“I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU UNTIL I HAVE DONE WHAT I HAVE PROMISED…”
[ So sorry for keeping everyone guessing where we are going and what we are doing! Read this blog for a fuller understanding… ]
Gen 28:15 > “I am with you! I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you!” Jacob had come to a season in life where it was right and good for him to run for the hills. God opened the door. But God’s purpose would not be squelched in his absence. God would see to it that he would return – at the right time – and the promises made would yet be fulfilled.
In October, our Board invited us to take a Sabbatical. Serious burnout symptoms have been a concern for years, and we kept fighting through them. Now we could wait no longer.
So by faith we began to plan on a Sabbatical, but not sure how our staffing in Zambia was going to fare without us. But God who promised to provide our every need, must have a plan for this need as well… Our plan was to return to Zambia for a short time in December and January, doing what we could to secure things on a stable footing for our departure. Then we would move out of our little house in Livingstone, sell our car, and move our perch of oversight to Zanzibar, with our daughter and family. There we would spend our year, and see what God has for the future. Would we return to live in Zambia again? Or would this be our time to launch out?
By the time we arrived in Zambia mid-December, our two wonderful, dedicated sisters, Anita O’Conner and Faith Holt, who had been with us for 1 ½ years, had gone from us. But three new sisters had come to “replace” them (how can any person ever be “replaced”? The unique gifts and personality and heart that each person brings, leaves an irreplaceable emptiness that we must continually learn to accept. We love you, Faith and Anita!).
(Our continuing staff are Kelvin Muyambango, Joy Chilala, Henry Chibelushi, Memory Muuka, and Benjamin and Allison Attema. These six were joined by three others…)
Chalon Yoder, daughter of our good friends Cleo and Char Yoder in ND, has come to us with the desire to take some of the Administrative load from Regina and Anita. She is also discovering an untapped passion to reach into the villages with the Words of Life.
Johannah Uliberri, daughter of our friends, Jamison and Stephanie, from Oregon, comes a second time to infuse an artistic presence into our work. She also has found an untapped passion – for a young man in our midst!
Susan M’kanda has been supported for four years of teachers’ college by some faithful sponsors, waiting for this day when she finally joins us to invest herself into the children and youth of these villages.
In case you had the idea that ministries like this never experience conflict and discord, I’m going to let you in on a little reality! We are all human – that does not stay in America when we head to Africa! It’s common knowledge that the reason most missionaries leave the field is not difficulty with the ministry, but conflict with the fellow workers. We have experienced a strong dose of that this year, more than ever before. We all felt the sickening taste of mistrust and disappointment in one another. Things were said and done that hurt. Our ugly sides were laid bare before one another. Regina and I prayed that somehow God would restore truth and harmony before we left for Sabbatical. Fasting and prayer was called, and with repentance and humbling ourselves before each other, we confessed and cried, spoke the truth in love and forgave. God’s Hand was with us and again we have found peace and unity of heart. Community is such a precious and fragile thing. We can never take it for granted or neglect to nurture its growth.
As Regina and I looked over the staff, there were a few details yet to put in place. We needed a good Base and Building Supervisor. God sent us Morgan Chitembo – the husband of our head house mother – Florence. Now their family lives together on the Base. We pray they may be long-term pillars of Love’s Door.
Also we needed another mature elder, a Director to oversee all things. Mr. Machisa – our accountant and longtime friend has agreed to step into that place and take on the role as Regional Director.
Benjamin and Allison Attema are the undeniable fulcrum of the Love’s Door ministry in the villages. They rule the grounds workers, lead the Staff, mobilize and organize the Family Table tutoring and mentoring programs, and manage the pig business. They have their fingers in every decision and every aspect of ministry. They are shaping things into an orderly operation (as orderly as things can be in an African village!). These two have extended their year commitment, and are now praying about their long term future – please pray for them to hear their Chief loud and clear (and pray that The Chief will tell them to remain where they are planted!).
Our final acts of love and care before we could leave was to, with God’s help, #1) find a new house for our House of Jewels Home – for our very special girl, Monde. Thanks be to God, we found new house mamas and a new home for them. #2) We also needed to help Eugene, our oldest child in the House of Moses, to make a transition to living apart from the Home. He is almost 18, and by Zambian law, may not live in the Home any longer. So he is now in an excellent boarding school, and will come and visit us three months out of the year. #3) We also got Elvis, a long time young disciple, into a skills training course and a special school for older students to progress in their studies. #4) Finally, we sorted out a new location to start building on our next orphan home when the time is ripe.
Then Regina and I, accompanied by Benjamin and Allison, headed out to the North Country. It took us five full days to arrive! But that is another story….
NEWS AND PRAYER NEEDS
Training – Pray for wisdom for us. We have found in recent years it is harder to help these older students be able to get successfully through grade 12 than we thought. We need to hear God’s strategy how to address this great problem. A school? A homeschool curriculum for a few? Hire more teachers and develop a focused program for youth? Send them to better town schools earlier? How do we house them and disciple them in town? Many questions with myriad of answers. We need to hear from God! We need teachers to come and help train!
New orphan home – many of you have donated generously for our next orphan home. Social Welfare has mandated that we separate the older boys and girls. So we had been planning on building a youth home duplex – one side for guys and one for girls. But now we have learned, it would be fine to just separate the boys from the girls – so simply building another house for girls of all ages would be better! So far we have about $28,000 donated! Woohoo! We have estimated about another $20,000 would be perfect. Ask our Provider to please release this so we can get started! We are going to build it right next to the House of Moses, so they can continue being one big family – eating and playing together. We will build a common covered cooking, dining and fellowship area so they can hang together easily. We also want to build it with a similar steep pitched thatch roof. We may call for a building crew to do that part of the work, when we get close. Specify donations: Youth Home.
DOVE – We have been blessed by being a part of the All Nations family for 10 years now! But for some time we have felt God directing us to make a transition of our oversight to be with DOVE. After almost a year of careful discussion with all parties, we have in January made the shift. We continue to love and bless our All Nations family members – you will forever be a part of who we are. Thank you! But we are excited about our new directions as DOVE churches, and nurturing partnerships with other emerging DOVE churches in Zambia, Africa, and around the world.
Whitika and Mikiwe – We have watched this amazing family faithfully serving Jesus in such joy and poverty the full time we have been in Zambia. When we came eight years ago they had 40 students in one room with black plastic walls and roof. Now they have six classrooms, 130 students, seven teachers and seven grades. How six rooms and seven grades, you ask? Well, one grade is meeting in a neighbor’s house! And they want their home back!! So these guys desperately need another classroom and a plot of land. If anyone wants to donate to them, we would be grateful funnels for this resource. Specify donations: Ngwenya.
Church growth – Whitika is also the leader of a mushrooming Church Planting Movement. At last count there were 60 churches in the last couple years! We want to start helping some of these rapidly growing churches with roof systems for the buildings they are building for themselves. Specify donations: Church Roof.
Staff – Pray for Attema’s and Bumsteads as we sort out what God has for us in this coming season. There are others who have also been talking to us about possibly coming to serve long-term with us. God knows and directs. Ask our wise Father to send the right ones, keep the right ones, and establish all as He chooses. Our sense is that we would desire a good core of long-term team leaders to guide the ministry that is mostly staffed by one or two year interns.
Rejuvenation – Pray for Regina and me as we attempt to give ourselves only to this one goal for this season: to find the healing and restoring power of God coursing through our weary souls. We tried to do this several years ago, but didn’t do a good job. This time we are smarter.