Friday, November 26, 2010

Welcome to my world.

If you were following this blog the past month while I was in Zambia, you knew that I was going to three or four churches each Sunday so I could take video to make a video to show you a video... Well, without any further ado, here is that video! Consider it a 6 minute and 30 second introduction into my world... I don't think you will want to miss it! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meet Tyler Dingman

I spent this cold and snow covered afternoon with Tyler Dingman. Tyler is a former student of mine when I was a youth pastor, and after graduating and spending a three month internship with us in Zambia, he has felt God's calling to come over and spend two years investing in Zambians with ACTION Zambia. The ministry as of now in Zambia has three parts- I work with pastors, we have an HIV/AIDS training ministry and a community school part as well. They all are focused on training leaders. We also have a 20 acre property about 45 minutes of out of town which we have called Ciyanjano. This is the property we are using to provide conferences and retreats for the poor churches and ministries in town who need retreats but can't afford to have them.

So, all of this comes together with all things Tyler because he is coming over to one, help begin and work with Income Generating projects at Ciyanjano so that we can have our camping ministry be self-sufficient so as to keep costs down for churches and pastors and two, begin to do income generating projects with pastors in our ministries. It is one thing to teach a pastor the Bible, but if he can't feed his family, he can't do the ministry he is being trained for. So, we are hoping Tyler can use his training, passion and creativity to help us take this important next step in our ministry.

I really want you to get to know this young man by going to his blog: But, before you do that, could you watch the video right below that I filmed of one of my pastors, Patson Sakala... I think you will get a picture of what I am talking about of the importance of guy like Tyler coming over here by watching the video. With the holidays coming up, if you are looking for a missionary to support either with a one time gift or a monthly support, I would encourage you to remember Tyler... Thanks again for all you support!

Monday, November 22, 2010


It feels great to be "home."  It isn't our home, but wherever family is, is home.  So even though I left our official "home," I now feel more at home because my family is here.  A smooth couple flights, a nice morning at Jubilee Church hearing my friend Adrian Warnock preach, and then another flight, where I met someone who knows the whole crowd I knew in college, I prepared a sermon for Northlake where I will be preaching on December 12,  and read a couple good books on the kindle reader: Radical by David Platt which I am really enjoying the conviction found therein and Decision Points by George Bush.  I journaled some, prayed some, listened to my ipod and dozed and am thankful to be home... The girls didn't quite know what to do with the beard, but now, they don't need to worry, it's gone.  Three weeks went by fast and slow.  I was busy the entire time and the blog shows a lot of what I was able to do during the time.  But, now I am home and the next 7 weeks are pretty wonderfully packed.  This morning I am off to pick up Bruce Kaumba, a pastor in our program, who spent three months at Sifat in Alabama and then a weekend with Pete Williamson in Bellingham who had been over to Zambia three times and had gotten to know Bruce.  I'll be picking him up, taking him to Dick's Drive In to meet not only a Seattle establishment but also Tyler and Owen who were in Zambia for a few months each... Good times. Please pray for our health during this first, busy, relaxing, Thanksgiving week... And thanks for ALL your continued prayers and support! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wrapping up Three weeks

I was just reflecting a bit over the past three weeks without my family here in Zambia. Honestly, I really enjoyed the break from my family. For about 3 minutes. Then I had to endure 3 weeks. It is one thing to go somewhere on a business trip, but it is weird when they are gone and you are “home.” I thought I would have a lot of free time but my days were pretty busy. I tried to make the most of my time while I was here. Not only did I finish my teaching quarter with Action Pastor’s College, I also was able to visit almost all the pastor’s churches. I made a sweet video which I will be showing in churches. I think it will blow your mind a bit. I ate dinner at someone’s house almost every night which was great. Thanks to all my friends over here who invited me over and shared an evening with your family with me. I felt the love!!! I saw Peter finish his church. Alfred, too. I was part of two graduation ceremonies of our pastor’s students, spoke at a chapel at Twin Palms Seminary, coached at two basketball tournaments, finished second at competitive guys man out mini-golf match (Brent won!) and took Martin and Peter out for lunch for correctly picking Spain to win the World Cup (a bit late to be following up on that promise, but better late than never.) My goal was to keep myself busy and I think I did that. So, I am ready for a break and so looking forward to seeing the family very much... With a short stop in London, and a visit to this church to hear a friend of mine preach, I will be home to a flurry of women, and I couldn’t be happier.

Steve Allen


Friday, November 19, 2010

A testimony of God's grace.

So, we had our final exam for the Old Testament survey class that I have been teaching.  (Still feels weird that I am giving exams, but it feels good, like I am finally getting and giving payback!)  We did lots of things in the course, focusing on really helping them get a bit picture of the whole Old Testament and how everything fits into the grand story.  I asked the students what helped them most in the class on the exam...


I was encouraged by the responses and I thought I would share some of them to glory of God who gives grace to teach and do anything good. ( I have been feeling discouraged lastly as I wasn’t sure I did a complete job, so this is a good encouragement.) 


One student said they really appreciated learning the unfolding of God’s plan to save mankind since creation and the walk through the Bible that we did with motions that helped them to follow and remember God’s plan especially from the divided kingdom to the return back to Jerusalem. Another pastor said that the learning of the covenants was helpful, in addition to learning how Christ  fulfills the Old Testament. Another pastor said that the Walk through the Bible, learning the eras and memorizing the Bible books have been a great help to him as a pastor. Another pastor said something great. He  said, “I am able to hold this part of the Bible in his palm.” (That is the greatest encouragement he could have said. That is exactly what I want them to be able to do!)  One other pastor appreciated understand the timeline of the prophets.


 So, anyway, I am encouraged to see that the pastors have learned what I hoped they would learn... We have one more year of class before they finish their three year bible school.  I will be teaching New Testament survey next quarter.  Bring it on!



Thursday, November 18, 2010

(New) Home Sweet Home, again...

We are on the move again, literally. We just moved, again, again.  We moved to the Bible Society after we couldn’t afford our old place about 3 months ago.  It was a difficult move because the space was much less team friendly, teacher friendly or parking friendly... But, thankfully, a new place opened up, just 5 minutes from our house, with an amazingly friendly landlord, amazingly free from getting yellow lock on my wheels parking, amazingly amazing desks and teaching room and computer/book pastor resource center and all for just a little bit more... It is, well, amazing... The picture doesn't really do justice because I was just about out of battery, but at least you get a little idea... Anyway, praise God for his provision... The pastors love it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

a SIMPLE reunion

This morning I went to Rhoda's old orphanage, Kid's Alive, to give
them our chickens. While I was there, Davern asked if I could give all
the kids a ride to the clinic for their Under 5 checkup. So, I did.
We jammed out to the Hokey Pokey and YMCA and Macarena on the way
there and back. I still can't believe the progress of little Sarah
who I am holding... (and what do you think of the new bearded Steve?)
What a little sweetheart, completely abandoned, with a flat head when
she came in... Now, she is walking, clapping and soooooooo sweet! She
will probably have some learning difficulties because of her
condition, but I am just proud and thankful for Davern and their team
for loving her back to life. If you want to help contribute to this
orphanage by sponsoring an orphan, click this link: A friend who adopted a child from here the same time
we were adopting set up this site to help this specific orphanage.
So, click the site, sign up, and be inspired to see how you can simply
change the world!

Remember - Learning to live what we already know - Part I

Progress happens one day at a time. In my case, it will have to be one week at a time. I sense that God has put some thoughts on my heart regarding this idea of remembering. And yet to find time to write it all down is overwhelming and burdensome. So, God gave me an idea. On Wednesday, writing Wednesday, I will commit to myself (and to you, whoever you is) to blog a little bit about the remember thoughts I have rolling around in my head.   I would love it to be a book. But, I am content if all that comes out of it is some encouragement for you and a weekly discipline of writing for me.  I have a good friend here who is also trying to finish his MDIV thesis. So he is going to have one chapter done on Wednesdays of every week, too.  So, hopefully it will help shed some light on what I believe is an overarching theme of the Bible and practical Christian experience. I would love any feedback, good and bad, constructive or conviction, anything, to help further these thoughts...  I see the end. I see the road ahead. But, now I am actually just going to get going, one step at a time.   I will keep them readable and rememerableJ 

Solomon said, “of making books there is no end.”  And that was some 3000 years ago. He certainly nailed it on that one.   Every year, more and more books are being published and brought forth. This is not a bad thing. Culture changes, creativity continues, old books are reinterpreted and renewed thoughts are brought forth.  As a society, we are all about the new: the new diet plan; the new 7 steps plan to fixing my life; the new parenting technique; and/or the new leadership book that will help businesses take the next step.  The promise and hope of the next new is alluring for any imperfect soul. The problem, however, was stated by the wisest man, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  So, do we just stop learning, creating and discovering? Of course not. Learning is what gives life purpose, meaning and joy.  Randy Alcorn argues that we will never stop learning, even in eternity.  But, in search of the new, sometimes we forget what we already know.  Moreover, sometimes learning the new becomes a substitute for living what we already know.    John Calvin said, “Almost all men are affected with the disease of desiring to obtain useless knowledge.” What is cure for this disease?  Living what we know and remembering what we have learned.   That is what this book is about.

I have been struggling with something here in Zambia.  I have been living here for almost three years and am more convinced than ever that Africa has the most amazing sunsets and sunrises.  I’m talking amazing. The horizon lights up with fervor, pink, orange, and yellow, all coming together in a mixed array of beauty.  Every morning and every night, God, the artist, paints a different picture and each time, I stop whatever I am doing to enjoy the beauty and worship my God.  Beauty is meant to be shared. So, on those days when the sunsets leave me breathless, I try to find one other person to share it with. However, I have noticed something that was a bit disconcerting; I noticed  Zambians who just continued walking and talking, acting as if the sunset wasn’t even there, like they were blind to the beauty that was right there before them.  This bothered me so much that one day I asked a Zambian pastor about it.  He said, “We’ve been seeing these every day for all our lives. It is just normal.”  I was talking to a few other Zambians about this struggle of mine and they both echoed the same sentiment.  One Zambian shared a story about being on mission trip with a few Americans who got up early to watch the sunrise.   He couldn’t understand why anyone get up early to see a sunrise.   As if talking to a blind man, I tried convincing this man that the sunset really was beautiful.  He understood the root of my frustration. He told me a story about some friends of his who live on the ocean. He said, “When I was there I was stunned by the beauty of the water, but to them, it was just water.”  This familiar blinding of the beautiful is not unusual.  Now, I can see how familiarity could breed this kind of lack of appreciation for the beauty of sunset or water or even a marriage or children.  On this cool evening, I looked up at the setting sun with the orange and pink blasting from base of the horizon and said, “I guess that is our problem with God, as well.  God becomes so familiar that we just forget to appreciate Him in a way that stops us in our tracks and leads us to spontaneous worship.”  I am not sure if the Zambian fully understood what I was saying, but I kept on preaching.  What I shared with him was the shortened version of this book I have desired to write.
So, before I get to far, let me share an example of how remembering changes me. One quiet morning I was reading from Ephesians. I was feeling a bit discouraged and defeated.  Really, that is an understatement. I was empty and hopeless. I wasn’t doing well. As I read through Ephesians 1:1-23, verses that I have read many times, preached, and taught on, it was like I was reading words that sounded good, but were too good to be true, considering my present situation. The lofty words that explained my rights and privileges of being a child of God did not seem to resemble themselves in any way in my life. 
See if you can relate...
Ephesians 1:15-23 – Paul  prays “18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
What is Paul praying for the Ephesians? 
·         That they may know the hope to which God has called them.
·         That they would know the riches of their inheritance.
·         That they would know the power that they have even now, as in all eternity.
The words seem so weighty, so out of this world, at least my world.
I sit here feeling very hopeless as I look at the pain in world around me and the failures in my life. 
I feel very poor in my sin and in my failures.
I feel very powerless to overcome my fears, my struggles, my anxieties, and my bad habits.
How is it that Paul can write such weighty, true words of victory when I so often feel the opposite of these words?  I suppose I have taken my eyes off of God.  The God who raised Christ from the dead. The Christ who died,  is now raised, and sitting at the right hand of God. The Spirit who works in me, through me, and in spite of me in order to glorify Jesus, to help me remember his words, to convict and empower me to do all that He did in and for Jesus. The Father, the Christ, and  the Spirit are the same yesterday, today and forever.
In moments like these, I must remember...
My hope – The hope that is like an anchor. The hope that before the creation of the world, He adopted me; He chose me so that I could enjoy holiness and peace, and  He gave me all the rights of sonship, as He did his own Son.  This hope does not disappoint, ever, because the Love of the Spirit has been poured out into my heart. This hope helps me in my suffering, consoles me in my frustrations, and sustains me with eyes that can see beyond this world. 
My Inheritance – Everything that belongs to God is mine in Jesus: the blessings, the joy, my Father’s ear to hear me, my daily needs, and my future provided for me.  Everything I need, I already have in Christ.  I am sitting at the right hand of God. It belongs to me. All His love is now mine. All his Joy is now mine. All his peace is now mine.  A remembering of faith is the key to that door.
My power – Raising someone from the dead is the kind of power that I have in Him. I have the power to overcome sin, power to pray people to health, power to encourage and overcome sin, power to have victory over demonic forces, and power to resist the world. 
I do not have to do anything to have these things. They are already mine. I just need to remember. I wish this were my every day experience, but sadly it is not. But, when I do slow down long enough to remember what I already know, it changes me.  My hope sustains me when I feel hopeless. My inheritance encourages me when I feel bankrupt. My Power that I have in Him enables me when I feel defeated.  I am lifted up beyond myself. Who I am becomes more real than what I feel.  I knew all of this. I guess I just forgot.
Remember.  Every Wednesday in 2010-11, I want to spend some time reflecting on the importance of remembering in our Christian life.  More for me than for you, but I would be mighty encouraged if it encouraged you...

Monday, November 15, 2010

An evening at Kakabalika

My friends Lou Morales and Warren Carr work with an organization
called Kakabalika. (You can check out the ministry at Lou leads a chapel every Friday night out at
the property (which is very near to Ciyanjano). He invited me to come
last Friday and it was a great time of speaking and praying with the
30 or so kids. The picture is a bit blurry, because I didn't want to
be obvious taking a picture. But, also didn't want to pass on a sweet
time of worship that I was witnessing... Anyway, please pray for this
ministry as funds are low and they are struggling to make ends meet.

3 in 1 in 3

Well, this is my third and last Sunday in Zambia. Lord willing, I
will be hugging my wife and kids next Sunday at around 5 in the
afternoon at the airport. Kelly and I went to three churches today in
the Makeni area. All three pastors in this area are part of the
continuing Anglican church and so it was great to get a chance to see
them in action. Nathan "Father Ngoma" is a pastor in Makeni at
Church of the Good Shepherd. It was great to hear him preach. Then we
went to Alfred Mulenga's church in Linda (he preached as well) and
then finished at James Chiwuswa's church in Chawama. Thanks to Kelly
for his brilliant photography and to the Lord for a great three Sunday
tour of 11 churches of our pastors. It was insightful and encouraging
visiting all the churches in a such a short time. Can't wait to show
you all the video!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progress has a face

This is about as a cool of story that I could write on this blog...
Peter Zulu is a pastor from our class bought this property along the
river (if you can call it that) about three years ago. And pangono,
pangono (bit by bit) he has cleared the land, dug a foundation, bought
a brick here and there, and prepared the land. He has perservered and
persevered and persevered. He has literally sacrificed food, money and
time to see this school/church building be raised up. There are about
60 kids in the neighborhood who can't afford school but have been
given a free education at Peter's school. He is also a pastor of a
church on Sundays that was the back half of his house which he
sacrficied so they could have a place to meet for school. It has been
fun to also watch people who have visited donate a little here and
there to this project as well. My nephew and niece were a part of
that. So fun to think that a 19 and 18 year old could play such a
pivotal role in changing the world all the way over here in Zambia.
Anyway, he finished the building and had church on Sunday in their new
building. School will start back up in January in this new location
as well.

Thought I would show you a cool video I made about Peter!

You can find it here!

Visiting the Clinics

I joined Luke Whitfield today in visiting the clinics in the Ngombe
and Kanyama clinics. He has been taking a few pastors every week to
pray for the sick and hurting in these rudimentary government clinics.
They have seen some real amazing stuff the past few months and it was
a great experience to finally go with them. It is amazing how much
suffering there is in Zambia and how little they have in the way of
medical care. The lines are so long and, well, wow... You would have
to just see it to understand. What a joy it was today to be the Great
Physicians hands today and see some people miraculously healed and
loved on.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Luke and Brent save the day (The I love my friends music video)

So, this is a warning for all you weak stomach, wussy, can't handle seeing snakes without freaking out people (like me)... This blog post might not be the best one for you to read. Seriously, just, you know, hit next or something.

O.K. no whining comments... You were warned. Watch the edited video if you can handle it or take the safety route and read the commentary below or if you have super strength, do both... (But first read about what happened yesterday to set up what happened today!) And just so you know, I was the videographer of this whole ordeal using my phone. You know, someone had to do it and I was glad to volunteer for the job!:)

So, yesterday, my neighbor on our property, Ellie came out of her little house and stepped down from her patio onto a step that led to the grass. She didn't look down and stepped on or near a big green snake which promptly bit her flip-flop and wrapped itself around her ankle. Petrified, she flicked both the snake and the flip flop off her foot. Thankfully the snake didn't bite her, but she went to the hospital just to make sure. She was pretty shook up, as you can imagine.

So, then today, around 11:00am I was headed out the door with my bag in my hand when I saw a snake head raised up on the walkway on the pathway to my car, about 10 feet from me. The snake was in the middle between me and anything long and sharp that I could kill this snake with. I didn't know what to do. I was home alone, even Mwape, our worker was gone. I didn't want to lose sight of it, walking around the house to the shed, not knowing where it would go, but I didn't want to try killing it by myself. Anyway, I called the snake killing missionaries, Luke and Brent, and the rest, as you will see, is history.

The snake was still showing in the bushes when they arrived but they couldn't tell where the head was and how big it was. It was a greyish green so it blended in really nice to its surroundings. Well, the snake was spooked by Brent's fact finding mission with it and slithered into the bush that surrounded the patio. They had about a 30 minute standoff as they tried to get the snake out of the bush. Unfortunately, I don't have the most freaky part on video when the snake started to slide up the wall towards Luke or even better when the snake slide out of the bush onto the front patio where I was standing. I was talking on the phone to a teammate and yelled out loud as I jumped over the patio wall and ran up towards the car. Thankfully, Luke had suggested I close my front door about 15 minutes earlier or the snake could have gone inside my house. Instead the snake made a sharp right at my door and cornered himself on the patio. Brent used the rake to trap it and Luke severed his head. You know, words just don't quite give it the same effect. As the video will show the executed brilliant maneuverability on the patio and the amazing teamwork that killed the snake... And then Luke and Brent proceeded to open the mouth to see if it was a black mamba. A black mamba, one of the most poisonous snakes is called a black mamba by its black mouth even though the outside is green. Well, after examining the snake up close, in our amateur opinion, we are calling it a four foot black mamba. Yikes...

Needless to say I was pretty freaked out. I am glad my kids weren't here and I just need to remind myself we haven't seen many snakes like this in the three years we have been here... Still, it messes with your mind. Please pray for all people in Africa. There was another scary story out at Ciyanjano just a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I hate snakes.

Revelation 14:7 - 7“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Four In One, Part II

Well, Kelly and I made our way through Kanyama into Chibolya and then Kabwata for our tour of churches this morning.  We visited Pastor Mumbi(s) church in Kanyama, then Pastor Joseph Zulu also in Kanyama and then Pastor Kashewe's church in Chibolya and then Pastor Simuyemba's church in Kabwata.  It was a good morning, busy with lots of off-road driving and a freaky drive through a market with hundreds of people surrounding our car.  I preached at Pastor Simuyemba's church which is always good fun.  One more Sunday of touring and I will have a sweet video put together of all the pastors in our ACTION Pastor's College for my furlough in two weeks to show you our pastors up close and personal. You are just going to have to be at church or get together to see it!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Game Day

Well, we had a U-13 tournament today at the Olympic Training center here in
Zambia. The first game we played awesome with Hassan hitting the game
winner in the last seconds of the game. But, game two and three we dropped
the games because our shots wouldn't drop. The fourth game we tied. So,
overall we went 1-2-1... Not too bad considering our guys were 11 and 12 and
had never played a game before today. One of the players has a dad who
teaches the bible at a college as well so that was cool. He shared
afterwards how much he appreciates my coaching the team. It is a bummer you
can't feel how hot it is in the pictures. I brought some cold water to the
games and buy noon the water was literally hot. I am not sure I could have
fried an egg on the court, but I wouldn't have been surprised.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The law as I am learning it

A few days ago I drove downtown to teach my class. I pulled into an
area that was pretty deserted, maybe 9 parking spots without cars,
open side by side. I picked the middle spot and made my way in. I was
a bit out of it, I guess, and didn't notice that I missed the middle
pretty good. I walked across the street to the normal side door of
the office to find it locked. As I walked back, I noticed a Zambian in
an orange vest putting a yellow wheel clamp on my car. I had no idea
at the time why he was doing this. So I ran across the street,
yelling at him, "What are you doing?" Well, I found my infraction. I
had misparked by about a meter. Now, I am not denying my guilt, and
though I was miffed, I began to realize that I needed to pay a fine
(even though at that time, there were still 8 other spots open next to
me and continued to stay open during my stay there). He said the fine
was k450,000 kwacha which is just about $100. Yeah, exactly. A
speeding ticket is k67,500 ($12ish) and talking with a cell phone
while driving is k250,000 (about $50) and a parking infraction of one
meter is k450,000. So, I wasn't buying it or paying it and I admit I
didn't handle it well. My outburst caused a stir and pretty soon I
had 8 Zambian all arguing against (3 with orange vests and 5 from the
street). One street guy volunteered that I should I negoitate. Uh,
sorry, I don't negoitate. Well, I left the scene and walked to my
office, seething. I got a few pastors to come with me. After calming
down, I walked back with the pastors, and first apologized to the now
one orange vest guy. Then, I left my pastors go to work and they did
with much more grace and calmness than had been my first approach.
They even shared the gospel. (Who is teaching who?) The final result:
10,000k and a promise to buy them a coke. The orange vest guys said,
"We need to get our daily quota for tickets" and so k10,000 was fair
enough. They split the fine between four orange vest guys. What do
you do? Well, you park in the middle first of all... And then I guess,
just remember that I am a guest in the country no matter how unfair I
feel the judgment is. Lastly, I need to never forget that I am a
always a Christian first. Two days later I saw one of the orange vest
guys and he asked for a Bible...:)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Pastor-Student Graduation

I had a great Saturday. I had two graduations, one in the morning and one in
the afternoon, that I was to preside over. But, this was the best kind of
graduation. It wasn't my students graduating but the students of my
students. The one year - four module bible study training curriculum that I
co-taught to our pastors last year is now reaping fruit! These four pastors
have completed either the first or the second module with the leaders in
their churches. There were 16 people in my two graduations but altogether
(with the two graduations in Makeni and Kabwata that I wasn't a part of) I
think there were about over 35 students who had been trained. It was a
special day in many respects. One, a graduation is always a chance for
everyone to see that the hard work has paid off. In the midst of suffering
and poverty and struggle, this was a day to rejoice and celebrate and
celebrate they did. Two, it is fun to bring the pastors together with their
own leaders and watch them take ownership and encourage each other. The
second graduation was at Pastor Jere's church in Valley View and Alfred and
Patson came with me. What an encouragement it was to Jere whose church is a
bit off the beaten path and he is a bit isolated where he ministers compared
to the others. So, I was thankful and encouraged by being a part of this
day. The goal is 2 Timothy 2:2 in seeing that those we train are training
other faithful men who will pass it on to faithful men. May God be glorified
as His word is taught and lived by multiple generations!