A Refrigerator Couch and Toolbox
There have been many financial blessings this trip that are going to make a profound difference. In the states, many of the things I'm about to mention are minor blessings and everyday items that people easily have and take for granted. Here in Zambia, it's a completely different story.
Since we have been on the trip, God has provided through people in the states and the team members of the USA team the following extra blessings:
- 130 book bags with school supplies for the Encounter run community/Christian school in a very poor village area;
- 19 bicycles for the ERM Zambia team which will save these team members $4.00 a day in bus fees getting from their home to the ERM headquarters for ministry. How the kids even come up with the $20.00 per week for the bus tickets is beyond me because they have nothing, eat one meal today consisting of an orange and bread, and when they are given some extra money through the ministry, they usually take it home to their families. These 19 young adults are some of the finest young people in all of Zambia. Now they will have bikes! I would guess that 80 percent of the people do not have automobiles, and probably 50 percent do not have a bicycle. So this is an amazing provision!
- We have also seen God provide the money for 250 study bibles to give to the pastors for the transformation of their personal lives, preaching/teaching ministry, and their churches.
- Today God provided a refrigerator and a couch for two of the main pastoral staff that assist Leonard in the overall Encounter Zambia ministry.
I have grown to love these men, their servant leadership, and their love for the Lord. They are key to the widespread ministry God is doing here through Encounter Zambia.
We also were able to buy a tool box with some tools today for Peter. He is the grounds keeper for the Encounter farm that is used to help provide food for a large community for Gospel witness. Can you imagine running a 20-40 acre farm with no tools? No shovel, no hammer, no screwdriver, nothing. For $150.00, we were able to transform this man's ministry and effectiveness in what God has called him to do. He is a real servant, we painted his house last week, and now we are praying for God to provide furniture for his house. He is married and has twin boys. The only piece of furniture in the house is a mattress that ERM gave a couple of years ago. Many blessings....many needs....and greater opportunities!
Before I finish this entry, one final note: I was told today that for a man to buy a refrigerator or a couch in Zambia, it would take an average man 5 to 15 years to pay off one of these items.
Office of the District Commissioner
We had the great opportunity of meeting with the District Commissioner over the entire province. As we all piled into his office, he shook each of our hands, and the team sang a few songs for him. We gave both he and his aid a special 50th anniversary Zambia Bible and posed for a few pictures together. In the next few moments, the Commissioner gave a speech that would contain rare words from government officials in America.
He stated, "Thank-you for coming to Zambia. We are glad you are here. The government does not have the money to take care of all the needs of our people and we must partner with the church and other organizations. So Encounter Revival Ministries is doing a good work...you are teaching our young people the Bible...so they will not fall into destructive vices...because when they do it places an even greater burden on the government."
As we were driving to one of our ministry destinations today, I was small talking in the van with Leonard and his wife Rose. In Zambia, everyone has a "Zambian" name and then an "English" name. So "Leonard"and "Rose" are the English names of the couple that leads ERM Zambia.
I believe, like I have already said, that Leonard is Zambia's Moses who works daily to set his people free with the Good News of Jesus Christ by laboring on their behalf in love. Well come to find out, Leonard's name means, "founder." And Rose's name means, "strong tree." I was picking with Leonard and told him that behind every good man is a far better woman and that I had proved that very true. (Side note by the way: I married the most amazing woman in all the world)(Another side note from Valerie: I didn't want to post the parts about me). As I watched this extraordinary couple for the past 9 days, I would say that their names fit them very well. Leonard is the "founder" of Encounter Revival Ministries, Zambia which is in partnership as well as sponsored by Encounter Revival Ministries, U.S.A. led by Ardy Parlin (and in which I have the privilege of serving on the board of directors). Leonard is known by everyone in the community, the town, and people outside the area. He is respected because he has loved the people, served them, and brought impact to the community in Jesus name that without his leadership would have never been possible. He is investing in a new generation and is a leader among leaders. He is also a visionary, an organizer, a motivator, a servant, a go-getter, a leader...a "founder." His wife Rose is the "strong tree" that supports and helps her "founder" husband. She continually encourages him and respects him, she glows when he is around, she labors hours every day in the ministry, and does whatever needs to be done. He told me today that she is his help meet, counselor, and secretary. As I looked at her, I thought of my dear bride. My help meet, Valerie, is different than Rose in some ways and just like her in others. And Leonard is just like me in some ways, and not like me in others. But God has sovereignly made us leaders in our respective areas of ministry and daily by His grace we are "founders" of new things and ensure that they run effectively.
Consequently, our wives are our "strong trees" who help hold us up when we want to give up, throw in the towel, and are being beat up by our adversaries and storms. Before coming on this trip, I would refer to my wife as, "My Rock." But I believe from now on, I will call her my, "strong tree." For as she sits by the river of Living Water, her leaf prospers, she does not wither, and all she does bears fruit because she abides in Christ. And because of this, I have an earthly treasure given by God whose value cannot be measured. So to my dear wife: "Thank you for being my strong tree that gives shade when I'm weary, beauty when I've been overwhelmed by the ugly, and fruit that glorifies Jesus by the grace of Jesus for my good, His glory, and the good of everyone that has the privilege of encountering her.