Friday, November 30, 2007

Humbled...





I finished my second Inductive Bible Study conference at Kalikiliki (great name, huh?). It was a good day. I am humbled by many things. First, I am humbled that I thought I could just go in and teach this material. I realize that I have a long way to go. The pastors in this compound were a little less educated in both English and in the Word than the previous and so right away I felt like I was losing them. It flustered me a bit and it taught me a great deal on how to communicate at all levels. It was a true gift because I now know how better to teach inductive bible study. By the end of the day, they got it and were just as far along as the other conference I spoke at. God is good. I was also humbled how the Lord clarified and used me despite my weakness. I am humbled by the pastors' eagerness and love of learning how to study the word, by how they appreciated me and expressed their gratitude. I was humbled by the joy and delight of the little kids that watched me all day through the back of the door. I am humbled by their lack, as one pastor came and asked me if I had a bible. He compared it to a solider going to war using a gun… He has no gun to fight (and as a pastor no less.) I am humbled by their genuine warmness and contentedness in such a difficult place to pastor. I am humbled by the privilege of having the opportunity to teach people how to study the bible. What greater privilege can a man have here on earth? And if you have just read these words, I am humbled by your support and prayers and your partnership in this journey.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A milestone...

The pastors and leaders did their Inductive homework today. They did it! They are getting it and I tell you what, this is so exciting. It gives me goose bumps... There is still some progress to be made, but we are getting it and what is better I am learning so much in Philippians and from the insights that they pull out. Today Peter Zulu led half of the inductive class... I have been encouraging them all along that I want them to begin to lead and today he told me he wanted to lead. It was great... The picture is of him leading. Thank you for your prayers for my Tuesday and Thursday classes.

Conference (s)...


I have another full day conference tomorrow (Friday, 11/30) teaching Inductive Bible Study and Expository Preaching... It is with 16 pastors in the Kalikiliki compound. I will have another one next week (December 7-8) with 150 pastors in the Kanyama compound on the same subject. This will hopefully be a great catalyst to get some of these pastors into a class I will be teaching at Kanyama Bible College on Inductive Bible study. I can't tell you how exciting it is teaching others how to study the word of God. Please pray for wisdom, strength and cultural insight. Please also pray for the spiritual battle I am expecting in various forms.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I am official...

I just wanted to let you know that we are becoming official here...

I got my work permit when I came in.

Then I got my Alien Registration card.

Then I got my Zambian driver's licence

Now, I paid my first road tax and got a certificate of fitness for our car...

Each of these official accomplishments have their own great story of learning culture and crossing boundaries...

Feels great to be official!

Truth

We had another Bible study with the Pastors and leaders... It was so great. It reminds me of Paul when he writes I desire to build where no one has built before... This is so new to them that they just exude excitement for what they are learning in the scriptures. One pastor said, "I think we are getting the whole process, seeing how we take the scripture and study it and then are able to preach it. Where before we just take a piece of paper or some thoughts and preach , now we are able to understand and teach it. Soon we can make a commentary for Daniel, Ezra or whatever." That was great to hear that, as the biggest thing I am trying to do is instill confidence in them so that they can read and understand and teach the Bible with clarity and confidence. Another pastor said, "This is awesome how the Bible opens up before my eyes." We had a great chat before the group about starting a Bible School and they are so desiring of that. After the meeting, I went with Peter to look at the plot of ground that he is using to build a church. Peter - build my church... Fitting, huh? Speaking of names, Peter plans to name this church "Pillar of Truth" from the verse:

1 Time 3.15- but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

He told me that he comes from a family of liars and his parents named him "truth" in Nyanga... It was a cool story and a neat opportunity to be in on the ground floor, literally.

Thanks for your prayers...

Some Louies are good, and others are bad...


This Louie is really good. We love little Louie. He is cute and yet feisty, he loves to snuggle and also kills bugs (and hopefully later rats). He runs the house. He is a great kitty...







This Luwi however is bad. I am not sure but I think the Nyanga word Luwi means nasty, or ugly or "freak me out" or "I wouldn't want to see that in my bed" or "this is the grossest thing I have ever seen" or something like that. The girls found it on the outside wall of our house. Experts say there are not deadly poisonous spiders here in Africa but this thing looks nasty. Anyone know what it is?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Raising a Standard.

I preached today to about five churches meeting together to raise a standard. That was the theme that I was supposed to preach about. I forgot my camera so I am going to have to use words (way less than a thousand, I hope) to paint a picture of this experience. I met Pastor Sakala and Pastor Mwale in Chaisa and we drove from there to the church where I would preach. We went left and then right and up and down and over and out… It was bumpy and crowded and narrow and full of “starers” and yellers. I am used to being gawked at, at least most of the time, but this time we went deep into the heart of Mandev. I remember one time looking left and right up and down the street and thinking to myself that I have no idea where I am or how to get out. And when you get this deep into the heart of a compound, there are not many cars and the people act like they have never seen either a car or a white person. I parked the car behind these walls and got out of my car to 12 people in cap and gown. Pastor Sakala leaned over to me and told me that I was going to be the one to pass out the certificates. I am like, “Certificates?” He whispered, “Yes, you will hand them to them.” “Oh, O.K.” I said, and away we walked past this tavern with drunk guys looking and staring and music blaring. We passed over and around this drain ditch and next to an empty market to get to this church. Shepherd Bible Church. I walked into this brick church to the sound of the theme of Star Wars. It wasn’t being played for me, though I did feel a bit like I was ready to bust out my light saber. I got paraded to the side front and sat on a couch. Yes, a real couch. Everyone else had to sit in plastic lawn chairs but I got to sit on a couch. There was a snack being offered, slices of white bread and I think water or juice. During this waiting time, I listened to some guys play around on the keyboard with different drum beats. There were around 80-100 people at this church, with probably 80% females. After some worship done by a lady who looked like a young Oprah Winfrey, I was invited to speak. I spoke on Romans 12:1-2. The problem with speaking in Africa is that I don’t really know how to be funny. I have a few really good jokes at the beginning that I use about my kids and getting to know Zambia, but after I warm the crowd, I do not know how to be funny. It isn’t like I am used to being funny, or that I am really that funny or that being funny is spiritual or necessary, but it takes knowing the culture and the words to be amusing. The church seemed mildly interested in my talk though I am learning that in Africa, even if they do not look like they are listening that they are. I guess this is true, though I am pretty sure the two times when a bunch of people came in and out and the entire church looked over for a long time that I was probably just preaching to myself. I am learning so much each time I speak, and it is a great experience. I am learning that I need to adjust lessons when I speak to pastors and when I speak to churches. I am learning how much scripture to use and what illustrations to use. Anyway, the message ended and I sat down, to be invited back up to hand the certificates to the graduates of this bible school they have in this particular church. I was encouraged to hear that and though Zambian church led Bible schools are rare, it gives me hope that we can establish some churches that will be able to run a Bible school for the churches and students in the community. We walked back out to the main road with 12 graduates in cap and gown and a tall, skinny, white guy. I never knew such staring existed. We walked over to a gate where my car was behind but their were about 8 men sitting on a bench in front of the gate. They were asked to move and they didn’t want to. I thought their was going to be a showdown and I was going to have to bust out my martial art moves, but thankfully, the men did move. I was in a bunch of pictures, shook a bunch of hands and we were ready to leave. I guess it just comes with the territory. I at least know how to smile and shake hands. I don’t need a translator for that. I just wish that I had someone from the states to go with me and experience this together. You just wouldn’t believe it. I got home and I thought to myself, “Did that just happen?”

Friday, November 23, 2007

It is the journey that counts...

The beautiful thing about blogs are that you don’t have to read them. I am not forcing you to read this, and what is better I don’t know who is or isn’t reading , whether they like what they read or don’t like what they read. So, I can write as much or little as I want to write and you can’t complain because you don’t have to read it. So there…

It was a good inductive bible study. I could say it went well, and I wouldn’t be lying, but it was so much more, before and after, that really sums up all that the experience is. For example, I am driving this narrow road down this crowded street, with bars and stores on one side and roadside stands on the other. As I drive by, I hear yells and people saying stuff and I notice that everyone is staring at me. I saw a person, Joseph, who is in my class and so I put him in the car, but the front is packed with stuff, and so he gets in the back. I continue my drive and then I hear someone yell something loud in Nyanga as we drive by. I ask Joseph what was just yelled, and he translated, “Why are you sitting in the back with the minister?” I couldn’t explain the scenario that I had stuff in my front seat and that I don’t see myself as superior, but because of the race, the white, rich American, the resentment goes deep, assumptions fly. And then I get to the study and we are sitting in the hot small brick building with concrete floor and there are garbage bags over the windows. I brought some sodas for a treat, and I kept them cool in my cooler with ice packs. Peter lifts them up and says, “What are these?” as he pointed to the ice packs. I explained that are ice packs you put in your freezer. He doesn’t have electricity, he doesn’t have a freezer and he most assuredly has never seen an ice pack. They sat for 1 hour and 45 minutes on hard, no back benches. I think I am getting spoiled. They loved discovering the word for themselves. The clapped when I get them a notebook. We answered 40 questions about Philippians 1:3-6 that they came up with on Tuesday. It was a rich, wonderful study. After it was over, I sat there for a while… I didn’t want to be rude and leave right away. But in their culture, no one leaves until the teacher leaves. So, we just waited for awhile and finally my cultural ignorance became clear. We all laughed. On the way out, I am stared at by many kids who then go crazy when I take a picture of them. As I get my car ready, there is a stream winding down the hill, with trash covered on both sides. A little boy is fishing. As I am driving out, a man yells “Give me 20,000 kwacha.” Just another day at Inductive Bible StudyJ

Oh, one last thing. Ironically, the discussion today centered around this idea of partnership in the gospel. Paul thanks the Philippians for their partnership in the gospel, and I think of those who are supporting us here. We are in this together and we appreciate, need, and are so indebted to you for your support!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful...

I thought it would be appropriate to write a blog on Thanksgiving, especially in light of the fact that I am not in the USA to celebrate it this year. Obviously, thanksgiving is not holiday or even a day here in Zambia, but a command for every circumstance of every day of every minute of every year. As 1 Thes. 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The key word is all. There are no circumstances that happen to us that are not included in that little word, all. Whether good or bad or odd or disjointed or confusing, we are commanded to be thankful in all circumstances. Now, couple that with this verse from the book of James 1:16-17 - "Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." In this verse we learn that all gifts are from God. So in every circumstance and in every gift, our response should be that of gratitude to the giver of all things. Now, what happens if we are not thankful? Paul speaks to that as well in Romans 1:21 - "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." When we do not obey these commands of scripture, both our thinking and our hearts are affected. Our minds begin to think futile, useless thoughts and our hearts become darkened. So, if you take the opposite you will find that when we turn our circumstances and our gifts in thankfulness to God, our minds are useful and purposeful and our hearts are wise and full of light. Thankfulness truly is a command that is given to us for our own good. One of the things that I have learned most about thankfulness this year is the partnership it forms with contentment. When I am content, I am thankful, but it takes thankfulness to be content. So they form a both/and relationship where we can't have one without the other. When we live contented lives, we are free to live and love and give... May this Thanksgiving season be one that leads us into a special, spiritual contentment that changes our Christmas season.


The joy of math

Hello friends, we are learning math as part of our home school curriculum... Bradyn has learned about doubles in kindergarten. Like for example, if you double 2 you get 4...

Or how about this example, if your weather in Bellingham is 45 degrees and our weather is 90 degrees in Lusaka, then we have doubled your weather:)

Or if I wear shorts and t shirts and you wear pants and sweaters, your clothes are double the amount of clothing material than the clothes we wear.

We could go on, but instead we wish you a great, cool, crisp Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your vote counts...

The Presidential election doesn't happen until next year, but there is something way more pressing now. Kamryn and Bradyn both have polls in their respective blogs and they need your opinion. Don't be shy. You will not be put on a spam list. Go ahead, make their day!

Pool Fun



Just thought this pictures was too cute not to put on the blog....especially for the grandparents!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Corner Store


Yesterday was a beautiful day, the low 90's and no rain clouds in sight so the the girls and I (Steph) decided to walk down to the pool to cool off. When we arrived at the house there were two women sitting out front. I stopped (with Julia holding my hand) and said hello and asked them how they were doing? They said, "oh, we are hungry, we have no food and we are looking for work, we are taking medication (I assumed this was for AIDS), we are very hungry." Before I could say anything Julia said, "You just need to go down to the corner down there (pointing to where we had just come from), they have some food." (there is a little corner market) The women burst out laughing. They told Julia that those people would not give them any food because they didn't have any money. Julia didn't understand what was so funny, and I thought she might start crying so we made a quick exit. They were still laughing after we had left.

Aliens and Widows

This morning I (Steph) read Psalm 146. I was encouraged by vs. 9 which says, "The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow." Right now, I am an alien. I look like an alien, and I definitely feel like an alien too. This verse tells me that God is watching over me in particular. I knew God was watching over me, but this verse puts me in a different category, He is watching over me in the same way that he is watching over and sustaining the fatherless and the widow. I thought of our house helper Miriam who is a widow and her children who are fatherless, this verse covers all of us. What an encouragement. "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God." Psalm 146:5

A Good Day


It was a good day today. We had a great family worship time on what it means to fear God. My study of Philippians this morning was great, I picked up 18 more packages for our Christmas orphan party at post office during lunch and then we had our Pastors study at 2:00pm.

I was very curious to see what these pastors would come up with and to see if they were "getting" the inductive process. And sure enough, they did. They had done the work, they struggled with it, and it led to some great conversation. At the end of the time, I asked if anyone had any comments. One of the pastors, Peter, asked if anyone had ever studied like this before or ever taught expository preaching like this? No one raised their hands. He then said to me, "this is an important thing we are learning. Zambia needs to learn how to study the Bible this way." Another Pastor echoed his sentiment and said that he was growing in confidence in his ability to understand the Bible. They shared some more and I was just humbled and thrilled. Yesterday was a really hard, discouraging day and I really needed that encouragement. Peter later said, "as you can see, (pointing to the back of the room where three more pastors showed up) many more are going to come because they want to learn this." I then said that once you understand, then you will be the teacher. I told them that this is what I want to see, is that you (I pointed to Peter) teach ten, and then you and you and you teach ten, and we will be able to help the pastors learn how to study and teach the Bible. I then said, "There are many people in your churches who do not know how to read. The only word they are going to get is from your lips. This a high responsibility and you need to study hard to teach the whole counsel of God." They all nodded and agreed verablly. It was really encouraging. We will meet again on Thursday to begin the process of answering the questions. (I just had a thought: I wonder how many of you reading this do not really know the beautiful process of inductive study? If you don't please email me at sskbjallen@gmail.com and I would love to send you some information I put together.)


After the study, I went and bought four 25 kg bags of mealie meal at Shoprite. At the end of the month we buy a bag of mealie meal (which makes the Nshima, the staple food here in Africa) for the guards and Miriam. It helps supplement the food budget and it is one of the benefits of working for Action Zambia. On the way to deliver to the houses, we were jamming out with Garth Brooks-(I am preparing myself for your country music CD that you are sending me, Jerrad:) I asked Miriam if she knew country music and she said, "Oh, yes, I love country music. My father used to play it all the time." Whatdya know about that... Country music in Zambia.

Anyway, we dropped off the mealie and we gave her an extra mattress that we were not using. She is a widow, and she has two kids. Her brother also shares her house with her. We then went to drop off mealie at Daka and Lungu's house, who live near each other. Daka was coming on to the night shift so we picked him up and we went to drop off Mwape. While we were waiting for Daka, Mwape pointed at my ipod and asked how it works. He asked, "You put music on here and it plays?" I explained how you put the songs from the CD on the computer and then transfer it to your Ipod. I said, "Whiteman's witchcraft..." He laughed. That is the name for all the gadgets us Mzungu's have... (As we drove away I was thinking about how simple they really have it... They have no idea how to use a computer, an Ipod is foreign and all the mumbo jumbo in the middle doesn't exist in their worlds.) Later during the drive I showed how the radio station is synced with the transmitter, and as I changed the radio station and the music went away, they oohed and ahhed. It was pretty funny.

After we dropped off Mwape, I told Daka that I wanted to share a couple of ideas... The first was a deal where each month 3 of the 4 employees that work for us would contribute a set amount to the fourth person. That means, for example, Daka would get k300,000 ($75) extra for his month. The advantage of this is giving someone the revenue during their month to either buy something expensive, pay health debts or start a business. It would mean sacrificing money during your off months, but if they could be content to live simply during those off months, it could help them a lot during that one month. This led into another conversation where I shared about the importance of saving money. In this culture, people are not afraid to ask for money. In fact, because there are aunts and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters who have needs and more and more needs, no one keeps money, because if they have money, someone will ask for it and in this culture you are bound to give. Sounds a little crazy when I read what I just wrote, but it is very, very true which is how people get into downward cycle of debt, because emergencies happen and then they have to borrow money. It conflicts a bit with being generous as a believer, but, the point is that people don't save, because if they have money, they are culturally bound to give it away.

So, I asked about saving some money. He said, "Like what, open an account?" ( Can you imagine never having used a bank?) I said, "You give me some money each month, and I will keep it for you in a safe. When you need it for an emergency or for a purchase, I will give it to you. He was blown away by this option. I told him how Mwape wants to start a store. He said that he wanted to start a little store as well. I shared how the profit you make from your store, you can give to me. I then shared how he could buy a house instead of renting. By then, Daka was pretty fired up. He was like, "Thank you so much boss. Thank you so much." Like I have said before, it doesn't take much to really make a huge difference. I am encouraged to be able to help those that God has put in my life. I can't be a change agent for everyone in the world, but I can for those who God has put in my life. What a privilege to be a part of bringing glory to God in small ways.

Anyway, if you made it to here, thanks for reading.

The Sad Truth


The girls and the parents are getting rabies shot next week. I think it must be on the girls' mind:) We keep telling them that that shots are bad, but getting rabies and then doing shots after would be really bad. An Action nurse will be doing it. I am more scared for this nurse than for the shot, especially when it is Bradyn and Julia's turn.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I ant kidding...


Note: After writing this blog, I headed to bed. As I turned on the hall bathroom light, I saw an I-90 full of little ants. The picture is evidence of that. How ironic, huh? Needless to say, I doomed 'em. In the morning, I-90 looked like an earthquake zone on the floor. Welcome to Zambia!

I have been doing a lot of inductive bible study sessions here in Zambia and pastors seem to be really enjoying it. Part of inductive Bible study is do three steps: Observation, interpretation and Application. The observation part is really important to the whole process. It is slowing down long enough to really notice every word, and make statements about the verses. It is not reading into it or bringing prior opinions or thoughts into scripture, but letting scripture speak for itself. I say that because observation is key to really just about anything. Like, take ants for example. We see them all over our house. In fact, let me just see if I can't see at least one ant right by my computer. There is a fly, a weird looking bug and hah, I just saw one. Anyway, there are two Bible verses about ants... Here is the first one;
Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Proverbs 30:25 Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer;

So according to Solomon, ants are hard working, team-oriented and wise. Well, in my research this past three months, I would have to agree with Solomon. For example, on my screen window, I have observed ants carrying a dead fly up the screen window, four or five carefully lifting up this dead ant on the inside of the screen trying to get it outside, and you know what, they did it. The flies are gone. There is a small hole. Maybe they got it out of there. Amazing. They must have dropped that fly a million times, but they never gave up. The ants are team oriented. Have you ever seen a dead cockroach surrounded in little ants? We have. A few times, actually. They surround this poor cockroach trapped on his back and they are relentless, working together to get this cockroach to its home, I guess. They can smell, find, communicate and be on a piece of dogfood faster than my kids can spell it. We have wanted to videotape it to just see how fast it takes them. But, thankfully, we have better things to do.

They are everywhere. Tonight, my wife burrowd her head into my shoulder and said, "We have to get this house sprayed. The ants are everywhere." Well, they are not everywhere, but I have a new respect for this persistent little critter. If you watch them long enough in your bathroom or in the kitchen or outside on the flower beds or on the wall or on the floor or the patio or really anywhere, you see order, persistance and communication. It is amazing. From about two feet away in this huge expanse of space, two ants will run full blast head into each other. I thought that was hilarious when I first saw it, but they are communcating something. They head butt information or whatever, connecting with each other. I know I may sound crazy over here with my ant thoughts, but Solomon and I, we think alike. And we know things. I just saw this article and it was really good. It is about ants. You should check it out here! It goes further into depth about ants and how they are truly amazing creatures. The title is called, "An Anthill on which to Die: What a colony of insects could teach us about the church." I agree with his assessment, since I am now an expert on the observation of ants. The things you learn in Zambia. Go figure!







Sunday, November 18, 2007

Allen Family Church



This morning we had church, family style. Kamryn even made a program announcing it:) Bradyn and Kamryn have not been feeling so good lately, battling a stomach infection, and I didn't need to preach, so we just stayed home and worshipped together. About two years ago we started trying to have family worship together every day. We started reading the Bible and then reading verses, reading a devotion and much, much more. We tried just about everything. I still remember our first couple of weeks of family devotions. They were so painful. Kids would not sit still, they were bored, we were dying... It was miserable. Many times we about threw in the towel. After some time has passed, it is still not easy. But it is definitely better. Some days are great, and some days are just difficult and some days we are too busy and just forget about it. Some days Stephanie would lead and most days I would lead. I think two books have encouraged us in this journey. The first is 10 P's in a Pod. This is the far extreme that I have heard of family devotions and they are a very tough family to follow, but wow, what a marker to reach for... I loved this book and it helped change the way we lead our family. I was also challenged by Voddie Baucham. His messages especially during a conference were life changing for Stephanie and I. Overall, as I take an account of it all, we have tried many things, failed often, succeeded rarely and wonder at our effectiveness in the in between. But, God has been gracious with us, by helping us not be legalistic about it. When we miss some time in the word, we know that God loves us. When our time is distracted and hard, we look forward to the next day.

Nevertheless, I am so thankful that we have persevered. Here are two highlights of the last couple of years. One, this past year our family, minus Julia, memorized the entire book of Philippians. Kamryn probably has it down better than any of us. Slowly but surely, steady does it, we just went verse by verse by verse. Sometimes we would listen to Phillipians in the car before we listened to music. It was amazing to watch how over time, it just stuck. Another great moment occured one day when we were coming back from swimming lessons. I had to do a bunch of errands and after awhile the patience of our children was running thin. Kamryn complained about something and I said, "I am thinking of a verse, hmm, something that goes like this, "Each of you..." and Kamryn and Bradyn jumped in, "should look not only to your interests but also to the interests of others..." We had a long talk about that verse, what it meant, how it applied and should change our behavior. It hit me a little later while I was driving that I had just done Deut. 6:4-9 which says:
[4] Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [5] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. [6] These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. [7] Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. [8] Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. [9] Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

We weren't sitting down at a table talking about the Bible but because we had the Bible memorized in our hearts, we could apply what we learned to the situation at hand. This was a huge victory for me, and really, as I look back over the past two years, it was one of only a handful of victories. In fact, if you were to look at the scoreboard, you would see the score doesn't show a whole lot of scoring on our part. There has been more discouragements than encouragements, but I guess you can look at it like this, that during the early parts of planting trees, it is more work than reward. Yesterday, I had an insight (I am pretty slow, so bear with me) regarding this verse: Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Training is a process, it takes time and it happens all the time, not just at the table. But, for us to train, we need a guide, and the guide needs to be accessible, right? I shouldn't expect my kids to be perfect and I need to use the days and circumstances and bad behavior to train my kids how to live. But, when I can train them with the Words of God, and not just my words, because the words are on on our hearts and minds, we are making progress. And if they grow up not only knowing scripture, but are able to apply it to situations, then chances are I will have a better shot of them not turning away to some other guide.

All this to say, maybe that will be an encouragement to you today to begin leading your family in family worship or to press on if you are feeling like you want to throw in the towel. Don't expect too much. Don't get to discouraged if you miss a day. Don't try to do to much too soon. Maybe it is the verses your kids are memorizing at Awanas or Team 3 or whatever. Maybe you just pick a passage of scripture and commit it to memory and conversation. For what it is worth, Philippians's was a great book for memorizing because there are some doozies in there that kids (and parents) can't escape:) Whatever you do, do something. I had one friend whose family memorized 1 Tim 6 about money. Brilliant. I am always looking for more ideas, so please send them to me.







Timing is Everything


Stephanie went to the shopping center to buy some groceries and Christmas presents for family at the local craft market. I received a call from her at about 3 pm telling me to go out and get the clothes off the line. I didn't see much rain coming down, but I obeyed. I felt a little drop or two, but as soon as I got in the house, I heard some thunder. A few minutes later, a few drops more and then rain and then heavy rain and then it was like someone was dumping buckets of rain like I have never seen before. But not just that, but it was windy and thunder and lightning and more water. I was enjoying the display of God's creation from the dry indoor window when I heard the familiar bark of our dog Zorro. Whenever he barks, it means someone is at the gate. Literally, he never barks, except then. But, it is raining, really raining. But there are no guards this day so I go out with an umbrella. The water is coming down and back up off the pavement and sideways from both directions. The wind is blowing the umbrella up and over and out. I open the gate and see it is my wife. I pull one gate back with one hand while holding the umbrella in my other hand. As I go to the other gate, the wind slams the other gate crashing back. I see that it is hopeless cause. I retreat to the guard shack, proceed to take off my hearing aid and then left the umbrella in the guard to brave the elements for my princess. She drives through the gate, the water is still coming down, up and sideways, and literally, I am soaked, as if I just jumped in the pool. Stephanie didn't wait for me, but rushed into the house, but then came back out because she realized that she left the lights on. By the time we got into the house, we were as wet as wet could be. So, we had Bradyn take a picture. But, of course the picture doesn't capture Julia who is screaming and crying with all she the gusto you can imagine because she is afraid that we are getting wet. And the rain is really cold, like you are taking a cold shower. Needless, to say, it was great timing for a great story. Not so great though for the hundreds of artists that were selling their art and jewlery and blankets at the shopping center.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Love is in the house


It was great spending some time at the orphanage yesterday. Normally, this is something Stephanie does with the girls, but because of a Bible study, I did and it was a great time. I found this picture drawn by Bradyn afterwards of the girls that she loves at the Orphange. If some of you have sent Christmas packages for the girls, one of these names might be the girls you are sending packages for! Today we are going to a festival of sorts where these orphan girls will be performing some dances. It should be cool.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas in November





Today I went to the post office to check and see if we had any packages. We had some team mail and two little slip of paper. The slips of paper are good. They are really good if they say Steve Allen on them. Bingo! Today, two slips and two Steve Allen's! But, you don't get the packages there. You have to walk around the building to the other side and there you pay a little fee, maybe k1000 kwacha or something. I go around and I get my two packages... Then this lady comes out and says something to the clerk and then says, "Uh, you have many more packages." I was like, "Really, like how many, two or three?" (I came hoping that some of the Christmas packages for the orphans have come in. My teammates had scared me into big time praying because sometimes packages that get mailed her get permantely borrowed by mail people along the way.) Anyway, after I said two or three, she said, "Uh, no, M-A-N-Y... Can you come back tomorrow and get them so we can organize them all." I said, "Yeah, sure. They are for orphans." She looked at me and then that was that. As I walked out, I wondered how many, I wondered if they would get here and I prayed and tried not to be anxious. Well, today, a Zambian who was with us (during when we got our driver's licence, which is another story in itself.) dropped his sandal out of the car near the post office. So, I went back at the end of the day (after a great Bible study with 13 leaders/pastors, which is a another story, too) and I found the sandal and I got the "many" packages. It cost me only k17,000 kwacha which is $4.50. But I got 30+ packages!!!! She brought out his HUGE bag full of packages. It was so heavy I could barely lift it. I felt a bit like Santa Claus. Thank you for giving of your time to shop, for the letters you wrote, for the money you gave to make this a special Christmas for the orphans at New Horizon. (We will email you a thank you letting us know we got your packages!) I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful this is going to be for them. I am taking the girls tomorrow (Steph has Bible study) and I will be taking some pictures and some video so you can see your kids:) In this plethora of packages, we were also blessed with new Christmas dresses from Boggie and Bumpa for our girls, awesome craft supplies from the Berkan family, a ton of DVD's from Brian and some gluten free granola and cookies from Julene and some more flour and goodies from Summer and a great package from Gibbies, a wedding video and candy and cereal!!! So thank you to you all for caring for us, and for caring for our children. They love recieving presents and it is a great encouragement to them that people have not forgotten us, and they pray for us and miss us!

Rain


Hi, Steph here. (I say that because Steve usually writes most of the blogs. So, if it is me writing I will tell you.) I think the rainy season here in Zambia has officially arrived. After two months of absolutely no rain at all, which is called the "hot dry season", we have entered the "hot wet season." Before we left people had many questions about the weather here in Zambia. I didn't feel very well informed so I didn't have very good answers. Now, I have experienced the "hot dry season" in it's entirety so I feel like I can say that from September through October it is very hot and very dry. I'm not sure how long the rain will last so I will comment on this season when it is over I guess. As of right now, it is still hot...in the high 80's and 90's. But, in the afternoon, the clouds start rolling in and it will usually downpour. This season is a bit more tricky as far as our laundry is concerned. They usually hang our laundry on the line to dry and then fluff it for a few minutes in the dryer to soften it up and to kill any putsi fly larvae that the laundry may have acquired while on the line. (I'll tell you about Putsi Fly larvae in another blog....just know it's not pretty.) Today, the line was full of wet bath towels when the rain came so Miriam went running out to get them before they were even wetter. They will have to wait until tomorrow to get put back on the line. I tried to capture a picture of the rain but my camera didn't do it justice. Steve here now: I was doing a Bible study with pastors in the compound when the rain hit. I was leaving for my car and literally, in about 30 steps, I was covered in water. As I drove out of the compound, it was like a ghost town, not a person to be seen unless they were under cover. It is so difficult here when it rains because everything dirt becomes mud with streams of water weaving through roads, houses and outhouses... On the way home though I saw the most amazing lightning strike in the distance that I have ever seen. Two streaks starting together and each going downward away from each other. It was like they flickered at first like a Christmas light and then just radiated out with deep bright yellow streak. It was amazing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An opportunity to bless an orphan this Christmas






Before I tell you the cool opportunity, I want to give a little background to my day At the church where I did the conference, the pastor's son, Robert, has started a community school for orphans and vulnerable children who cannot afford government school. He has 84 kids ranging from 5-12, in a one room church building.( The first two pictures) Robert is 24 years old, and he does this alone, with some help from his 22 year old cousin. Today I went and observed this classroom and took a few pictures.

I then took him to Living Waters Community School (the last three pictures) to meet with Pastor Earnest who is also the director and founder of the community school. I wanted young Robert to meet this older man of God who has an incredible testimony and who has built this community school to reach out to 205 of the most vulnerable children and orphans in his community. The compounds are probably a good 30-40 minutes away by car from each other and so it was a great opportunity to introduce two men who probably wouldn't have met, but who have similar visions and huge hearts to reach out to the children in their respective communities.

Listening to Pastor Earnest was pretty incredible. I am in awe, actually, and I feel I am learning more from these Zambians than they are learning from me. Pastor Sitali started his community school in his house three years ago. But, it was 1995 that God gave him a vision or dream that a plot of land (which the school and church now rest on) would be given to him. At that time, it was street market and it wasn't for sale. But he kept praying and trusting like Abraham, and he also took a letter to the city council asking for the land for a community school. He said he went every day for a year... Talk about perseverance! He finally got the land, and the school has been growing ever since. Last year when I visited this school, there were only 180 kids. Action Zambia has been big in helping train Pastor Earnest in being a better teacher as well as in helping train other teachers as well. Action also give towards a feeding program which happens three days a week (sometimes this meal is the only meal some children will have all day). Lastly, they helped with the actual building of a community school. Pastor Earnest has been doing this school for the past 3 years and he said he is amazed at the progress of the children, in how they look and smile and act. Many came in with orange hair which is a sign of malnutrition.

So, we have come to the opportunity part:
I know that there are many opportunities to bless orphans, but you probably won't get the kind of picture/blog updates as you will get if you bless these orphans:)

Pastor Earnest's school really needs uniforms. Most of the private or government schools have uniforms, and when a school does not have uniforms, it is really difficult for the children who do not have uniforms. They are already poor and many of them orphans, and this is just reminder to them that they are second class citizens. In addition, clothes that they are worn and dirty. There is something important about uniforms that boost morale of both students, parents/guardians and teachers as well. This morning I showed up and there were about 50 kids who had blue shirts and black pants. I asked about it and he said, someone donated to buy 50 of them. You can see the shirts on the pictures. They really need 155 more, though. They cost $25,000 kwacha for both shirt and pants which is about $6 dollars. I was hoping to get people to donate $10 for a new uniform and a small gift, probably some food, beverages, etc... How cool would that be? My goal for Living Waters is $10x155 students=$1500

The other opportunity would be to donate a small gift of $10 to Chaisa community school, the school which Robert is at, to help have a Christmas celebration. We would do it much like the orphan Sunday which was at this church about a month ago, but it would be based on Christmas, show a Christmas movie, give out gifts and have some food and help provide some needs for school supplies for this start up school... So, my goal for Chaisa is $10x84 students=$840

If you do want to give, please follow this link to my donation page and type this number 71139 in the comment box along with either - uniforms for Living Waters or Christmas celebration with Chaisa... Your gifts are tax-deductible and I will let you know via the blog when we have reached our goal. And, please email me if you are giving to these community schools for this Christmas project so I can be sure to send you a picture of thanks:)

And by chance, if you are in the mood to be generous this Christmas season, the school rooms that we are building at Living Waters is almost completed by there is needs for about $6000 more dollars to finish the projects so they can finish... You can donate to the same link above, but just put Living Water Construction Project on it...

Please feel no pressure to give... Just thought it would fun for ya'll to contribute and see the results of your gifts!!!

God bless!

An opportunity to bless an orphan this Christmas

Before I tell you the cool opportunity, I want to give a little background to my day At the church where I did the conference, the pastor's son, Robert, has started a community school for orphans and vulnerable children who cannot afford government school. He has 84 kids ranging from 5-12, in a one room church building. Robert is 24 years old, and he does this alone, with some help from his 22 year old cousin. Today I went and observed this classroom, took a few pictures. I then took him to Living Waters Community School to meet with Pastor Earnest who is also the community school director. I wanted Robert to meet this man of God who has an incredible testimony and who has built this community school to reach out to 205 of the most vulnerable children and orphans in his community. The compounds are probably a good 30 minutes away from each other, but because 95% It was a great opportunity to introduce two men who probably wouldn't have met, but who have similar visions and huge hearts to reach out to the children in their respective communities.

Listening to Pastor Earnest was pretty incredible. I am in awe, actually, and I feel I am learning more from these Zambians than they are learning from me. Pastor Sitali started his community school in house 3 years ago. But, it was 1995 that God gave him a vision or dream that a plot of land (which the school and church now rest on) would be given to him. At that time, it was street market and it wasn't for sale. But he kept praying and trusting like Abraham, but he also took a letter to the city council asking for the land for a community school. He said he went every day for a year... Talk about perseverance! He finally got the land, and the school has been growing ever since. Last year when I visited this school, there were only 180 kids. Action Zambia has been big in helping train Pastor Earnest in teaching as well as the other teachers, they give towards a feeding program which happens three days a week (sometimes this meal is the only meal some children will have all day) and with the actual building of a community school. Pastor Earnest has been doing this school for the past 3 years and he said it is amazing at the progress of the children, in how they look and smile and act. Many came in with orange hair which is a sign of malnutrition.

So, we have come to the opportunity part:
I know that there are many opportunities to bless orphans, but you probably won't get the kind of picture/blog updates as you will get if you bless these orphans:)

Pastor Earnest's school really needs uniforms. Most of the private or government schools have uniforms, and when a school does not have uniforms, it is really difficult for the children who do not have uniforms. They are already poor and many of them orphans, and this is just reminder to them that they are second class citizens. In addition, clothes that they are worn and dirty. This morning I showed up and there were about 50 kids who have blue shirts and black pants. I asked about it and he said, someone donated to buy 50 of them. You can see the shirts on the pictures. They really need 155 more, though. They cost $25,000 kwacha for both shirt and pants which is $6 dollars. I was hoping to get people to donate $10 for a new uniform and a small gift, probably some food, beverages, etc... How cool would that be? My goal for Living Waters is $10x155 students=$1500

The other opportunity would be to donate a small gift of $10 to Chaisa community school, the school which Robert is at, to help have a Christmas celebration. We would do it much like the orphan Sunday which was at this church about a month ago, but it would be based on Christmas, show a Christmas movie, give out gifts and have some food and help provide some needs school supplies for this beginning school... So, my goal for Chaisa is $10x84 students=$840

If you do want to give, please follow this link to my donation page and type this number 71139 in the comment box along with either - uniforms for Living Waters or Christmas celebration with Chaisa... Your gifts are tax-deductible and I will let you know via the blog when we have reached our goal. And, please email me if you are giving to these community schools for this Christmas project so I can be sure to send you a picture of thanks:)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Watching from afar...

It is interesting watching different blogs come up about the political race this is to be this year from afar. I ran across this article about Mike Huckabee. I am interested in what you are all thinking...

Anyone seen Ratatouille??


The other night I (Steph) had the privilege of going out to dinner with three other ladies on our team. I kind of invited myself along since I heard they were going out and I thought it sounded like fun. We went to an Indian/Chinese restaurant just down the street from our house called "Mahak." It was a beautiful restaurant with wonderful Indian food. It was my first time eating Indian food, and I definitely won't be my last. Anyway, as we were waiting for our food out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving across the floor. I looked closer and sure enough it was a nice big rat. I calmly told the ladies at my table and they turned around in time to see it as well. I quickly pulled my feet up to my chair and one of the ladies went to tell the staff. They came and searched everywhere for it and couldn't find it. (keep in mind, we are the only ones in a fairly large restaurant.) They gave up and left. Shortly after, (I'm still sitting Indian Style) it occurs to me that the rat has probably gone up the chimney. (Many restaurants, clinics, etc. here in Zambia are houses or flats that have been converted into restaurants.) I knew this trick because this is how the rats were getting into our house when we first arrived. Sure enough, we heard some squeaking and rustling around in the chimney. This time I went out and told the staff that the rat had gone up the chimney. They came in, looked up, etc. but could not get it. So, they placed a guard next to the chimney for the entirety of our meal. I felt bad for him having to just stand there 5 feet away from our table for the whole night, but it made me feel better and I was able to put my feet down again, which was a good thing because my legs were cramping. Do you think we should've tipped him?
I told you the restaurant was called "Mahak"....well I renamed it "Ratak."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flexibility

I remember one of the first things I ever learned being a part of mission trips is the simple word: Flexibility A big thanks to my youth pastor Tim Jack who never ceased to remind us the importance of being flexible in any and all situations. Well, I have changed a lot but some things never change. Missions and flexibility are synonyms; they are like family. You can't have one without the other! It was certainly true today. I spent a lot of time this week studying and refining my message for the HIV/AIDS graduation and church service. The plan was for the church to do worship and announcements for the first hour and ACTION Zambia would get the second hour. One leader said I could plan for an hour with a message of 45 minutes and some prayer after. That would be perfect, I said. As it turns out, after worship and then announcements and then a choir and another choir and then another one, we were at the 11:00 am hour where the graduates had a procession down the aisle, there was an introduction of the CROSS project and then a song and then a short challenge and then a diploma giving ceremony and then a skit and than my wife and her group sang and then at 12:15pm, after a service that was over two hours, I was introduced to speak. Now, mind you I have been in a lot of church services over the years where I am to speak and I am used to my speaking time being shortened by whatever, but I was just concerned at this point that I had almost more pages to preach from than I had minutes to speak. But, God was good. I picked and moved and shared and focused on the essentials and in the end, I think people were encouraged and I finished at 12:30, their usual ending time. I just kept reminding myself, that this service and preaching and what not was not about me. It was also a great practice for me as a preacher to continually boil down the sermon, to keep asking myself what is the main point and what can you do without. Our kids did great, amazingly great. Actually, Julia struggled but she hasn't been feeling very good, so we will give her some grace. The song that Stephanie and the ACTION ladies sang was really great, with harmony and the whole bit. They actually started clapping twice during the song and then had a huge applause afterwards. Thanks for your prayers. I meet with 10 pastors on Tuesday to start a 20 week preaching discipleship as we study and prepare and preach through the book of Philippians.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A nice Saturday adventure...






We went to the Kalimbe Farms, a crocodile farm that also has snakes and turtles. It was a pretty cool place. It was amazing to see crocodiles up so close. We included some pictures, including one crocodile that was 15 feet long. We saw all the most dangerous snakes, including a Black and green mamba, a gagoon adder and a Spitting Cobra.

Braided for Bradyn




Bradyn and Julia both got braids put in their hair by our house helper, Miriam. They were pretty excited about it. It sure makes brushing hair, baths and swimming a lot easier.

Braided for Bradyn




Bradyn and Julia both got braids put in their hair by our househelper, Miriam. They were pretty excited about it. It sure makes brushing hair, baths and swimming a lot easier.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Puzzled?


Not here in Africa! Our girls and the New Horizon girls hammered out this puzzle together in a couple of hours. Stay tuned for a special video of these girls performing before the United Nations.

Home-made Bananas for all...




Just wanted to show off our latest crop of bananas... They are yummy! The last picture is a a look outside where I study every day, minus the barred windows:)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flying Termites

We had a huge infestation/birth of Flying Termites this evening. It was quite spectacular in the sheer number of them as we watched them from our outside patio dinner table. They filled the sky. It was crazy. Thankfully, on a whim, Stephanie bought some citronella fluid so we enjoyed a termite free chicken curry dinner as they flew around, behind and above us... Welcome to Africa!

UPDATE a day later:
Well, I learned about a week ago that termites come out flying and then they shed their wings. So, today, we found a bunch of wings all over our sidewalk. Now, where did all those termites go:(

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Progress

I had a follow up conference today and it went really well. We went through Romans 1.16-17 in both inductive and expository study and then I preached the message. I was encouraged as they are really grasping the concepts of Bible study and you can see the eagerness and the enthusiasm generating as they realize that they can do it by themselves. They came up with great observations, great questions and thoughts, and they really seem to be getting it. One pastor that came encouraged me greatly by saying and said that his eyes are open to understanding how to study the Bible. I have set up a few small groups to follow up with the conference that I am excited about. We will meet for 26 weeks with 6 breaks built in, where we will all study the book of Phillipians together. Each week, we will have an assigned passage and then we will each do the inductive study. We will transfer from that inductive study what we have learned into an expository outline with an application and reflection part which will then be the skeletons to prepare a sermon. I am most excited about this ongoing weekly training that will be happening with small groups of pastors. I hope to visit them during sundays to hear them preach, though most of them preach in Nyanga, so I am not sure what to do there:) I think most of us who sit under expository preaching regularly may not fully appreciate what it is like to not have expository preaching, but without the training and resources, it just does not happen here... What a priviledge to be a part of helping pastors in this area. Thank you Dr. Wecks from Multnomah Bible Seminary for changing my life by teaching me how to study the Word...

After the conference, I had lunch with Bruce, the pastor from Kanyama who I have shared about. We talked about a lot of things, but one of the things that stood out was that he lives by faith, literally. He is principal of the Lusaka Theological College and a pastor of church plant. He makes no salary from either the college or his church. He lives by faith.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rainy season has begun...

I am sitting in my home office studying for a follow-up on Wednesday to the conference last week and I am looking out on a windy, dark and rainy Lusaka... I have seen a few flashes of lightning and, well, it feels a bit like home, except, I guess, for the fact that it is 90 degrees.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

"Hello?"

This is a picture of my computer. But, if you will look really closely you will see on my computer a picture of my two buddies, Matt and George. There is this thing called SKYPE.com which allows you to talk to each other, computer to computer, for free. You can just talk via microphone to microphone or you can do video to video, all for free. So, one evening, my buddy Matt calls me and I get to see his pretty face and George's sort of pretty face and they see my most beautiful face and my wife's even more beautiful face. It is amazing. Because we pay for bandwidth, the amount of stuff we can download, I only get to see your pretty face for a little while. But, it is worth it, let me tell you!!! But, today it gets even better. I learned how to forward my calls, so if you were to call me from your computer to my computer, but, let's say I am out taking care of my pet giraffe and I don't hear the computer ringing, your phone call will forward to my cell phone and I will answer and say, "Hello." And you say, "Hi, this is your friend..." And I will say, "Wow, thanks so much for calling me." It costs me I think about 11 cents per minute, but you, well, most of you, are worth it!!!! Now, I don't get to see your pretty face when it gets forwarded, but your voice is very encouraging and fun to here!!!! It is amazing what technology can do these days, and as much as Zambian internet opportunities allow, I plan to take advantage of it!!!!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Change in Zambia

I think I mentioned a little bit about the money here in Zambia in one of my posts a while back. But, I think it is interesting that there are no Zambian coins. Only bills in the following increments: 50,000, 20,000, 10,000,5,000,1,000,500,100, and 50. So, if you go to the store and they owe you 460 Kwacha in change (which is the equivalent of about 11 cents) you will most likely get 450 for your change because there is no 10 kwacha. Sometimes they will round up, so I guess it probably evens out in the end. I just think it would be hard to balance the tills at night. (posted by Steph)

Pastor's Conference, Day 3





Well, the pastors conference is now over. I am exhausted but grateful, blessed, encouraged and amazed. It was a much different experience than my previous conference last year, I guess, because I now live here, I understand the culture better, and because I felt like it was my conference I was able to start and end and lead as I desired. It felt much like leading a camp, and I enjoyed those days very much, so it was good to be able to lead it like that. There were many highlights today for which I am so thankful. The first was during the morning session where I gave them the scripture Romans 12:14-16 and told them that this is your passage for your sermon on Sunday. Where before I had been giving them the answers, this time I just sat at my computer with the projector and typed what they gave me. And I was so encouraged that they actually got it. They did the inductive Bible study giving me the observations, interpretations, and applications of the passage. In fact, I got some insights from them that I had not thought of.


After three days of talking through the inductive and expository process, It was so encouraging to see them not only get it, but to see their enthusiasm and excitement as they began to learn how to study for themselves. During lunch I had a good conversation with a guy named Bruce and he was the one who was fasting for the crusade on Friday and Saturday. I was wrong. It wasn't two days that he had been fasting but for three days the entire church fasted in preparation for this crusade. We talked about Islam and its influence in Zambia. He said 5 years ago their were no mosques in Zambia, but now they are popping up everywhere. They are providing clinics with free medicine and community schools, and they indoctrinating the people and then they send the brightest out to universities outside of Lusaka so that they will come back and be educated and get into roles of leadership and government. He said there are now three million Muslims but in 15 years, he predicted that Zambia would be a Muslim nation... It occurred to me that we Christians could do the same thing. It was just amazing that the Islam nation is so strategic and purposeful in their approach to reaching and converting people. Their approach is singly-focused. It is as if their religion dictates how they live their life and what they do. They are Islamist first and government officials, doctors and teachers second. What a novel concept. I have been reflecting on a quote that I read a few days ago: "The biggest problem in the world today is not Radical Islam, it is nominal Christianity."


From a college friend who works with training missionaries...

There are 1.5 billion Muslims globally, yet there is currently only one Christian missionary dedicated to every 420,000 Muslims... Despite the overwhelming deficit, only 1% of the Church’s current missions budget is allocated toward equipping, and training missionaries and evangelization of the largest unreached people group in the world. Concurrently Islamic governments mobilize thousands of highly trained Muslim evangelists with a budget of over $80 billion dollars committed to evangelizing the West over the next 30 years.


I read these things and I am humbled and I am challenged even more as it correlates to the conference, to equip these pastors so they can love and share the good news of Jesus with their communities.


After lunch, we went back and I preached Romans 12:14-16 and it was great (when I say great, I guess I mean that the relationship were built, and we were like friends, talking through the passages.) At the very end of the message, I asked Victoria Sakala to come up and lead a worship song. I had prepped her before that I wanted a song that illustrated the idea of harmony, which we had just talked about. I wish you could have heard this song. I really mean it. You missed out. I have never seen such passion and energy and dancing in one place before. It was beautiful. Though I couldn't understand, I was loving it. Three people sang over their microphones and the rest hooted and hollered and sang with such joy. Clapping, dancing and worship just let loose like a floodgate and It poured out and it was amazing. You have to remember that these pastors and elders are leading churches in the most difficult of circumstances. Most if not all have other jobs to survive, their church members live day to day at best, many have HIV/AIDS and grief abounds. So, to be together with like-minded believers, and to focus on recieving instead of always giving, they were loving it. After the song was over and I came back up, I said with a smile, that" this is what I had in mind when I wanted you to sing in harmony."


I preached the next message, which led into communion. All 120 pastors and leaders filed up one by one to received Communion which I gave to them. We handed out the free commentaries to those who had been there all 3 days. Books like these are a treasure. I don't think you or I really can understand what it like to have a commentary book like this. I asked how many of the pastors had a computer. Only 1 person did. Very few have readable bibles, NIV or NLT or something like that. They have no concordance. You can imagine how difficult it must be to lead the church without something so simple as a concordance. During one of the talks, the translator went off and said maybe Action Zambia will provide some concordances for us. To give a little background, occasionally he would translate a sentence that would go on much longer than what I said, and after this one time, I heard a bunch of yahoos... I asked him what he said and he told me that he said maybe Action Zambia could give us some concordances. After thinking for a moment, I said, "O.K. this is what we will do. If you can come back next Wednesday, I will do my best to have a concordance for you." They all shouted and yelled and one guy grabbed the hand of the translator and shook it with all his might. (If they only knew all the books and concordances and bible tools that exist on computer, I would be embarrassed.)


Probably my favorite thing of the day was after everything was over, I was on the side sitting, thinking, staring down at the floor and the translator says to me, "Steve, we want to thank you for coming this week. You have preached the gospel to us in ways that we have never heard before. Ever since Zambia was a closed country, and even now, Zambia has been in the dark. You have taught us things we have never known before. Now we have two requests of you. Yesterday when Luke told us the Greek words to help us understand the true meaning, we realized we want to know Greek. Is there someone at Action Zambia would can teach us Greek?And second, we would like a bible that has both Greek and English so we can understand the original language. That was just really cool. I thought to myself, though, it has been a long time since I studied Greek...:) I'll have to bust it out again. This was my favorite because it just showed me that even though they are uneducated, they are not to be underestimated. Bruce today said, as we were talking about computers and how to get these tools into the hands of pastors, he told me what Africa is missing is information. I have been working Logos on how to bring bible training software to Africa and the opportunities are endless.


I gave a few pastors a ride home and one Pastor said how much Action Zambia has helped pastors with training. It is not easy to go to Bible School, due to costs, especially. He said that we are so grateful to you helping us. But what really encouraged me was when he said that Lusaka is so blessed, but that we need to go out of Lusaka to help the rest of the pastors. Basically, he was saying, you train us so we can train them..... AND THE CLOUDS PARTED AND THE ANGELS SANG AND WE ALL SAY HALLELUJAH!!!!! That was it!!! For them to have the vision, to be taught so that they can teach others, this pastor from Ngombe made my day. I didn't even get his name. But he wants to learn to teach expository preaching and would love to meet together weekly to teach through books of the bible. He had never thought of teaching the Bible like this before this conference.


As I dropped him off in the compound, three pastors who were at the conference rode by on their bicycles shouting and waving with huge smiles on their faces.

Worship Experiences

Hi everyone, this is Steph and this blog goes out to all of my former worship pastors....Mike, Rob, Dan. Oh, how I do miss you and appreciate you all. You know it's sure easy to find things to complain about in America. What is the number one thing complained about in American churches? I'm not completely sure, but I would be willing to bet that worship is right up there. Are you guilty? I know I have been at times. I am writing to tell you all to go give your worship pastor a hug and tell him/her that they are doing a wonderful job and that you appreciate them very much! Mike, Dan, Rob, you guys are awesome!!! How I wish you could come to Africa!


So, I was under the false impression that coming to Africa would mean some great worship. It's hard to even try to put into words what it is like. I'll tell you about two experiences. Our first Sunday here in Lusaka we attended a middle class Zambian church. I was surprised to find that they sang all hymns in English. I really like hymns so it was fun for me to sing some familiar songs, I was just surprised by the lack of enthusiasm. They sang with great volume but were very stoic, and well, the piano and the piano player left MUCH to be desired.


In the compound churches the worship is quite different. It usually involves a keyboard with a nice background drum beat going on full blast.(Grandma Kress, you definitely would not like this!) Instead of English they are singing in Nyanga, not hymns but African songs. This past Sunday as we were led into the church that Steve was preaching at they put us in the front row. Sitting right in front of me was the keyboard. Then, the came in and moved us motioning that the pastor needed to sit in front of the keyboard. He asked me if I played and told him that I did but having been to previous compound churches I knew that I wouldn't know any of the songs and that they wouldn't have any music for me. Well, worship started and they handed out words to an American contemporary worship song that we all knew. They started off with the drum beat and then the two ladies (song leaders) up front began to sing with gusto. Then the pastor/keyboard player began to try to experiment with all sorts of different chords. I think that he played every chord there is by the time the song was over. So much for choosing a key. It wasn't long before the drum beat was completely off from the beat of where the ladies were and I was doing all I could to try not to bust out laughing. Every time I looked at Steve and saw his little smile at the corner of his mouth I almost lost it. I was wanting so badly to go and relieve the piano player, to tell him that I could play the song in the key that it was written in, but I figured that might be a little disrespectful.


I was soooooo bummed that Steve didn't have his I-pod on to be able to share this experience with you.


So, all that to say, we would love it if you would pray for us next time you are tempted to complain about the worship service at your church, because we are really hungry for worship that we can participate in. Sing with passion, and enjoy worshipping the Lord in your own language, and please don't complain!