Happy Thanksgiving! Just thought you might want to see a picture of our thanksgiving feast at our good friends, the Guffeys and a couple other families! In addition to having a turkey and all the fixings, it was also Rhoda's first thanksgiving. We aren't sure she understands the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving, but we do know that she is a reason we are celebrating giving thanks this past year. We missed our family, but we are thankful for a family away from family.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I saw this at the Randy Alcorn’s website… Thought it was soooo good, especially around this time of the year. I have always said that thanksgiving is the cure for complaining. I wasn’t too far off, but Bill Izard takes it a whole convicting, enlightening step further…
Enjoy (your life, free from complaining)
Monday, November 23, 2009
Exciting days at Action Pastor’s college… John Chitambo, our national worker who works with our HIV/AIDS ministry has been commissioned by his church to start a church plant in Samba, about an hour from town in a remote village. We had a time of prayer last week for him as a class. So far so good after three weeks. It really exciting to be working with pastors who are right in the middle of the action. Please pray for John as he pastors and cares for this church.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
O.K. don’t tell Kamryn I posted this but, I just thought this was pretty funny. Church in Zambia can sometimes be a bit, well, hmm, long and well, you know, and most churches don’t really have Sunday Schools and what not… So, Kamryn put together a Church Survival Kit. Pretty funny, but kind of sad, too. Church was her absolute favorite thing of the week when we were back home. So, enjoy your churches and be thankful for what you have… And pray for us that we can help encourage and help churches here reach their youths for Jesus.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
It is amazing how fast the days go by now. That wasn’t so much the case last year. I am not exactly sure why. Perhaps it was just the newness of Africa, combined with a hot season that was hot, combined with trials and hard times and frustrations and difficulties and humblings. But, even then, when I look back on that loooooooong period, that first nine months before we came home to have a baby, it did go by fast. As did the next seven months when we were home, flew by, and now we are nearing completion of a year in Zambia. Crazy. The bible speaks a lot about how short our life is and uses metaphors such as a breath, (just had three breaths writing this sentence), a shadow (the sun is always moving), a passing breeze (just felt it as it came through the window), and a mist (here and gone). That is how God describes our life. See for yourself:
Job 7:7 - Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath…
Job 8:9 - for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.
Psalm 39:5 -You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.
Psalm 78:39 - He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
Psalm 89:47 -47 Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men!
Psalm 144:4 - Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.
James 4:14 - Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
What do we make of that? How is that my life is but a breath or a fleeting shadow? Surely that is not true. Surely our lives amount to more than that. I am teaching through the book of Revelation now during our Action Pastor’s College classes. And, we were talking about the return of Christ yesterday. One of the verses that came up was found in 2 Peter 3:8 - But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Peter is talking about the end times and how these last days are near and that He will come like a thief in the night. (But, he said that 2000 years ago…) The reason that God is delaying is because he is patient towards his people, not wanting any to perish, but to come to repentance. So, though his nearness seems slow in our time, his time, which is like a 1000 years to our 1 day (so, in essence, 2 days, really is near.) If I told you that you were going to die in two days, I believe it would change your priorities and your plans. I know it would change mine. The end is near.
I was thinking about that again today and talking about this verse to a pastor. I asked the question, “If one of ours days is a thousand years, then how long have I been alive?” So, I did the math, busting out my dusty (pun intended and a shout out to my math teacher friend in Bellevue) algebra skills on Microsoft Excel, trying to put my life into perspective.
If, as Psalm 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” than how long I have been alive?
1 day = 0.039 days I have been alive
1000 years = 39 years I have been alive
24 hours/day = 0.936 hours I have been alive
1 ½ day = 0.039 days I have been alive
60 minutes = 56.16 minutes
1 hour = 0.936 hours
I was humbled to realize that I have been alive in God’s timetable for 56 minutes. If God gives me another 39 years, my life will amount to just under 2 hours. No wonder life is a breath, a vapor, a shadow and a mist. My life is a movie, literally. You know how fast a good movie can go. You settle in to a comfortable padded chair, have some popcorn and a soda, and boom, it is over. The lights come on and you go home, literally. What do we make of this revelation? If my life is a movie, what kind of movie ought I do star in? What kind of movie will last?
Will my life be remembered as a classic Singin’ in the Rain or It’s a Wonderful Life, or will it be like Dumb and Dumber 2? I was in a movie once. I was an extra in the movie Primary Colors, a movie based on Bill Clinton’s life. Yeah, exactly. I don’t think we even finished it. It was horrible. You really don’t want to be in a bad movie. The problem is that you really can’t tell if it is going to be bad when you are in the middle of it. So, how do we live a movie that is good, that lasts, that changes lives, that is worth it, that is remembered?
There is a great manuscript called the Bible. And, this manuscript continues to challenge the followers of this God that the best use of life here on earth is a life who’s script is focused on eternity, even to the extent that we sacrifice what we could have on earth. We should store our treasures there. We should pray for rewards from there. We should fast because of that reality. We should serve the God from there. That reality (should) affect every area of our lives here on earth.
It is indeed staggering to realize how much we risk on such a short life here on earth when eternity is so, so, so long. In essence, so many here on earth trade 2 hours of me-pleasure, me-comfort and me-luxury and me-independence for 2 trillion years of God-joy, God-reward, God-friendship and God-worship. How foolish that comparison seems. Who would trade two hours of fleeting and unsatisfying pleasure for 2 trillion years of eternal and pleasure with Jesus? If we are completely and utterly selfish, we would choose the two trillion years in a heartbeat. I am challenged this day to live with eyes on eternity, enduring the sacrifices and the affliction so that eternity can be seen in my daily life. As C.S. Lewis said, “the saints who did the most in this world were precisely the one who thought most of the next world.”
56 minutes. That’s all.
So, how should we live this short movie of a life?
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 - So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
1 Peter 4:10-11
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
This concept of our shortness of breath should encourage us to live carefully, making the best use of our time, but it also should encourage us in our darkest days. This momentary trouble that seems like eternity is preparing us for eternal glory where it will all be worth it. Our trials and our difficulty and our pain is being used to prepare us for an eternity of glory, changing us and molding us into a likeness of our Savior. Salvation is not just a belief, but a process, where God births in you His Son, from the inside out. So, work today, wherever you are and in whatever you do, for the Lord. It is from Him that you will receive a reward. It is Him you are serving. He has you alive at this short moment for some reason with the gifts and personality and experiences all for the purpose to bring Him glory.
So, how long have you been alive?
What script are you working from?
What difference does eternity make in your temporary life?
What evidence is there that your citizenship is in heaven while you are on earth?
Friday, November 20, 2009
I was driving to the office last week on a Saturday and traffic was snarled. After waiting my turn, I found out why. The police were marching down the middle of the street, playing instruments to promote something. It seems like this happens probably ever weekend. They have lots of special days here. Like, Piracy Protection day or Water Day or Eat Lots of Nshima day (well, o.k. not the Nshima, BUT there might be and I just don’t know it.) They celebrate the day by walking down Great East (the main road through town) and carrying a banner, and wearing shirts and sometimes asking for money. Just one of the perks living here in Zambia.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
2 Timothy 2:2
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This has been a goal from day one for our Pastor’s College. It is not just enough to teach pastors, but we want what they learn from us to be entrusted to faithful men who will be able to teach others. This kind of discipleship is not normal in Zambia. The pastor has the knowledge and the knowledge is power and all too often, that power is in essence, job security. We are praying and pressing on to help train pastors who give what they learn away. Last Saturday, we saw some encouraging signs of this kind of entrusting. Five of our students trained fifteen other church leaders in the Veritas College curriculum which we are teaching them. The first of four curriculums covers the epistles and focuses on how to exegete and interpret scripture within the short letters. We had a graduation ceremony where they received their certificates, Tracy shared some challenging words and we had some pastries and softies. Not only are more leaders getting trained, but we all know that we learn more when we teach. So, praise God with us and thanks for your prayers. We are starting a new year for sponsoring pastors. We would love you to join with us for 2010 and join the sponsoring club… Let me know if you are interested!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Every day we are faced with poverty and suffering in Zambia that is amazingly complex and painful. And the corruption of the leaders in the governments is appalling and incredibly mind-blowing. But this article takes it to a whole new level. For being accused of embezzling $500,000, the former president, had a trial where he was acquitted but his right hand man and his wife were found guilty, and the trial cost $13 million dollars…
Chiluba trial cost $13 million: Zambian president
(AFP) – 3 days ago
Banda, speaking at a rally in remarks broadcast on radio, said that lawyers were paid 13 million dollars by the now-disbanded task force created to prosecute Chiluba in a case that ended with an acquittal in August.
"The lawyers prosecuting Mr Chiluba received close to 13 million US dollars in payment to prosecute this case," Banda said.
"The case they had against him, they charged him for 500,000 US dollars. Only half a million dollars they said he had stolen, but for that we have paid them over 13 million US dollars," he said.
"Just imagine what we would have done with this 13 million US dollars in terms of the things we are discussing here, like schools, medicines in hospital," Banda said.
Chiluba was acquitted on charges of misappropriating half a million dollars in public resources as he developed a taste for made-to-measure shoes and suits during his 1991-2001 presidency.
The former president still faces legal action in a separate matter stemming from a graft conviction in Britain, where a court in 2007 found him and former aides guilty of stealing nearly 50 million dollars of state funds.
In the London case, Chiluba and others were found guilty of defrauding the Zambian government, and the court ruled that he should be denied access to his pension at Barclays Bank.
Zambia's government last year began efforts to register the judgement locally, which would allow authorities to seize his assets to recover the money. Chiluba has argued that the British court ruling should not apply here.
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
I preached last Sunday at Grace Baptist Church in Kabwata. The pastor of this church plant is a student in our class. I was VERY encouraged by my time there. The church is a good fifty Zambians strong. I just sensed a strong leadership presence and a good foundation being laid for this young church. I preached on fear. It was particularly good timing for the pastor who just lost his job and faces a bit of an uncertain future. My cousin’s kids (I am calling them my nephew and niece) are here, Jordan and Corbin Ruseler, and they are fitting right in. They survived quite well despite sitting on a very hot room for 2.5 hours, especially a day after Corbin had the 24 hour stomach flu. We rewarded them and Bradyn and Rhoda for their good behavior with a nice cool ice cream afterwardsJ .
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
What a day we had a few Saturday’s ago. It was crazy, even for Africa. It started in the morning. We were planning on going to Adventure City with some missionary friends from the south part of Zambia. They were up doing some important details in Lusaka and were spending the weekend with us. It actually started even before the weekend, with our friend Rob calling us from five hours south saying that all of southern Zambia is out of diesel. Well, he found some, thankfully, and made it up here. So, Saturday morning started with a text from my director saying that the meeting on Tuesday was cancelled because of the diesel shortage… DIESEL SHORTAGE?!?!?!? Aughhh… I recently wrote about a unleaded gas shortage and how amazing it was and how thankful I was that I had diesel… Now, it was our turn (and still their turn!) So, with only a quarter of tank, we decided that we shouldn’t go to Adventure City. (Which went over really well…J) But, the bigger concern was how was Rob and his family of seven were going to make it back to his house since they didn’t have enough in their tank to make it back. Well, after a bit of deliberation, we decided to go to Adventure City, since they didn’t have enough fuel to get home, but they did have enough to get around town, and all fit into Rob’s huge cruiser. Well, it was quite the ordeal getting there as one gas station that did have petrol had a HUGE line which backed up traffic. We stopped at the craft fair to get a few things (just Steph and Christa) and a few minutes later, Jo-Jo threw up, then when we finally made it to Adventure City… IT WAS PACKED. There was a line 100 deep outside, and Stephanie went inside to find every square inch of the pool was covered with Zambians, the slides were not working and well, it was mayhem. So, we decided that we would go to a different waterslide park. (Keep in mind that it is hot… Not super hot, but hot enough…) But, on the way there, we ran into another parking snarl, but this time it was for Diesel. So, we all jumped out, and went to a restaurant and Rob got in line. To make a long lunch wait short, we got the diesel which was huge, got some lunch, and then headed to the other water park. After finally finding it, Rob and I decided to check it out. There was a lot of loud music, and a lot of Zambians, and though I wasn’t totally comfortable, we decided to give the empty pool a chance. Well, after getting all 10 kids back out of the car, when we got pack to the empty pool, the pool wasn’t empty, as there were 25 or so teenagers hanging in and near the pool, and some Zambians dancing provocatively in the pool and well, we decided to leave, again. Not a good family environment. So, strike two, and we were running out of options. We decided to get an ice cream at a place called Creamy Inn. It was also a gas station. I asked when they were getting diesel and he looked at me like I was in the mafia. In a hushed voice while looking around, he said, “I don’t know.” We finally went to pool near our house, and I remember leaning back in the cool water, saying “All’s well, that end’s well.”
In a span of a week, we have felt the shortage of diesel, water, electricity, pool spaceageJ and patience… Well, at least we know that the patience is a fruit of the Spirit and that is endless.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Quoted at Christ Is Deeper Still:
"There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety and appearing in a great many shapes undiscerned and unsuspected, even appearing as an angel of light. It takes occasion to arise from everything, it perverts and abuses everything, even the exercises of real grace and real humility. It is a sin that has, as it were, many lives. If you kill it, it will live still. If you suppress it in one shape, it rises in another. If you think it is all gone, it is there still. Like the coats of an onion, if you pull one form of it off, there is another underneath. We need therefore to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for his help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool."
Jonathan Edwards, Thoughts on the New England Revival, page 155, edited slightly
Thursday, November 12, 2009
A few months ago, we were alerted to an opportunity by Tyndale Publishers of a container that they were sending over to Zambia full of NLT Life Application Study Bibles for only $9 dollars each. When Brent and Luke were back in the states, they put the word out, and a few of us put out a few emails later, Owen when he came to do an internship, raised a bunch of money, and through all these gifts, God raised through his people enough for us to buy over 200 bibles to give away here in Zambia. We started out by giving them first to our pastors. They were giddier than a kid at Christmas. It was great fun. I thought I would show you a picture of us giving the bibles away to the pastors. THANK YOU all for your gift to make this possible.
My buddy and teammate Luke came and spoke to my class last week, sharing an exciting opportunity that he is offering to the pastors. The weekend of December 5, he is taking a survey trip down to Chikinkata, the village I wrote about a few weeks ago, to meet the headmen, show the Jesus film to some remote villages where many have never heard the gospel and get to know some of the local villages down there. This is really an amazing opportunity to be able to take some of these pastors to the rural villages to share the gospel and put to practice all that they are learning. Our prayer all along is that they would gain a heart for missions so that their churches would be a sending place to the villages all over Zambia. It is exciting to see it come to fruition in a small way. It is possible I might be able to go. We’ll keep you informed!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I just wanted to show you the beautiful sunset I wake up to every morning here in Zambia (mind you, we haven’t seen rain in six months). Stephanie and I have been getting up before the sunrise every morning for the past three months, and there is something mightily holy about beating the sun up every morning, reading, praying and taking it all in…
But, the rains are here…It’s pouring right now.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Hopefully you were able to see the videos of the dancing, but you probably didn’t see the first outfit of the groomsmen. YES! They have two outfits here in Zambia. The official wedding outfit and then the dance and boogie outfit at the reception. And yes, both the men and the women have two outfits… They know how to throw a party!
Just wanted to share some pictures with you of a recent graduation of our HIV/AIDS ministry. It was cool moment because the leader of the ministry John Chitambo is a member of our Action Pastor’s College and the other pastor Nathan Ngoma who was trained in the HIV/AIDS ministry is also a member of the Action Pastor’s College. Cool to see friends and co-labors unite in a cool way. Plus, I thought the picture of John trying to see over the podium was hilarious…
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
I just wanted to give you a picture of what the staple food here in Zambia. It is spelled Nshima, but it sounds more like sheema. It is corn (maize) ground very finely. (We couldn’t have Nshima in the states because we don’t ground the corn finely enough.) They boil it and stir and boil and stir. Most Zambians eat it two to three times a day with a simple relish (not relish with pickles) like beans, chicken (rare for most), soya, vegetables or kapenta (little whole fish). Just wanted you to know our world a bit better. (We eat Nshima at least once a week… It is pretty good, but only with a relish of some sort.)
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Michelle Widman has been in Zambia now almost three months as an intern with Action Zambia. In addition to ministering in the HIV/AIDS ministry and helping at the office, she has also been teaming up with me and two other college students at the expat Bible study at the Baptist mission every Sunday night. We have three college students and myself teaming up as leaders to teach and make weekly bible studies for these 25 +/- high school and junior high students. We are studying through the book of Philippians. This last week was her week to write the lesson plan, bring the snack rewards for those who memorized their verses and give a short little five minute devotion of the next week lessons. She did great. She’s a very gifted young lady! What a joy it is having her here for this year. Thought I would share a picture of Michelle in action.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
My wife should be posting this, but it just probably won’t happen. But, it was a cool weekend of fellowship that our women had (while I was home throwing up with the stomach flu) and I didn’t want it to pass without some press. They spent the weekend studying the word, going for a boat ride, eating good food and lounging in the pool. They didn’t have the kids which surprised me why they didn’t want themJ It was a wonderful weekend of uniting, relaxing and enjoying God’s creation.
Monday, November 02, 2009
We started a new year long discipleship group this past month. Luke and Brent are the leaders of this ministry along with Wozifera Ngoma, our national pastor on staff. We had more applicants than we could take, but after prayer and an interview, the chosen 12 were selected… We had a get-to-know you Braai (BBQ) where Tracy and I came along to meet and build relationships with these pastors. I brought along Johanna to meet everyone, too. She had no problem getting to know these pastors and was actually pretty sweet how she warmed up to these strangers. I guess the old saying is true in that you got to start 'em while they're young.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I wrote awhile ago about Pastor Peter Zulu whose church runs a community school for the children in his community. I thought I would show you also another one of our pastors, Pastor Alfred Mulenga who lives just outside of Makeni, about 40 minutes from town. He is a pastor in this small town and he also runs a community school. He has a couple of other volunteers that help with this school of 15-20 students. This day I visited, the other two volunteers were not feeling well, so Pastor Alfred became Teacher Alfred. It was fun to watch him pastor in action…