Saturday, July 31, 2010

HomesCOOL Graduation

My girls and a bunch of ACTION Zambia kids (plus another missionary family)
had a graduation ceremony on Saturday complete with some performances,
certificate receiving and an ice cream sundae to top it off. Next year,
Kam will be a middle schooler, Rhoda will be in school in Kindergarten,
Brady will in 4th grade and Julia 2nd grade... The girls are growing up!

My boy

Steve and little Steve. My boy is growing up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The next time you feel like complaining about your job

I watched these Zambians work hard in the village to turn the corn into mealie which will be used for Nshima, their staple food.
I asked how much they were getting paid for a whole day. The answer: 8000
kwacha or $1.65ish.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

AZ ladies turn...

Stephanie just got back from a few days camping with the Twin Lakes ladies
short term team. It was a much needed refresher for Stephanie, but
unfortunately after she got home, the next day she caught the flu and slept
most of the day. Mr. Mom is still on duty and appreciating his wife more
and more by the minute...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A true Chik Flick!



I made a short video of our time and then took a blog from my teammate about this time and made it mine... Hope you are as encouraged as we are!


The team we traveled with consisted of five local pastors from Action Zambia Pastoral Leadership Development program, a seasoned Zambian missionary as well as fellow missionary Luke Whitfield, his daughter Emma and my daughter Bradyn. In all we showed the Jesus Film six times over four days to an estimated 1600 individuals. We believe somewhere near 400 people had their spiritual eyes opened and received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. During our time in Chikankata the Lord used our group to deliver at least six individuals from demonic possession including breaking the strong hold of a well known wizard who had terrorized the local people for almost seventy years. There were also at least four testimonies that the group could confirm of physically healings including healings of chronic back pain, spinal cord damage, headaches, and urinary tract damage. Many of the people we ministered to also testified that the fear that had once bound them left after receiving prayers for deliverance. We were also blessed to watch the local Church in Chikankata grow as efforts were made to connect all those who professed Christ with the local pastors we were working hand in hand with. God’s power showed up in amazing ways over the course of the four days and the team left Chikankata confident that a shift in the spiritual realm had taken place………..all praise be to God!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's the ladies turn!

We have a short term team here from California and they are four amazing
ladies who are blessing our socks off. As opposed to the last two teams
which we are all men, these ladies came to focus on the ladies. They first
led a two day retreat for the Action Pastor's College wives. It was so
amazing to hear the reactions from the pastor's wives in my car as we drove
into the conference center to find the four Californians clapping and
greeting them. Most of these Zambian ladies have never been on a retreat of
any kind before so to have a time where they received matching chitenges,
new sandals, great teaching, cooking tips, and to be prayed for and
listened to, needless to say, it was a great time. After an off day, this
ladies only head out tomorrow for some ladies only weekend with the
missionary ladies and some great getaway fellowship time. Thanks Twin Lakes
Church!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back from Chikinkata

Lots and lots of stories to tell and a video to show, but for now, here is a
picture of Bradyn and I having reached the top of a "mountain" in Chikinkata
on the last day.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A walk in the Garden

I dropped off my car at the mechanic last week and so I needed to take the
mini-bus home and ended up going for a walk in THE Garden compound last
week. I was trying to get home via mini-bus, but they were all full. So, I
hopped in a taxi going to Garden, and then got dropped off in Garden. I
waited for awhile for another mini-bus, with no luck, so I decided to walk
to a different location, hoping to get a bus. As I walked the kilometer
through the heart of the city, I took some pictures. It was a bit surreal,
walking with not a Mzungu anywhere at all to be seen. I think most people
did a pretty good job of not looking like they were staring at me. It is
so good to go walking every so often because it really gives you a good
insight into the normal life of a Zambian. I never did get a mini-bus. I
ended up caving in and forking over the kwacha for a taxi so I could get
home for dinner.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lukes new friend.

On the way to the mechanic

What a different life I live. Usually I don't notice it, but this day as I
was being picked up and driven to the mechanic, I decided to take some
pictures. It is crazy how different everything normal looks through the
lens of a camera. It sill hits me quite often, that after almost three
years, that I live in Africa.

Amazing story of whole family believing in Jesus. So much to say but writing blog from phone. Showing two more showings tonight. Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Starting next showing

We just left probably 300 people and a powerful time of ministry. We are now setting up the next show. There are probably already 250 kids waiting for us to set it up ona football pitch. Crazy and cold here. Feel like I am living in New Testament times. Keep praying... please!

National Road Fund(less) Agency

Not sure if you can see this picture, but if you can, and you know Zambia,
you will see the laughable irony of this agency. Either this agency is
bankrupt or they are using the money elsewhere, but we don't see a lot of
bang for our buck when we contribute via tax to the National Road Fund
Agency.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brady getting a chitenge gift from the Chieftainess. We are showing the Jesus film and people are walking for miles to get here. I have never seen such amazing stars. Brady and Emma are watching the movie from the roof under sleeping bag. Thanks for praying.

He was runnin'

You may have heard about the Kilometers for Kids that we are doing to raise
money for Ciyanjano Conference Centre. In case you haven't, check out this
website: http://www.kilometersforkids.info/ The other day we were driving
to the Hilty's in Makeni and passed Brent who was also going there, but he
was running there, 18 miles of running there. Stephanie is doing the half
marathon, but I chose to bail from it due to a lot of reasons, back, time,
expense of going to Zimbabwe with all our kids, etc... But, I am still
hoping to run the half marathon in Lusaka at the end of September. Anyway,
would love your help as we raise money to build a camp for the kids of
Zambia... www.ciyanjano.org

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jesus is worth showing

Bradyn and I will be heading down to Chikinkata, a rural area, to show the
Jesus film this weekend with my teammate Luke and his daughter, Emma. The
film is in Tonga, and the fruit from the last trip in December has been
encouraging. I will be updating the blog via the cell phone to web thing
if all goes well... So, head to www.aliveinafrica.com and sign up for the
email option. You'll be updated as I update! I would really appreciate
your prayers as we journey deep into the heart of the bush to encourage
pastors and support the Chieftainess as best as we can. Please pray for
safety in our journey, great time with the eight pastors from our ACTION
Pastor's College and 2:7 programs who are going down with us, for my family
left behind and also for great one on one with my Brady. Thanks so much for
remembering us!

Sports re-memorabilia

With the exception of the World Cup this past month, I am pretty much
sportsless here in Zambia. They love their football and follow it
religiously, following the teams in ENGLAND:( But, don't you worry about
me... I have lots of local sports memorabilia reminding me of what I am
missing back in the states. I saw this little boy wearing a sweet Ichiro
jersey and yesterday I saw an old school yellow Sonics jersey #34 in the
compounds... Figuring it was a throw back with Ray Allen. Still looking for
my Seahawks Super Bowl Champion shirt. I did see a 19-0 Perfect Season New
England Super Bowl shirt a bunch of months ago... Speaking of sports, I am
sorry you have all had to deal with Lebrongate. Wow. Maybe, I am not
missing so much after all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FINALLY SOME BOYS

We are watching a couple boys of our friends as they escape Lusaka for an anniversary for a few days.We'll keep you updated! ;)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ever feel like you are being watched...

A couple of lions at dusk during our safari a month back...

Rhoda drawing

This is picture of Rhoda drawing her family during church. Let that sink in... Her family.

welcome "home"

Our newest missionaries made it home yesterday! brought back so many memories. so pumped to have the Huckaby's with us now finally. They will be our directors out at Ciyanjano. Welcome!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Makin' do

We make do a lot in Zambia, especially with an active 2 year old. So, when
we were at this restaurant the other day and they had no high chair, we
brought in the car seat and it worked wonders... I thought the sunglasses
were also a nice touch.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Rhoda celebrating her birthday!

We celebrated Rhoda's birthday, back at the orphanage. After watching the
video of her last birthday at the orphange, she wanted desperately to redeem
herself and her frowny, pouty and shy way she celebrated then. So we did the
exact same thing this year. We walked around the same table, and she did
everything with a smile! It was a nice time to celebrate with the orphans.
It was a bit surreal, I am sure, for her. I took a picture in front of her
old bed. It is hard to know what she is thinking. I am pretty sure she is
pleased with her new life.

It's not that I feel small...

I AM SMALL... You gotta love these Baobab trees.

So true...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

History in the making

We just received in time for Rhoda's birthday a DVD and some pictures from
someone who was at the orphanage when Rhoda was first brought there. She
sent us over 200 pictures and a bunch of videos of our Daughter. One of the
most difficult things is having no history, not only with our child but also
that she has no history. So we are delighted to have some history of pics
and videos to watch our daughter. It is so crazy. Thought you would enjoy
this little collage. She is growing up, quickly. We just measured her
today. Another inch in just a few months!

4th of July

Well, it is difficult celebrating a holiday somewhere it isn't a holiday,
but we make do. We had a nice team braai at Ciyanjano, complete with a
campfire with singing and smores. It was a great way to celebrate with the
short term team that was here doing some amazing work out Ciyanjano!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Gosepl takes root, part III

"See this is the irony of it all. The reality is that you don't really
believe what you say you believe!" I boldly asserted, letting the words echo
off the walls. The look of shock was obvious. I had singled out the four
guys who said that they would go to hell for willfully sinning before they
died and then told them they didn't really believe what they were
passionately defending.

I continued, "If you really believed that you would go to hell, that if your
last act on earth was a willful sin, then you would be living a lot
different than you do right now. You would be living in fear. You would be
living afraid. You would scared to do anything. You should be scared to do
anything. But you are not. You live with joy. So, this is the problem.
We live one way and then we preach another. We are like Pharisees, loading
up the church goers up with laws and rules and works salvation and yet you
don't live like that."

My plan for that class was to talk about the gospel. I wanted scripture to
convince my four friends and any other less courageous believers who didn't
vote but still believed, that one badly timed decision was not going to
result in eternal hell. My goal was to teach them in such a way that they
could teach others. So, I taught an easy to remember four categories.
GOD-MAN-CHRIST-RESPONSE. (I have learned a lot of ways to teach the gospel,
but the one I got from the book "What is the Gospel? By Greg Gilbert is my
favorite).

We looked at God, our creator, a holy God who has the right and authority to
require holiness of his creation. The problem is that Man is willfully
rebellious and sinful and has rejected God. The result of man's sin of
rejecting God is eternity in hell. Jesus Christ willingly suffered a death
as an atonement for all our sins so as to destroy the power of sin, death
and Satan. The Father placed the sin of the world on his Son, so when God
looks at His son, he sees the wretchedness of our sin, and when he looks at
us, he sees the righteousness of His son. Therefore, there really is no
condemnation. The punishment for the sin has already been covered. So, what
do we have to do? We have to respond in faith and obedience to that message,
believing that His grace is enough to cover our sin and the result is
eternal life with God in heaven.

So, in essence, that was the outline that I followed. So, I started slow,
just setting them up, wanting to build my case slowly and surely. I read a
verse in the Christ section: Romans 5:9 - 9 Since, therefore, we have now
been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the
wrath of God.

I showed them how the original Greek grammar was broken down. The word
justified means to acquit, to be made right or righteous and to be set free
from the punishment that I justly do. But, I remember it best by something
Stephanie once taught me: to be justified means that it is "Just As If
I'ved" never sinned. I like that. The result of the cross is a life that
looks like I have never sinned in the righteous eyes of God. Sure, I still
sin. But, the punishment for that sin is laid on Jesus, forever, both past,
present and future sins. That is what the second part of that means. It
isn't just my past sins. It is my future sins as well. We shall be saved
from the wrath of God. The word saved is a future tense, so it is will take
place in the future and it is also a passive verb, which means it will
happen to us, apart from our doing. And it is an indicative which means
that it is an actual thing, not just a possibility or an idea. It's a for
sure thing. So, this idea of being saved, from the wrath of God, is a verb
that will take place, a promise. I will be saved from the wrath of God, but
the being saved isn't something I do. It is someone else saving me. And it
is something I can bank on. We are justified now and we are saved then.

I saw a lot of nodding heads. It seemed to speak directly to this issue
that I can affect my eternal destination by a wrong move at the wrong time.
(We are saved by grace and yet condemned by works?) The wrath of God is not
going to be subverted by an unrighteous act. He has already paid that price.


We also talked about 1 John 2:1-2 - 1My dear children, I write this to you
so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to
the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the
atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins
of the whole world.

We have one who speaks in our defense. We have a lawyer who has also paid
the required punishment I deserve and whose dad is the judge. He has us
covered for whatever, whenever...

So, the guys seemed shock by my comment, but they didn't respond. I moved
from teacher to preacher and no one comments when the preacher is preaching.
On the way home I asked one of the four pastors if he was convinced yet. He
said, "Yes." And I asked him what did it. He said, "The passage in First
John. That was a good one." I think that was ironic, my last verse that I
shared with them all, and one verse that I hadn't planned on sharing. I
wonder how it will affect him. I hope it produces in him even more joy and
thankfulness. I think this is so much the issue. We don't really know how
to live what we learn. And this seems to be so especially true about that
gospel. Whether we believe something we don't live or don't believe
something we do live, it is very difficult to get the truth from our brains
to our hearts. I was referred to this great illustration by my friend Jeff
Bucknam. Thought it applied so well to the struggles we see here in Zambia
(and around the world, for that matter.)

Tim Keller was talking about a coke machine they have at the basement of
his apartment. He would put his money in, and push the button, but nothing
would happen. He learned through experience that you had to hit the side of
the machine to make the money drop. Once it drops, the coke was his. He
said the gospel is a lot like the coke machine. Most people believe it that
way. It enters the head and yet nothing happens. They still act anxious
when life gets stormy just like everyone else does. They still are barraged
by fear when life is uncertain just like everyone else. They treat people
with the same lack of love (sometimes worse) than everyone else. In
essence, the gospel make no difference on a life. But, as Keller pointed
out, if you pound the gospel in from the head until it drops to the heart,
you push the buttons of life, and out comes graciousness to a co-worker
instead of sarcasm, gentleness towards a unruly child or forgiveness for a
spouse. We need to keep preaching the gospel to ourselves until the grace
that saved us is the same grace that sanctifies us.

This week I will be doing some serious head pounding in my own life as well
as the pastors. I read a great tweet this week: "Gospel proclamation to the
ends of the earth tomorrow begins with Gospel proclamation to self today.
Heart-Church-World.(burk_parsons)" I love preaching, but my heart better
starting listening! Listen up heart, you are sinful, saved and loved!!!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Worth Celebrating...

Well, today is worth celebrating for many reasons, and I am not talking about the 4th of July in America!  Last year on this day, little Jennifer Rhoda Allen moved into the Allen House. It has been quite a year of firsts and ups and downs.  As you may have known, Rhoda was placed in an orphanage a couple years ago after being abandoned in a compound near our house.  The adoption became official just this spring.  We are also celebrating her birthday (given by us) to commeorate her coming into our house.  Well, we were going to celebrate that today until someone at a government office messed up the paperwork, and gave her July 5th as her birthday:)  So, we are celebrating tomorrow, too!  Oh, and one more celebration. She lost her first tooth and loved the kwacha, but was a bit unnerved by this tooth fairy scenario.  Anyways, she is looking forward to meeting her extended family and friends this November as we come home for a shortened furlough until January.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Gospel Takes Root, Part II

The Gospel Taking Root, Part II

Like a pair of well-worn jeans or a Honda Accord that just keeps on driving,
I intend to use this Mini-Bus illustration until its edges are frayed and
every last soul in Zambia has answered the question to God's liking.

I was in a taxi on the way to class. I would normally take the mini-bus when
my wife needs the car, but this day, I had run late with my weekly bible
study, and so taxi it was. I got in the front and started in on some
conversation about the World Cup. It is a great conversation starter because
you are guaranteed a conversation wherever you are. But, it flopped. Hard.
He didn't care or he couldn't speak English. I wasn't sure. I sighed. It is
one of the struggles living here in Zambia, trying to have conversations, at
a deep level, with people who just don't have a large capacity to converse.
I don't remember another word for about 10 minutes. Finally I asked, "Do you
go to church?"
He said, "Yes."
Most everyone does, at least have a church they call as their own.
"Pentecostal Holiness. In Matero." "Are you a Christian?" I asked.
"Yes." He responded.
I pressed in deeper. "What does it mean to be a Christian?"
"You accept Jesus in your life."
"What does that mean?"
"What do you mean, what does that mean?"
"What does it mean to accept Jesus?"
"You believe in Him that He died on the cross for our sin."
"How does accepting him help?"
And so the conversation ensued.

I have been studying the gospel a lot lately, and so it was fresh on my
mind. I asked him what the gospel was. He tried to explain it, but when
pressed for verses, he came up blank.

We reached my office, and we made an agreement for him to pick me up at 17
(5:00pm for you non 24 hour clock people). I told him I would share the
verses with him about the gospel when he picked me up. So, after a great
class, he was there, at 17, mzungu time. He was a bit surprised when the
one of my pastors, Patson Sakala, got in the car with me, but after five
minutes of driving, the taxi driver said, "You said you were going to share
some verses with me." I said, "Yes, I will, but let me first ask you a
question. There was a Christian who got in a mini-bus (same story, but in
case you didn't read part one) and forgot to pay and the conductor forgot to
ask. Midway through the ride, the Christian remembered and yet decided not
to pay. He felt a little guilty, but figured it was the conductors fault.
He got out the car, looking back to make sure the conductor wasn't coming
after him, and didn't see the oncoming car which hit him and he was
instantly killed. Is the man going to heaven or hell?" The man, smiled,
paused for a moment, and then said, "Hell. He's going to hell. He sinned, so
he is going to hell."

I am not surprised anymore. I haven't had heard the "Heaven" answer yet. I
asked, "Are you married? Yes. I am married. Have you sinned against your
wife? Yes. Are you still married? Yes, I am still married. But, you have
sinned against her." Pause. Longer pause.
We shared some verses. Then I let Patson at him. He was like a pit bull.
He was nice and loving, but a pit bull nonetheless, being held back by his
master, because when I said, "Patson, do you have anything to add, he
practically jumped into my seat with passion and tenacity. He used the
illustration of the driver being a taxi driver. If you crashed, would you
still be a driver? Yes. If you drove bad, would you still be a driver? Yes.
We sin. We are sinners. But God paid for all our sin on the cross. It
doesn't change the fact that you are still a Christian even if we do sin."
As he pulled up to my gate, I gave him my bible, with the verses written on
the front, from Romans 1-4 that give a clear illustration of the Gospel. He
was very grateful. Overwhelmed, I think. And grateful. "Any time you
need a ride, just call," he said.
The next class, I started teaching on the gospel. And, just for the heck of
it, I shared that story again. And guess what, four pastors thought (with
conviction) that this man was going to hell. I was surprised, as well.

So, I went to work. "Are you married? Do you sin? Are you still married?"
I made my first chink in the armor. Second, I asked, "I called, chose,
adopted Rhoda, and gave her a new name, future, inheritance and life. If she
sins, is she no longer my daughter?" Another chink.

I asked them to find me verses that would support their position. Somewhere
in Isaiah. Man is separated by sin. A verse from Hebrews. Another verse from
Romans. The rest of the "heaven" guys just sat patiently, quietly, humbly,
waiting.
If the Christian guy deliberately sins, he deserves hell." One pastor said,
passionately.
I asked, "What if he forgot to pay. I mean, he still stole, but he just
forgot. Is he still going to hell?"
"Uh. Well, I don't know. I don't think so."
"So, only sins that you do intentionally? How about a lesser sin than that?
How bad a sin would require hell?" He didn't really have an answer for that
question.

I moved between the four guys asking different questions to reveal the works
based salvation they didn't know they believed. I made it personal by using
two guys in the group, one was going to hell and the other going to heaven,
representing the two differing views of the group.
"Which guy do you want to be? What do you want to believe?"
"I want to believe I am going to Heaven."

"Of course you do. There is no joy living a life where one bad timed
decision could land you in Hell."

But I didn't reveal my hand, just yet. I knew that I was running out of time
and so I decided to save my heavy artillery for the next class.
I asked another, "God knows everything, right? He knows when you are going
to die before you are even born. He knows the number of hairs on your head.
He knows the word you are going to say before you say it, right?" "Yes."
"So you are saying to me, that God knows all these things, He chose me, He
let his Son be crucified for all your sins, he forgave all your sins, and he
loves you through it all, and then you commit a sin that he already knows
you were going to commit and he still sends you to Hell?"

"Uh, yes." Not a super convincing response. Chink. Chink. Chink.
I had never seen such a lively response in Nyanja after class was over. They
were chatting up a storm, all together in a group, just outside the office.
It was beautiful. Probably even better if I could have understood them.

On the way home, I usually take home a few pastors that live on the way.
One of the pastors that thought hell was in the car. He brought up 1
Corinthians 9 about being disqualified for the prize as proof that you could
end up in Hell. I gave him the illustration that if Brazil was found
cheating in the world cup for taking steroids, would they still be soccer
players? Yes, they would be. They just lose the rewards. That seemed to make
sense to him. He was so passionate up to that point. I asked him to read
Romans 6-8 before class again.
I can't wait for tomorrow. I just want these pastors so badly to know that
when God said there is now no condemnation, there really isn't. And that is
just the start. Tim Keller has opened my eyes to a whole new living out the
gospel in the context of life. The gospel is not the A-B-C's of
Christianity, but it is the A-Z's of Christianity. It doesn't just get us
in the door, but the Gospel impacts every part of our life. And, it starts
with living securely in the final work of Jesus (it is finished) on the
cross in such a way that one badly timed decision will not result in Hell.
He endured the cross for the joy set before him so we could have the joy of
serving Him. We don't obey to be accepted by Him. We obey because we are
accepted. And the result is a praying, church attending, worshipping,
Bible reading, joy-filled relationship with the loving Creator. That is my
trumpeting call over here anyways.