Saturday, February 03, 2007

Zambia Update Letter #2

My life changed last Friday morning. I had my eyes opened to life in a new way. I had lasik surgery on my eyes, and I am seeing 20/15, baby!!! It was a nerve racking experience, for sure, and it took a lot of encouragement just to get me into that room. I laid down on that table, and a little cutting and some red laser beams reshaping my eyes, and less than 10 minutes later, I sat up and I could read the clock from across the room. No more contacts and no more glasses! If all stays good, I am going to become the next evangelist for LasikPlus, sharing the good news of lasik surgery to all who will listen. (plus, I get $25 dollars if someone I referred goes thereJ). I am overjoyed at the clarity of my new vision, and the five sunny days in a row, and the mountains clear as day in the distance have only served to be bring continual amazement at a technological invention that has altered how I see life.

Stephanie and I are also having a different kind of eye surgery every Wednesday night on the Western Washington University campus taking a class called Perspectives. The official title of the class is Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and for those who are not familiar with this class, it is an amazing, eye-opening, life-changing class that is taught all over the world. We lie down at the table every night, have our old eyes cut open, a red laser beam of God’s word reshaping our understanding of the Bible and missions, our hearts being transformed and enlarged and our minds filled to overflowing with the missionary God reaching out to a world he loves so much. We sit back up, and look at the clock, amazed how fast three hours goes by. We are fast becoming evangelists for Perspectives as well.

Among the many statistics that we have heard, there was one last night that caught our attention. The teacher said that 70% of all the pastors in the world are untrained. I turned and smiled at my wife. We are blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3), and we look forward to blessing and being blessed by African pastors in Zambia come September 2007, if the Lord wills. After teaching a class in Zambia this past October to over 125 pastors and leaders on how to study the Bible and preach the Word, my eyes have been opened to the hunger for and lack of training these pastors have. Glenn Ripley, the director of ACTION Zambia, is gearing up to begin a program called ChurchWorks that will be implemented into a handful of local churches. The aim of this program is comprehensive church-building—to leave the church healthier, functioning independently, and ready for further growth. The program will use 12 factors to assess current weaknesses and identify areas for growth. Churches will be selected based on an established set of factors to ensure selected churches are like-minded with AZ and good candidates for growth. This is where I will be spending a lot of my time, in addition to speaking at conferences, churches and one-on-one mentoring and training.

We have been blessed to be a part of two great churches in America, and now we want to be a blessing in Africa. We are looking for partners to join us in this new venture. Interestingly enough, yesterday, we received a scam email yesterday of a Christian woman wanting to give us $900,000 dollars for our Zambia work if we replied back to her. I was reflecting a bit on this email, pretending it was real, and as I felt the effect of this pretend email being a real email, in that we would no longer need any more supporters, I felt the honest heavy sadness as I realized many people would miss out on being a part of our ministry in Zambia. And I realize, now more than ever, that we really want partners who will go with us both financially and in prayer, people who will pray with us and for us, people who will consider themselves Zambia bound by their sacrifices of prayer and finances. We want to develop a team of people who will commit to being on our team, people we can be accountable to, and be there to cheer us on and keep us going. Please pray about this over the next month or two and let us know!

Just an update on where we are at financially at this point: We have received 71% of our needed Outgoing funds, and have received pledges for 29% of our monthly needs. Praise the Lord for his amazing provision! We are continually being stretched through this process as we feel like we have no idea what we are doing. But, in the end, it's not about us, it's about God, and we know that for sure He knows what He is doing. This is very reassuring.

Some prayer updates for those of you who have said that you would like to be praying:
That we would rest in Him during this time of support raising, and that God would refine us through this process.
Wisdom for Steve and the Northlake elders as they continue work on the transition that will take place in youth ministry. God is doing some great things in the ministry and in this transition.
That God would raise up at least 70 people (10 a day would be great) who would like to be a part of our prayer support team....committing to pray for us once a week (We currently have 34 couples/individuals on this team).

In closing, we wanted to share one of the many verses that God has been using to re-shape our understanding of God's purposes, and His ultimate plan for our lives.

Genesis 12:2-3 (NIV) "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. [3] I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

For the glory of his Name,
Steve and Stephanie

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