Sunday, April 26
Tomorrow morning is the Pastor's conference! The next two days will be two of the largest ministry times I will be involved in as of right now, 251 pastors will gather to be further equipped in the Word of God and Gospel ministry. I have not had internet access in two days, so I'm praying that the additional $1,200 dollars we need to purchase 250 study bibles is coming in back in the U.S. The Zambian Bible society is bringing the bibles in the morning. What a blessing it is going to be to give every pastor a Life Application Study Bible. To think that God has and will provide an additional $3,500 (plus another $1,000 plus) in a few days through people back home and the team members here is amazing! This is an incredible blessing as the men will have the equivalent of a bible college education in their bibles at their finger tips. There are men who are coming who up until a couple of years ago did not even have a bible, more or less a study bible. Some have pastored their village churches by teaching from nothing more than Gospel tracts. Tomorrow, Ardy and I will have to teach them how to use it, as well as speak on several more ministry and Bible topics for their equipping. Leonard told me today that having us here this week has been like a "fire" (or a "boost") to the ministries and people here.
Did I say that these were some of the most amazing college age students I've ever met in my life? If I didn't, I'm saying it now. Incredible young people who are mature and serious about following Christ. They are so grateful for the opportunity they have been given. Many of them are from very poor homes but through Encounter they are offered the opportunity to ride a bus to the ERM headquarters each day to be discipled, trained, and used for ministry in local churches, at the Encounter farm, and in area villages for the Gospel. Most team members, though they work hard all day long, only eat one meal a day and that is the meal Encounter is able to provide for them...a lunch that consists of an orange and two pieces of toast. That's it. I felt somewhat of a spoiled rotten child around them as we have been fed three meals a day and have snacks in our back packs. But these college aged kids are some of the most beautiful young people I've ever seen with amazing joy for the Lord.
Today is Sunday! We split into two teams today and I took one group (1/2 USA team & 1/2 Africa team) to one church and another mixed group went to a different church. The church we visited and ministered in was Lighthouse Baptist Church in Endola. This is a larger town and the people seemed to have a little more than the people in Luanshya and most definitely the people who lived in the villages. In this town, there were small cinder block homes and then some more upscale places for around here. The church had 110 people present and half of them were young people and children, 30% were women, and 20% were men. The Pastor's name was, "Pastor Myson." He was a very nice and grateful man. His son was the youth pastor and was doing a great work with the young people. The church service lasted 2 1/2 hours. They did the traditional announcements, but everything else was anything but traditional in most U.S. Baptist churches. The youth sang several songs, the ladies sang many songs, they shared quite a bit about their offering ($25.00 was given today), and people came up and placed their offering in the container on the communion table while the congregation sang. Jim shared his testimony and did a great job and I preached a message on how Christ wants to demolish sin strongholds in our lives.
At the end of the service, the invitation lasted several minutes, and the people who came forward were counseling. 4 ladies said they did not know that worry was a sin and God convicted them of that today and the stronghold that supported that sin, 1 man asked for prayer, another said he wanted to be closer to God, and another young man trusted Christ on Tuesday this week and gave public testimony today. It was great! At the end of the service. they asked me to pray a prayer of blessing on those who came forward and then they asked us to exit the church as we did a "fellowship line" outside. This was really neat as our entire team stood in a big "u" outside and everyone in the church came out singing while they went around in a big "singing" line and shook our hands. Then we were invited back in for cookies, a banana, and a soft drink. This was a very big deal. This is the most food I had seen anyone in Zambia have to give away.
The pastor and some of his associates are coming to the pastor's conference tomorrow. We went to lunch at a mall nearby. This town is only one of 5 or 6 large towns in all of Zambia that have anything close to America in the likes of a small mall, etc. After several days of being here, this is the first time I had seen anything like this. After the mall, we went and visited an orphanage with 18 orphans from young children to teenagers. The two ladies that ran the orphanage were very nice. The orphanage was nice in comparison to what we've seen this week but pitiful in comparison to U.S. standards by far. The children were so glad to see us. We sang songs for them, shared the Gospel, gave them Gospel tracts, and some goodies. The orphanage survives on whatever people decide to drop off to them. I was reminded as I left that precious place that God is the defender of the orphan and the widow and that all who place their faith and trust in Christ will not be left as orphans, but become children of the Most High God. Thank you, Lord Jesus. for loving the fatherless and making a way for us to have the Heavenly Father.
Monday, April 27
Today was incredible! Did I say today was incredible? If I didn't, let me just say that today was incredible:) About 170 pastors showed up today after walking or riding bikes through the night and early morning hours to be a part of our two day conference. We began the day at 10AM and went until 5PM making the most of every moment. The team sang before each session, and interviewed the pastors through out the day. I did a session on, "10 Marks of a Gospel Minister" from Colossians 1, another session on "Demolishing Strongholds" from 2 Cor 10: 4-5 in the early portion of the day. Ardy did a session that was excellent on life skills and principles. So much more took place but here is the main thing: the pastor's were encouraged, taught, and strengthened to keep on keeping on! Their hearts were set on fire!