30 July 2009


Greetings from Luanshya!

We ordinarily send this update on Wednesday afternoon. With the new class I have in the rural church I am out of town from 1:00 pm and I return just in time for the mid-week Bible study at the English service. After that study we has yet another meeting and we returned home at 9:30 pm we thought it best to wait until we were more rested. So... Here is the update. I thing we may start sending this out on Tuesday afternoon... unless that becomes as crowded as Wednesday.

Speaking of the Wednesday Bible study, we are going through some of the basics of the Bible laying a foundation for future lessons This includes the time or dispensations of God, the people mentioned in the Bible etc. Yesterday we discussed who the Gentiles are and what God's relationship to them was, is and shall be in the future. At the end of the class I asked if there were any questions. One young man who was a first-time visitor last Sunday asked me how he could know that God actually heard his prayer. I answered with a question: "Do you know that God is your Father and that you will go to Heaven when you die?" His answer was no, and we talked in front of the whole class about how he could have that assurance. When I asked him if he wanted to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour he responded enthusiastically by stepping over the benches in front of him and coming to the front of the class. We sat on the bench in the front row and Chibuye became the newest member of the Family of God. There is no better way to end a Bible study!

After class I went with two of the men from the church to visit an elderly woman who was no longer able to come to church because it was "just too far to walk." Esther Mukombe is 85. Up to a few weeks ago she was faithful to be at every service – rain or shine – of this small, rural congregation. Last week the men asked if I could find a wheelchair for her. It "just so happened" (if you believe in coincidence) that the Rotary Club of Luanshya had a wheelchair sitting in their meeting hall. I went to the hall, collected the wheelchair and took it with me to Esther. When we arrived at the mud brick house Esther was feebly standing in the door. Her daughter and son-in-law (Rachel and Bryson Katele) had just returned from their small field and the children gathered around the car. I pulled the wheelchair from the back of the Sportage and pushed it over to Esther. She is almost blind and could not see me or the wheelchair until I was a few feet from her. We told her to sit in her new wheelchair and she began to weep. Her daughter began to weep. Her son-in-law didn't know what to say. I explained that the church was Esther's "as long as she needed it" then it was to go back to the church so another believer could use it. Bryson is not a Christian. He witnessed the love and concern of Christians who wanted to meet the physical need of one of their sisters in Christ. He promised to come to the church service on Sunday to hear about the Saviour who gave more than just a wheelchair – He gave His life. Please pray for Bryson. He will hearing the Gospel for the first time in a few days.

Next week will be something different! We are hosting the "Evangelism Explosion Africa" seminar at the Christian Resource Centre. The EE – Africa Director, Bro DuToit, is coming from South Africa and we will be having classes for 20 church leaders from the Luanshya area. (One man is coming from Kitwe so he will be travelling an hour each morning to get here.) The classes are designed to teach trainers from the churches so they can go back to their congregations and teach the "believers in the pew" how to reach their friends and neighbours for the Lord Jesus Christ. The classes begin each morning at 8:30 and will continue until 5:30 every afternoon. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there will be "OTJT" (On The Job Training) when the participants will actively present the Gospel to people. On Friday morning there will be a test which will include 12 verses that are to be memorised during the week and the Gospel presentation outline. The Director of Child Evangelism Fellowship is coming with a colleague. The director from Encounter Evangelism Ministry is coming with a few colleagues. Several other church leaders will be attending and we hope to "turn Luanshya upside-down" for the Gospel. Pray with us for a great meeting!

Sometimes we get tired, but we are encouraged by what God has allowed us to do and the victories was witness. Thank you for remembering us in your prayers.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

23 July 2009

Lost Causes

Greetings from Luanshya!

Last Sunday in the Men's Bible Study at our English-speaking church we studied Acts 9 dealing with the conversion of Saul. As you will remember, Saul was a zealous and enthusiastic persecutor of Christians who thought he was doing the right thing by arresting and imprisoning those who claimed the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Lord. It was only after coming face-to-face with the Lord Jesus Christ that Saul realised that the person he rejected was, in fact, the Messiah. He went from one who hated those who followed Christ to a follower of Christ in a matter of moments. His biggest problem at that time was trying to get beyond the reputation that he had spent so much effort to create. By any definition he was a "lost cause" for the cause of Christ. Nobody would have thought that Saul of Tarsus could be reached with the Gospel... until he met the Saviour.

The first question in our Bible Study was "Do you know anyone that you believe is a 'lost cause' to Christianity?" Just about everyone had a name (or several) on the tip of their tongue. I told them that ALL of us were "lost causes" before we came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and that it was only by the grace of God that we were His children. I then shared the following story. I am using initials because this is being published on our web page and I do not want to embarrass anyone here.

Mr B is a middle-aged man. Mr C is a very young man. I led him to the Lord several years ago and baptised him in a swimming pool before we had an indoor baptistery. Both work at the same company here in Luanshya. When Mr C went to work at this company he ultimately began working side-by-side with Mr B. Mr C noticed immediately that Mr B was not a happy person. Every other word from his mouth was either vulgar or profane. Mr C asked him what was bothering him that would make him talk like he did. Mr B was initially dismissive and even rude, but after watching and listening to Mr C for several months he asked him what made him different. Mr C told him that he had something that Mr B needed. Mr C brought Mr B to see me. Mr B said, Mr Coleman, I need what Mr C has and I need it now. Mr B was saved as a young man, but his experience in church was not pleasant. The was a lot of denominational infighting and he finally decided that "church" was not what he wanted or needed. As we spoke tears gathered in his eyes and he said, "I need to come back." He started our discipleship course that day. Two other men started the discipleship course last week as well and another three men will be starting in two weeks. Interestingly enough, the men are realising their need to know more about God and the Bible.

Thank you for your prayers on our behalf! Because of your support we are able to be here to reach the "lost causes" and bring them to the Saviour.

Together in His Service,
Patrick & Sherry

16 July 2009

Promise Kept

Greetings from Luanshya! This should have gone out yesterday, but...

On Sunday evening I received a text message that the wife of a dear friend had slipped into the presence of our Lord and Saviour. Vivian was the wife of Stephen Kabamba, Child Evangelism National Chairman and an elder in his local church. We have known Stephen and Vivian for many years worked with Stephen has conducted training seminars at the Christian Resource Centre for both his local and national CEF workers. Vivian was only 39 years old, but she was diabetic and was suffering from malaria. The two factors together were too much for her body to fight here in Zambia. She left five young children behind.

I went to Stephen's home immediately and was escorted past a hundred friends and family members who were gathered in small groups around his home talking about Stephen and Vivian's shared ministry in CEF, their work in the church and their testimony I the community. Stephen was in a small room at the back of the house, sitting on a mattress on the floor with members of the church sitting with him. I sat on the floor next to him and we wept and prayed together. I have been where he is and he remembered. On Monday afternoon we gathered at the same church building where 15 years earlier we gathered for another funeral. That time I was the one sitting in the front row. I was surrounded by the prayers of thousands of believers as they asked the Lord to comfort me. God, in keeping His promise, has never left my side and has blessed me more than I could have imagined on that day 15 years ago. I reminded Stephen of the Lord's promise and he said he could never forget it. He had watched me for the past 15 years and had seen what God could, would and had promised to do. Twelve years ago Sherry and I returned to that same church and re-enacted our wedding for 500 observers. God has been so good! God did, indeed, keep His promise! Today I am asking you to remember Stephen – my friend, my colleague, my brother in Christ – in your prayers.

Earlier that day I had been preaching and teaching in a rural church 45 minutes from Luanshya on a 10-mile road that ceased being passable many rains ago. Without my tough little 10-year-old Kia Sportage the trip would not have been possible. I keep looking for the thumbprint of God on the back window of that little vehicle because that is the only way it keeps going! I arrived just as the first member of the congregation arrived. I greeted them in a mixture of Swahili and Bemba. Some of them travel as far as 6-7 miles through bush paths to come to church. A few have bicycles, but most walk. Their Sunday morning trip to church takes over an hour. They sit on rough benches made from "off cuts" of timber at a lumber mill. There is no air conditioning or heating system. The windows are open vent blocks without glass panes. There aren't enough song books for everyone and there is no music so the song service is a cappella – and they sing with enthusiasm! I preached about Noah's faithfulness to obey even when it did not make sense – Whoever heard of building a boat for a flood when nobody had even seen rain? Noah's belief and obedience even when faced with direct ridicule and persecution caused him and his family to be saved. That same belief and obedience is required today by believers.

After the service I met – as in my custom – with the leaders of the church. They had asked me at our last meeting to come for regular Bible Institute classes because for them travel all the way to Luanshya would take several hours by foot and bicycle. They had discussed it among the congregation and decided that Wednesday afternoon would be best. Because 99% of the people there live from their small farms they are "free" in the afternoons. (Work starts at 5:30 am) So, they asked me to come at 2:00 pm on Wednesday.

I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical that they would have more than a few people there, but I was willing to come. I arrived at 1:45 and some of them were already waiting. We sang a few songs until time to begin. By 2:00 we had almost everyone from the Sunday morning assembly with a few coming in 5-10 minutes late – apologising as they entered. I taught a simple introductory lesson from a small book entitled "Understand Your Bible" written by Wilfred Munnings, a missionary to India for 17 years. Bro Munnings realised that books in simple English were needed so people with limited education could both understand and translate basic Bible truths in many local languages and dialects. I gave copies to those who could read English and they have become the "teacher's aides" in the class. The first session lasted an hour. At the end of the hour I said: "Next week we will study..." and the "class" was surprised that the hour had passed so quickly. There were many questions and answers were taken from the Bibles that they had so they know that the teaching is not from me, but from God's Word. After the first hour I met with Bro Simwanza and Bro Matanda for an hour of personal discipleship. After driving home again I was exhausted, but exhilarated by the fact that this rural assembly of believers would walk miles to hear a Bible lesson and be excited about being there. We didn't have food. We didn't have tea or coffee. We didn't have special music. We only had a one-hour Bible lesson and they were excited about coming. They promised to come back next week with their friends!

This is why we are here doing what we do. The purpose of the discipleship class is to train Bro Simwanza and Bro Matanda to be able to teach others and to work with me in the weekly classes in the future. As we reach out into the various communities in and around Luanshya we see God working in the lives of His children. He comforts those who mourn and encourages those who want to learn more. We are able to be here to facilitate His will because you are faithful to pray and support this ministry.

The "new and soon-to-be-improved" web site is under construction at www.colemanministry.info. Check it out and keep going back for updates...

Thank you for your prayers on our behalf!

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry

08 July 2009

A Different Perspective

Greetings from Luanshya!

It is always good to get away for a while, see things from a different perspective and observe not only your world but the world around you. It is both refreshing and invigorating. However, there is nothing better than returning home, unpacking suitcases, sitting in your favourite chair and sleeping in your own bed. Whoever said it said it best: “Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home!”

While we were away two people died. I am not thinking of the people whose names have been spread across the news networks. These were not famous people, but they were friends. At the same time, they were completely different from each other. Mr Simwanza was a leader in a rural church about 45 minutes from Luanshya. He lived in a small, mud-brick house with his wife and children. He had a small piece of land from which he scratched out enough of a living to feed his family and he served the Lord by preaching and teaching in the little chapel in his village. Mr Mbewe was a businessman in Luanshya. He owned several houses and lived in a large house near the English-speaking church I had just finished building. He watched the building go up and told me on several occasions, “I will visit you one day.” He never did. He left his wife, children and earthly wealth behind and slipped into eternity having never kept his promise. Members of the church went to both funerals. They were as different as two funerals could be. One was filled with hope – the other with despair. We are sad to have lost both friends, but sadder that one was lost forever. Please pray for the families. I will be going out to the village on Sunday to preach and pay my respects to Mrs Simwanza.

In America the Fourth of July is celebrated with fireworks, picnics and baseball. We basically spent the day doing laundry, catching up with correspondence and resting. In Zambia there is a two-day holiday which is celebrated on the first weekend of July called “Heroes and Unity Days.” The International Trade Fair in Ndola (25 miles away) is always conducted over this four-day weekend, but it is a more subdued atmosphere and there are no fireworks. Still, I used the “Heroes” theme for my message on Sunday and preached from Hebrews 11. As I examined the heroes of the faith I talked about what made them “heroes.” For example, Abel and Enoch pleased God, but their departures from earth were quite different; Noah and Abraham were both asked to do something completely contrary to “conventional wisdom”, but God blessed them for their obedience. All of these heroes were able to claim that title because they obeyed. We are not all asked to do the same thing, but we are all asked to obey. I ended my message with this sentence: “There is a history waiting to be written: Yours!” When we come to the end of our earthly sojourn those left will remember our life. I remember both of my friends – one with hope… the other without.

By way of an update on the web site, Hosting Matters is not being very cooperative. Arguing with them from this distance is both expensive and futile. We are making plans to change the name slightly and re-open the site soon. I appreciate the expertise of our oldest son, Christopher, as he puts everything together. Be on the lookout for…


Coming soon to a computer near you!

Thank you for your prayer on our behalf!

Together in His Service,

Patrick & Sherry

Dr. Patrick & Sherry Coleman