Life can be extreme at times, and in
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Life can be extreme at times, and in
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Burdens are strange. I suppose it’s because burdens can be either a good thing or bad thing. On the negative side, they can be the result of our own mistakes and foibles in life and can result in us lugging around a lot of extra weight. Or, they can be the result of the things we suffer like sickness and misfortune and can deprive us of the joys of life. On the positive side, a God-given burden can be the driving force that sustains us through the challenges of kingdom work. It can be the propeller that drives us against the current of opposition. It can be the glimmer of hope that causes us to labor where others have given up. It can be that extra bit of inspiration to stay up late hours tweeking that sermon because somewhere deep down we hope to make in difference in somebody’s life.
Our desire, from even before we arrived in
When we arrived at the seminar, I was quite amazed to find that the vast majority of the attendees – over 90% were in their teens or late 20’s. I’m not sure how to describe what happened during this four day gathering, but I’ll do my best. First of all, what I discovered, was that these young people were not the shallow, and petty and weird (ok… they were a little weird) creatures from outer space that I had expected them to be. What I found instead, was that they are caring, and compassionate, more transparent than most adults I know – and more importantly deeply hungry for a real experience with God! And over the course of this seminar as we discussed some of life’s issues and played a few silly games (that incidentally related back to the life issues discussions) I came to realize how deeply wounded many of these young people are. When one young man stood to give a testimony about how he had rejected his stepfather, another young man at my table commented that at least he had a father. Later during a talent show, a young 16 year old girl stood up, and shared how she had been raped when she was six years old and how as a result she had become very promiscuous as a young teenager. But, she went on to tell how she had discovered the love of Christ and how God had begun to heal and restore her life.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I love the Friday after Thanksgiving. It is sort of the best of both worlds. It has all the benefits of a holiday (i.e. not having to go to work) and none of the busyness (i.e. not having to cook for 20 people – not that I personally have ever cooked for 20 people in my life). No, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a day when we lay around and moan about having eaten too much the day before. It’s a day when we vow to start exercising “now that the holidays are upon us” and then immediately proceed to fix ourselves a turkey sandwich roughly the size of
Now, this Thanksgiving, I knew that things would be a little different as Thanksgiving is not a holiday in
As Thanksgiving day was winding down, I began to sense that the Lord wanted me to go on Friday morning and help with putting in the footings for a tabernacle that is being built this week by a church team from
So, Friday morning Dean Galyen, a missionary from
“You mean in life?” I asked?
“No, at the job site.”
“Is taking a nap an option?”
“Whatever you need me to do I suppose.”
Dean assigned me to be in charge of mixing the concrete. “Its simple,” he explained. “I once had a guy on a team who was a baker, and I gave him that same job. If you can follow a recipe, you can mix concrete! Just remember 3, 2, 1. Three parts rock, two parts sand, one part cement. Simple.”
“No problem,” I said. “Three parts sand, two parts rock, one part cement. Or…was it three parts rock….”
And so, off to work we went, mixing our concrete and pouring the footings. A couple of young Zambians, who had probably done this many times, worked with me. As we were shoveling gravel into the wheelbarrow, I started to breathe heavy after about 15 minutes and one of the Zambians gave me a little smirk that seemed to say “You Americans work like girls.” I shot back a sheepish grin that said, “Yes I know. Is there a Crispy Crème around here?”
But, as we were shoveling that gravel something truly wonderful happened. There are times when God calls us to do something so that we can be a blessing, so that he can use our gifts and talents to accomplish His will in the lives of others. But there are other times when God calls us to do something just so he can speak to us in an unmistakable way. He sometimes calls us to be part of a situation so that that situation can become like the walls of a canyon off which God’s voice echoes. And so it was that there next to that pile of gravel, the voice of God began to resonate with a clarity that I had not heard for a long time.
It struck me, with an overwhelming sense of awe, with the kind of amazement that leaves one’s knees trembling and one’s heart pounding, what an amazing privilege it is to be building a church! I have done a lot of dumb things in my life and have brought a lot of pain to the lives of people I cared about. But that Friday morning, I found myself just bursting with delight at the privilege of being a part of what God was doing; not only building a church in terms of a physical building, but to see God build his church by using ordinary people like you and me.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Paula and I are now 5 weeks into our study of the Nyanja language and it is going very well. Though I’m not quite what you would call fluent yet (basically, I can talk like your average Zambian 2 year old), I do feel I am on the verge of a “breakthrough” (by which I mean a breakdown). Anyway, in the short span of a few weeks we have learned more greetings than any one language should legally have, not to mention a host of short phrases of questionable use such as, Sindili Mtengo – I am not a tree, and, Khasu ili mu nkokwe – The hoe is in the granary. But, nonetheless, armed with my new skills, I decided to try them out on a Zambian friend recently.
Me: Muli Bwanji (How are you?)
My Friend: Bwino Bwanj. (This totally threw me for a loop, as according to our text book, the proper response should be – ndili bwino, kaya inu? - which means “I am fine, and how are you?” His answer was roughly “Fine. You.” As you can imagine I was totally not ready for this and a bit angry at my friend for not talking the way he’s ‘sposed to).
Me: Uhhhmm….Uhhhmm…Uhhh…..Khasu ili mu nkokwe?! (see above).
So, we are wading our way through this language that has nine classes of nouns, each class with its own prefixes, infixes, suffixes and various other types of ixes that change according to the tense of the verb (and at times just out of spite for no apparent reason at all). If you want to say the word “there” you better know exactly where “there” is because the word for “there” is different depending on whether or not “there” is close to the speaker or close to the hearer or close to both speaker and hearer. Plus you find that there is no verb for “to have” and so in order to say “I have a headache” you say “I am feeling my head.”
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
We didn’t want to watch it, but were mesmerized. And even though I had seen it all before, I could hardly believe my eyes. A wave of memories and emotions came rushing at me and I remembered again:
In the middle of a worship service, we had been called out to transport a critically ill man from a local clinic to
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Names are curious things. For instance, this past week I met a Catholic priest here in
“How in the world did ya get a name like that?” he inquired, sounding sort of like that little leprechaun in the Lucky Charms commercial. I told him probably my ancestors, when they immigrated to
Of course, in reality, I have no idea where the name comes from. As with most Americans, its just a name and the meaning, at least to me, has been lost.
Because the plant is extremely resilient, and can survive in almost any conditions, it has been able to provide food and nourishment during times of drought when all other crops were failing. As a result, in this part of the country the casaba is called, “Without Me, You Would Be Dead.”
Now, a name like that might lead to some confusing conversations.
“Ma, what’s for dinner?”
“Without Me You Would Be Dead.”
“Yes, Ma. I know that very well and I am grateful. But what are we eating tonight?”
Confusing conversations yes, but confusing significance, no. After all, I doubt anyone who has every used that name, has failed to realize how vital the casaba is to their survival.
So, all this stuff about names has got me thinking about the name that is above all names. In fact, you could sort of say that Jesus is sort of like a milder version of “Without Me You Would Be Dead” because “Jesus” means, “Yahweh Saves.” And I find that often I use the name “Jesus” in prayer or encounter it reading the Bible, and sometimes fail to grab hold of the wonder that is contained in it! How much more vigorously would my prayer life be, and how much more passionately would I seek to glorify God in my thoughts and in my speech, if I constantly remembered, that Without Him, I Would Be Dead!
This week we heard a story about an amazing lady who seems to have grasped that very truth. She had gone back to the states to retire from missionary life, only to return to Africa months later saying, “Life in
Jesus, may we minister and serve in the knowledge that you are the one and only giver of true life!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Today I started the process of getting a Zambian drivers license and one of the required steps was a trip to our local hospital. I was kind of intrigued by this idea, as I had never been to a hospital in
Endow the king with your justice, O God,
The royal son with your righteousness.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
New beginnings—we’ve all experienced them. Here we are in
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
My caddy was a wondeful guy with a curious name - Abeauty. There are lots of curious names here - and I found out recently that it could be because in Zambia children are allowed to choose their own names at the age of ten. But that's another story, for another day.
Anyway, as we walked from hole to hole I began to ask Abeauty if he went to church. He said he did and so we started talking about the Lord. He was a Catholic he said. I told him I was a Pentecostal. He gave me strange look and I wasn't sure if he just thought that meant I was weird, or if he thought that meant I was dangerous. Anyway, he asked me a few questions about the ten commandments, and about whether or not it mattered if you went to church on Saturday or Sunday. And then He asked me to pray for him. He said he was only working part time at the golf course, as there are not enough people playing for him to work full-time. He said that he brings home about $32 a month. And that with that, he takes care of himself, his wife, his seven year old son, and his two younger brothers.
Needless to say, the family is just barely scraping by. His son is supposed to start school soon, and Abeauty said he didn't think he would have the money for uniforms. And in Zambia, if a child doesn't have the school uniform, they can't attend school.
My first thought was to just give him the money. This was something I could do, right? It seemed like a no brainer. But, before I did - I felt that gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit (being Pentecostal and all) inclining me to pray that God would provide for Abeauty, and so I did. I asked Abeauty if I could pray for him right then and so, standing near the green on the 18th hole we bowed our heads. It was a simple prayer, not long and not very complicated. It was something like - Lord Jesus I pray that YOU would be Abeauty's provider, that you would meet all His needs according to your riches in glory. We finished the round, exchanged numbers (in case I came across any job openings) and said good-bye.
Then today while I was fixing dinner (and repenting for playing golf while me wife worked), the phone rang. It was Abeauty. He was calling to say thanks for the prayers, that someone had given him the money for the school uniforms, and that it hadn't been a loan but a gift. Abeauty was sure that God had helped him!
And so my thought this week - I wonder how often we prevent God from acting in our lives, and in the lives of those around us, by trusting in our natural resources rather than trusting in our God. And, I also wonder how many times we keep God from acting in peoples lives by not playing more golf?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
After many months of itineration and a long journey to get here, we have finally arrived in
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Bible is full of people who are on a journey. Most notably in Genesis, we find Abraham willingly on a journey to an unknown land and then later his great grandson Joseph goes much less willingly on yet another journey. In Exodus, all of
Monday, March 12, 2007
The best part of itineration is meeting lots and lots of wonderful people. Sometimes we get to stay in their homes, like sweet Ellie and the gracious Fraers. Sometimes we get to pray together with them after our services. Sometimes we eat pizza together after church and tell them about
We really are one big family, you know, and there’s nothing like visiting 8000 churches (almost) to make you realize how much we have in common, and how much we need each other. We’re just thankful to be on God’s team (the