Sunday, May 31, 2009
The irony of it is that while we may be technically ministering to them, if Graham is at all like me, he would say that he has been more impacted and ministered to by these pastors and leaders than than have by us. Their perseverance in suffering, there commitment to reach Zambia and their zeal to learn and grow have left their indelible markings on our soul. We came to bless and instead are the blessed. So, God bless you and be with you as head back home to California... Hope you enjoy the video... Classic Zambia!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009Randy Alcorn
After seeing my recent post about Francis Schaeffer, my friend Doug Nichols, founder and international director emeritus of Action International Ministries, emailed me this story. To me, given my respect for both men, it's priceless. Thanks for sharing it with us, Doug. And thanks for being the same kind of man Francis Schaeffer showed himself to be the night you met him.
Francis Schaeffer slept here
by Doug Nichols
In 1966 I joined Operation Mobilization for a year of ministry in France, but spent two years in India instead. While in London that summer, at the one-month OM orientation, I volunteered to work on a clean-up crew late one night.
Around 12:30am I was sweeping the front steps of the Conference Centre when an older gentleman approached and asked if this was the OM conference. I told him it was, but most everyone was in bed.
He had a small bag with him and was dressed very simply. He said he was attending the conference, so I said, "Let me see if I can find you a place to sleep." Since there were many different age groups at OM, I thought he was an older OM’er.
I took him to the room where I had been sleeping on the floor with about 50 others and, seeing that he had nothing to sleep on, laid some padding and a blanket on the floor and used a towel for a pillow. He said it would be fine and he appreciated it very much.
As he was preparing for bed, I asked him if he had eaten. He had not as he had been travelling all day. I took him to the dining room but it was locked. So after picking the lock I found cornflakes, milk, bread, butter and jam—all of which he appreciated very much.
As he ate, we began to fellowship. I asked where he was from. He said he and his wife had been working in Switzerland for several years in a ministry mainly to hippies and travellers. It was wonderful to talk with him and hear about his work and those who had come to Christ. When he finished eating, we turned in for the night.
However, the next day I was in trouble! The leaders of OM really "got on my case." "Don't you know who that man is on the floor next to you?" they asked. "It is Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the speaker for the conference!"
I did not know they were going to have a speaker, nor did I know who Francis Schaeffer was, nor did I know they had a special room prepared for him!
After Francis Schaeffer became well known because of his books, and I had read more about him, I thought about this occasion many times—this gracious, kind, humble man of God sleeping on the floor with OM recruits! This was the kind of man I wanted to be.
Of course, I will never attain the intellect, knowledge or wisdom of Francis Schaeffer. But I can reach out to younger people and minister to them in Christ's name by living a life of humility. What about you?
Monday, May 25, 2009
We have had a busy weekend. It's not always this busy, but this weekend was a busy one.
Friday, I taught my Pastors class. We had a great time. I feel I have had breakthrough in teaching these pastors. I am learning so much on how to reach them and connect and help them grow together in understanding the Bible. More on this in a later blog... But, please keep praying for me. That night we had pizza with some dear friends down the street. They have three girls and He is a doctor working with HIV/AIDS here in Zambia. We enjoyed some great conversation about life and marriage and family.
Saturday morning was family time with pancakes and some fun conversation around the table, and then preparing for worship on Sunday (more on that later.) Then, the same doctor un-ingrowned my infected toe. I am feeling much better now. That night we went out to dinner with a couple who adopted a little Zambia boy this past few months. He stayed and played with my kids who were watched by our housekeeper Miriam and she brought along her two kids. They had a party!!! 4 Allen girls and 3 Zambians!!! This couple that we went out with are from Canada and despite that fact, they are really cool :) We talked about orphans and orphages and life... It was a great time.
Sunday morning was church and then we had lunch with some missionaries from our team and some others from a street kid ministry and they told us all about the ministry of reaching out to these kids who are down and out. They have a farm set up to teach and reach these kids and they also go down to the scary places and meet with these kids. Amazing stuff. And then Sunday night, the Allen Family Singers led worship for the Baptist Mission Bible study. It was sweet. No pictures, though, which totally bums me out. No video either of little Julia, Bradyn and Kamryn singing the song by themselves, "Worthy is the Lamb."
Monday morning, a holiday here in Zambia, Stephanie and I took our Canadian friends up to an orphanage called Rafiki. It was about 1 hour out of town in the bush and it was amazing. They do an amazing job there discipling, teaching and mentoring these 40 young boys and girls. It was a very encouraging morning walking around with the directors and hearing the thought and philosophy and partnership with Zambia that has happened to make this place a reality. Amazing. Then we came back and I picked up my girls from their friends houses, go groceries, and then took Bradyn and went to the orphanage that we work with. We spend some great time singing, playing and laughing.... We came home and had dinner with the doctor friends and two other families.
Needless to say, we are pretty tired. But, I just wanted to give you a little glimpse into our lives here in Zambia. Another week begins early tomorrow with prayer and a meeting with my pastoral leadership team...
Thanks for remembering us!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Our director, Tim Hilty and his family, are in the states for a well-deserved furlough. But, he has been watching and praying and leading us from afar. He just sent the team a note the other day that I thought I would share it with you because I really think it captures some of the things we are doing here in Zambia and how the irony of our philosophy of long term training is actually producing some short term gain. I hope you are encouraged. I also thought it was insighful because it speaks about Veritas Bible Training. I am teaching that this upcoming quarter on the wisdom literature found in scripture, including Psalm, Proverbs and the the prophets. Thanks for your partnership with us!
I just wanted to respond to the encouraging reports that I've been getting from those of you on the field. Testimonies about the type of fruit we are beginning to see in our ministries are very good and it's important that we celebrate it when we see it. I'll mention but a few things. It was very heartening for me to hear the report from Brent about GCB and their decision to start another cell group within their ministry area. In this, we can praise the Lord how we see the church latching on to the importance of discipleship as well as multiplying (through the training they received). And in an email I received from Tracy recently - he shared how he was able to officiate at the graduation of ten pastors at Anderson Jere's church. The Veritas curriculm that ABI is using to teach pastors biblical exegesis requires that pastors also teach to others the same material that they have received. So when Anderson Jere takes what he has learned in ABI and in turn teaches it within his church we praise God for multiplying our labors and efforts. Please pray that God would bless the men and women we invest in - that they might apply the Word to their lives and be stewards of the training they are receiving. Of course there are many other examples we can point to as well.
I think it's appropriate to point out is that these things are coming about in part due to our long term focus in ministry. Multiplication, equipping, discipleship, relationship all have one thing in common - they take time and they require a "15 year focus" rather than an "15 month focus". Never give up in the work that you are doing and never abandon some of these principles because the great irony is that when we operate with the long-term in mind we will actually begin to see some dividends that last rather shortly...quicker than we would see if we operated with the short-term in mind. In other words, when we build for the long haul, we should also expect to see fruit from that - and some of that fruit will be evidenced quite early. We do not have to wait 15 years for fruit. The temptation is out there to make short-investments but what we need is long term investments. May we pray diligently that God would help us persevere and stay the course. Be encouraged, we are involved in a good work. May the glory of God be displayed in each of our lives.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
We spent our Mother's Day with those who have no mothers. We took the children from the orphange we are helping out with and the director and the directors family to the Kalimba Reptile Farm where we saw some of the nastiest snakes and most amazing crocodiles. But, the highlight obviously wasn't seeing the animals but spending time with the orphans, watching them walk around and gaze at the animals and jump on the trampoline and wade in the pool. None of them had ever been to a zoo before. The other car was an hour late, so I also videoed some of the fun we had while waiting. I put together a little highlight video for you to see. It was a great day and we went home joyous and satisfied.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Needless to say I didn't finish what I came for! FIT (Frog in Toilet!) Just a friendly reminder to always keep your eyes open in important places, especially in Africa...
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Well, these Zambians don't need meteorologists and fancy weather equipment and tv stations and all that riff-raff. They just look at the sky. If it is September to December, it is sunny and hot. From January to April it rains and is hot. And then from May to August it is sunny and cold. Why would anyone waste money on all that gibberish stuff when you would be just stating the obvious. Well, there is this thing called "Google Weather" that I have on my desktop. So, last week before my early morning Saturday Bible study, I saw that it was supposed to rain. Rain in May? No way. I mentioned this to a Zambian I was giving a ride home to. He said as he looked up at the beautiful clear sunny morning, "Rain in May? No, maybe somewhere else, but it doesn't rain in Zambia after the rainy season is over." Well, guess what? That afternoon it rained. Poured. Really poured. And then a few days later, yesterday in fact, my teammate recorded this looking out of our house onto the yard:
Yup, it rained, really hard. So this morning, I picked up my Zambian friend and the first thing he said was, "Google Weather. Google Weather. You were right!"
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Well, toward the end of my stay in Bellingham, a bunch of things happened. First, some people donated some money for our missionary venture back to Zambia. Then, Rob Taylor, the IT guy at Action International, who I had told about this Logos dream, found ten great refurbished laptops from the Gates Foundation that were for sale. We used the donation from those generous friends to buy these laptops. Then a friend bought four more copies and then donated them to the Africa pastors.
And then, how to get them all here.. Well, we carried two over in January. The Knifongs and Huckby's, when they came over, each brought two more. Tyler brought two and then Pete brought one. So we got the computers, we had logos, but we needed someone to teach computers to people who have never used computers... Daunting? YES! Crazy? Probably. Impossible? NO WAY!
Now, I could teach Logos, but during my first three months, I realized I didn't have the margin to be able to painstakingly take these pastors through the training due to my full schedule. So, when Tyler asked about an internship a few months ago to finish his college degree, it was a no brainer to ask him to come and teach the pastors how to one, use a computer and two, use Logos. And after some challenges, a bunch of bumps, sighs and some frustrated laughs teaching the basics of computers, we finally began the training of Logos on Monday. It was amazing and hard... Things that I didn't think would be issues were, and things that I did, uh, were also hard. Tyler was patient and patient and patient and I helped from the back of the room as I could. We had another full class on Wednesday, and then towards the end of class, we had a breakthrough. One of the pastors asked, "Now, how do I get this information from Logos to the printer or to my documents?"
That completed the circle. See it is great using the program to learn how to learn about the word, and use the commentaries and dictionaries and the concordances and so much more, but if you can't use the info either by printing it or saving it to working document to take home with you, it would be pointless. (Only one of them has a computer.) They all knew how to get it from Logos to the Microsoft Word by copying and how to save it in their documents. IT WAS SO GREAT!!! It was hard during the process. Teaching always is. But, I wish you could have been there as they got glimpses of how much this could help their studies, as well as the joy of learning how to use a computer. They were like little kids. Not only are they gaining skills that they could use possibly in a job or for their pastoring, but they are gaining confidence. I also got the sense that they really believe we care about them, that we are trying to do all we can to train them so they can use what they have to bless others.
The overarching goal will be to use Logos to prepare for sermons and study for class and we are working towards that goal. We will be opening the Pastor Resource Center a couple hours before class so they can come in and use the computer and we will see what else will work for them. We kick off our Bible classes next week so the official computer classes will end, but Tyler has let them know he will do private tutoring during his last month here. In addition, we have an additional intern, Owen Thompson (my ten years of youth pastoring are paying off:), coming out in mid June to help us in the admin areas as well as help carry on with computer training and the pastor sponsorship program blogs. So, thanks for your prayers and celebrating a bit to the Glory of God with us and enjoy the short little highlight video...
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Well, toward the end of my stay in Bellingham, a bunch of things happened. First, some people donated some money for our missionary venture back to Zambia. Then, Rob Taylor, the IT guy at Action International, who I had told about this Logos dream, found ten great refurbished laptops from the Gates Foundation that were for sale. We used the donation from those generous friends to buy these laptops. The friend from Logos donated four more copies personally with his own money.
And then, how to get them all here.. Well, we carried two over in January. The Knifongs and Huckby's, when they came over, each brought two more. Tyler brought two and then Pete brought one. So we got the computers, wed had logos, but we needed someone to teach computers to people who have never used computers... Daunting? YES! Crazy? Probably. Impossible? NO WAY!
Now, I could teach the Logos, but during my first three months, I realized I didn't have the margin to be able to painstainkingly take these pastors through the training due to my full schedule. So, when Tyler asked about an internship a few months ago to finish his college degree, it was a no brainer to ask him to come and teach the pastors how to one, use a computer and two, use Logos. And after some hard at times challenges, frustrating (most) of the times process of teaching the basics of computers, we finally began the training of Logos on Monday. It was amazing and hard, amazingly hard... Things that I didn't think would be issues were, and things that I did, uh, were also hard. Tyler was patient and patient and patient and I helped from the back of the room as I could. We had another hard class on Wednesday, and then towards the end of class, we had breakthrough. One of the pastors asked, "Now, how do I get this information from Logos to the printer or to my documents?" That completed the circle. Because they all knew how to get it from Logos to the Microsoft Word by copying and how to save it in their documents. IT WAS SO GREAT!!! I wish you could be there as they get glimpses of how much this could help their studies, as well as the joy of learning how to use a computer. Not only are they gaining skills that they could use possibly in a job or for their pastoring, but they are gaining confidence. I also get the sense that they really believe we care about them, that we are trying to do all we can to train them so they can use what they have to bless others.
The overarching goal will be to use Logos to prepare for sermons and study for class. And we will work towards that goal. We will probably be opening the Pastor Resource Center a couple hours before class so they can come in and use the computer. We kick off classes next week so the official computer classes will end, but Tyler has let them know he will do private tutoring during his last month here. In addition, we have an additional intern, Owen Thompson (my ten years of youth pastoring are paying off:), coming out in mid June to help us in the admin areas as well as help carry on with computer training and the pastor sponsorship program blogs.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Yesterday, I needed to run a few errands. I went to the bank to pick up my bank card that was eaten by the bank machine on my ARP day a few blogs ago. I had to wait in line to get money at the ATM and went to Shoprite where I saw a rat run under the fruit dispensers. I was just glad Steph wasn’t there. The look on this Mzungu’s face who was standing there was priceless. Then after getting my food, I went to the VAT refund government place to get a document for my director’s car which was supposed to be ready three weeks ago but because a machine is down, it has been delayed. I looked through all the papers and then after that she looked through another stack, she found it. She seemed to denote that it wasn’t complete. But right then she called someone or someone called her, so I waited and waited and waited and waited. I waited maybe 15-20 minutes while she was on the phone to find out if it indeed was not ready. Finally I interrupt the phone call and she said, “No, it is not ready. Come back tomorrow.”The phone call wasn’t about my paper. She was talking about something entirely different. She could have just said, “It isn’t ready. You can go.” But, she didn’t. Then I went to Africacolors to get Pete’s handmade cool Africa matching dress and chitenge for his daughter and wife. Well, I got there and there was a matching chitenge, but it was to a shirt that we ordered for someone else instead of the dress. But, what, I… O.K. I bought it anyway. TIA. This is Africa. You do stuff like that. Then I went to pick up our Mosquito Net and when I got there, he didn’t have a receipt which we need to get reimbursed out of our work funds. So, I told him to wait and I would follow him to his shop which was 15 minutes away. But, when I got back to where he was, he had left and now I waited 30 or so minutes for him to go there and then come back. When he got back, I examined the mosquito net to find some big stains on the white edges of the mosquito net to which he said would wash off. He promised me that they would wash off. But, I said that I shouldn’t have to wash the mosquito net that I was buying. He agreed with that point. He also had added poles opening for the top which he was sure that the madam (Stephanie) had ordered (which she hadn’t). I took the mosquito net anyway, because TIA. This is Africa. You do stuff like that. He promised to fix it if the stain didn’t come out J Anyway, so I got home late that night, happy.
Happy, you gasp. You must be sarcastic!?!? Why happy? Well, because I was culsive. I was culsving. I culsived. I was culsivating.
Culsive? What do you mean, you culsived?
Well, so, you know that sign we had made, Welcome to the Culsive ACTION Zambia Pastor’s Conference? Remember how I told them I wanted the “Welcome to the” to be in cursive and then they wrote the culsive as part of the sign? Remember that. Well, I thought it was all just for a good story. As a solution, I covered it up with a 2009 computer print out. Well, by the third day, the wind was so strong, it blew that 2009 paper covering right off. I guess it was just meant to be. It was a culsive conference and nothing could hinder what fate and destiny and sovereignty had predetermined. The conference was about stewardship, how our time, talents and treasures are God’s and we are to use what He has given us to glorify Him while living not for this earth, but for eternity. Time in particular is a hard one. We love our time and we want to do what we want to do. But, learning that God is in control, gain new perspective about living for eternity, and recognizing that we plan our days but God determines our steps has given me new perspective in how I treat my days, hours and minutes. In addition, I was teaching an inductive Bible Study at the men’s group at our church on Psalm 1 about meditating on the word, day and night and so I was thinking about that as well…
And so, all of this went into that day, and while everything was going wrong and I was wasting all this time, I was meditating, praying and being thankful and I was, well, culsive. See, the word culsive is a new word that I believe God has ordained to come into existence. I thought it meant something like how what you mean turns out to be something you don’t mean or something like that. But, boy was I wrong. I realized, the word culsive is a word that actually means, “how to rightly live for eternity when/during/in case the temporary life goes all wrongly, or how to live eternally in the temporary, or how to live beyond the circumstances.” Or something like that. See my days was wasting away in unproductivity and chaos, but I was living that time to the fullest for eternity by living beyond the circumstances. See, that day is long gone, but eternally, I’ll see that day, again, in eternity. By recognizing that if God is in control, and time is in His hands, then I should view the circumstances with joy instead of annoyance and thankfulness instead of complaining. I need to understand that if I am not in sin, than the situation I am in is His will. So, how do I respond? I best be culsivating. Well, how do I culsivate? Well we need, first, a better understanding of time.
There are two greek words for time – Chronos which is where we get our word chronometer from, it is the seconds that tick by on a clock, the time between the sun rises and the sun sets. But the other word is kairos which mean opportune time, or opportunity or a measure of time. It is the time which exists in chronos but instead of just ticking away into oblivion, it can actually become eternal. For example, work can be eternal when we do what Colossians 3:23-24 says in working as unto the Lord not for man. That work which is chronos becomes kairos because we are culsivating an attitude and perspective that we are working for God and thus as we work with all our hearts, we are promised eternal rewards. When we think outside of the especially American mindset of tasks, of getting things done, and being productive and task-oriented (those things are all good, but when life happen, what then?) and when we look beyond that to serving God with a culsivating heart, we grow in our faith, our attitude and hence our actions remain peaceful and joyful and lastly, we store up rewards in Heaven.
So the first is to redefine time. Sometimes, what appears to be wasted time can actually be a God-opportune time. We get so busy and frustrated about wasting (chronos) time that we actually waste the (kairos) time which God enabled for His glory and purposes.
Second, we must reorient ourselves around a book that is eternal, through and through. Psalm 1:1-2: Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. We are happy, that is the word blessed, when we delight in the Word (above all things, like TV, sports, food, money, etc.) and marinate in the word day and night. His word is what keeps us culsivating. His word is eternal. It helps us think eternally. It helps us live eternally. It helps us rise above the temporary of life and think, sleep, live eternally.
Lastly, I think we need to let truth lead instead of emotions. When you start getting frustrated and you try to culsivate, but you just can’t calm down, you just can’t keep the blood from boiling, so you give up. You need to culve even if your body doesn’t want to… Let truth lead your emotions and not vice versa.
I think culsiving is definitely something that requires practice. I imagine it will get easier, the more we do it!
So all that to say, as my blood was boiling and my sighs were sailing, by turning to the word, by praying, by meditating, by seeing it as God’s appointed opportunity and looking for his presence and plan, by resisting all urges to lose it (which I have to be honest and say I did a few times) I culsivated and as a result, I was happy.
So, what’s the lesson here. Live your God-given time for eternity by culsivating all of the moments God has given you. That is the ultimate way of practicing Godly stewardship. We can’t be good stewards of our money, our time or our talents if we have our hearts, eyes, ears and mouths focused here on Earth and we let earth determine our attitudes, our moods and our peace. In essence, to live a culsivating life should be the goal of our lives. So, if I can just remember this the next time everything seems to be going wrong. Well, one thing is for sure, I will have no lack of opportunities because AECO(Africa ensures culsivating opportunities).
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Thanks for partnering with us in this journey called life!