Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Harsh Realities

Just wanted to share what was going on through a blog of my teammate, Luke!

 

Dear Friends

Just a quick note asking you to pray for a situation here in Zambia affecting hundreds of local families. Ever year the rains (which should be ending here shortly) cause at least some bit of local flooding usually in the same areas of town. Because development of info structure, such as drainage, is severely impeded drainage of rain water is left to the powers of the sun. This fact coupled with poor sanitation and the overflowing pit latrines consistently produces limited outbreaks of Cholera as well as forces the mandatory evacuation of those living in low lying areas. As if life is not hard enough for most Zambia some have to contend annually with the reality that they may affect adversely by such conditions.

This year the rains have not been as heavy but nonetheless we have recently seen increases of both those affected with Cholera as well as families being moved to tent cities until the waters have receded. As hospital visitation ministry has continue to visit area clinics we have witness the growth of quarantine areas that some clinics have set up in order to accommodate those infected with Cholera. These quarantines are often made of nothing more than 2" x 2" timbers with plastic sheets attached to form a barrier. They are often outdoors and patients are cared to as the understaffed medical team can find opportunity. At one particular clinic in the local compound of Kanyama we have watched as what was once a small 20' x 20' enclosure has been enlarged a couple of times to now encompassed much of the clinic's outdoor space. The actually number of those infected is a tightly held secret but one thing is for sure, the number grow each week we visit.

Along with Cholera the rains have also brought the evacuation of somewhere around 260 local families. Some of these families have given reports that their houses have water in them up to the ceiling trusses. The government has set up a tent city at the national football stadium with can currently accommodate 247 family (just over 1000 people capacity), some sleeping up to 10 people per tent. Action Zambia went out last week to meet with the Red Cross, who are running the camp, to inquire about opportunities to serve those who now called this temporary city their place of residence. It is the hope of Action Zambia that we might provide some physical and more importantly Spiritual aid to these people that have lost what little they had. There are preliminary plans to gather support from the local pastors involved in Action Pastors College and encourage them as congregations to gather supplies (washrags as well as antibacterial soaps) as well as organize a church service for the residents.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_NxzictLd79I/S7HoJ5c9SqI/AAAAAAAAAas/RzCc_C32OoU/s400/Tent_City_1.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_NxzictLd79I/S7HoK_YrxDI/AAAAAAAAAbE/KKlMU3Mx4wY/s400/Tent_City_4.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_NxzictLd79I/S7HoKhZWykI/AAAAAAAAAa8/0dT21Hz82TQ/s400/Tent_City_3.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_NxzictLd79I/S7HoKAcf-AI/AAAAAAAAAa0/gbtcHCCeqTU/s400/Tent_City_2.jpg

I know in light of tragedies such as Haiti and Chile the need of the situation in Lusaka seems like a drop in the ocean but to these families it is just as real and the weather forecast is calling for more rain. Please pray for these dear souls as well as Action Zambia that we would be able to hear what God is wanting us to accomplish through this opportunity before us.

Remember the greatest gift you can give is prayer and which is endless and free. Could not do any of this without you.

His Servant

Luke (for the fam) <><

Friday, March 26, 2010

A privilege to mentor

I thought I would include a picture of my two youngest with a young man
named Abram who I have had the privilege of mentoring over the past year.
He is super great with kids, too! He is heading back to the states to
pursue his education and a certain young lady. What a joy it was to spend
time with this young man. Having been a youth pastor for many years, I have
so enjoyed the days of spending time mentoring young men. So, the time with
him was definitely a gift! Speaking of gifts, he is a gifted in many ways.
A great worship leader, a wonderful, insightful teacher and he has a great
sprit about him. Look forward to seeing what God will do in his life... And,
oh, Dr. Bigley... He is coming your way! I'll send you details soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What a difference a year can make...




Seriously, not only have we officially adopted a little Zambian beauty into our lives this year, but wow, watch the video, and you won't believe how different she looks in just under a year. The first picture is taken on April 9, 2009 and the last picture is taken this last month...

The court process today was very uneventful. The judge was a in little office room, rarely looked at us, listened to the lawyer and the social worker, signed a few papers, smiled at us, and we were done!!! We were pleasantly surprised that everyone was there, that the process actually worked out and we have made official this long awaiting process for Rhoda to become Jennifer Rhoda Allen! We will now work on getting her a passport and birth certificate and we are good to go! Thanks for all your prayers. We had a great evening party to celebrate her adoption. We probably had over 50 people... It was quite the impromptu party with 2 for 1 pizza! It made it really special to have Davern and Masoko with us, with a bunch of their orphanage children. Rhoda spent a couple of years at the orphanage and we were so blessed to have their godly parenting and care. Megan who introduced us to Rhoda and helped us with so much initial paperwork was also there so we were able to honor them with a picture frame and a thank you card. Again, thank you to all who prayed...




(The video pictures are a not quite as clear as I would have hoped but this is Africa after all. It only took three turns to upload a 7 meg file:)

Jennifer Rhoda Allen

Well, it's official! We have a new daughter! We celebrated with ice cream. More later!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Young Missionaries in action

Brady and Julia help lead a memory verse at Sunday School at church.

Sleepless in Lusaka

Watching Kansas lose from an Ali 3, seeing St. Marys beat villanova and UW CRUSHING New Mexico at 2.00 in the morning with two buddies... SWEET16NESS!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mental and Spiritual Health

Sorry the pictures didn't come out so great. I didn't feel very free to make
it too obvious that I was taking pictures. Anyways, I accompanied Luke up
to a mental hospital just about 15 minutes from us. Every Thursday, he
usually goes with one of our pastors, Anderson Jere, to do a little chapel,
sing some songs and pray over each patient. I have been wanting to go for
sometime now and it finally worked out. It was a humbling experience. These
are truly the forgotten people of society. Many have been dropped off by
their family and left for dead, literally. Other do come back and visit.
There are a variety of reasons why they are here and you can only imagine
some of the abuse that has led them here. It was crazy to stare into the
eyes of some of the lifeless bodies and wonder. I shared a little devotion
about Peter walking on water, and then had a chance to pray for many people.
The most amazing thing about this time was seeing the joy that came over
these patients as we sang. It was literally, a night and day difference.
After we finished and we were leaving, Luke said to one of the workers,
"Thanks for all you do. You are a hero to me." And he said thanks and then
expressed how much of a difference that Luke and Pastor Jere had been making
with the patients as well. Apparently, they never talked but ever since
there has been a Thursday chapel, the people are talking much more now. They
learn best in groups, he said, and by bringing them in together, they are
learning to talk more. And, he continued, the singing brings them such joy.
So, it was neat to hear that. Luke visits hospitals and clinics with the
pastors most days of the weeks. As a mission, we are trying to give the
pastors a vision for visiting the sick and sharing Christ and praying for
people. And for some of the pastors, they have now made it a weekly
priority to visit the clinics in their compounds. It is a difficult ministry
to really see a lot of fruit in, because you never get to see the end
results. But, I thought I would include a portion of Luke's latest blog to
give you a few cool stories of what God is doing in this Matthew 25
ministry.

Luke's Blog:
Hospital Visitation Ministry has gotten back underway after a couple of
months break. Many of the same local Action Zambia pastors who participated
last year are back with the addition of a few new faces. We continue to go
into four different area clinics over the course of the week and spend
roughly and hour and a half praying for the multitudes of sick that exists
here in Lusaka. From these visits more and more stories are emerging about
the blessings God has bestowed upon these patients during our time with
them. I want to close by sharing a testimony of a young woman who since our
visit with her one Tuesday in the clinic has seen God do amazing things in
her life. This young woman has since started to attend the church of Action
Zambia pastor Anderson Jere who shared this encouraging note with me. Pastor
Jere writes in his own words:

Dear Brother Luke

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want just to share with
you , a testimony of how our ministry (hospital visitation) is doing in the
lives of many patients we minister to. On several occasions I have received
phone calls from a number of them confessing that the Good Lord has done
wonders in one way or another after ministering and praying for them.

One of them is Ruth. If you can remember very well, we ministered to this
lady at Kalingalinga Clinic sometime back in mid November 2009. This lady
told us that she had given up serving the Lord because God was not answering
her prayers. But after helping her with the Word of God she confessed and
promised that she will go back to church. Towards the end of February 2010,
Ruth called me, and she thanked God saying that if only it was not for the
prayers and words of encouragement she received from us, she could have
killed herself because she had no option left but to commit suicide. I
assured Ruth that I was always praying for her since we last met, and she
further told me that she was still going through a number of problems. Her
father, who is an elder in one of the church denominations, is a satanist
and he once raped her and he is trying everything possible so that he can
make her join in his satanic activities and this has brought great problems
on her life and health.

After hearing this I was very touched and invited her to our church, and on
Sunday 28th February 2010 she came. I ministered to her and together with
some church leaders held some prayers with her and them she felt free and
shared her story, it was a moving testimony.

Brother Luke, the ministry is impacting a number of souls, even those we
don't meet or hear from them after the visit. I only wish I was in full time
ministry so that I could have enough time to minister to such souls. Pray
for Ruth and also pray for me so that God can give me the means to sustain
my family so that I can commit all my time to ministry work. May God bless
us all.

Pastor Anderson Jere


So, there you have it... Hope you are encouraged today to use the
opportunities to do ministry in your place in the world. The sick are
everywhere, so ask them if you can pray for them. God is just looking for a
few courageous, obedient souls...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Preach Colossians... Check.

We finished preaching through the entire book of Colossians. I am planning
on putting together a kind of highlight video to show you the pastors
preaching. Getting it online is another issue, though. We'll see! Alfred
preached the last sermon covering the greetings of Colossians 4:7-18 and
wow, what a sermon. He totally nailed it. I was so proud of him. His one
big idea was: "Make Friendships A Priority." He shared at the beginning of
his sermon how difficult his past year had been. He had all his tools and
capital stolen from his shop at the beginning of the year. There was no
insurance and no way to recover it. It was devastating. Than his grandson
died, his wife got a serious stroke and almost died and then lastly his
daughter died, all in the same year. He said that it was his friendships
that helped him through it. They were the grace of God for him. He went on
to share how the Apostle Paul made friendships a priority and then he went
through all the different greetings. It was really great.

So we are finished with Colossians and now we will use the final two weeks
to work on some of the weaknesses that I saw over the two months of
preaching, and continue to do some structure practicing. April is our down
month, but it will be a fun month. Easter ministry outreaches, a 12th
anniversary getaway with my beautiful wife and our friends coming over to
play and minister to the pastors.

Thanks for all the support!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ciyanjano in Action

I was invited by Pastor Simuyemba (a pastor from my class) to come and teach
the youth from his church at conference being held at Ciyanjano Centre. It
was an amazing experience. One, to be at our own facility and seeing
firsthand how needed and appreciated this kind of retreat location is was
encouraging. The students couldn't say enough about how much they loved
being at a place that was quiet and beautiful and out of the chaos of the
compounds. It helped me really gain a sense of urgency about the need to
continue to develop it so more and more people can benefit from this place.
Second, I love speaking at camps. So many years of camp speaking brought me
back a bit and I was in my beloved element. And third, I spoke on the Holy
Spirit and it seemed as if God had pre-ordained this talk as one lady shared
afterwards that they had been asking questions during the sessions before
and I answered all of them. (Not only did I not know what questions were
asked, I also didn't know they were speaking of the Holy Spirit.) So, it
was just a great, great, great time. I was talking with the pastor
afterwards and he was delighted with our time there. He and his wife were
fasting for the entire conference and so I was encouraged that he was
encouraged. (The youth also fasted that day as well.) If you have a love
for camps and you want to get involved in helping us in our building phase,
go to this website: www.ciyanjano.org and see if you can't partner with us
in this journey.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My boy

My boy, little Steven Zulu, continues to grow and change. I visited his dad
(a pastor in my class) and his wife the other day while checking in on the
progress of the school/church that he is building. He was smiling big time
at me and I am pretty sure he knows his Mzungu Dad is the coolest guy
around.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Make your own Pop!

I thought this was pretty funny. Drink-O-Pop? Needless to say, we didn't
buy it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interesting flower

We see lots of interesting bugs and birds and flowers here in Zambia. But,
this one was really interesting. No idea what it is called or why I have
never seen it before. But, well, thought I would share it with ya'll! Crazy,
huh? (Any botonologists out there to help a poor brother out?)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Saturday in Stench

You may have already seen Kamryn's blog about the yuckiness of our last
Saturday. Our hearts are heavy for our director Tim and his wife Andrea as
the waters flooded them out of their house. What was worse was the water
flooding their septic system and left us having to move them out in very
smelly, difficult circumstances. It was great to come alongside our friends
as a team and it was amazing how it all came together. Consequently, Tim
and Andrea are looking for a new house to move. Please be praying for them.
It has been a difficult week for them, with a scary oil fire, Andrea being
pregnant, Andrea's grandma dying, evacuating their beloved house with no
notice at all, shifting to a temporary 1 bedroom house with a sick child,
all while hosting Tim's parents who just arrived yesterday for three weeks.
This is typical Africa experience, except it is usually spread out over at
least a few months. So, pray for them that God would provide a house for
them in a very quick, miraculous way and grant them grace to sustain them
through it all! Thanks!

My yoke is easy

It is amazing how being In Africa has brought the Bible alive in many ways
that I couldn't necessarily experience back home. This could be a super
long blog, but don't worry, I'll just mention a few things. One of the key
things you gain in an understanding of the importance of community by living
in tribal culture. This gives great insight into the bible, especially the
Old Testament. There are many insights into the Bible living among the poor
and especially in a dependant agricultural society, three are lots of
parables and stories that come alive. One of the most graphic
illustrations comes from the picture above... A yoke. I don't ever remember
seeing a yoke growing up, but looking at this gives new insight into the
following passage when Jesus says:
Matt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and
lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light."

Leading Worship

Last night I was sharing with a small group of friends one of the highlights
of my week was Stephanie leading worship last Sunday at a bible study. She
was amazing in how she led with confidence and joy. It was really great. The
picture above was two weeks ago, playing piano for our teammate Kerri. What
can I say? I am proud of my wife and I wanted to share it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Birthday Wishes

We celebrated Mirriam's birthday with her family at our house. We had pizza,
ravioli's and ice cream cookies. We all shared around the table how much we
appreciated Mirriam and then she opened presents. We are so grateful for
this gift of Mirriam to us. She is an amazing woman. She has even been
teaching Jo-Jo nyanga. But, more on that later!