Saturday, February 28, 2009

Techie in an untechie world...

I changed things up a bit on Friday during our Bible School class and showed the students the beauty of Logos Bible Software. It is one thing to blow someone's mind showing them this amazing Bible software, but it is even more so when these someone's have rarely even used a computer before.

Most of them have no computer, no Ipod (though they are digging these MP3 players with sermons on them), no technical thing (except their cell phone) in all of the world. No Facebook, no email, no nothing. So as I showed them the ESV Greek Interlinear and I did the Englishman's Concordance and I showed them how I do a Bible Word Study, the murmuring increased. At one point, I said, "What? What are you talking about?" And they said, "We need this!" And I smiled and then said, "Well, this is the reason I almost didn't show this to you. Because you don't need this to be a good preacher. It is a resource to help you that we want to make available but 2/3rds of the world are good preachers and they don't have this program. But, we want to help you by making some computers and Logos Bible Software available so it can help aid your studying." They seemed a bit satisfied, but I should have warned them that coveting is a sin, even if it is for a Bible software program.

There is so much good that can come out of this type of Logos software, but it does come with a bit of caution. Most of them don't have electricity at their house. They could never own a computer let alone two or three. But, we can be a resource to them, a place to study and grow and learn so they can counter the culture and help equip their people to live the Word. (caution: rabbit trail ahead) We talk a lot about the Word, but we speak to through the cultural lense. One example of this is how week after week we hammer on humility, on servanthood and how being a pastor is purely a gift of God's grace. In Zambia, the pastor is "the man" and thus a lot of pastors seek this position for power or other ungodly reasons. We talk about what it means to model humility for the church and what effect that will have on not only the church, but the culture at large.

(O.K. Back on track...) So much of this begins with solid preaching of the Word of God. I taught them this past week that as pastors, they are responsible to equip the church for the good works to their community. But, if you don't preach, they won't be equipped. We talked about how preaching must be in love to build up the body in love so that they can love the hurting, the diseased, the poor and the sick in their communities.

So, then, to get them all fired up, I busted out a sermon video of Mark Driscoll preaching to a pastor's conference on the importance of preaching in a church. It was really great seeing these pastors really be challenged by this message, as evidenced by the "Amens" and "Uh-huhs!" that would spontaneously erupt for this preacher on the wall. They left built up and encouraged on Friday, as did I. It was interesting though, watching this sermon through the eyes of a Zambian. It is amazing how American Americans can be.. He used examples of facebook and blogging and emails (o.k. more than just American) and it was very not Zambian (at least the guys I am working with). And it is a total shift for me to have to not only learn Zambian customs and cultures but to be able to apply it to the scripture so it hits home. These are challenging days and I feel privileged to be able to be in this role. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2:7




I speak a lot about the Action Bible Institute that we have going on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, but I haven't spoken of another program that we have for pastors. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Graham Melville leads a discipleship course called 2:7 developed by the Navigators. (There are only two pastors that are in both classes.) This really a great course that teaches basic discipleship but which can fit into contexts that are more than just American. These 12 pastors really speak highly of the discipleship material. Last quarter, they went through Book 1. This quarter they are going through Book 2 on Thursdays. But, the cool thing is that each of the pastors and leaders who went through this book are now teaching this Book 1 to a group of people from their church. So, on Tuesdays, Graham is helping teach them how to teach through the book. So, I went in on Tuesday as the guest speaker. I did a session on how to lead a small group and it went well. They are a great group of guys. They love God and they show it during worship and prayer and the can't say enough about how much the appreciate this teaching.

2:7

I speak a lot about the Action Bible Institute that we have going on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, but I haven't spoken of another program that we have for pastors. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Graham Melville leads a discipleship course called 2:7 developed by the Navigators.It is a very significant disicpleship ministry trying to disciple and then help pastors disciple others... We have out of the 4 classes we have led probably trained around 300 other pastors and leaders... Great times...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jobs, Part II

I heard a lot of comments about the job posting, and in retrospect, I didn't feel like I did it justice in comparison to what I see each day. So, I took a few more pictures just to give a little more of a feel of my daily drives and hopefully bestow upon ya'll some more perspective unto appreciation...
This first picture is one of many guys who sell the most normal and abnormal things and then their is this guy who sells all of the above.



The camera couldn't keep up with the fast wheebarrow guy. This guy was pushing a wheelbarrow with a live goat tied down in it. Enough said.


This is one of the few ladies who work for the yellow coat company (Not sure what the name is, but they always wear the yellow coats.) They work up and down the Great East road, working hard, really hard to clean up the meridian and the dust the accumulates. It is such hard, thankless work and yet they work so hard.

The next picture is the place where you get your bicycle repaired.


And then a small market manned by a young boy and girl...



Amazing workers who works amazingly well...

May we work hard no matter what we do as unto the Lord...

Col. 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, [24] since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Progress

Progress. It is a word that denotes an idea of forward-moving, but it also seems to admit that it may be slow, a bit awkward and not at all comfortable. If that is how you think of progress, you may know a bit more about how I feel.

It is not normal that you teach pastors that have more life experience in their little pinky than I might know in my whole life. It is not normal that youth teach the aged (especially in Africa). And it is not normal that I might be a mentor to those that should (and are) mentoring me.

But, such is my lot. There are 16 pastors who faithfully give up potential work hours to study the Bible three times a week. They come from all over Lusaka, arriving at the 3 o'clock hour, with smiles and joy and tiredness and some looking a bit ragged. Whether they are building houses or welding fences or teaching students, they all have jobs to support their families. They also pastor churches and train leaders and somehow still have time to study the Word. They are thrilled to have this opportunity to study and learn for free. And, so I study and pray and hope that God shows us somewhere between my words to make this time worth their while.

Last Monday, before class, I asked students, "What are you preaching on?" And, one by one I went around the class and I heard what they were preaching on. They shared not only about what they were preaching on but also couldn't help but preach it up a bit right then and there. Peter preached on Genesis and the flood. Bruce preached on reaping what you sow. Pastor Ngoma and Pastor Martin preached on money. Pastor Alfred preached on Mark 2 and the Healing of the Paralytic. The other Alfred preached on Isaiah 55 and how the Word doesn't come back void. Pastor Jere preached on Acts 1:8-10. It was great to get into their worlds and churches a bit to hear what and why they are preaching what they are preaching. We discussed for a while afterwards about how and why they preach what they preach and it was good discussion. We are making progress.

Later that class hour, I was teaching on Ephesians 3:14-21 on the prayer of Paul for the Ephesians. I was talking about love and how when we are filled with the fullness of God, love is the result. Joseph began sharing from his heart about how this passage, like what we were studying right then and there, made him realize that he needs to forgive his church. See, he had been hurt by his church, and he left as an associate pastor, and their were some hard feelings there. He is still reeling a bit. And, yet, in class, God was working real life change that affected not just the head, but also the heart. That came at the tail end of a class time that I was feeling a bit discouraged by. Class by class, I am seeing progress. Tracy shared with me how one student confided in him how much he appreciated the bible school and how much he was changing. It is slow and uncomfortable and suprising, but we are seeing progress.

I have shared before how the Pastor Resource Center is up and running, but last Wednesday, we made real progress. We got the MP3's loaded with sermons and they were all checked out in a matter of minutes. Pastor Ngoma got Tim Keller, Patson Sakala got Mark Driscoll's Genesis series, and others got John Piper, Bryan Chappel and C.J. Mahaney and Josh Harris' Pastor round table discussion. We have a long way to go with ironing it all out, but I must tell you, it was pretty cool showing these pastors how to turn on an MP3 player, how to forward to the next sermon and turn up the volume. These pictures capture it all. It was a cool, sweet moment. Progress, one step at at time.

I met with Peter, Joseph and Alfred for our first small group. It was great just catching up on the last year and reminiscing a bit about the inductive bible study that I taught last year. I have to be honest when I say that I was really grateful for their words of encouragment about how much inductive study has helped them know how to study the word. The progress continues...

Lastly, Tracy passed out certificates of accomplishment for completing the first module of Veritas which is part of what makes up Action Bible Institute. Not only did most of them complete it, but they also passed the facilitator testing which enables them to teach others which is part of the whole point of teaching the Bible. That was encouraging progress.

I am so thankful to be learning under Tracy. His wisdom and experience and pastoral heart has been a real blessing to me. Through his leadership, I am seeing progress in my own life. He is helping me in my weak areas as he gently guides and encourages me. He lives what he preaches and I get a front row view each week. It is a blessing.

Thank you for your prayers for our family and Action Bible Institute. We have high hopes that our investment in these pastors week after week will not only bear fruit in biblically trained pastors that change the culture of churches in Zambia and beyond, but also in the humbled and grateful teachers who can't believe they get to be a part of this ministry.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cool People.

I am having a great time spending time with Zambians, and I have a great post that I am looking forward to writing on a great class today. BUT, that is going to have to wait as I write about some of the cool people I meet here in Zambia.

It isn't every day that one decides to up and move to Africa. And so, the ones you meet are ones that inspire and challenge and encourage me. Like for example, my neighbor spent 12 years in Medical school and is now in Zambia as the only infectious disease doctor. He is not only mentoring other doctors but is also helping treat patients as well. I am sure he could be making bank in America, but as a Christian and humanitarian, he has been making a difference already in his short time here.

I met another man who works with the Malaria Control Organization (it is a different name, but I can't think of it now). He shares great news of how the tide is turning on this battle against malaria, but admits being nervous about the recession. It is a money thing. The money helps provide nets and drugs and awareness to the many in Africa. They are making a HUGE difference and saving lives.

I met another guy who is a designer for Invisible Children which is cool in and of itself. He doesn't live here but is visiting because his mom (who admittedly said should be focused on retiring) instead is disrupting her whole life to adopt the cutest little 9 year old boy named Moses and giving him chance at an education and having a mom and dad. My kids have had a blast playing with him. Bradyn said, "I really think he could be my best friend:)" He is from a village 10 hours away and this is the first time out of the village into a city. There is still a lot of court battle stuff to deal with, but bring it on...

There is a guy I met last year who is moving into our neighborhood who started a company called ZAMbikes to help provide bikes for pastors and healthcare people all over Zambia. This guy is like my age. Amazing.

I have met pastors, translators, missionaries, engineers and orphan workers. Today while at an internet place, I saw this gal that had stayed at our house. She and her husband have six kids and they run an orphanage in a village way up near the Congo. It is one of the neat things about living in a city and having connections with ex-pats who are coming to Africa to make a difference, however big or small.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One Month update...


It was this time last month that we arrived in Zambia. We hit the ground running and we haven't slowed down much. I started teaching the week I arrived and have been teaching three times a week since then to the 16 pastors who are involved in Action Bible Institute. It has been a humbling, thrilling experience interacting with and learning from these men. It is such a unique experience to be a part of helping train and teach pastors who will have an impact in the most difficult places to pastor and live in the world.

This last week was no exception. I was teaching in Ephesians 3. I was talking about Paul as a prisoner of Christ and in prison for the sake Gentiles. It is challenging and convicting how Paul was uncompromising in his preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, even if it meant that the Jews would throw him in jail. He could have softened the message and probably been saved from jail. But, he did not. I encouraged these pastors to preach the gospel despite what type of response you get.

Later on in the class, I asked the question, "What are some things that are difficult to preach, things where it would be easier to just skip over?" The hands shot up. The first pastor said, "Money. If you preach about money, they don't like it." The next pastor said, "Righteousness!" The next said, "Blessings!" Everyone was a bit surprised by his response, and then after some explaining, we realized that he meant the opposite of blessings, suffering. If you preach suffering for Christ, people will not come, especially in a culture that is saturated with the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. Then one of the pastors said, "In the village, there are things like rituals that directly oppose the Bible, but they are part of the culture. It is difficult to preach the Bible when it is so engrained in the culture." And the other pastor said, "Yes, like polygamy." You can see that some of the issues that they struggle with are like ours, but others are things that we have never really thought about.

Today we talked about humilty and how my prayer is that this group of 16 pastors would be the start of a new generation of pastors in Zambia who approach ministry as servants who humble themselves before their church and serve them with faithfulness and love.

In addition to teaching, we have also begun Leadership Groups, where I meet in small groups with four pastors every week to discuss the book Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Chambers. This past week was amazing as I had them share their testimonies. One pastor, Martin, was the 11th child and his father named him "Ndani" or something like that because it meant, "They ate them." The 10 brothers and sisters before him died before he was even born. His father believed that the other 10 were cursed and killed because of witchcraft and Martin would be the next. Martin broke the odds and now is serving the Lord strong at the young age of 60. (Isn't that crazy that I am "mentoring" a 60 year old? Martin is amazing man, gentle, wise and humble.)

I will also visit these pastors in their churches once a month to sit in and be a part of their services. We really hope to be more than a bible college, but to be pastor's college, to invest in these pastors and their families during the three years that they are involved in the college.

In addition to the teaching and mentoring, we also had a grand opening for our Pastor Resource Center. This week, students started checking out books and dvd's and cd's. It seems like the early winner was John Piper's books and MP3's and a variety of commentaries on the book of Ephesians. We will get the Logos Bible Software going in April during the Break and hopefully get the MP3 sermons up next week.

In addition to ministry at the bible college, we are planning on as a family getting involved at an orphanage weekly. I am also teaching on sunday nights to a youth group for missionary/ex-pat kids. It is "fun" for me to be back with the youth especially for this series talking about dating and relationships.

Stephanie and the Allen ladies are fitting right in. School is up and going and they are starting to get in the flow of things. They have made some friends that are nearby, including three zambians girls who live next door. During that big storm we had, I think the second night we were here, the wall fell down, literally and figuratively. Our kids have become friends with the neighbor girls and they have a blast jumping on the trampoline and playing board games. Stephanie has helped out with the choir at our church, International Baptist Church, and will probably play piano at some point at the Missionary Bible Study on Sunday nights.

It truly is amazing how fast the month has gone by. But, we haven't missed home too much. Our friends from Portland, the Knifong's were here last week and some friends, the Huckaby's from Bellingham are here this week. They are both checking out ACTION Zambia with a (hopeful) intent to join our team as missionaries.

And, speaking of Bellingham, I have this little google reader thing going and I get the weather for both Bellingham and Lusaka... Just to rub it in a little bit, check this out: (I think we win!)


And, then I come to class one day, and one of my students is wearing this shirt:
What are the odds of that? A Washington State Gymnastics championship shirt in Africa? He didn't know I was from Washington. He just bought the shirt in the compound. So, I showed him where I was from, and they all thought I was a bit weird, I think, in my enthusiasm over this shirt.

And then I am in Spar, and Jason and I were browsing and I saw this bottle of wine:


So, needless to say it has not seemed like I am really that far away and yet at other times I feel like I am on a different planet. Thank you for partnering with us in your prayers and in your financial support during these crazy days. We are blessed and grateful to have such a great team supporting us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Safaried!









We went to Protea Safari Lodge yesterday. It was fun. No, it was amazing. We went with two prospective missionary families who are in Africa checking out the ministry. It was a perfect time for a break as we have going so fast for awhile. We needed a break! As for our day, I've got to be honest. Riding on an elephant never gets old and to be with my wife was really fun. What an amazing creature. We saw all four lions up close and personal, with a double chain link fence in between us. It was just absolutely incredible being that close up to these HUGE lions. I can't even describe the adrenaline rush it was, especially when two of the lions roared and attacked each other...My daughters gave their opinions of the day as well. Be sure to check out their blogs in the freeness of your time.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Jobs...

I have been reading a bit about the recession in America. Crazy to see how many people are losing jobs and it has been a weird dynamic observing this and being a missionary depending on people having jobs to support us here in Africa. I was speaking with a friend over here and they were saying that many non-profit organizations are having to shut their doors because the funding is drying up because of the recession. It is sobering to see how many ministries and health organizations are dependent upon American jobs.

It is also interesting to think about the recession as I drive around and encounter Zambians, also trying to make a living. I never appreciated infrastructure as I did when I moved to Zambia and began to try and make sense of it all.

So, I thought I would show you a few pictures of things I see most every day, with explanations as best as I can (I am not sure if what I share about the picture will end up with the picture where I want it:) It may bring some perspective as it has for me...

This first picture shows how every day pickup trucks can become moving companies. The big bags are full of clothes and are donated for free from places like the U.S. and then are sold to different communities. Last year I saw a Chicago Bears Super Bowl Champion shirt when they lost to the Colts three years ago. All these shirts get shipped to other places. I am still looking for a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Champion:) On a side note, it seems like a great thing to donate clothes, but from what I have heard, these donations have actually crippled and shut down textile companies because they can't compete with these free clothes. So, hundreds of people don't have a job because we (developed countries) have killed these companies with our kindness. Crazy, huh?

This next picture is a typical market selling used clothing, stuffed animals and just about anything else they get to buy.

The next picture is a store called Daniels Meat Cave:) I, you know, just think that is a pretty funny name for a business. I am not sure what kind of meat is found in a cave, but I am pretty sure I don't want it.








On this next pic, you can see a bunch of rubber gloves on pipes. This is the universal sign for Plumber. You pull over and then a plumber will appear from somewhere and you take him to your house and he, well, plumbs.


This next 2 pics are something you see a lot of. A man pushing a wheelbarrow filled with something, anything. Wood, barrels, groceries... Just about anything. In town, you see the guys pushing these wheelbarrows and the muscles are literally ripping through their shirts, sweat burrowing down... It is impressive... They make maybe $2-3 dollars a day for 12 hours of brutal labor.











This next pic is a police station, but if you look closely, you will see a tomato stand on the veranda of the police post. Everywhere and anywhere, little stands provide income for people.


The next pic is a bad shot while driving, but you get the gist of it. A stack of 15 or so egg cartons on the back of a bike of dirt, bumpy road..


This pic shows a man carrying a barrel of wood.


And I saved the best (and most brutal) for last... These people in this picture pay $1 a month to be able to dig rocks out of the field beyond, wheelbarrow them in to the road and then spend all day breaking up big rocks in to gravel size rocks. These little shacks are their only protection from the hot sun... There are literally whole families, breaking up rocks, and selling them on the side of the road.

It is indeed sobering how the third world survives and thrives in such difficult circumstances.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A variety of things that we have been doing

It's been awhile since we have been able to just update on our happenings so I thought this blog would be a mishmash of different stuff that we have been up to. It has been very busy as of late, with lots of different stuff going on.

We had our grand opening for our Pastor Resource Center at our main office. The pastors cannot afford books or DVD's or tapes to grow in their knowledge as pastors, so we have a place where they can have check out books to aid them in their study preparation and in their bible school classes. We also purchased 10 Mp3 players so that pastors can check them out and listen to sermons. My cousin Matt spent a bunch of time downloading sermons and then sent them over on DVD's so we have downloaded those and they should be listening to sermons on MP3 very soon!

Thanks to some generous donations and some great scouting out by our computer guy Rob Taylor at the Action Intl office, we were able to buy some refurbished laptop computers that we can use to teach these pastors how to use computers but also for Logos Bible Software which was donated for the purpose of setting up a pastor resource center. We have an intern (and a former youth group student, Tyler Dingman) who is coming over for a few months starting in April to help train pastors in how to use computers and to also train them in Logos. Action Bible Institute | ZambiaHe will also be helping us get our feet off the ground with setting up pastor blogs for those who want to sponsor our pastors for $55 a month. Our goal is to set up a monthly updated private blog for donors to keep updated on the happenings of their adopted pastor. It may be as simple as a picture or a recorded greeting or video of the pastor in action. For just $55/mo, YOU could help one pastor afford the costs that are incurred by running a school like ours as well as help provide transportation costs and as food for his family for the three year term. You can commit to just one year at time if you would like. If you want to help out or go in with some friends for a year, here is the link and please let me know if you do sign up! We have five of 16 pastors for the Action Bible Institute set up. We'll keep you updated on the progress.

Speaking of interns, we are excited about some possibilities that loom just over the horizon. If you are a college student or older, we have some really unique niches over the next couple years for you to fill while growing in your heart for missions and being changed by the culture. The best thing about it is that I am the intern mentor guy, so there would be some cool opportunities for some one on one mentoring. I need mentoring, so come on over:)


We were invited to our pastor's house for dinner last Friday. Pastor Zulu is the pastor of International Baptist Church and a professor at Twin Palms seminary. His sweet wife loved on our little Johanna while we were there. Johanna just loves hanging out! We had a nice time of fellowship and eating. We had a typical Zambian meal with nshima and chicken, but also had some things we never had before, like fried caterpillars and cow intestines. My girls are never shy for a new adventure and raved about these new found delicacies. Their parents tried them as well:)

It has been a busy time of ministry, but the reminders of poverty are not far behind. Driving back and forth to the office three times a week, I begin to see patterns of life. One of them is this little boy who I see literally every time I drive back from class to my house. He pushes his mom and the little baby to the shopping area, Shoprite, and back, rain or shine. I haven't seen exactly what they do, but I am sure they are begging for money.

Jason and Kristi Knifong have been friends for many years and while we were home having a baby, we visited these Portland friends and began sharing about some needs in our ministry. Well that was November and now it is February and they are here visiting and checking things out to see if God is indeed leading them here to be missionaries with ACTION Zambia (how fast things can change:) by leading our Ciyanjano Centre Conference center out in Kasupe. They have always wanted to be missionaries, but didn't think there was a place for regular people on the mission field. How wrong they were! It turns out we have been looking for someone who can run the retreat center while helping develop the land and help mentor and disciple Zambians. With Jason's electrician background and the experience gained while running their little 3 acre farm with chickens and gardening, they are the PERFECT candidates for helping develop and run this conference centre. Well, it isn't a done deal yet and their are still a lot of steps to climb, but what a blessing it has been to have them out here. Here is the blog of Kristi Knifong and you can see first hand their journey to Africa (and a lot more) on her blog!

There is still another family, the Huckaby's, who I met years ago in Bellingham, but recently became acquainted with while preaching at Oikos Church in Bellingham (whose pastor, Pete Williamson is coming over to teach at a pastor's conference in ApriL) who will be coming to check out our minstry on Sunday as well. Again, perfectly matched with gifting and skills to maybe come alongside the Knifongs and run this piece of property. It is all up in the open right now, but just wanted to update you on what is going on in our ministry.

Lastly, we took the Knifongs and our family to visit the House of Moses yesterday. They are a really well run ministry that cares for orphans from birth to 2 years old. We held babies, fed them and learned about this ministry from Irene, the sister who was in charge of the house. (The picture here is of little Johanna and an orphan held by Irene- this is the only picture they would let us take so as to protect the children). They have 26 children there with a variety of stories that will break your heart. We were so encouraged by this ministry. In addition we went to give them some money that the Northlake Children's ministry donated while doing their Vacation Bible camp. It was a blessing that children there can give and sacrifice for children here.

Well, that, I think, is enough for today. Thanks for journeying with us through the ups and downs and sideways of life in Zambia...