will be "houseguests" on paper, they are still responsible for their chores around the house. They will continue to make their own beds, wash and iron their own clothes and polish their own shoes.

Again, all three boys have agreed to these rules and want to stay in the Home to finish their education.

I asked each of them several questions: What they wanted to do. (Electronics, Engineering. Mechanics and Rugby were mentioned) What were their biggest concerns. (What happens after grade 12.) What would they change about their lives if they could. This last question stumped them. They would not change anything. All three said they realised they had been given a chance to succeed and the did not want to disappoint "Auntie Sherry" or me. I was humbled by these three boys who felt that their lives were "as good as it gets" because of the care and love they had received at the Lighthouse Children’s Home.

This does not mean they are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They are boys and they do the dumb stuff that boys do. I remember being a boy (vaguely) and I remember raising two more. We have issues from time to time and I have had to walk between two of them now and then when tempers flared. Still, they have grown tremendously in the past 10 years physically, emotionally, academically and spiritually. They have learned to rely on each other for moral support and they know they can lean on either of us when times are difficult.

Sherry and I are very appreciative for your prayers – and support – for this particular ministry. Even in these troubled economic times the funds have been available to supply their food, pay for their school fees and provide for their basic needs. The lives you touch will someday lead Zambia.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry