Grace Church Zambia Bible Conference Day 3

We have completed day three of the Bible conference. During the morning chapel, Kennedy Simtowe encouraged the pastors from seven African countries to be more unified, focusing on Scripture. Although this was a short sermon, the pastors were very receptive and there was talk of continuing the discussion in the evening.

I continued my series on Ephesians. My group had a very stimulating discussion in my first session of the day on Ephesians 3 and the meaning of prophecy. In my second session there was a great deal of interest in “one baptism” in Ephesians 4. Many of the pastors helped me to understand some of the unique issues pastors face in Zambia.

Aleah Kopp at Kamushanga Secondary School

From Aleah Kopp: “Today, I went to a secondary school named Kamushanga. The school went from preschool to grade 7. I also brought my ukulele to play for all the children. I had forgotten that Zambians love their music so I played the ukulele for about four hours. After I finished playing a song, they would shout, “Play again! Play again!” My fingers have never been more sore. I also observed how the children were taught and they were mostly learning basic math, shapes and English. The kids had the biggest smiles on their faces and seemed to be very happy.”

Joel Molina

From Joel Molina: “Takwaba uwaba na Yesu” sung in an African way demonstrates the joy in worshipping together through cultural diversity. Indeed there is no one like Jesus.  It is a tiring two days of teaching and interacting with pastors and elders in the sessions but rewarding to see them grow in their knowledge of God and His word.  One Pastor told me that he is thankful for the opportunity and privilege to attend the conference and to receive teachings that enable him to know and understand God’s word better.  Thank you for your prayers as we continue the ministry of teaching until Friday morning.”

Russ Kopp and Joseph Asong

Tomorrow is the last full day of the conference. Please continue to pray for the men and women attending this conference. It is our hope that the pastors and elders will return to their churches encouraged and energized for their ministries.

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Grace Church Zambia Bible Conference Day 2

The second day of our conference was very successful. There are as many as 70 church leaders now attending. The opening session began once again with worship led by Eric Mango and a devotional from Joseph Asong. We were a few minutes late this morning, Jim seems to have already adapted to Africa Time and we did not get out of the house on time.

My first session was lightly attended, but I enjoyed our stimulating discussion of Paul’s description of spiritual darkness in Ephesians 2:1-3. I am personally quite pleased with the level of thoughtful reflection on the text of Ephesians and I am learning a great deal from the pastors and elders who have attended by sessions. I especially appreciate the application they make to the Zambian culture on spiritual warfare. I am certainly being taught as much as I am teaching.

If my sessions were lightly attended, Cliff Tulsie’s sessions on Biblical Counselling have been very well received. Cliff told me the leaders in his sessions have been very attentive to his material, but also are asking very difficult questions about how they can help the people in their congregations who are struggling with things far beyond what a minimally trained pastor can handle. There is a desperate hunger for this kind of training in the Zambian Grace Church.

Day three of the conference starts tomorrow morning with another four parallel sessions (twelve sessions in all). Please continue to pray for the pastors, elders and church leaders as we continue this important training.

Unfortunately I am on limited wifi this afternoon, so there the pictures are limited. Unfortunately today is a holiday and we could not expand our bandwidth until tomorrow. Our gracious host Scott Miller has allowed me to use his mobile phone to post this. I hope to have more bandwidth available tomorrow.

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Grace Church Zambia Bible Conference Day 1

Today is the beginning of the Bible Conference. After an opening session with worship led by Eric Mango and a devotional from Jim Moore, we ran four parallel sessions with a lunch break. You can check the content of each series on the tabs above. There are about sixty-five pastors from Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Congo.

Here are some highlights from three of our teachers:

Robert Nix is teaching five sessions on dispensational theology. Robert says “I had a wonderful opportunity to share three sessions today. We looked at Prophecy and Mystery, The Distinct Apostleship of Paul and what it looks like to follow Paul in this dispensation. I was extremely impressed by the African pastors and their questions. Many of them knew what the issues were and were able to relate well with what was being discussed. I find it interesting that there is real concern with the importance of the grace message and building up believers in the faith.”

Dr. Robert Nix

Dr. Robert Nix

Cliff Tulsie is teaching five sessions on Christian Counselling. He says “It was a real joy and privilege to share today with the pastors and church leaders about how to develop a theology to do Christian counseling. They were very engaging and receptive and shared how this topic and skill was highly needed in their ministry. We talked about how “good theology makes for good psychology” and how the Scriptures are able to address all the issues that counseling deals with. It is so fulfilling to see their heart for ministry and the people that they serve. Please continue to pray that we are effective and that these spiritual leaders can see the true value and relevance of what we are teaching.”

Pastor Cliff Tulsie

Pastor Cliff Tulsie

Russ Kopp is focusing on Discipleship. “Like the United States, Discipleship has a strong interest in the Churches in Africa.  In the first session, I asked the group of Pastors, Elders and Leaders, “Do you have a plan for Discipleship?” And, the answer was no.  Similar to the United States, the term “discipleship” is a common and recognizable word, we just seemingly don’t know what a comprehensive plan looks like.  In the next few days, I hope to facilitate foundational principles of discipleship that will help these men and women go back to their churches with new energy and commitment toward living forward in Christ.”

Russ Kopp

Russ Kopp

We will continue early tomorrow with another four parallel sessions (twelve sessions in all). Please continue to pray for the pastors, elders and church leaders as we continue this important training.

 

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Sunday Services in Kabwe

This morning we attended the church at Grace Centre. This is an international church meeting at the building which hosts the Zambian Grace Church offices. The people who attend the church are a few locale Zambians, white farmers, and missionaries serving around Kabwe and some kids from the Deaf Farm. The worship was very western (three younger guys with guitars). Cliff Tulsie preached on Luke 8, discussing the two people who were in desperate need of Jesus. This was one of the most ethnically diverse churches I have ever attended, with a wide range of ages as well.

After the service we traveled to the Grace church in Kamushanga. This was a combined service with more than 350 people from nine Zambian churches and representatives from both Malawi and Zimbabwe. The service had been going for a while when we arrived at 10 AM and we were warmly greeted with singing and dancing. Lots of singing and dancing. As the “special guests” we were ushered to our guest seats (this was a very unusual experience for me, although I think I could get used to it).

After several sets of announcements and a long time of introductions and offering, Jim Moore presented a short report on last year’s leadership conference. The result of that meeting was a clear vision statement for the Zambian church as well as eight priorities for ministry in Zambia. This was a very important presentation which seemed to be well accepted by the members present.

Robert Nix preached on Philippians 1:20-21, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” I followed Robert and preached through Ephesians 2:8-10. We used Crispin as an interpreter, although many of the Zambians understand English. If you have ever preached with an interpreter, it is quite the experience. Sometimes I would say a short sentence and Crispin would translate with far more words than I expected, sometimes with a short phrase. I assume he was correcting something I said which was culturally horrifying. I also learned my humor does not translate very well.

After the five hour service we were invited to Pastor Winter’s house for a traditional Zambian meal. And a Zambian meal includes nshima. This looks like a lump of mashed potatoes, but is actually white cornmeal and water. You are supposed to pull a chunk out and roll it into a ball, then mix it with whatever else is served with it, called “relishes.” There was a dish of cabbage, something that looked like spinach, and a bowl of caterpillars (I was warned and so avoided the experience, Joel thought they were pieces of beef).  I will admit I did not fully indulge in the culture and used a fork to eat my nshima, but others enjoyed theirs Zambian style. Aleah seemed to enjoy scooping up her relishes with a chunk of nshima.

Tomorrow the conference officially begins, bright and early at 8AM.

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Ministries in Kabwe

We spent the day touring several ministries in and around Kabwe. First, we visited the Grace Center, home of the Grace Church Zambia National Council and home of an English language church. The building has many smaller offices rented out a shops and businesses as well as serving as office space for the Zambian church. We met Crispen Mundia, the chairman of the national church and Charles T., the treasurer for GCZ. Eric Mango also joined us for our orientation meeting and rode along with us for most of the day.

We drove a short distance to the site of Zambia Grace Bible Institute (ZGBI). The site includes several classrooms and a chapel and ten student houses. There is a school on the lot as well as a Grace Church and parsonage. Unfortunately the school has been closed for some time, but when it was operating there were many pastors trained there who went on to plant churches in Zambia.

GraceCenter

After visiting ZGBI we drove back through Kabwe to visit the site of the conference. The Zambian church arranged for rooms at a larger Catholic church. We have four nice meeting rooms, a cafeteria, and dorm facilities for the leaders who are traveling long distances to attend the conference.

After an excellent lunch (chicken wraps with homemade tortillas prepared by our wonderful host Whitney Miller) we traveled several miles from the main road to visit a ministry serving deaf children and orphans. This ministry is led by Roy and Sarah Mwanza for the last several years. Roy drove half the group in his truck and we followed in a less manly SUV down a very rutted dirt road, through several small collections of houses which were certainly “off the grid.” There was one point were we needed to get out of our vehicle so it could make it over a set of railroad tracks.

Deaf Farm

The Deaf Farm, as they locals call it, includes one house for about sixteen children, with another sixteen are away at school right now. Roy has some cattle, pigs, many chickens and rabbits, and even a few pigeons (for fertilizer and food).  They have a wide range of vegetables and fruit trees as well. The main house has solar panels and two wells (one for drinking and another for irrigation).

Even though Roy and Sarah have provided wonderfully for the children, there is a great deal of need. The solar panels do not provide sufficient power, so they could use a few more as well as a new converter to charge the batteries. He has a good pump for his drinking water, but the irrigation pump needs to be replaced. The ministry is supported by some local ministries and some gifts from American churches (Grace Ministries International, for example), but Roy and Sarah have more needs. Roy’s truck is very old and in need of repair, or better, replacement. He needs to navigate the dirt road every day to get the kids to school and he relies on it every day.

Russ Kopp’s daughter Aleah said the visit to the Deaf farm was “the highlight of her trip so far.” Cliff Tulsie was amazed Roy and Sarah seemed to have nothing most Americas would think they need to survive, yet they have everything they need.

The Zambia Grace Bible Conference 2017 on Monday. Please pray for the five of us who are presenting, especially that we are able to communicate clearly. Even though most of the leaders speak English, we need to be slow and clear in order to be fully understood. Most of all, please pray for the pastors and church leaders who will be attending this conference. Many are already traveling to Kabwe from Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and other cities in Zambia.

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From Livingston to Kabwe

We have finished up the “tourism” portion of our Zambian adventure and traveled from Livingston to Kabwe. This involved about 12 hours of travel back through Lusaka (an extremely busy city). The drive was easier in the daytime since we could see all the potholes. Or pot-canyons in most cases.

In Choma we stopped at the Grace Church of Zambia and met Pastor Brian Mbao. He received us with hospitality and gave us a tour of his home and church. Since we were there early in the morning there was no church service, but we were able to get a feel for his ministry.

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Today we are visiting a number of ministries in the Kabwe area and preparing for the conference. We will visit two churches on Sunday, then the conference starts on Monday.

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A Safe Arrival in Zambia

Hello everyone, thanks for checking in on the Zambia Grace Bible Conference 2017. We arrived safe in Lusaka yesterday, only missing one piece of luggage (although we have a good idea where it is). We were met by several Zambian pastors and made very welcome. We were a bit over 12 hours to Dubai, and then another seven to Lusaka. Our plan the first day was to drive from Lusaka to Livingstone, about seven hours. Jim Moore drove one car, and our Zambian friend Eddie drove a second. We ended up arriving at our hostel about 2AM, and it took some time to find someone to get us keys to our rooms. For most of us that meant about thirty hours of travel, not including our layover in Dubai.

We are staying at Fawlty Towers in Livingstone. So far it is very comfortable and has great rooms for the price. (For those who know what Fawlty Towers is, there is a Basil Café here as well.) I do not have the greatest wifi connection, but it works even with too many people trying to use it.

Today was a light tourist day mostly spent at Victoria Falls. It would be had to come to Zambia and not visit this natural wonder. I learned several things. First, when they tell you to look out for the baboons, they are not joking. A baboon grabbed Robert’s ice cream right out of his hand and then had the audacity to eat it in front of the now disappointed Robert. Second, when the recommend a raincoat, then mean it as well. Several spots on the walk were not a light mist, but a torrential downpour. Still, I think it is better to embrace the adventure, getting soaked is the price you pay to see the Falls. Third, every African in the tourist shops is my best friend. They love my moustache for some reason.

After a quick change into dry clothes, we visited a Grace church in Livingstone. About thirty people gathered on a Wednesday afternoon to greet us. We sang along (or more accurately, clapped along badly) to some worship, then we introduced ourselves and Robert Nix gave his preached a brief evangelistic message. We were seated in the front row and after the sermon we exited and shook everyone’s hand as they came out of the church. People stood around and chatted for quite some time, until the mosquitoes discovered I was there and began to feast.

The church service was impressive since it was late on a Wednesday afternoon, and people began to gather long before we arrived. I cannot imagine an American congregation gathering to greet strangers and then waiting hours for them to arrive. Everyone was friendly and genuinely glad to meet us.

We have one more tourist day planned tomorrow, then we travel to Kabwe (about nine hours) where we will begin prepping for the conference. I plan on adding a few photographs to the page as I get them from the other team members, and I need to find a better wifi spot. Check back tomorrow for updates.

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