I was driving with a fellow missionary through a poor, dirty, crowded compound last week, and I said, “Do you ever wish your friends could you see you right now?” I wish this a lot, because I have seen the most desolate, difficult places on a weekly basis and I can’t share it with you. I am friends with the poorest of the poor. I have witnessed over the past four years some of the most amazing feats of courage, patience, and love through the pastors I work with and get the privilege to teach. I wish you were here to go with me tomorrow to this rural area called “15 miles” where one of my pastors is planting a church. I am purchasing 20 Bibles for this church that doesn’t have a single Bible. Not a one. I get to take them their first Bible. Amazing! I have the privilege of watching another pastor see God provide money for his school to be completed. I am there through his struggle so I also get to witness the joy of completion. I saw a bridge completed this last month. I bought some beans from another pastor who learned how to farm through our one day retreat and is now providing a bit for his family through this harvest. I heard a pastor preach through a passage in Romans this last week in our class. My heart was encouraged by his ability to practically apply what he learned in our preaching class. I am going to be speaking at two conferences in the next few months. These are good days.
It is hard not be a bit reflective as I contemplate that in five months we will be boarding the plane to leave Zambia and return to America to plant a church.
I am sure some are wondering why we would leave such a fruitful ministry here in Zambia? It is not like our kids are dying to get back. Just this morning, Bradyn said, “I don’t want to leave Zambia.” But they all understand, as do Stephanie and I, that our lives are not ours to live as we desire. We are servants of our good master. We have learned and are learning that His will is indeed good, pleasing and perfect. And so we sense that the same voice we followed to Zambia is now calling us back home for a work that he has specially used this time to prepare us for. And so, we go.
But where are we going? We are not sure. Our theme verse is from Hebrews 11:8-10 (which we altered for our purposes!)
Hebrews 11:8-10 - 8By faith
Abraham the Allen Family obeyed when they was were called to go out to a place... And they went out, not knowing where they was were going.
What we think we know is that God wants us to plant a church with a few key values:
· A multi-ethnic church, a church of every nation to reach all the nations,
· A mission church where ministry to the poor and hurting is a natural part of what we do and who we are
· A multiplying church, where the church planted will have as its goal to continue to reproduce other churches to reach the lost and seeking.
· A multi-generational church, where the church disciples parents to disciple their families through worship services and shared outreach, and people of all ages worship together.
· A c’Munity (gotta keep the m’s going) where families don’t have to leave life to go to church but church (fellowship/sharing faith/worship God/sharing life) happens all week long.
WE also believe and hope that Steve will continue training and teaching pastors, whether at home or overseas.
We wish we could share with you all that God has done over the past four years in a letter how God has engrained these value in our hearts through experiences and divine teaching times. As for where, we have no idea right now. (Though we have really enjoyed what it is like to have sun for most of the yearJ) We have been praying to God, and we have honestly sensed from God that we are to be at peace with his gracious uncertainty. And so we are at peace. And as un-American as that is, to not know where you are going, we believe that when we get there we will know. And maybe, hopefully, even before.
We have purchased our tickets to return home on December 15, 2011. Our missionary support with ACTION International will continue for three months until March 31, 2012. We hope and trust that you will continue your support through our transition home.
Until then, we have five short precious months to live it up here in Zambia. Later this summer, I will be heading to a pastor’s rural church to preach on fear and show the Jesus film as they do HIV teaching/testing. My good friend Matt Canlis from Scotland was here to teach at our bible school in July. He did an amazing job. In August, our founder and the visionary for ACTION Zambia will be back from the states to dedicate our Camp Ciyanjano at the grand opening and I will be able to preach with him at a conference. In September, my good friend Jeff Bucknam will be here to teach at our school and preach at a conference and church. We have short term teams visiting, a new missionary/former student arriving sometime in the next few months, and lots of awesomeness teaching Romans and spending time with my pastors.
You know I wish you could be with us here, but, in reality you have been. Everything we have been able to do is through your support and prayers. So, thank you for being with us, every step of the way. And these letters and blogs are just a small way to show you how! So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts...
Would you be willing to partner with us in prayer over these next 6 months? Here are some specific requests:
· That we would finish well in Zambia
· That God would continue to grant us peace
· That He would clearly direct our steps
· That He would prepare our hearts and minds for the future
Steve, for all the Allens
P.S. As usual, if you aren’t checking out www.aliveinafrica.com often, you will be missing out! Five years and 935 blogs strong... Be with us during the countdown to 1000 blogs on our last day in Zambia!