Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ABeauty-ful thing!

I know that missionaries are not supposed to do anything fun - that we're supposed to live off fried termites and dry roots, but I have to confess that yesterday I slipped away to our local golf course for a few hours (if it makes you feel better, there are no golf carts here and I had to walk the entire 18 holes; of course you are required to have a caddy, but that is included in the very low price of only $15!). Ok...that probably didn't help. Anyway, let me get to the point.
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

Pang'ono Pang'ono - "Little by Little"

After many months of itineration and a long journey to get here, we have finally arrived in Zambia. We will be spending a short time in the capital of Lusaka taking care of official business such as work permits and meeting with church leaders, and then within a week or so we hope to be heading down to Livingstone.

Our British Air flight landed in Lusaka at 6 AM on August 9th, two days after we left Baltimore. We got off the plane and were immediately reminded of the essence of life in Africa. Here, no one is in a hurry.

We had been seated at the back of the plane and as a result were near the end of the line to go through customs. For the first twenty minutes, the line didn’t seem to move at all. We stood and waited and waited and waited, and nothing seemed to be happening. Then, finally one very small step forward, followed by another prolonged period of non-progression. I found myself starting to get impatient, wanting to speed things up. Surely there must be another faster line that we could get in. After all, I have been waiting for this moment now for over two years and was anxious to get started in our missionary work! But there was no speeding things up. There was one line and we had to just stand patiently and wait our turn. And so we did.

It wasn’t long though – about half an hour, before the line started to move faster and faster. Soon we were at the baggage claim gathering our 10 bags and within minutes we were out of the airport and on the way to the home of some of our fellow missionaries. It was almost surreal the way we went from complete motionlessness, into a luggage gathering frenzy and then on to being waved right through customs (rather miraculously), then into the welcoming embrace of waiting missionary friends and finally zipping away in Speed the Light vehicles. What had begun in seeming inertia, ended in rapid progress. And it seemed perhaps, the perfect parable for the beginning of our ministry in Zambia.

Our next few weeks and months here are almost certain to be times of seemingly little progress. We will be setting up house (including building a kitchen in our house – plumbing and all). We will be studying the language and we will be focusing on building relationships with Zambian pastors and church officials. It will be a time of much waiting, a time of learning, a time of growing in cultural understanding, a time of sitting at the feet of others and gleaning from their wisdom and insight. And, like our experience at the Lusaka International Airport, we hope that all of this time of patient preparation will in the end lead to a time of great productivity. We sow in patience so that down the road we might reap in plenty.

Our prayer request then is that we would be patient in this time of preparation, and faithful in the little things. We are reminded that God took 40 years to prepare Moses for the task He was about to give him and that some 10 years elapsed from the time of Paul’s conversion to the outset of his ministry. It would seem that any successful ministry is the product of patient preparation.

We are so very grateful for each of you our supporters and friends, and we want you to know that you are a vital part of our work and our lives here in Zambia. With all of our love, as we prepare for the work ahead… Jerry and Paula, your missionaries to Zambia