Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The same yesterday, today and tomorrow...

I hope this isn't sacriligious, butI just found this was interesting that the Coca-Cola logo hasn't changed in over a hundred years where Pepsi can't seem to settle on anything. And, true to form, Coke is still #1 in all markets. It will always be #1. I was thinking about Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Jesus will always be the way, the truth and the life and he will always be #1. The world will try to paint new pictures of new disoveries and new ways to sell you their newest thing. The living water of Jesus will always well up to eternal life. Never changes. Always life giving. Always #1.

God knows...

1.     He sees all things.

Prov. 15:3

2.     He knows the size and scope of the universe

Ps. 147:4

3.     He knows about the animal creation.

Matt. 10:29

4.     He knows mankind.

Matt. 10:30

5.     He knows our thoughts.

Ps. 139:2b; 44:21

6.     He knows our words.

Ps. 139:4

7.     He knows our deeds.

Ps. 139:2a

8.     He knows our sorrows.

Exod. 3:7

9.     He knows our needs.

Matt. 6:32

10.     He knows our devotions.

Gen. 18:17-19; 22:11-12; 2 Chron. 16:9

11.     He knows our frailties.

Ps. 103:14

12.     He knows our foolishness.

Ps. 69:5

13.     He knows his own.

John 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:19

14.     He knows the past, present, and future.

Acts 15:18

15.     He knows what might or could have been.

Matt. 11:23

[1] From the Willimington’s Book of Lists


[1]Willmington, H. (1987). Willmington's book of Bible lists (123). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My namesake

When we found out that we were going to go to South Africa, we needed to get a passport for Rhoda. But, because she is not officially or legally our daughter yet (hopefully next month) we had to get her a passport from Zambia. But, there was a problem. She doesn’t have a last name. She doesn’t have a history.  No birth certificate.. Nothing except for her name, Rhoda.  (I shake my head, still, at that realization.)  So, we needed to give Rhoda a last name that would be her last name for a month before she became officially Jennifer Rhoda Allen.  So, we chose Rhoda Zulu.  I have three Zulu’s that I am close with. Peter Zulu and Joseph Zulu were in my Bible Class last year and are now in the Bible School that I teach at now.  We have spent a lot of time together and have shared lots of great times.  My pastor is also a Zulu.  Mischek Zulu.  So, we named her Rhoda Zulu.  In addition, they think she may be from an eastern tribe (which is where Peter and Joseph are from) because of her name Rhoda and the compound where she was found. 


All that was background to set up this cool story:

Peter Zulu has two little boys.  And, I found out when I returned that his wife was pregnant, again. According to his calculations (some monthly something or other) it was going to be a girl. I said it was going to be a boy.  He was pretty sure that it was going to be a girl and  the plan was to name her Divine.  I said it is going to be a boy and if I was right, he would have to name it after me, Steven Zulu.  We shared some banter for the last few months. I knew his wife had gone into the hospital and so when I called him, the first thing he said was “We have a Steven Junior!”  After I was assured that he was telling me the truth, he again shared that they had named the baby after me. Steven Zulu!!!

His wife stayed the night at the clinic (usually they just come straight home after having the baby) and so this morning I went to the clinic and picked up the family of my namesake! What a cute baby, but I guess I would expect nothing lessJ  I am heading back tomorrow to see the family again as well as see the community school they have started.  Needless to say, it’s been a good day.  I finally got my boy! 

Be Nice.

I got this shirt for Bradyn for her birthday. I bought it at a little outdoor market thing for $2 bucks. She wears it all the time and it is a great reminder to all of us!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Heating up.

It is 95 degrees today. Hot. Just wanted to tell you that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Well, I just had to show a few more cute pictures of our last day in South Africa... Ahhh... I love the ocean.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goodbye and Hello...

Well, we had to say goodbye to our 'ole pal Max. He was just too unpredictable and after biting little Jo-Jo and Mom-Mom on the same day, we said, Bye-Bye. But don't weep long. A Zambian young friend of ours got him and is loving having him where they live out in the bush.

And, instead of a dog, we got Bunnies...
Our worker, Daka, made the cage and worked the bunny connection, and we are loving having these cute little bunnies at our house. Sunny is Bradyn's and Ivy is Julia's and Jeannie is Kamryn's. They are living in a cage outside our house.The cool thing is that Daka, our former gardener (he is doing much better in case you are wondering-almost a full recovery) realizes after making our bunny cage that their might be a future in making these cages. So, we are going to be helping by letting our Mzungu (white people friends) know about these and by giving him some bunnies of our bunnies and then he will be able to give a complete bunny package with cage, water, bowl and bunnies... I am thinking the Mzungus over here are going to be jumping with eagerness. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A first time for EVERY-thing

What a blessing it was to have little Rhoda with us on our first vacation together. Almost every experience is a first. It was her first time on a plane, her time at McDonalds, her first time on a moving sidewalk, her first time on an escalator, her first time using the stairs, her first time at the beach, her first time on sand, her first time in salt water, her first time at an aquarium, her first time seeing a seal, the first time to eat fish and chips, the first time out of Zambia… You get the picture. Talk about adrenaline… What a joy she was to have with us and how thankful we are that she is our daughter.

Everyone needs a little rest (especially our pastors)

Well, we are back in Zambia and getting readjusted to all that life is in Zambia. The flight was smooth but the landing has been a bit rough. I forgot to renew my work visa so I had to pay $100 and then my work permit which I went to renew was not in good enough condition so I had to pay $250 for that and the Mosquitos have found their happy place in our house. I must have killed 50 last night in my office with my little mosquito electric shocker thing (Their happy place is not so happy now:) and I am currently sitting across from a very sick Brady who has come down with some kind of stomach something... But, you know, that is life. We are thankful to be home, but we are so thankful for the break that we had.

We had a great vacation in South Africa. Capetown is a very, very beauitful place. I’ve been a lot of places, but wow, even with rain and clouds and cold all week, it is an amazing place. ANYWAY, the break was sorely needed, especially for me. I can’t tell you how great it was to just relax, rest my mind, play with my kids and soak up God’s creation. (No mosquitos, drinkable tap water and fast internet, helped, too.)

It is good to take a break from the battle every once in awhile, and as I was on my way home, reflecting on the value of such rest, I was thinking how much more our pastors and teachers that we teach need this just as much as I do. They are in the midst of incredible pressure and poverty and yet because they don’t have the money or the resources, any kind of break is not an option.

Our director, Tim Hilty, wrote a report to our Zambia team about a trip thethat some of the missionaries took with the Zambian pastors we teach out to our retreat property, just 45 minutes out of town. (It just occurred to me, I may never have mentioned anything about the hub of our ministry, Cinyanjano Centre, a 22 acre piece of property that has a three huts, a teamhouse, and lots of room to develop a conference facility. Check out this link for some blogs and pictures by Karen Singelton of a recent short term team that came over to help improve our center. Our hope is to develop it for a conference/retreat center for pastors, churches and ministries.)

Anyway, Tim wrote:

“We are now prepared to open the "team house" to be used for church leadership retreats. On Friday, ABI students were transported out to Ciyanjano to have a look and get exposed to what our property has to offer. The ABI students gave us glowing feedback and seemed very excited.”

I was not able to be there to witness the excitement, but from what I hear, they just couldn’t believe that they could use the property at such an affordable price. I look forward to seeing the blessing this place will be to these nationals, helping them plan retreats and be revived and encouraged in a way that we as Americans tend to take for granted.

So, please pray for us as we develop this property so that we can really open up this property to help the Zambian church. If you desire to help us build a fence, which is the first step, here is a link to donate...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The week in review

So, the week has gone by toooooooo fast... Here's a little slideshow to chronicle our adventure!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Let the GOOD times roll

We made it down to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western-eastern to the north place in all of Africa... Truly incredible watching twenty foot waves crash endlessly and being at the meeting point of two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian... Crazy cool.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sweet (surprise) Reunion

Well, we are Alive in (South) Africa for a week holiday with Stephanie's parents. I haven't mentioned anything about it because it was a surprise to our children. Just earlier this week, Kamryn was holding her grandparents picture and missing them so much, not having any idea that just a few days later she would see them!!! The kids knew we were going to South Africa, just not to see their grandparents... So, because words don't really do justice to explaining how sweet this reunion was, especially, Boggie and Bumpa meeting their grandaughter, Jennifer Rhoda Allen for the first time, I thought I would share the video... Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
- Edwin Schlossberg

A couple of years ago, I ran a marathon with my wife. It was truly a life changing event. It changed my life in many ways. Not only did I accomplish something I had always wanted to, the after effects were almost as helpful. The endurance learned through daily training and discipline over so many months helped me finish seminary. And of late, after a year and half of long nights and early mornings, I have finished a novel.

It was January of 2008 when my world, so to speak, entered another world. My wife was sick with the cute little Johanna in her belly and so she was usually asleep before my children even went to sleep. I had an idea back then that had captivated me. I love stories. I was seeking that perfect new novel idea that would combine both pastoring and writing. And I found it. And so while my precious wife slept, I decided to write. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Early mornings or late at night, when my blogs had been written and bills paid and children tucked in. I did all my missionary stuff during missionary hours, but on my own time, I pursued a story and I found that the story pursued me. It was a bit like reading a book. I had no idea what was going to happen, until I began writing.

I found something about myself during this time, which is, I love to write. It brings me alive like few things I have found. Well, back then, being the visionary, optimistic kind, I thought/hoped/doubted that I would maybe have this book ready to be read by September 9, 2009. Talk about a perfect time to market a book whose title is simply, NINE. The book is not published, but the book is finished, having been edited once, and now I am just about editing the edits. So, why mention it? Well, I am looking for NINE editors who will agree to read, give constructive, objective, honest feedback for a very sincere THANK YOU and a little byline in the acknowledgments.

I am not John Grisham nor do I expect to be the next Ted Dekker. I know this book is not done. I mean, it is done. But, I need help. And, it is a risk to even write a blog like this, but you know, life is full of risks. You have to sometime put yourself out there, even if what you hope is good might not be so good. So, if you are a devourer of books, a grammar nazi, and/or a detail freak, you have a little margin in your life and a passion to see God's truth proclaimed in story, email me... I am going to originally restrict the first batch of editors to NINE, so I can really work with those who sacrifice their time.

Oh, and the story line? Check out the first draft of a book cover for a peak.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Life as we (continue) to know it.

We continue to be refined here in Zambia. I guess I hope I can someday get used to living outside my comfort zone, but, I am afraid that will probably never be the case. It is possible, I guess, to live in your comfort zone here. In a big city like Lusaka, you can hole yourself up and keep safe from the hurts and pains of the poor and try to live comfortably. But, I dare not rob myself of the joy of letting the poor continue to teach me how to live. But, even if we do sometimes shelter ourselves, even if we do try to hide, if we do get a bit relaxed, life here finds away over and under and through our walls.

I went to church on Sunday to preach and the pastor told me some really hard news. The one and half year old little son of one of the deacons died just that morning, some 10 hours ago. The boy was feeling fine all day and then spiked a few in the late evening. A few hours later, the boy was dead. Crushing. This somewhat different than in the other situations that we have faced in the past few months. It happened so suddenly. It wasn't really preventable. And whats worse, they don't know what it was. Perhaps Malaria or Meningitis. They had the money to get it treated. They are of the wealthier here in Zambia. And then, one of our Zambian co-workers lost his father-in-law yesterday, the same co-worker whose son is sick with a kidney disorder that has left him very sick and in need of three dialysis treatments a week. A young lady came by yesterday to tell us she was pregnant. She is HIV positive and struggling to survive as it is.

These stories continue to shred our comfortable little world. We are grateful for the privilege to minister and even more to be ministered to here in Zambia. Yesterday, as I was driving, I just shook my head in amazement that people have suffered so much for most of my life and I have been so callous and indifferent to it for so many years. Lord, forgive my ignorance and my indifference and my inactivity. Forgive my lack of care for your children, and forgive me for my selfishness. May I live outside my comfort zone so others can know the Comforter.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Welcoming to the Family

Just thought you might like to see what our family of seven looks like these days... We are enjoying our newest addition, Jennifer Rhoda Allen, very much these days. Today, we received a package from our good friends, the Cairns, who sent a dress and a sweet card to welcome our Rhoda to the family. She danced with joy at receiving the package and was oh so glad to pose for this picture! Thanks Cairns Family!!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Next In-turn

I don't think I could have planned it any better to have been a youth pastor for 9 years and then become a missionary so some of the students who I have had over the years could join me in Africa doing missions. Tyler Dingman, Owen Thompson and now Michelle Widman!!! I knew Michelle from my time at Northlake in Belligham. She was in our youth group during her senior year which was my first year. What an encouragement she was then and still is. She will be working with the HIV/AIDS part of our ministry as well as helping with admin. On the side she will also be teaching pastors the Head and Shoulder's song. Just check out the video below for a fun moment that happened during a middle of a long, hot afternoon teaching pastors in a village in southern Zambia. Enjoy!