Since November of last year, we have been on the lookout for our next ministry destination. Leaving the orphanage meant leaving the people we had come to love and cherish. It meant leaving the villages and the people we ministered to on a regular basis. And it meant having to start over - foraging a new territory to find the places where God wanted us to begin a new work. The devil may have tried to tamper with our heads and our hearts. He may have thought our departure from the orphanage would discourage us to the point we would just pack up and go back home... but that has not been the case. He forgets that this is a life decision and we are in it for the long haul. Although there has been a disappointment, God has remained true to His promises to us and we are finding the path still clear and adequately provided for. Not being able to continue working with those villages and our friends at the orphanage has been a disappointment but God is revealing an alternative plan.
Since last November, we have worked closely with other missionaries offering whatever assistance we can and enjoying the diversity of different ministry methods, strategies and locations…from the dry plains to rock or sandy brush land to the lush river side villages that dot the sides of the Zambezi River.…it has all been a great experience. We continue to witness God’s Hand At Work her in Zambia – even in our own lives. The people are hungry for an answer to their questions regarding our maker, His creation, sin, Salvation and how to exist under the direction of the Holy Spirit as a new creature through Jesus Christ.....how to navigate through the uncertainty of culture, ancestor worship, Christianity, false teachings and a myriad of other challenges common in this area - and I suppose common to all of mankind. As we have "tried" to remain patient, we are still seeing lives change and the Gospel continue to go forth. – which brings me to the topic of this Blog.
As we have worked along side of some of God’s most gifted missionaries, my heart has been troubled with the uncertainty of our own personal ministry plans. For some reason, God brought us to Zambia – more specifically, now to Livingstone. It was He who dropped this house in our laps – a house perfect for bringing in teams to help us do God’s work…. and a perfect location to serve as a base for ministry outreach for those visiting mission teams. It is He who keeps providing our needs and the funds necessary to bear the cost of this property. My biggest concern has been – where are we going to begin and what kind of ministry will that be???? This question has been the source of some depressing moments and much consternation. It has also been the fuel to feed a growing sense of impatience – something God has been correcting in me for many years. In recent years, I HAVE become a VERY patient man, but the tendency is still in ME to fix things – something that has never been the best solution to my problems.
But this week, God decided to “let me off the hook” and give me something “I could sink my teeth into”. A good friend and long time missionary here in Zambia came to me with a request/offer. He has been working in some diverse areas for years and has relied on certain Zambians he has trained to grow into leadership and management roles as he has worked in various regions throughout Southern Zambia. As the trainees mature, they can be given the responsibility of managing the basic day-to-day needs of the ministry. One of those regions has become neglected. Not on purpose – no, the gentleman who was tasked with the responsibility of nurturing that specific area is no longer available – nor is he working in this area. So, with other “irons in the fire”, there is a void in the ability to cover all of these areas. I have been offered the opportunity to take over this mission field and operate in it as God sees fit. This is the answer I have been praying about.
Over the years, there have been about 40 churches planted in this area, but, with the recent decline in leadership less than half are still considered strong or active. Yesterday, along with a local Zambian, I took a survey trip to this new mission field - which is about 2-1/2 hours from our home - to meet the people the pastors and church leaders. We arrived at a centrally located church and were greeted by about 50 people including 14 pastors and other leaders. We had a short gathering where I introduced myself and took some questions from VERY interested folks. They were all very excited to know that this work will continue.
Following the short meeting and a group photo, we set out to about 7 of the other area churches to get a sense of the terrain and meet the people. It was a great first trip and I really look forward to getting started.
As this new work begins, it is clear that there is much to do. There are at least 40 congregations and pastors who need encouragement and training. One of the questions I was asked highlighted the need for per-school teacher training, children’s ministries and youth ministries – Karen has been praying about how she can envision herself…It is becoming all to clear now! Now that we have the capacity to host mission teams, and now that we have a dedicated mission field that covers a vast territory with needs for youth training, children’s ministries, many, many schools, adult men and women’s ministries, widows and orphans ministries – not to mention humanitarian needs…etc., we are inviting people/missionaries/mission teams to come help us meet this need. There is so much to do – it can be overwhelming. But, this is exactly how I envisioned our work here from the beginning and it is exactly why Come, Go With Us was created. Our invitation has always been - and still is - for you to come join us on the mission field and help fulfill the Great Commission. We will not cover the world, but we do plan to manage our small part. With this new responsibility, we can now see the faces of this mission field and look forward to developing relationships as we partner with them. And we want to share this opportunity with others …because, quite frankly, we will need your help!
Another question was: “when do you plan to begin?” I answered “yesterday” which brought a great response of appreciation. We have already just begun and we need you to help us reap this harvest.
Come, Go With Us!
I woke up one day and discovered God wanted me to quit what I was doing for me...and start doing something for Him.