‘Missionary’ Paul’s Encouragement
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillippians 4:11-13
We went to a rural area next to a National Park. As a team we did the Discovery Bible Study on Philippians. Here Paul is such a great example to us. How, in the midst of being persecuted, he rejoiced in Christ. I wished I could have the same attitude Paul had. Then in Phillipians 4:8 we read how Paul encouraged them without doubt that they, as God’s children, will receive strength from God. We received the same encouragement!
Rural Churches come Together
Our host took us to the church of a pastor in a rural area next to a beautiful National Park. We were told that the wild animals like elephants often walk around there. There were 8 churches in a small area, most of them work together, but the local Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t like them at all. All of the conference attendees received a Bible in the language they chose, they were so grateful for it.
Talita and I was with a mix of children and Sunday school teachers from the surrounding area’s churches. They were eager about everything and the most energetic group we had. When we did David and Goliath I asked them what could be the “Goliaths” in their lives. A very sharp girl answered “death and illness can be Goliaths, but like David we can get strength from God.” The same girl earlier told me that a friend of her who is only thirteen was getting married and that there are a lot of young marriages in their area.
We had the privilege to camp in this great National Park next to a breath-taking view on the river. We came into a debate with a man who grew up on a mission station here but believed in Evolution and said that ultimately all religions believe in God. I was astonished that someone who lives in this beautiful place with God’s untouched creation around him and grew up with the Truth of the Bible do not believe in God. How is it possible? Still sometimes I can not understand how we who are just as sinful, may believe and how others don’t. How great is the need and how much Grace did we who do believe received!
We can plan but God is always in control
We did marketplace evangelism and it was surprising how interested and willing the people were to listen and read the tracts we handed out. Then we went on to our next stop in a city. Here we learned a lot about things not always going as planned and that ultimately we can not fully trust God and be in control of everything at the same time. We planned to leave at 10. Abrie and the men left at 9. Since we had no way to contact them we just assumed they went to buy fuel. A few hour later they were not back yet so we assumed they had taken the car for a service, we were getting worried and then the housekeeper told us that his boss phoned to say that our vehicle had broken down and we would only leave the next day.
Being unsure about what’s going on is frustrating, we like to always be in control. But we can’t fully trust God and organize everything ourselves at the same time. Especially on missions, you will get into situations where all you can do is pray, that way we grow in faith and trust in the Lord.
Seeing our God’s work in far away places
We drove to a church in a rural area in the bushfield. As we climbed out of the vehicle the pastor welcomed us warmly, he said “Welcome home!” and gave me a big hug. They were all so friendly to us and Abrie and Daniel were eagerly greeted by some people they met before. The Christian flag (one Dr Hammond had given the pastor a few years ago) was hanging outside.
As we entered the hall, which is an old Frontline Gazebo, there was a girl hitting some of the pastors. They commanded a demon to leave and the girl just fainted. Then the men threw a blanket over her, picked her up, and carried her out. No one said anything about it. I thought it was fake but later Abrie told me it was real. Then I heard from the pators’ wife that the girl recently came from satanism and are being ‘delivered from bondage’, she asked for prayer for her.
We had the best Tobwa (a thick, traditional, drink made from maize meal) of the whole mission. Then delicious lunch, the women here were preparing food almost all day long.
Making Crops and Bricks for the Church
The pastor took us for a walk through the lands of, papayas, sugarcane, bananas and many more crops. He chopped off a sugarcane piece and gave us to eat. Then he took us to where they make bricks, they have about 4000 all ready for ablution blocks for the church they want to build. They have wooden molds were they pour the clay in and then afterwards they bake the bricks in an oven. Ms. G asked that we pray for the church building to be finished before the rainy season starts. Pastor R said if we have a Zambian GCC we could have the people making bricks for PT and working in the farm lands. That’s some hard work!
Learning and teaching at the same time
We pitched tents and four pastors asked me to teach them how to pitch their tent. It was great fun. I had fever and went to sleep, while Talita completed children’s ministry. She said the children responded very openly to all her questions and repeated the Bible stories to her. At the clinic, I was shocked to see how busy it was and how sick the people who literally sit there waiting all day looked. The doctor said HIV and diabetes are two big problems there. Later the interpreter was busy teaching the children from the Book of Jonah. They ran to a small hill, knelt down and threw dirt on their heads to act out how the Ninevites repented. It was quite funny and good to see how they fully immersed themselves into the story.
The women taught me how to remove and cut everything from the chickens and how to prepare them (the chickens were already dead). They also taught us how to make relish, rice and shima their way.
Talita and I had a good time getting to know the women while preparing food. R and R were two girls of our age who had babies when they were eighteen. They have sad stories, but are so joyful and serving all the time. They told us that Satanism and spirit worshipping are problems here resulting in women having babies at a young age. Also that they have very young marriages. Many of them did not finish school. The pastors’ wife told me that most of their parents do not have a good work ethic but are just sitting all day “so me and R try to be an example and show them that it’s important to work hard” and they really do. I have a lot of respect for both of them. It would be great to present messages or lessons for these women since they did not really get to sit in the conference and need to hear more from the Bible and must be able to read, interpret and apply its lessons to every area of their lives.
Abrie and Daniel went to do marketplace evangelism. We went with to take photos and hand out tracts (and buy bananas). Samuel who was with Abrie, interpreted the first two times and gave a lesson himself at the last place! Daniel preached at three places. At the first place, the radio got so loud and all the people just walked past so it felt like no one heard but at the last place the people did not want us to leave. One lady kept saying “don’t leave, we are hungry to learn the truth”. Daniel said that the Word of God must be their food.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (The Marching Song)
As we were explaining the Marching Song’s meaning to the children, we realized that they have a bit of a misunderstanding about salvation. They all claimed to be good people and some said we are saved by being obedient and “doing the right things.” After a long conversation and many questions they seemed to understand it better. When we asked how are we then saved they gave encouraging answers. Most of them concluded that we can only be saved by Jesus Christ who died in our place on the Cross.
The Gospel is for everyone to hear
A few Roman Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists also attended the conference. A seventh Day Adventist pastor led the Discovery Bible Study session from John 3. As they discussed the people continually turned to the Bible, looking if they can find the answers there. They concluded that many of the problems in our church today come when we do not stay with the Bible but take passages out of context. They said “We must test everything by the Word. We should not believe anything church leaders say just because they are the ‘man of God’. Leaders and teachers can also be deceived by Satan.”
Studying God’s Word
The next conference was in a small city in the southern part of Zambia. For people who did not receive formal education, the pastors here had incredible knowledge about the Word of God. They showed great insight during the Bible studies. Our host pastor was very friendly, he has a Moringa and Mulburry tree in his garden. Everyday his daughter brought me Mulberries in a cup and when we left she gave us a bag full. In their kitchen, there were three cages stacked on top of each other full off adorable quails. Some of them had twine from their feeding bags tangled around their feet, we removed it with Abrie’s Leatherman scissors. The last night we had Quail with their eggs still inside on our plates. While their brothers and sisters were making their cute “Prrrt!” sounds in the kitchen we enjoyed this very nice and quite sad treat…
Some of the pastor’s comments during Discovery Bible Study from the first chapters of John:
“I like John 1 verse 29; John identifies himself as a friend of the bridegroom. I’m a friend of Him, my joy is His joy, if the Bride, the Church, goes to Him, I rejoice”.
“The demonstration of man’s character is clear in the churches. The disciples of John became jealous when they saw Jesus baptizing. We might have been the same; we become insecure when authority changes or when other churches are growing bigger than ours. The cure for this is to be secure in God and not in the earthly church. We should rejoice that the Kingdom is increasing.”
“In the character of John we see great humility; he says ‘I’m only a voice’ we need to be delivered from pride and we must be witnesses.”
Afterwards the pastor said it’s his prayer that “this insight will not stay with us but like John we will share it to those around us.”
The Pastor’s Farm
Our host pastor took us to one of the pastors who attended the conference’s farm. He is the biggest egg supplier in Monze. They had A LOT off chickens. They were stacked together in cages with a “gutter” so all the eggs roll into a bucket at one end. I felt sorry for them and asked the pastor why they do not let them range free, he said then their workers steal the eggs. I learned that I should be careful with the way I ask controversial questions. Abrie even said I should not ask questions like that. Most of the farm was quite impressive, they had some different crops, sheep, cattle and very big pigs with the cutest baby piglets. The pastor said they use the chicken droppings for cattle food. We left there with 6 trays of eggs they generously gave us!
Visiting a strong Congregation
We arrived early at our next stop and went to the Golden Leaf restaurant. Here we had some spicy Indian food. All of us had delicious curry sauces with rice or pita bread. Afterwards the teams’ mouths were burning so everyone went for ice cream. Then we met up with the pastor at the church. He told us that John’s lessons to them, from a previous mission, was very helpful and that they use the Way of the Master for Evangelizing. Every year a lot of people who work for the government leave their church. Just before we arrived, ten families left the church, all of them moved to Lusaka because they got promoted. So for them to continue to exist as a church it is important to reach out. The pastor informed us that there will be a baptism the next day and asked what hymns we would like to sing.
Their church has a talented worship team so the hymn singing were beautiful. Unfortunately the baptism was postponed to the next week because of a water shortage. Both Abrie and Daniel gave very encouraging messages here after which we enjoyed fellowship with the people. Our hosts’ wife, suffers from Leukemia (blood cancer) and she recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, we are keeping them in our prayers.