Friday, February 26, 2010

Now that is some good preaching...

I remember when I was in speech class and I had to watch myself or listen to
myself after I gave my speech. It was always a shock to hear my voice or see
my mannerisms. But, it was a good shock, because you learned how you need to
stop saying "Ummm" a million times or that you need to slow down or that you
probably shouldn't pick your nose during your message, stuff like that.
Well, I am recording each of the pastors and then they are watching them
before class and evaluating themselves. It has been fun to watch their
response to themselves and to see how they could improve and to see how they
rate themselves on the sermon evaluation sheet. Overall, they all seem
pretty encouraged with seeing themselves on TV for the first time. I guess
they feel like the big time:)

On another note, I had a great conversation yesterday with a pastor about
the preaching class. One shared how new this material is and yet how
important it is for helping them preach the Bible. He said all pastors in
Zambia learn to preach the same way, and the way that he is learning is so
much more helpful. He said, "I can't wait until I get to teach this to other
pastors." I think that is the point:)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When you can't persevere

Well, the running continues.  And not just for me, but also for Stephanie.  She is doing some running but also brutalizing her body with this workout video thing.  Last weekend, she was so sore she could hardly move.  As I mentioned in my previous email, you can’t hurry perseverance, and that goes for working out as well.  You can’t build muscles overnight, and if we press too hard, our body reacts violently to make us pay for making it  pay.

 

 And this is also true sometimes in life, the trials that help build us up and make us stronger to do things tomorrow that we couldn’t do today come heavy and fast and leave us unable to move and function and live the same way we lived before. Such was the case with Father Ngoma and his wife after losing their baby.  Sure, in time, as they press into the Lord and seek His comfort, as they trust Him, and allow this trial to work out the good that God promises to those who love Him, they will see the how God uses them in this trial. But, for now, they are hurting, big time.  Especially, Father Ngoma’s wife.  How do we deal with these life-altering, life-crashing, life-rocking trials?  It is one thing to be a bit sore as life deals you a bad day, some aches and pains, but when life brings pain that is like a wave that crashes over the top of you, what do you do?   And how do we help people who are going through these trials?  Well, we can pray for them, love on them, spend time with them, listen to them and walk with them.  And you can do like Jim and Summer did, friends of ours from the states, in emailing me a note of prayer for them. 

 

Wow.  We will be lifting up the Ngoma family.  I pray that they would find comfort in knowing that around the world, there are brothers and sisters who are holding their broken hearts up to the Lord and begging Him to bring them peace and comfort; that they would be able to be still and know that HE is GOD.  He is El Shaddai-- all sufficient.  Elohim-- Creator, preserver, mighty and strong.  Jehovah-Rophe-- the God who heals.  Jehovah-Shalom-- the God of peace.  Eyaluth-- the God of Strength.  I pray that they will find peace that this God is their God and He will be all of these things for them.  

 

Summer & Jim

 

I printed out the letter and gave it to Father Ngoma. He was very encouraged.  And it got me thinking, what if I had more of my friends in the states send me notes that I could print off and give to him?  If they could know that there are people around the world, literally, who are remembering him and his church and his family, I believe that would greatly encourage their spirits. Most of us will probably never be able to understand the depth of pain and loss, but we can be obedient to the Bible and mourn with those who mourn…   And, so, here I am, asking you, if you feel led, to write a letter to encourage my friend and student, a wonderful Zambian pastor Nathan Ngoma and his wife.  Could you write a letter to this amazing guy who pastors a church here, helps oversee a clinic for the poor,  and gives and gives and gives.  If you would, you could either just email me back if you got this letter by email or send it to my email (I am coding it to prevent spammers):  allens(.a.t.)aliveinafrica(the little dot thing)com. Thank you so much.    

 

How about I say, that you can send emails until March 1…??!!?!

 

Thanks for remembering those and feeling the pain of those across the world…

 

 

Steve Allen

Action Zambia

www.aliveinafrica.com

 

“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

 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You can't hurry perseverance

So, I am back running again after a good year and half hiatus. The last time I tried running a marathon, I hurt my back throwing my kids up in the air, so I had to give it up.  So, now, a little more healed and a little smarter (i.e. no throwing kids anymore)  I am digging out my running shorts and lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement (literally… my first day out, I tripped over a rock on this little dirt trail and ended up eating dirt at the feet of two Zambian women in Chitenges saying “Sooorry, Soorry, Soooo soooorrry.”  Humility is always good!) .  Anyway, you might be asking, “Why, Steve, are you running a marathon?”  Well, you couldn’t have asked a better question.  I am running a marathon to raise money for Ciyanjano Conference Centre with a bunch of my teammates.  Luke, Megan, Brent and I  are running the full marathon and Stephanie, Elise, Kerry are running the half marathon.   The marathon that we are training for is on August 29 at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.  There is so much to write about this adventure we are undertaking, but I’ll give you all the details later… But, the thing that struck me today is this: “You can’t hurry perseverance.”  I am running with Luke and Brent who have been running for a good six months now. I have run for a bad three days now.  And, I so badly want to keep up with them.  But, I just don’t got it yet.  My chest is burning, my legs are aching and it seems as if wherever I run, they have removed the air or something…   You just can’t hurry the kind of perseverance you want so badly to be able to do the things you want so badly to do.  It just takes time. You can’t hurry perseverance.

 

BUT, I have hope, that in a couple of weeks and after a few  months, they will be asking me to slow downJ  “You can’t hurry perseverance.”  This was all too real to me today.  As I pondered this idea of perseverance, I thought of James 1:3-5 where it says that we take joy in our trials because testing of our faith develops perseverance. The importance of perseverance is to enable us to do tomorrow what we couldn’t do today. I couldn’t run a marathon today if my life depended on it. But, hopefully in six months, if all goes well, I will push through the testing of the trial of sore legs and overextended lungs unto perseverance to be able to run a marathon.   Just like I wish there was an easier way to build perseverance for a marathon, the same goes for the Christian life and trials.  But, there really is no shortcut for perseverance.  If I want to go the distance, whether it is in my physical life (running a marathon) or my spiritual life (serving God in hard places, being able to love the unloved, etc), I have to endure the trials of life to build me up.  And God knows the trials we need to go through to be able to do what he wants us to do.  He is like our coach, and he puts us through the workouts to build up our muscles so that we can be available and fit for the spiritual marathons that he has for us in our lives.  So,  I guess that is why I welcome or should choose to  have joy in the trials of life (and running) because I know they are helping me to do tomorrow what I can’t do today.   After all, that is the goal of life isn’t, to do the works that God has for us to do for the glory of God?  Can we say as Paul says in Acts 20:24 -  24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”?   Is there anything else worth living for?

 

 

 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Encouragement times 50!

My good friend, Aaron Gibbs wrote this little blog/invitation thing for his mom on his blog today… I wanted to both honor Carol Gibbs in recognition of her 50th birthday (Carol is an amazing woman, so selfless and giving in so many ways) but also I wanted to share with you how she wanted her birthday celebration to proceed  (she doesn’t know I am doing this and will probably not be happyJ but better to ask forgiveness than permission!).  As the blog/letter below states, instead of presents, she wants any gifts to be money given towards the construction of Ciyanjano Centre, the retreat property of ACTION Zambia for the poor here in Zambia. When I heard about her birthday wishes, I was so encouraged. It reminds me so much of how John Piper always seems to exhort us to live, to focus our hearts and happiness for things eternal, and to store our treasures (and gifts) not on earth, but in heaven.  Anyway, I just thought you might be encouraged by her example as well. We are heading into a major, major fundraising time with Ciyanjano. I don’t think she even knew that. But, we are hoping to raise over $100,000 in the next year so we can have a conference centre for the poor and underprivileged children, churches and pastors in Zambia. (It isn’t build it and they will come. They are ready to come and are just waiting for us to build!)  Please be praying with us, and may this birthday wish from Carol Gibbs be an encouragement  and model for all of us on how we can be creative and selfless in the way we live our life on this earth for the things that last forever. (Thanks Carol!!!!  We are so thankful for all your support and love for us here in Zambia… Wish we could be there to celebrate in person but maybe we can hook up a skype phone call! AJ, let’s make it happen!) Enjoy!

Carol is turning 50

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_YyWT90UGUj4/S3yoAUi0FDI/AAAAAAAACCA/xX2qP9DfJ5A/s320/screen-capture.png
While planning for my mom's 50th birthday I was thinking about something special I could do for her... she works so hard and is so selfless I thought that I should have all of her guests help contribute towards a nice gift. She called the other day with a plan of her own, and asked me what I thought about instead of people bringing her gifts, if they would use that money and make a contribution towards Ciyanjano, a conference center in Zambia that our missionary friend Steve Allen supports and is trying to develop. I just smiled, shook my head and thought... of course you would... I wanted to send her on a cruise :)

To all of our friends and family, stop by mom's house on March 7th from 2:00-5:00 PM for an "Open House." Come for five minutes or the whole thing, we would love to see you. And if you would like to know how you can make a donation for Ciyanjano as a gift for my mom then keep reading.

Steve is a missionary with Action Zambia, and all donations are tax deductible. There are three ways you can donate:

1. Mail a check to Action International designating it for "Carol For Ciyanjano - # 71140 (Zambia)"

PO Box 398
Mountlake Terrace, WA
98043-0398

2. Donate online by clicking here and select Zambia Ciyanjano Centre (71140) as the designation and under additional information put "Carol For Ciyanjano"

3. Just come to the open house and we can make it happen :)

Go to Steve's blog, Alive in Africa for a post and short video about Ciyanjano. Megan and I were in Zambia last summer with the Allen's and visited Ciyanjano, it is a great place and has tons of potential for the community there. Scroll down for a post of our time there...

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Missionaries having fun *gasp*

Well, I don't know what kind of stereotype you have built up for people who
are missionaries, but we do have fun every once in awhile! Take this last
Saturday, the day before Valentine's Day, we did a progressive dinner where
we started at the Hilty's and had appetizers, then to the Singletons where
we had soup and then to the Roberts where we had salad and then to our house
where we had steak and potatoes and then to Whitfields for some dessert...
Yeah, we are a wild and crazy bunch. We even played games at each house,
like Name that Romantic Song at our house and Cranium and the Whitfields and
Battle of the Sexes at the Singleton's and this nickname game at the
Hilty's. Needless to say we ate well and had a good time. It is nice to
relax every once in awhile!

Monday, February 15, 2010

More grace needed

Well, if you read a blog that I posted a few days, you were hopefully encouraged by the story of Father Ngoma and the birth of their child.   Well, I was heading down to the area where he lives on Saturday afternoon, so I called that morning to ask if I could come and see the baby.  He answered a bit quiet and then proceeded to share with me how the baby died that morning.  I felt like you do right now if you read that story and saw the miracle that God brought them through.  The story wasn’t supposed to end this way. She gave birth on Tuesday via C-section to a 6 lb boy and the mother and baby both were doing well, although the baby was born with a cleft lip. On Friday they come home from the hospital and then on Saturday morning the baby started having trouble breathing. They rushed to the hospital but it was too late and he was BID [brought in dead].  They were left with no explanation.  Being born a month early, I wonder if it was due to underdeveloped lungs?!?!?  As you can imagine they are devastated.   How do you encourage people in this kind of suffering?  I did stop by and see Nathan that evening.  After hearing about all the details, I prayed for him.  I prayed for more grace to handle this difficulty, and then I referred back in my prayer to another sermon that we had just heard.   Joseph Zulu had preached on Suffering that Friday night before the death of his boy, and I had also showed a C.J. Mahaney clip on Psalm 42. C.J. spoke an amazing message where he spoke about the importance of preaching and talking to yourself as the psalmist does. He commended those listening  to implore yourself to have hope in God, to not let circumstances or situations determine your spiritual state, but to look to God’s promises and speak them back to yourself.     Again, the future grace of these messages were evident when I prayed that Nathan and his wife would speak to themselves of their hope in God during these days of suffering.  I could sense how much he resonated and remembered those sermons during the prayer.  He said, “Amen” as I prayed those words and shared his gratitude for the prayers.  We talked about how amazing it was that God once again provided grace through His word through these messages at just the right time.   Please pray for the Ngoma family.

 

 

Steve Allen

Action Zambia

www.aliveinafrica.com

 

“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

 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The difference love makes - A Valentine's Day reflection

I do most of my study and work at my office in my house. The office is
located in my bedroom, looking out the window with a great view of the
backyard. It wasn't until recently that I moved my office back to the
bedroom so that I could have a bit more privacy during the day, but also
make some room for guests in our office now guest bedroom. Just outside my
window is a bush. I am sure it has a name, but I am not sure what it is
called. But, on this bush, during this time of year, there is a lot of
activity on the bush, most especially by birds. I am not an avid bird to be
honest but I am often struck by the birds that feed on this bush, such that
I will stop what I am doing to just gaze and appreciate God's amazing
creation.

A few weeks ago I was looking outside my window and I saw the most beautiful
bird I have ever seen. It was yellow and blue and black and shiny (I have no
idea what is called). I was just completely struck by this bird. I was
stunned, speechless and completely enraptured. I didn't dare reach for my
camera because it would be gone before I got back. I didn't want to miss a
second watching it. And the thought came spontaneously, suddenly,
surprisingly, a question that I asked of the bird. It was a question that I
didn't really plan on asking nor was I really looking for an answer,
obviously. I asked in a kind of question-statement, "Do you know how
beautiful you are?"

And then he flew off.

The question lingered in my mind even after the bird was gone. The depth of
the question turned me inward.

It hit me, just as spontaneously, that perhaps that was also God's question
for me.

Do I know, uh, how beautiful, God thinks I am? (Not a question we often ask
ourselves, especially men.)

It is phrased differently than I have ever asked myself before, but it is
the same question that I have struggled with off and on my whole life.

Am I really beautiful in God's eyes?

Is God pleased with me?

Is he happy with me?

And if He is, is that enough?

Do I know how beautiful that he thinks I am?

Maybe this verse captures what I think I am wondering about:

Isaiah 62:2-5 - 2The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings
your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord
will give. 3You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a
royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My
Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and
your land shall be married. 5For as a young man marries a young woman, so
shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so
shall your God rejoice over you.

Does God delight in me?

Does God rejoice in me?

Here is another verse that stagers me with its implications (I love the NET
version here):
Zephaniah 3:17 - 17The Lord your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who
can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he
shouts for joy over you."

Does God really shout for joy over me? Really?

Lastly, a verse that is sure to humble:
Psalm 149:4-5 - 4For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the
humble with salvation. 5Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy
on their beds.

Does God take pleasure in me? In me?

It seems to me that this question has to be answered before we can be freed
from seeking approval and significance from the world. The reason we seek
our significance from the world is because we don't really believe that God
loves us. We have this innately place need for love and when it isn't felt,
we seek for it until we find it. So, when we don't sense his delight, we
go to other places to find it. We may know it with our head, but we don't
believe or feel it in our heart. We haven't experienced it. Could this be
one of the reasons why we need to become like children, that God knows we
need to desperately seek his approval and not be satisfied until we know it
so that we can be free from needing the approval of the world. We can be
freed from the ever-fleeting approval that stunts our ability to experience
the blessing, honor and productivity that a humble lifestyle brings. Love,
true love, is the freer of all self-fleeting chains. And perhaps, we have
never considered that despite our sin, our rebellion, our continual
straying, that our dear Jesus laid down his life so that we could actually
know his love, grace and approval. It was his love that led him to the
cross, and it is love that is continued to be poured out on us through His
Holy Spirit. He loves us. He really loves us. He loves us like we love
our children. And despite our refusal to rest in His love, we continues to
love us. Ultimately, we love because he first loved us. We will love when
we know He loves us.

What could someone do who knew they were really beautiful in the eyes of the
only one that matters?
How would it change your life if you knew that God truly delighted in you?
How much would your life change if you really knew you were loved?

Find someone who loves deeply, unconditionally, and self-sacrificially and
you will know just how much knowing God's love for you could change you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Planting a Church for the farmers

This last Sunday I spent the morning out in Chisamba, a good hour plus
outside of Lusaka where one of our pastors, John Chitambo, is planting a
church. This is a very, very rural area where farming is the source of
survival for most of the people there. The closest clinic to this area is a
29 kilometer walk and they have 600 students which attend this four room
schoolhouse that church meets in. The church that John attends in Lusaka
decided to plant a church out here and John was asked to lead the effort.
What a blessing it was to be a part of this morning. One, because there was
no church before and now there is. That is just significantly cool. But
then, to hear John preach was encouraging because he really preached great
and used the structure which I am teaching them in class. I could tell that
he was encouraged by Rhoda and I joining him as well. There is a real
genuine excitement for this church and I can tell that John is in his
element. Please pray for this church as it is just about 5 months old, that
they would grow strong and be a source of great encouragement to these
church members, but also be able to reach the surrounding areas. We in
ACTION Zambia are already talking about taking the Jesus Film out there some
Saturday to show the film and then invite people to a church service the
next day.

Valentine's Day x 27

We had a Valentines party at our house yesterday. There were about 8 moms
with their children there. So about 27 children altogether. Everyone had a
lot of fun, playing games, making valentines and frosting cookies, and
eating snacks. Half of us were "independent" as in not here with a group,
and the other half were the families that are here working with Action
Zambia. Of the 27 children, all were mostly girls (thanks to our
contributing almost 20% of the girls:), but a handful of boys. If the boys
are smart, they will take full advantage of this ratio! Though, they better
start saving up their cows now. My girls ain't going cheap!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Present (and Future) Grace

This picture is of one of our pastors, Nathan Ngoma, preaching on Colossians
a couple weeks ago. I am filming each of them with my little Flip video
camera, and then they are watching it the next class period. It has been an
eye-opening experience for these pastors to see and hear themselves on
video.

Father Ngoma as we call him is a pastor of the Anglican church in Makeni and
is a remarkable man of God. He has two children, and is expecting a third
child in March. But, on Friday I got a text from him that he had to take his
wife to the hospital because she was bleeding. So, that afternoon, Friday,
February 5, he showed up in class, a bit shaken. He shared with the class
and we all prayed for his wife and himself. Apparently, the bleeding had
stopped and they admitted her until they could decide what to do. He went
home after class and then he got a call from the hospital saying that the
bleeding had started again and that he needed to come to the hospital
immediately. They were going to have the operation in a few hours. He raced
to the hospital to be told that she was already in the "theatre room" which
is the operating room and he should just go back home. (They do not let family, friends, husbands or anyone stay in the room or anywhere near the operating room!?!?? Crazy, I know.) But, upon leaving they said that it was 50/50 whether she would die or the child would die or
both could die. Can you imagine having to go home with the possibility that
your wife may never come home? He said he didn't sleep at all that night.
He was confused and in torment.

But then he said, "Do you know what got me through the night? Bruce's
message on the Supremacy of Christ." You probably know that we are going
through the book of Colossians, verse by verse with each pastor preaching a
passage of scripture that each selected randomly. Bruce, a pastor in
Kanyama, had pulled the passage Colossian 1:15-20 randomly from a bag a
month earlier and after setting up the schedule, we just happened to be on
this passage on that Friday.

The passage says: " 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of
all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or
authorities-all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is
before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head
of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of
God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all
things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his
cross.

It is a thick passage, with rich wording and incredible truth. If you break
it down, the beautiful, hopeful reality is that all things are held together
by Christ. This was the verse that Nathan could place his hope in. He
heard also that Christ is before all things, that He created all things and
all things are for Him. Nathan heard Bruce preach that message and it
encouraged him in this class period. It was present grace. But, who could
have foreseen that those verses would also be a grace for the future to
carry him through his darkest night?

Well, Nathan went back that morning, with no clue of whether his wife or
child was alive (because they had locked away her cell phone) but with the
assurance that Jesus Christ was holding everything together. What a joy to
find his wife, not only alive, but doing well and a child, a little boy,
that was healthy. The child did have a type of cleft palate lip where the
lip did not grow together. They are hopeful that surgery will help restore
some normality to it, but compared to losing his wife and child, that is of
very little concern.

I just wanted to share this story, one so that during your dark nights, you
will find hope in God's word like Nathan did. But, two, to let you know what
God is doing in our class that is totally beyond my planning or organizing.
I am a grateful spectator and a joyful thanksgiver. I am compelled to give
God the glory that is so due Him. What an amazing God of providence.

This story reminded me of a message that John Piper gave one time I think
during the One Day Passion '03 conference where he was sharing a story about
a time when he was preaching on the Holiness of God. Piper shared how just
preached the passage of Isaiah 6 to his church with a conscious decision
beforehand to preach with no application. He just wanted to exalt God and
his holiness, his transcendence and his glory. Little did he know that in
the congregation was a family whose daughter had just suffered incredible
tragedy of violation that is a parent's worst nightmare. The parents
experienced a darkness beyond anything they could even explain, but as they
shared in a letter to John Piper, that it was the vision of God's holiness
and His glory that got them through those dark days. I have always found
that story so inspiring, but, then to be able to live this one, to see it
live, really working, inspiring, persevering is just a glorious privilege. I
had no choice but to share it.

Please keep praying for our pastors. They are going through incredible
trials these days.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Missionaries missionaring

It is so fun when new missionaries come to the field who are cool and have
lots of cool kids and think our kids are cool, too. The result is a lot of
new fun to be made and experiences to share. James and Megan Williamson are
from Louisville, Kentucky with Reformed Baptist Churches to help strengthen
churches, teach at a bible school, help orphans and a bunch of other cool
things. James is working with Kabwata Baptist Church and will be doing a lot
of similar things to us, which is exciting because there is such a need for
discipleship here in Zambia.

Monday, February 08, 2010

And the Saints came marching in at 1:30am

This won't be the most spiritual post, but I thought you would get a chuckle
out of the fact that I got up at 1:30 am to watch the Saints humble the
Colts live over here in Zambia. Brent, his son Caleb, a Zambian friend, Alex
and myself fought through the bleariness, sleepiness and tiredness of being
awake at sleeping hours to have a little sports fix. My first live game of
the year was the last game of the year and it was a good one. I wanted the
Saints all the way.

But, to be honest, just in case you who know me are wondering how I am doing
without sports, I just need to report to ya'll that, well, I am o.k. I am
o.k. with missing every game this year. I am o.k. that I don't know all the
stats and figures. I am o.k. that I am a little clueless about the ins and
outs. For a guy who never missed a game when I was home, I have to be
honest and say that I am alright without football. I missed it, of course, I
still checked the scores and stuff. But, even that lost a bit of it luster.
Now that the year is done, and I look back over the 16X4= 65+ hours I saved
(or all the hours I wasted during my previous years) and I think, Hmm...
There is something about being free of football that does a soul good. I
realize that life goes on and you know, I'm o.k. Now, will I still feel that
way if I had football available to me every week? I hope so. Not that
football is bad, but it isn't life. I would have never thought that there
was life outside of football. But, now I know. And, just in case you didn't
know, there is. I am a living, breathing testimony and proof of that. And
what is even better, there ain't any post-football I-can't-wait-until-fall
blues to deal with either:)

It was interesting (and a bit humbling) watching the "Super Bowl" with a
Zambian. You just get a rather embarrassing outside/inside look at your
culture, your entertainment, and the things Americans value by the
commercials and the half-time entertainment and watching all your fellow
American dress and act like life is all about football. Like for example,
it is pretty funny to hear them say "World Champion New Orleans Saints" when
America is the only country that "Football" is played. Most have no clue
what it is or why we call it football (You throw it, you run with it, and
only 10% do you actually use your foot.) It was funny as we had to explain
the game to Alex. You had to wonder what he was thinking. Anyway, it was
worth getting up, just to say I did. It was a great game and I enjoyed it.
And now, life that is life goes on...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A halo in Africa

Last Saturday during a little gathering with some friends at pool, we were
witnesses of the most amazing thing... A halo, a perfect, circular rainbow,
formed around the sun. It was spectacular, if not blinding, to observe this
phenomena. Thankfully, my smart friend Brad was there to tell us all about
his freakish nature display, which I think I'll let you look up on Wikipedia
if you want to know more:)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Encouraging signs...

I have compared the work we do here in Zambia before as someone who grows trees for living.  There is a lot of investment and energy and work and not a whole lot to write home about in terms of instant success, etc… But, there are moments along the way, encouraging signs, where you realize that the tree is really taking root and the work is paying off and your labor is not in vain. Monday was one of those days.  I have been teaching on preaching, and the last week I taught the students and taught them and taught them how to create a structure for their sermons that leads to life change, engaging of their church and helping them learn how to give the church a reason to listen and learn.   Well, on Monday I had two pastors come up to me separately and tell me what a difference it made in their preaching on Sunday. One was able to share his own experience and then engage the church and lead them to the truth. He was able to help them see the application and then give the church a vision on how the truth of what he was sharing would impact the church if they would obey it.   There was this excitement in his voice, like a little kid, who couldn’t wait to go preach again. And then, another pastor shared with me, how he changed up the beginning of his sermon and added more about himself, got the church engaged, slowed down and it made a big difference in the church service.  But the topper came when my supervisor, Tracy Singleton, who goes to the church of one of these pastors shared with me that he too  noticed a BIG difference in his speed, illustrations and his engaging with the church.   That was encouraging…                 So, I am not sure a tree grower has similar stories of encouraging signs, but I thank the Lord that a teacher can have such stories.

 

 After many weeks of learning, students have finally started their in-class preaching. James went first preaching Colossians 1:1-2 and then Nathan went yesterday and he preached Colossians 1:3-8.  I have a whole system organized that leads up their preaching. They must first do the exegetical work that they learned during the first year of classes, where they study the passage, do the word studies, observe, interpret and apply what they have learned.  They turn that work in two weeks before they are going to preach. That way I can see if they are interpreting the passage correctly and help guide them through the process. Then a week before they preach, they must turn in an outline based on the structure that I have taught them.  After each time they turn in the work, I go through it, and then meet with them the next class to help guide them through it.  There are a lot of pastors to meet with and it is a busy hour before class when I am meeting with them, but it is going really well.  What I shared with them yesterday is that even though they are only preaching one time, they are learning from each pastor’s strengths and weaknesses as they fill out evaluations and they will improve in their ability to articulate specifically how the pastor failed and succeeded.  So, that is another encouraging sign.

 

So all in all, we are moving full steam ahead.  Hopefully you have been encouraged by the work you are seeing and you might wonder, (I hope you are wonderingJ) how can I help them from where I am? Well, we are still looking for people to come alongside and sponsor our pastors… With as little at $10 a month to as much as $55 a month (what it cost to educate these pastor in a facility, provide transportation and mealie and books), you will play a significant role in helping us help them…  If you want more information, please click this link to go to our ACTION Zambia Pastor’s blog.    If you have already allocated all your giving for the year, no problem at all… But, I would encourage you to check out the blog for interviews and bios of our pastors. We covet prayers even more than money!!!

 

Thanks again for all your support!

 

 

 

Steve Allen

Action Zambia

www.aliveinafrica.com

 

“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

 

Monday, February 01, 2010

I promise you will smile

From Ciyanjano


From Ciyanjano


Last week while we were out in Kasupe near Ciyanjano (our conference center) with the Guffey's doing the HIV/AIDs talk at the church, we also had a short time after which we took some pictures of the children in the church playing at Ciyanjano. We are moving ahead very quickly with many great things in preparation of opening our facility for conferences and camps for pastors, churches and children. We wanted people to get a good picture of all that this place was going to be used for, especially in light of the potential of the children's ministry, and I think this video does that very well. Whereas Brad as the doctor spoke and really ministered to the church using his gift of speaking and medical knowledge, Christi, his wife, used her gift of photography to really bring alive the faces and expressions of these precious children. And, last but not least, with my friends over at Animoto.com also using their amazing gifts to make incredible videos, I promise that it will be best five minutes of your day! So, hit that little triangle button and be prepared to smile. Resistance is futile :)

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