Sunday, August 23, 2009

Zambia Calling (6)

Day 23 (Above: The Witch Doctor we met in Makalulu / Admiring the Victoria Falls.

Last blog before I head home - now down in Livingstone at the Zimbabwe border. The 8 hour bus ride here (and same again tomorrow when I return to Lusaka) - worth it for the chance to visit the Victoria Falls.

The past week has been full on with activities - on Tuesday I did some outreach work in a township called (Makalulu) outside Kabwe. I went round with a Pentecostal pastor handing out free Christian newspapers. People (with the exception of a few JW's) were all immediately ready to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour - my Pentecostal brother was translating. The Lord knows their hearts and we prayed for them. The conditions were pretty bad - John Speirs (who was with another group) remarked that he had visited the slums in India but at least they had order to them - these 'were just a shambles'. We also intruded on a Witch Doctor session - we prayed for those there - my Pentecostal brother really got into 'his stride' at this point rebuking a multitude of spirits.

From Wed to Frid it was north to the Copperbelt and visits to a Christian school, a building project to house street kids and seeing the literature work of SGM.

Anyway tomorrow back to Lusaka and then Tuesday home.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zambia Calling (5)

Day 12
Above: Two 'Hunters' - with Smart Fundi ('Fundi' is Bemba for Hunter) & sorting the beans for dinner - no broken teeth! )

Feeling a bit more relaxed now my 'George Verwer Warm-up' talk to over 500 people is over. I spoke on the subject of 'Called & Commissioned' from Jeremiah 1 - the need for Biblical faithfulness rather than success as the basis of our 'Call & Commission' whether in the local church or Mission field. Today I lead a workshop on 'Integrity & Zeal in Christian Ministry'.

My UK room-mates (I'm staying in guest-lodge called 'Diakonia') all left on Saturday after the PABCM. I'm now sharing with a two South Africans and a Canadian who lives in Vienna - all working with OM. Proc-Christo college is progressing a merger with OM which it hopes will open up more opportunities (through OM's network) to get its Missionaries into other countries.

The Pro-Chrsito vision is to mobilse Africans supported by African churches to go to the Mission field (starting in the unreached places of the continent. This means a big culture change for many African churches who have left financial support for Mission to outside donors. The hope is to break this dependence and get the local churches to take responsibility for a new generation of indigenous workers. The Africans have the great advantage of being accepted in many places where 'white workers' are viewed with suspicion or just seen for their 'cash value'. The Africans also are prepared often to work in conditions and accept hardships that many Westerners baulk at. So there is the sense of God starting something new in Africa. Exciting times.

One worker from Botswana (Helen) gave her report last night - she talked about the absence of any 'marriage culture' among the people she was trying to reach & the neglect of children due to a drinking culture (kids are out in the streets late at night). It struck me that many areas of Glasgow are just the same - there are many outward differences but the spiritual issues are just the same. People are in darkness and only the Gospel can bring light.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Zambia Calling (4)

Day 10 (above GV & Melvin, myself & Alfred).

The Pan-Africa Brethren finished last night with a Breaking of Bread service – a little taster of heaven with all 5 continents represented. The African ‘assemblies’ are wrestling with the familiar ‘traditional’ v’s ‘progressive’ tensions – complicated even more by the issue of separating Western (colonial) culture from African culture. If we think it’s legalistic to insist that men wear a shirt & tie to church – how much more so in African villages!

This morning a group of us had tea at the home of a local Missionary – which was a chance to meet George Verwer (GV) and chat. He asked me why he hadn’t been invited to speak at Greenview – so John Mowat get on the job! Describing his passion for Mission, GV said that the big gospel issues of a real heaven & hell, the uniqueness of Christ, the call to radical & costly discipleship were so huge and pressing that he really wasn’t interested in speaking to people about Communion Cups and their favourite Bible translations (not that anyone had brought these subjects up incidently) – I think it was a word for the ‘assemblies’!

I also chatted to Alferd (see pic) who has been working as a Missionary in the Kalahri desert in northern SA. Big challenges there, apart from the harshness of the conditions, include corrupted Christianity – pastors in some churches who double as Witch Doctors out of hours. It is a classic NT scenario – people embracing Christianity but wanting to hold onto their old pagan ways.

The Pro-Christo conf starts today, it will be a much more grass-roots affair – e.g. more basic food, lots of people squashed into the accommodation, & fewer foreign missionaries.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zambia Calling (3)

George Verwer speaking at the PABCM, Zambia (13/8/09)

Day 8

Spent yesterday morning standing in slow African bank queues - Lloyds-TSB had decided not to risk my account being plundered in deepest Africa and refused my card (I suppose I should be grateful). So after visiting two banBoldks and a phone call to London I can get money again.

On Monday I lead a workshop on 'Building Uniy in Leadership Teams' - again my apprehension was that I would miss the mark coming into an African context. Not to mention I was given 1hr 30mins - like I've got an hour & a half of material on 'Team Building'! But our African brothers thankfully had plenty to say and we actually ran out of time. I can confirm that the Brethren are alive and well here - a brother from Congo DR wanted me to settle a dispute in his church about whether the Communion cup should be one shared cup or if individual ones are ok. I made some general comments about 'matters of judgement & grace'. Then another brother stood up and said, 'but you've not answered his question, what is he to use?'

This week is the Pan-African Brethen Conf on Missions - and we've been blessed with challenging ministry and inspiring reports from the African missionaries in Southern Africa. George Verwer is here and if he's nervous about speaking after me on Saturday he's covering it well.

Why is Western Discipleship so weak? Because we don't follow it through - we all say we believe God is provider but stop there. Do we really believe it? - if so why are so many of us resisting God's call to serve for financial reasons? And as for evangelism....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Zambia Calling (2)

Day 5 (Above: with some of the elders at Chindwin Chuch)

Weather chilly in evenings & morning, fairly windy but otherwise hot!

Preached yesterday in a small Brethren church (I say small, 193 people - I know the exact figure because at the end the secretary stood up and announced it). Isaac one of the Pro-Christo leaders came with me and translated - I was very anxious, wondering if what I said would be relevant, or too basic, too Western etc etc. I spoke on Zacchaeus and the Lord helped greatly as it was translated into Bemba - a few people even said they followed the 'English cut'.
Afterwards over biscuits & Sprite with the elders Isaac told us how he had gone to be a missionary among the 'bush men' in Botswana - a totally unreached people. He told them the gospel but no response - they wouldn't accept anything not approved by the Chief. So for the next 18 months Isaac didn't preach - he just lived among them - and they watched him. He said that it was a place you could be easily killed if you weren't 'careful and prayerful'. They tested him, they took all his food to see what he would do. For 11 days he had no food and prayed - asking God to show him what to do. On the 11th day the people appeared with a goat for him - he had passed their 'test' - and the Chief had sent the goat. After that he started preaching and people started getting saved.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Zambia Calling (1)

Been in Zambia for 3 days now - staying with the Principal of Po-Christo Bible College Melvin Chiombe. Already humbled by the dedication and sacrifical attitude of the African Christians in their desire to reach their countrymen & women with the Gospel. My first ministry task was to give a devotional talk to the students - but was more impressed by their spirit of praise (no instruments just fabulous voices) and prayer.

Ministry today (Sat) was carrying chairs and mopping kitchen floors (lots of rat poo!) in preparations for the fothcoming conferences - The 'Pan African Brethen Conf for Missions' this week & the 'Pro-Christo/OM' conf from Sat 15th.

Preaching tomorrow at a local church with Melvin translating - he has to do it as 'no-one else will understand your accent in the first place'.