Sunday, December 10, 2006

Zambia Update Letter #1

Zambia Prayer Letter #1
Well, it is amazing to us as well… Having been in the ministry for eight years, we have seen a lot of missionaries come and go. But, we never considered the day would come when we would be the ones to pack up our family and move to some remote location like Africa. How did we get here, why are we going and what are we going to do are questions that we seem to be getting a lot these days.. It is a bit surreal finding ourselves preparing prayer cards and writing prayer letters, seeking prayer support and figuring out the finances. It has been quite a journey, already…
As we look back over the past eight years, we see how God was preparing us for this next step. But, it was in February 2006, during our fifth trip to Tijuana for a high school ministry trip where we confirmed this calling. We were together on this trip and we had what was an unmistakable call to give our life to missions. We didn’t really know where we should go, but we knew that we were supposed to go. Over the next 5 months, we sensed God leading us to Africa and then to ACTION ZAMBIA. Steve took a trip to Zambia in October and had an incredible time of teaching 125 pastors and leaders how to do inductive Bible study and expository preaching.
Seeing firsthand the the poverty and the hopelessness, combined with ACTION ZAMBIA’s commitment to mentor and teach pastors to meet the pressing needs, we felt confirmed that God has indeed led us to Lusaka, Zambia. Lord willing, in September 2007, we will be boarding the plane enroute to Africa to begin a three month orientation and begin our new life partnering with churches to reach the country of Zambia.

“This is your calling”
When I (Steve) was in Zambia in October, I met with Vasco, a man being discipled by Glenn. We met in the library at the farm (the farm is AZ’s headquarters about 20 minutes outside of downtown Lusaka) where he and a friend of his were studying. He went with us to the pastor’s seminar and learned about Inductive Bible Study for the first time. He had this wild look in his face, as he looked around and pointed to these big commentaries sitting on the table. He said, “I listen to John Piper and I see these big books, MacArthur and others, writing so much on so few chapters of the Bible, and now I understand. This is how they study the Bible. This is how they get this.” He said when you come back you need to teach us this more. He said, “This is your calling. You need to teach us how to study the Bible like this more.” The word still ring in my ears. I can’t imagine any higher calling than to teach someone how to study the Bible.

“what is Action Zambia?”
Action Zambia is part of ACTION International, a ministry which is an evangelical, nondenominational missionary-sending agency working in urban centers of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. ...Our goal is to know God and take action! (Daniel 11:32) They currently have ministry in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Uganda, Ukraine, and Zambia. ACTION missionaries work amongst the poor in squatter encampments and on the streets in Metro Manila, Mexico City, and other large urban centers. ACTION is also represented in other countries by associate missionaries and through national organizations. The director of ACTION Zambia, Glenn Ripley has been there for five years. It is a relatively new ministry, and yet it is exciting to see how God is putting together his team to partner with churches in a variety of ministries, that include HIV/AIDS training, street children, child evangelism and advocacy, adoption and Short term ministry trip training. It is an exciting group of people to be around, and we look forward to joining the family soon.

“Show me the Money?”
After having gone through orientation and have learned basics of missionary 101, we have been thoroughly humbled. We had no idea how hard it is to ask for money, how much money we were going to have to raise and how long it was going to take. Saying all that, we also recognize having supported others, what a blessing it is to give. For example, we have supported John and Naomi Musgrave in Russia for that last three years and what a return on investment it has been to see them encourage pastors in the farthest unreached areas of Russia and teach the Bible to these hungry leaders.
So, having experienced that side of things, we trust and hope that you will feel the same blessing and joy in joining us in Africa, in prayer and if God leads you, in fiancés also. Most folks expect prices in a country like Zambia to be very low. And some items, especially those made locally, are very reasonable. But Zambia has very little manufacturing capacity and imported items are extremely expensive. Appliances and technology-related items are especially expensive, but even everyday commodities from the grocery store come from South Africa or Europe and can cost 2, 3, or even 4 times what they would in the U.S. So, to some it may seem a lot to need to raise $5,705 for monthly expenses, but it includes also our work expenses, our insurance needs, our travel fund, and our administration fees. If you would like to see a copy of breakdown of our budget, we would be happy to email you a copy. We will keep you updated on our progress, trusting God that he will provide the support both in prayer and in finances that we need to be on the field by September 2007.

Thanks for reading!
God bless!
Steve and Stephanie

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