Monday, May 31, 2010

Our 15 pixels of fame


Just wanted to show you all that we got our 15, uh, pixels of fame the other day at the Michael W. Smith concert when the Zambia newspaper, the POST, took a picture of a crowd and Mommy, Bradyn, Julia and Daddy are now famous. You can see Julia on my shoulders and Bradyn below me and Stephanie standing next to me. If you want an autograph, just let me know.

Well, we told you that we had chickens but we wanted to show not only the
chickens in the cool cage but also the end result, fried over easy! I am
sorry to say that the chicken's have not yet thanked me for delivering them
from their tiny cages to this spacious portable cool coop that they now
reside in. We are enjoying the 6-7 eggs we get every day from our chickens.
Starting to feel a bit like a farmer. Well, no not really. Patson and
Alfred, a couple of our pastors from our program are both construction type
people and the other day asked if I had any ideas on how they could become
self-sufficient in a job so they could focus on their ministry. Well, I
suggested this idea of a portable self-contained chicken coop that I saw at
a friend's house. So, ours was the guinea pig so to speak. They built it
from scratch. And then, my landlord saw ours and bought one as well. So,
two down and a lot more needed. But, it is a start! And we are loving our
little chickens. We move them every day to a different part of the yard and
they feed on chicken food and poor little insects. And we never need to buy
eggs!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A smile for "uncle"

I went with some friends to visit Peter Zulu again at his house in Garden.  It is tough to stay away when little Steven Zulu resides in the same house. Thought you would enjoy this cute little picture! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nostalgia, sort of.

I don't get much nostalgia in Zambia. Everything is always so new, no matter
how many days go by and there isn't much in terms of history to look back
on. But, that all changed last night. Michael W. Smith came to town. I still
remember listening to his first cassette tape album and my first tape I
owned when I was 15. Now I am nearing 40, with lots of life and MWS albums
listened to over the years, this familiar voice crooning in the night
brought me back home a bit. And he still looks exactly the same. It was
quite the night, really. The posters of the concert said the concert
started at 2:00pm and went until 8pm. Hmm. 6 hours. Well, we are getting
the hang of Zambia and we decided to go at 4. We got there at 4:30. We
walked onto the field and got front row seats on the right side of the
field. Some people had been there since 1 pm waiting in line and eventually
got in at 3:30pm. At about 5, six cars roared onto the field with a police
escort, the crowd went crazy when MWS appeared out of his BMW and then he
stayed behind the Semi turned Stage for another 30 minutes. A bit
anti-climactic. Then two M.C.'s came up to welcome a very impatient crowd
and after singing the Zambian national anthem, tried to talk to a drowned
out crowd who just wanted Michael. One M.C. actually said that there was
someone in the VIP section who lost their E71 Nokia Phone and if anyone
found it, please turn it in. She also thanked somebody for making her dress.
Both of these drew a nice laugh. Anyway, the concert finally began and the
crowd started rocking out... There were probably 2000 people seated outside
the chain link fence and probably another 1000 inside the fence. They only
opened the soccer pitch when the seat outside the fence were filled up.
Thereby we got great seats. At the half line, sitting precisely on the white
line and not past it, because the volunteers in Michael W. Smith shirts were
making sure no one passed. About half way through the concert, my daughters
had to use the toilet, which we didn't really know where they were. We went
back and then front and then sideways. We saw a Zambian guy we knew who said
he would take us to the VIP toilets. But as we reached the fence to get
there, the huge crowd that were being restrained at the half line, all of
sudden stampeded forwards as if it was planned. Literally probably 500
people running forward to the front of the stage as fast as they could.
(Our friends, the Whitfields and the Carrs who had been there since 2 to get
the best seats (they were front row) were trampled by the people surging and
had to encircle their kids to keep them from being hurt). Anyway, needless
to say, with people from the outside now wanting in, we decided to forgo the
bathroom experience and just stay inside. We found Mommy, who had surged as
well, and now we were only 50 feet away instead 500. The girls were a bit
shook up by it, but after a bathroom stop later and some snacks, settled in
nicely. The Nostalgia factor waned a bit at that point but came back
quickly with the old familiar friends are friends forever and some of his
new hits as well. The Zambians loved when he sang some familiar worship
tunes and it was a nice time. We left early, beating the crowd. As Tim and
I tried jumping my car (I left the lights on) Michael W. Smith and his
entourage came flashing by. The concert started at 5:30 and ended at 7:15.
Hmm... Well, it was worth it for a bit of nostalgia in this foreign land.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't take my word for it...

We were sorry to see our friend, Pete Williamson, head back to the states. He gave it all this past two weeks and our pastors here were very appreciative as were we missionaries. Our director asked Pete to pen some of his three experiences over the past year on paper. The result was this beauty below. I asked for permission to share with you his "zamflections" and he graciously agreed.

Zamflections (or What I've Learned from My Visits to Zambia)

Pete williamson
- pastor | Oikos Fellowship | Bellingham, WA USA

Up until about three years ago, Zambia was not among the number of African
countries that I was aware of. That all changed when my friend Steve and his
family felt a call to leave our town and the ministry that he was a part of
there to go to this unknown country as a missionary with ACTION Zambia.
Truth be told, I was not only ignorant but also fairly indifferent to this
continent. Not that I didn't have a heart for missions; my wife and I had
spent the first couple years of our marriage living in Japan while teaching
English at a Christian school for Japanese kids. It's just that I wasn't
interested. If anything, I wanted to return to Japan - not just for the
people and the culture, but also the food.

Anyway, Steve had promised from the beginning that he intended for me to
come over at some point to teach pastors and church planters among whom AZ
was working. That promise became realized this last year when I made the
first of what would be three trips in a 13-month period to this country. Now
I can't get this place and especially these people out of my head or heart.
In fact, I would even go so far as to say I really need Zambia.

I need Zambia for what it teaches me about the power of God working through
the preaching of His gospel. It is a humbling thing to speak before a group
of pastors and church planters only to realize that many, if not most have
not only been pastoring for many years but have planted at least one or two
other churches. Even more remarkable, is that they've done so without the
training and resources (including Bibles!) that I have so easily taken for
granted. The parable of the talents has taken on new meaning for me here,
because I see men and women who have had scarcely a single talent but have
through God's grace more than doubled it through tireless faithfulness. I
have great hope for the work of the gospel in Zambia because of the
character of God's workers that I've found here. They are eager to learn as
much as they can - far more than I've seen anywhere else - and they have a
wonderfully uncomplicated reverence for the Word of God as authoritative and
true. If that sounds like a subtle indictment against the American church, I
apologize. I meant it to be stronger.

I need Zambia for the perspective it gives me as an American pastor and
citizen. These words of John keep coming back to me: you say, I am rich, I
have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched,
pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. This verse, if anything, captures exactly
the state of American (and Western) Christianity. I promise you, until you
come here you will never understand how rich you and I are. We have no
vocabulary for the poverty and suffering that are a part of the day-to-day
life of most Zambians (except for politicians and far too many pastors). We
are indeed rich, but in reality we are incredibly poor because we do not ask
why we have been so blessed with all that we've been given. God does not
give us all that we have to spend on ourselves, but to share with those who
have nothing. Even Zambians - most of whom live on less than $2/day -
understand this and because of this they are far richer than us. What's
more, Zambia has shown me how much our prosperity has become a substitute
for relationships. There is nothing in the world like walking through one of
the many compounds surrounding Lusaka. And let me tell you it is one thing
to see poverty like this in the pages of a National Geographic, but quite
another to actually walk in it. And yet, what is so striking to me is how
much the people who live here seem to be content and even joyful in spite of
circumstances that would ruin most if not all Americans. I believe a big
part of that is due to the fact that they know something that we don't -
family and friends are far more important than any other possession and,
equipped with those relationships, any suffering is made bearable. This high
view of relationships also makes the friendships that I have now with a
number of pastors and even churches all the more precious.

I am very encouraged by the work I have seen being done here by ACTION
Zambia. I especially love their focus on befriending and equipping Zambians
for the work of the gospel. In another year and a half, the first class of
15 pastors will graduate from the PLD (pastoral leadership development)
training and already they are putting into play the things that they've
learned with great enthusiasm. I am also very thankful for the missionaries
whom God has called here. Each brings their own unique abilities and
personalities to the team, but all are united in their love of God and the
Zambian people. It may not be all that long before the fruit of AZ's work
will be such a harvest that it will be time to move on to new ground, of
which there is still plenty out there. In the meantime, please join me in
continuing to support AZ with prayers and support. Better yet, go and see
for yourselves what the Lord is doing here and the servants He is working
through to accomplish His purposes. You may just find me there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

safaring

We spent the day at Chaminuka as a family and with Pete, the pastor we have
been hosting for a couple of weeks... It has been a very busy few weeks and
it was a great day to relax, unwind, have some great conversations and enjoy
God's creation. Don't hate us, please.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seeking partners ASAP

If you have been a reader of our blog, www.aliveinafrica.com for any length of time, you have no doubt seen pictures and heard lots of stories about the pastors in the ACTION Pastors Program. I assume you have also seen the evolution of our teaching centre and all the work we have put into creating a warm place with Zambian pictures and local art work.  A year ago we moved into this great building, right in the middle of the city and convenient walk for all our pastors.  In a span of a month, not only have we lost a tenant who was subletting from us (thus making this place affordable),  we also were notified that the landlord was going to raise the rates immediately. In addition, the timing of this has been very critical because we have to sign a new lease by July. This is significant because if we cannot stay here we need to give them one months notice of vacating the office by June 1st which means we need to either find the additional money so we can commit  to stay in our office for the next year, or find a new place to move to.  We really believe that God has provided this place for us and we just can't fathom moving, at least in the next year.  So, it is with an earnest and urgent plea that I am writing to you today to ask for help.  And I believe that many  We need to raise $700 dollars a month in consistent financial support to be able to keep this location for the next year. We would like partners who could commit to supporting our office needs for one year while we seek God's will for us as a ministry related to this ministry space. It is possible that we could find another ministry that could sublet from us. But, it will take some time, possibly an entire year, to find the right partnership.   In addition, buying a year will help re-evaluate our office space and to see if there would be another spot maybe even better than this place.  Regardless, we need churches and/or individuals to commit to help us for a year so we can sign the lease with confidence knowing that we can stay for the year.  We have received a commitment for $250 a month for a year. So, as of now, we only need $450 a month. If you would like to give a one time gift, we will apply that to the total cost that we need of $8400 dollars.  Could you help? If you do decide to give, could you please let us know because we will need to know if the funds have been secured before we sign a new lease.

 

If you would like to give via the internet, please click on this link and write in the note that you are giving towards the office space.  

 

If you want to give via a check, please send to this address USA Office
Mailing Address
PO Box 398
Mountlake Terrace, WA
98043-0398
USA

 

with note referring to Zambia office space…

 

Thank you so much! 

Steve

 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Preaching Highlights from the Pastor's College

I finally got the Youtube upload to work to give you an opportunity to watch some of the highlights from our ACTION Pastor's College preaching class. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this! I know you will be encouraged!

Happymammaday!

A Happy Mother's Day video from our little Jo-Jo!!! Thank you Stephanie for being the best mamma five girls could ever ask for!!!





(If you can't see the video, click here to see the video!)

Friday, May 07, 2010

So encouraged...

As we were leaving our preaching conference today, Pete said, "Well, you can
live two weeks on that kind of a morning." So true. I am doing an
experiment. On the Fridays in May, from 9-12pm, I am leading a preaching
conference for pastors in the Garden, Mandevu and Chaisa area. Just four
weeks. Three hours a day. I teach on preaching at the beginning for an
hour and then two of my ACTION Pastor's preach from Colossians the structure
of what I have been teaching. The goal was twofold: to help pastors
outside the class continue to refine their preaching skills and
understanding as well as give our ACTION Pastors a chance to show and tell
how they have learned how to preach in our class. I can't quite put into
words how amazing the morning went. What a blessing to see both Patson and
Alfred preaching their hearts out with confidence and passion and joy. They
have improved so much from when they preached in class. I felt like a proud
father watching my sons hit it out of the park.

It is very common that Zambians do not really listen to Zambians due to
jealousy and rivalry. They will only listen to Mzungus. But, today, these
pastors and leaders and colleagues embraced my pastors and encouraged them
and learned from them. I received a text from a pastor who attended who
wrote: "Steve, thank God for your teachings that you are equipping pastors.
The messages today was very touching. Some were weeping as God and so was I.
God bless you as you labor in the kingdom." What a blessing to not only
teach pastors how to preach but watch as our pastors deeply touched these
men with powerful words from the Word of God. It has been our goal all
along to work ourselves out of a job, to build and mentor these pastors so
that they will not only carry on the ministry but train others as well.
Today when Patson was preaching, he was speaking of difficulties and
hardships that "WE" go through. I leaned over to Pete and said, "Did you
hear that? WE! That is why we train these pastors because only Zambians can
truly know the difficulties that they go through." Our commitment to these
15 pastors is a very slow, long work. Week after week, you pour out your
heart teaching and praying and listening and meeting with these men. If you
compare it to a tree, there has been lots of planting and watering and
sowing. Today, I saw some fruit and boy was it good. I wanted to publicly
praise God for a very encouraging morning...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Allen Trapp Singers

Stephanie was leading worship at the Bible study we attend on Sunday. She
wasn't feeling very good, so she asked the girls to join her singing to help
her lead. The proud Daddy was doing the lyrics on the overhead projector,
right where he should have been!

Creativity

I love how the kids here in Zambia can make fun out of nothing. Rocks,
string, rubber, and plastic can all become hours of fun. Saw a little child
pulling this on a Sunday morning here in Zambia. Thought you would enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The called!

Our Teammates, Luke and Elise Whitfield as well as Kerri Roberts were part
of a Lusaka wide youth worship event called "The Called." There were about
250 people young people there from a variety of churches worshipping God. We
didn't stay the whole evening, but it was a great first step to bringing
people from across denominational lines to worship Jesus. I am really
excited about the potential of this first step. Our houseworker Auntie
Mirriam was also there. I caught a picture of our girls seeing her and just
before they ran over and mauled her with hugs. Very sweet. They love their
Auntie Mirriam!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Yum?

I was at the store the other evening getting some groceries for breakfast.
I found my cereal, bread, eggs, jam and had made my way to the check out.
After seeing most of my items register just fine, the kind clerk said, "Your
jam has been blocked. The person who types these numbers has gone for the
evening. Do you want to come back tomorrow?" Uh, no, I don't want to come
back tomorrow. I wasn't feeling very good. It has been a long day and I was
ready for it to end. I went back to the jam area and began looking for a
suitable replacement. It was harder than I imagined, as you could imagine
seeing that they actually make and sell Tomato Jam?!?!? Needless to say, I
didn't buy it. I bought a few other cans and made my way back to the check
out line. I thought I had seen it all in terms of different foods, but this
takes the prize.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hi is better than bye

Well, my girls saw off their great friends, The Collins, last Friday. It was
a tear-full event as you can imagine. Bradyn said as she fought back tears,
"IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO SAY HI THAN BYE!" And Julia, with fire flashing in
her eyes said, "Why does time go by so fast when you are with people you are
having fun with? It's not fair." I hugged on them and loved them and got a
bit choked up watching the sadness as they contemplated having to wait
another bunch of months before they could see their friends again. We had a
full two weeks and we and they were blessed more than we could imagine... We
are now in recovery mode as my tired bunch of kids and their parents had a
resting weekend which is good because school starts tomorrow!

Two become one...

One of the pastors in our group, Alfred Mwanza, has been pastoring two
congregations over the past year. The church he started in his home he has
put under the authority of a young man (and Pastor Alfred also left his wife
there for a time), while he pastors another church about 45 minute walk from
his house which doesn't have a pastor. It has been difficult as you can
imagine. Pastor Alfred has been training up two young men who he hopes will
eventually take over the second church. I encouraged him at some point to
have a shared service and that I would pay for transportation to get the
second church over to the first church, his house. Well, he took me up for
it and today was that day. Though I arrived a bit late to help care for the
family as my wife wasn't feeling very good, I thoroughly enjoyed their
enjoyment of the service. It was packed out with a bunch of kids, some
older folks and a plethora of young people in the service. I got up before
the service to give my greeting and encouraged them out of Mark 9 about how
welcoming children, welcomes Jesus. There was probably 40 kids in the
service. Some are children of the adults, some were from the neighborhood
and some were from the community school they started.

Pastor Alfred got up next and preached a great message on the importance of
the Word of God. I was so encouraged. He did the structure that was taught
in class perfectly, and he spoke with illustration, personal stories and
passion. (He spoke English and a young man translated.) And then he asked
me to speak again! So, after seeing many young men and women, I got up to
share about leadership and the importance of being humble. I felt God gave
me some great words to share with them that they are the next generation,
Alfred is all about training up the next generation, but you must be humble,
to learn, to be a servant of all, that the way up is down... I was
encouraged by their lively response.

Overall, I was just very encouraged by the fun they were having in church. I
don't think I have quite seen the laughter, dancing and joy that I was
seeing this morning and it made me realize that Psalm 100 - Serve the Lord
with Gladness really needs to look a lot more like this on Sunday
mornings...