Thursday, January 28, 2010

Helpless and Humbled...

Well, I am humbled, speechless, helpless and overwhelmed. We had a great
class today discussing preaching, but as I was just talking to a few pastors
before class, it seemed that there were some hurting pastors among our
group. So I suggested to Tracy, my director and partner in teaching, that I
cut class a little early and so we could just pray for the pastors and have
them share with the group. Tracy came in and shared a few scriptures and
then opened it up for sharing. And the floodgates came crashing through.
(This isn't Haiti floodgates, but this more normal life and the trials that
are endured here in Zambia.) It may seem just a bit like I am exaggerating
when I share how difficult things are, but, please, believe that I am not.
The first guy shared how he had four funerals in a week, with each one
costing him time, energy and even for one, a woman who gave birth, five days
later died, and the baby is not doing well, and this pastor and family had
to care for the baby and the mother while in the hospital. This pastor, and
a couple others also have lost the stipend which pays for them to be pastors
so as of next month, they have no idea where their salary will come from.
The next pastor shared how he lost his job, his church can't afford to pay
him, and he has a daughter about to graduate college, and another in school
and both desperately need money. The organization that let him go and owes
him money is not giving him the money that he is due. The next pastor which
literally almost died this year, is still recovering slowly with health, but
is completely out of money because he couldn't' work due to his long
illness. The next pastor lost both his daughter and grandson in the same
year, and his daughter just got into college but the money is (a dream come
true for these pastors) due this Wednesday or she will lose her place.. He
said so clearly, "I need a miracle." The next pastor was sharing how two
years ago he was kicked out of his church and for 10 years he gave his life
for that church. It still hurt so bad that no one in the church has come by,
and yet this pastor college has been like a family to him. The next pastor
was sharing about a really difficult marriage situation. And another pastor
has been battling malaria. And those were just the pastors that shared.
Another could have shared about his son who is battling a life-threatening
kidney disorder. The others are battling finances, health and life
challenges. Each pastor is dealing with trials that I just can't even
fathom. We had a real sweet time of praying for each other at the end, and I
walked away with a thankful and humbled heart that I get the opportunity to
be able to learn from these men how to trust God in daily trials that are so
unimaginably common. It is hard to even know where to start. One cool story
though was relating to the pastor who needed a miracle. Earlier this month,
a friend had donated some money to him after reading a blog of the
incredibly difficult year he had that I wrote. It was the exact amount he
needed to get his daughter into school on Wednesday. Praise God for
miracles like that... Please pray for our pastors. I sense they are being
refined in many difficult ways to prepare them for a future rich in

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A good investment

Lawrence Lungu is a hard working young man who worked for me when I first
got here. After we left, he got a different job and we went our different
ways. It was many months before I saw him again after I returned back to
Zambia. But, he came to me one morning to let me know his 1 year old child
had died and he needed a loan for the funeral. After that, we didn't see
each other much. I heard he was looking for a job but I didn't have any
openings. But, after the break-in, we thought it would be good to have a
night guard temporarily and so we hired him back. I could tell that life
had done a work on him, and the result was a much more humble, God-seeking
young man, looking to get his life right. He worked for us for about 4
months. We then found him a day job, so we let him go, but it didn't work
out. So, what to do... We prayed about how we could help him, because one,
we didn't need another worker and two, I wanted him to have something that
he could do to support his pregnant wife and young adopted daughter. Well,
there were two options. The first was help pay for driving school. The other
was buying a lawnmower. We decided to go with the lawnmower so he could
have an instant job and control his schedule. I gave him some money and
loaned him the rest. And... Well, it has been amazing. He has lots of
business and he is building up his clientele. He wants to work with me to
help budget and organize his spending so during the non-rainy seasons when
things are growing he is able to be self sufficient. It is really cool to be
able to help him, and yet, I write this because I couldn't if you didn't.
So, thank you to all who give so sacrificially to help us minister in ways
we planned and in other area we didn't.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sharing ministry

Today, I joined forces with Brad and Christi Guffey to speak at a church
located just near our Kasupe Ciyanajano property. It all came down last
week when the Guffeys, their parents and our families went out to see the
property that ACTION Zambia owns and plans to use as retreat/conference
centre. I had asked Christi to take some pictures of children while touring
the facility to use for some promotional videos for our camp. But when we
got there, the pastor Victor Makundu said that he forgot to take into
consideration that church goers take their children out to the farm on
Saturdays. So, we didn't get to take pictures. As we were talking about when
to reschedule, I was talking to the pastor about how Brad was a doctor with
an HIV/AIDS specialty. His eyes got wide and he shared how they had an
HIV/AIDS service coming up and he wasn't able to get a video and he really
needed a speaker. And, oh, he needed it next week:) Anyway, we decided to
think and pray about it. On Tuesday, we decided it would work and so I
called Victor. He said, "Oh yes, I was already planning on you!"

Anyway, it was really one of the greatest, I think, most significant
services that I have ever been a part of for a church here in Zambia. I
preached on fear, especially in light of HIV/AIDS and then Brad came up
behind me and shared the realities of someone who lives by fear and shame
and the damage that does to lives in Zambia. I say significant because it
gave both the a pastoral call to fear God and not people, shame, stigma,
fear of getting tested and caring for HIV/AIDS people, but then also to hear
Brad share medically how people die needlessly because they are fearful of
getting tested and afraid of the stigma of getting tested and having to take
ARV's was an amazing closer. I don't quite know how to put it into words
the revelation that occurred in my mind about the darkness the Zambians are
under and how I saw it clearly for the first time. Fear has kept people from
getting treated. How do we break the fear? We gotta preach and pray...
After the service was over, Victor shared how they were going to bring in
someone to test in the church and they were not going to be controlled by
fear anymore. This was very, very unusual to have a pastor make this kind
of a statement and motion. Amazing.

So, please pray for the people in Zambia who live in fear of a disease that
though isn't curable, is treatable and can allow people to live a long,
healthy life. Pray that they wouldn't allow fear to keep them from getting
tested so they can know if they have the disease so they can know if they
need treatment. Pray that they would talk about it, and learn how to care
for each other. Pray that the church will stand up in the gap for this
disease that carries the same stigma and shame as leprosy back in bible
times. And pray for our CROSS HIV/AIDS ministry that we will continue to
have a strong presence teaching churches how to help people out of the
darkness in to the light of Christ, medicine and the love of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Born to be Wild

On the way back from our vacation way up north, we saw a turtle on the road
and decided that he (or she, for that matter) needed an owner. So, we put
him in between the racks and brought him to our house. The first night we
put him in the yard and didn't see him for many, many weeks until Mwape
found him. We put him in a wire mesh thing and it was great for about a day.
And he was gone again, having eaten through the wire. So, I had the youth
group that I work with over last week and I said, "The first one to find him
gets 50,000 (about $10). Well, two young ladies found him, brought him to a
new and improved fence, and here he is completely vertical trying
desperately to get out. And the next day someone left the gate open, and
GONE! Kamryn asked me, "He has such a nice big area to eat and be in. Why
does he always need to get outside?" I thought it was a good question.
Maybe we should ask Adam and Eve, and David and Jacob and many others the
same question. And really, why we are at it, why don't we ask myself the
same question. God has given me everything I need, boundaries in His Word
that are spacious and beautiful, a relationship with God that is unhindered
and grace-filled and still I am doing all I can to be free... Why do I
always want to run?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rhoda is catching up...

Rhoda doesn't like movies. At all. Ever. But, there is one movie that she
will watch over and over again, and it is the baby videos (or so we call
them.) Every Mother's Day for the past bunch of years, I would make a 30+
minute video by splicing and dicing compiled video accumulated over the year
and show it to everyone on Mom's special day. Well, Rhoda loves them. I
can't imagine what she is thinking when she watches them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

JH ranch in Zambia

A bunch of years ago I took my youth group to JH Ranch in California for the
greatest camp week ever... Despite a 12 hour bus ride, wow, this place was
amazing. Great memories of the past right? Well, Today I drove into my
teammates house to see his guard wearing this shirt... CRAZY HUH?

Thanks Tyler for giving us a room

I wasn't sure how else to title a blog of thanks to my young intern who:
Initiated a sweet inner-remodel of our training center when he was here,
Raised money to help with the costs,
Took a bunch of awesome pictures that we were able to post on the wall,
AND, got the computer desk idea going and trained the pastors so they could
use them.

Whew, what a busy intern. (Not that Owen didn't totally help also, he did,
but in different ways! I love you, Owen and I'll dedicate a blog to you

So, I just wanted to try and communicate how sweet it was to see the pastors
walk in totally surprised by the amazing pictures on the wall of them
preaching, praying, ministering, etc... First of all, they don't have
pictures here. Very few have cameras, and so they don't really take pictures
or have them around their house. So, to see themselves in 16x20 or 8x11 was
really striking I think, especially candid pictures instead of the normal
pictures where they stand and don't smile for the camera:) They laughed.
They pointed out themselves and made fun of others. It was really, really
cool. Our goal is to continue to add pictures of ministry as we visit
pastors preaching and so on.

So, thanks Tyler for being a catalyst to help us into creating an
environment that encourages and motivates.

Now just hurry up and get back here :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti and heartbreak...

Well, what can we do…? My friend Doug posted a blog at his blogsite here but I wanted to put it in my blog as well..  Though we are cautioned where to give money to because of the corruption that is there (I have seen it firsthand) he provides some options at the end and a wonderful prayer… Thanks Doug for helping us not to just be people who because we are out of sight, we are out of mind.  Do something.  Pray. Give. Fast. Feel.  Walk in their shoes and then do what you who would want someone to do for you if you were them…  That’s love, it fulfills the law and it is God’s golden rule.  Let us not be guilty of ignoring the least of these in times of need…


Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

An injured man carries his dead daughter on Jan. 13.

 Haiti  in ruins. Likely 500,000 people killed and millions displaced. I am crying over the pictures and news. 

This country and it’s people played a pivotal role in my development as a follower of Christ. It’s been 25 years since I went on a mission to the island it shares with the Dominican Republic. It was a mission where I thought I would change the lives of others. Instead the mission changed me. For the first time I saw how most of the world really lived.

I experienced the Voodoo oppression (the Satanic foothold) recognized as a religion and practiced by almost 95% of the people.  I saw the children living in cardboard boxes. I smelled the stench of open sewer. I saw how years of brutal dictatorship shaped this nation into the poorest country in the Americas. I saw the hundreds of boys begging me to give them the million dollars that I must have because I was from U.S.   They were ecstatic to receive 50 centimes.

Yet all the poverty, sickness, death, and evil practices pale in comparison to the sheer  joy I saw on the faces of my fellow Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ. In my lifetime I have not seen anyone smile as large, be so thankful, or praise God with all their might. Christian churches in the United States are morgue’s in comparison. When the only thing you have is Christ, there is an immediacy to the hope he promises to those who love him. These people knew Christ.  I wanted to know Christ like them. Christ used the lowly to humble the proud.

Looking at the pictures I realize I have mostly forgotten about the people of Haiti. It’s lost people have become a non-issue. They have become a nice story I can relate. “Yes, I’ve been out of the country. I went on a mission to Haiti.” 

Father, change my callous heart. Christ, be their help in the time of need. Pour out your compassion through your children in Haiti and throughout the world.  Break the stronghold of darkness in Haiti that has long since been held by the Enemy. Through this suffering may your name be praised and may all put all their hope in you. Come quickly.

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Give. Here are some options.

  1. Compassion International
  2. Feed My Starving Children
  3. Food for the Hungry
  4. World Vision
  5. World Relief
  6. Samaritan’s Purse
  7. Love a Child
  8. Northwest Haiti Christian Mission
  9. Compassion Weavers
  10. Mennonite Central Committee
  11. Water Missions International



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A new quarter begins...

Just wanted to post an updated picture of our Pastors... As you may know, I
am teaching on preaching this quarter and it is off to a GREAT start. As I
was preparing for the class, I was wondering which books I should read:
Piper, MacArthur, or many of the others on my shelf, when I felt prompted to
ask the question, "First, what does the Bible say about preaching?" So I
used my handy dandy Logos bible software and looked up all the greek words
related to preaching and I found like 400 verses... So, I went through them
one by one and put them in categories... What was preached? Who preached?
Why preach? Where preach? When preach? How preach? And what an enlightening,
eye-opening, exciting study it has been for me and the pastors to get back
to the basics... Monday and today we are going through "How should I

Here are just a few of the verses to show the insight we have received so
The question is "how do we preach" and the answer is by...

By seeking to please God
1 Thess 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted
with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests
our hearts.

By speaking in Christ
Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my
gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the
mystery that was kept secret for long ages

By allowing the Spirit to speak through us
Matthew 10:20 - 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father
speaking through you.

By living what we preach
Hebrews 13:7 - 7Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of
God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

By teaching them how to do the word.
John 13:17 - 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

By careful study and faithfulness to the Word(s) of God
2 Timothy 2:15 - 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

By preaching with Courage and Boldness
1 Thessalonians 2:2 - 2But though we had already suffered and been
shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to
declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

With desire and a passion to speak
Acts 21:39 - Paul replied, "I .am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen
of no obscure city. . I beg you, permit me to speak to the people."

We should rebuke, remind, reprove and exhort and warn
Titus 2:15 Declare these things; . exhort and rebuke with all
authority. Let no one disregard you.

So we are going through verse by verse and you can see the verse resonating
with the pastors as the priority and power and purpose of preaching (nice
alliteration, huh?) are flowing out of the word of God into their souls...

So pray for my pastors, that they may continue to work hard with all their
might in studying and yet be filled with the Spirit to speak God's words
despite a very full schedule with many demands...

After we go through the why/how/where etc. we are going to examine some
sermons in the bible and then in February everyone is going to preach. We
have divided the book of Colossians up into small segments and we are going
to preach pastor by pastor through each verse until we finish the book. One
thing I am looking forward to is at the end, to compile all the notes and
make a commentary for the class... How cool would that be?!?!? Action
Pastor's College Commentary on Colossians! Anyway, thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Adoption is for all of us...

I read this forwarded article today and I just thought it was so well written that I wanted to pass it on…  Not everyone can adopt, but the question she asks is, “How can you get involved?”


Adoption is Central to the Gospel by Candice Watters

When we grasp our own status as adopted children of God, the world’s orphans take on new relevance.

When I told my newlywed friend I was reading Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life, she said, “I can’t read that right now. I don’t want to be convicted!” She assumed reading a Christian book about adoption could mean only one thing — a one-size-fits-all word from Heaven: You Must Adopt Now!

What I didn’t mention is that I was reluctant to read it, too — afraid of what I might feel compelled to do. And I suspect adoption makes a lot of believers uncomfortable.

And Moore knows his audience.  Chapter 1 is subtitled: “Why You Should Read This Book, Especially If You Don’t Want To.” Moore’s retelling of his quest, along with his wife, Maria, to adopt their two 1-year-old sons propels the story.

But what grabs the reader first is C.J. Mahaney’s foreword. In it, he confides,” I was adopted when I was eighteen years old. I wasn’t an orphan, the way most people think of that term. I wasn’t an abandonedchild. But I was in a condition far more serious: I was a stranger to the family of God, a slave to sin, and an object of the justified wrath of God.”

For all the passages in Scripture about becoming children of God and being grafted into the vine, I never truly thought of myself as adopted. Until now. Moore’s book reminded me of the powerful truth that my identity in Christ has everything to do with the shame of my sin and His utterly undeserved grace. When we grasp our own status as adopted children, the world’s orphans take on new relevance, and their  plight a new urgency.

In that light, the Moores’ journey to a grimy Russian orphanage packed with filthy cribs and neglected babies takes on new significance. That scene in Russia mirrors the scene in our hearts.

It’s a rare book that, in the words of Dr. Albert Mohler, “puts the adoption of children clearly within the context of the Gospel of Christ.”

Moore explains that adoption is both Gospel and mission. As Gospel, “adoption tells us who we are as children of the Father.” As mission, it “tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ.”

And that purpose is adoption. Whether you’re called to volunteer with adoption ministries, give money to friends who are adopting, or adopt a child of your own, the goal is to get involved.  Not every believer is called to adopt, but every believer is called to embrace adoption.

Moore writes, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world. As we become more attuned to the Gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption-friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the Gospel.”

The two are inextricably linked.  Which has everything to do with why the Book of James reads,

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”(1:27).

Adopted for Life isn’t a book to be afraid of. It’s a life-changing narrative for all believers. Adoption may be God’s plan for your future. But this book skillfully and lovingly shows how it’s also His plan for you right now.

Candice Watters, “Adoption is Central to the Gospel,” Citizen, January 2010, p. 21


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting (un) comfortable

Living in Zambia now for almost two years, you get kind of used to stuff.  Things that just turned my head when I got here hardly get a second glance anymore. I guess that is good in some senses, that you can get used to living in a place and absorb all that you see on a regular basis without just being crushed day after day.  But, it can be bad as well, as you can become comfortable in your own little world and forget the hardship that people here deal with daily, hourly, minutely.  Yesterday was just another normal Saturday and yet God woke me from my slumber with some gentle reminders that all is not well in  Zambia. They came in the form of people coming to our gate and me going out the gate. There  were two boys who have been coming to our house to climb up our tree to get some fruit to sell or eat.  They get $1 dollar for a huge bag. They usually get a couple of bags.  Then another young man came by. He spoke great English, just graduated from high school and looking for a job to pay for a college form. He needed 250,000 (50 dollars) to apply for college.  He wanted some piece work.  And then I took my worker to get some rocks for our yard.  Our yard gets really muddy with all the rain. As I was driving there, I was thinking to myself, the money I am buying for these rocks would really help him buy food. I wonder what he is thinking when I spend money to buy rocks and he and his wife can’t pay rent or get food.  (He is back with us  temporarily to help pay for a debt he owed.)  We went to a local compound and I just watched these men do hard labor to make nothing. I paid money for rocks.   I got some rocks, feeling guilty, headed home and listened to Lungu’s story a bit.  He has made a remarkable spiritual transformation, but life is just hard.   And just time after time, something I saw or experienced just crushed me. The last thing of the day,  I took him home because it was raining so hard. I hadn’t been there yet. It was pouring rain, dirt road, big puddles, poor area, a tiny house, and well, just heartbreaking. I went into meet his wife.   I am humbled. Thankful. Guilt-ridden.  Wanting to escape and yet knowing that this is what I need.  It is good to experience.  (I will be helping Lungu on Monday and try to find him a job or something…)  Anyway, just wanted to share.  I need to feel this more often, all part of walking in others shoes, doing unto them what I would want them to do for me…



Steve Allen

Action Zambia


“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Revelation 7:12


Friday, January 08, 2010

Is one day really better?

This morning I was thinking about the verse found in Psalm 84:10 - 10For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Do I really believe that verse?  Do you? Surely we have sang that song, somewhere.  A pastor friend hated this song because he said, “It’s not true. We sing it, but we don’t believe it (or do it).  Do you believe it?  What are the “elsewhere’s” that we run to that are better than God.  Honestly, is one day with God better than the best day at Disneyland, a beachfront hotel in Hawaii, a sunset Cruise in the Bahamas, front row seats at the Super Bowl, a relaxing evening dinner atop the Space Needle, broadway seats in New York  (that is only six days so far)…  How about a good movie, our favorite sports team playing, a night at the theater, a nice dinner out… Do we believe this verse?  Really? Is it better than 1000 of the best days we could ever imagine?  I wonder how many of us have actually experienced that truth in the Bible.  But, it must be true. Do you want to know if it is ture?  It reminds me of the parable of the treasure in the field. You find the treasure and it cost everything you have but it is worth more than anything you could ever own, so it is a no brainer, you sell everything and there you find delight. I suspect that is what Jesus is referring to regarding this day in His courts.  But, are we willing to sell it all to gain a taste at the glory and joy and delight of spending a day in his courts?  Is he our favorite? Is he our greatest Joy? When we compare everything to Him, do we choose Him? God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him, John Piper said.  If we are satisfied, we don’t need anything else. Nothing tempts. Nothing lures .. Are we satisfied in his courts? Is it really better? 

Perhaps you could share your experiences if it is better for you… 


Steve Allen

Action Zambia


“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Revelation 7:12


Thursday, January 07, 2010

I need to warn you that this blog is heartbreaking on so many levels. My
friend and pastor in my class, Alfred, (the one in the green jacket) has had
a "Job" type year and it hit a very hard low a few days after Christmas when
his firstborn daughter committed suicide. The week before his wife has a
very serious stroke and it was certified miracle that she survived (She has
also had many difficult health situations). A few months before that, this
same firstborn daughter, lost her youngest child to a sudden death. The
firstborn daughter left a five year old boy and now Alfred and his wife will
be parenting this child. He was robbed twice of his tools and capital for
his welding/building business, costing him approximately a year's wages and
he has literally been living on faith. His other daughter was deathly ill
this year. It has been so painful and humbling to watch him go through this
very difficult year. We meet on Thursdays and he continues to find ways to
be thankful, to acknowledge God's sovereignty, in very, very difficult
times. When I saw Alfred's wife, the first thing she said to me was, "God
is gracious." I share this with you to hopefully give you some perspective
to your difficult times. This is not necessarily a typical year for Zambians
but more common than not. I also share it to ask you to pray for Alfred.
Please pray that as God did restore to Job health physically, financially
and family, that he would do the same for this humble, loving, thankful
pastor. And please pray for us, as we do our best to encourage and come
alongside these families.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An appreciation party

Wow. I just can't say enough about how much we appreciate our workers and
their family and extended families. They are our friend, our cultural
teachers, and our helpers. They free us up for ministry, watch our back,
give us insight. They love and adore our children, and miss them when they
are gone. We are so indebted to them. They mean so much to us and we are
so thankful that God has enabled us to have them in our live. So, we had a
Christmas party and gave gifts. And it was fun! Pizza, salad, juice,
volleyball, presents and trampoline! What more could you ask for!!!

Marketing brilliance

Well, I just don't quite know what is up with this area and their
billboards. The first billboard I showed you awhile back, an advertisement
from SPAR defined happy as an adverb. And then just up the street, this
billboard, "Love Soccer?" Soccer? Kamryn actually pointed it out to me.
Why is this significant? "Soccer" is called "Football" everywhere in the
world except USA and Canada. Zambians never use the word soccer and I am
sure that many/most don't even know the word soccer. They never use the
word soccer. No one does. It is called football, because, well, you use
your foot. American football usurped what shouldn't rightly be theirs in
the first place. Maybe American football should be called Throw Ball or
Throw and Run with Ball or Tackle Ball. Well, o.k., I can see why they stole
football. I digress... Anyway, I just don't quite understand why a British
company (which calls also calls it football, by the way) would spend money on a billboard advertising
something that most people read as "Love #*L#)JD?" Help me! Please?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Years

We celebrated New Years at 10:00 am on January 1st, West Coast Time!!! We
had a great breakfast, tried to download the ball dropping in New York City
(didn't happen, thanks Afri(notgonna)connect) and had a great day just
relaxing with friends. We wish you all a happy new years!