Thank you so much for your prayers for our family and for the work here in Zambia over the past two weeks. The Lord is blessing our prayers and I am excited to share with you in this update how the Lord allowed me to help guide a young man to salvation on Saturday.
The cold season is now upon us here in Zambia. In the mornings the temperatures are sometimes in the upper 40˚s! During the day it gets up to the upper 70˚s, and that is very nice. We can expect these brisk nights and mornings through August. I know of no one in Zambia with central heating in their home or business. We make do with space heaters, charcoal fires, or more typically – layering clothes. It is common to see Zambians in the early morning sitting outside their home, all bundled up, letting the rising sun warm them while they drink their steaming breakfast tea. Interesting note – I would estimate that fewer than 50% of Zambian homes have a hot water heater.
The Zambian electricity company announced earlier this month that starting on June 1 there would be rolling blackouts throughout the country lasting 4 hours daily. Usually that means that they will last for a minimum of 4 hours per day. These blackouts will probably last until the rainy season sometime in November. Please pray for our Zambian Christians as this loss of electricity will affect them greatly.
At Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola, our midweek service is held on Wednesday. We meet from 4 to 5pm. This is necessary because we do not have electricity at the church property yet, and we want to make sure that folks get home before it gets too dark. Almost all of our Wednesday night crowd walks to church. We average between 10 and 20 in attendance each week, mainly young adults. Because of the early start time many of the members of our church who work regular jobs cannot make it. The same goes for teens who attend school in the afternoon. We have a good varied group though each week and it is a blessing.
We start off with prayer and then 20 minutes of singing – the folks choose their favorites. After this we take questions that folks may have from their daily devotions or from witnessing. If there are no questions then I teach a Bible lesson. We then take prayer requests for about 5 minutes and then break up into small groups of 2 or 3 and pray for one another for about 15 minutes. We then re-congregate and are dismissed.
Sometimes people will text me their questions during the week or they will hand me a note on Sunday so that I can study to answer. Most questions are quite thoughtful. I appreciate that our folks are reading their Bibles not just to say they have read x number of chapters that day, but that they want to learn and be fed.
It has always been my practice to have new converts attend a Baptism class before they are baptized. So many people here feel that baptism is an essential part of salvation, we feel it is appropriate to help individuals have a thorough understanding of what Biblical baptism is before moving forward. In our baptism class we cover topics such as What baptism is NOT, What baptism is, Who should be baptized, How should they be baptized, Who should do the baptizing, and infant baptism.
On Saturday I was going through the baptism class with a young man who had been led to the Lord about two months ago. Jill and I were on furlough when this young man Simon* was saved. At the beginning of the class I asked him about his salvation testimony. Some of what he said gave me pause, but we continued with the class. When I explained how baptism did not help you in your salvation, this young man (who came from a Pentecostal background) stopped me and said “Wait, I thought that it was a part of salvation.” At this point I was concerned and so I asked him in more detail about his salvation experience.
He explained that he had been asked if he wanted to go to heaven or hell – he responded that he wanted to go to heaven. He was then asked if he had given his life to Christ yet, and he said “no”. While the others went to play basketball, he and another young man, who also wanted to learn more about salvation, stayed behind to hear more. Simon explained that he was then told to pray a prayer and when he did not know what to say he was instructed to just repeat after the soul-winner a “sinner’s prayer”. He did that and was pronounced “saved”.
I asked Simon if he could remember anything of what he prayed and he said not really, but that at the end of the prayer the person leading him in prayer asked God to accept them some day at the final judgement.
I asked Simon if I could show him some verses from his Bible. Starting with Romans 3:10 I took him through the Roman’s Road, slowly explaining each verse and each point. I took time to ask questions and make sure that Simon was understanding each point. I explained that the main purpose in Jesus coming to earth and dying for our sins was not just to give us entrance to Heaven but to free us from the bondage of our sin. Simon asked good questions and when I finished about 30 minutes later I asked him – “was this what you did when you prayed 2 months ago?” He said “no”. He told me that he wanted to pray right then and there, and ask Jesus to save him. He bowed his head and in his own heart language, in his own words, asked to receive salvation through the blood of Jesus. We then continued with the baptism class.
Sadly this is a common occurrence. Too many people are told that repeating a prayer will save them. Too many people want relief from the consequences of their sin (Hell) with no desire to be free from the chains of their sin. Please pray that as we witness we will take time to thoroughly explain the clear plan of the gift of salvation to people. Lord willing in a couple of weeks you will get to see some photos of this young man and others being baptized.
Today Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola voted to release 10,000K ($741) from the general fund to be applied to the cost of replacing the church floor. This represents about 8 months worth of offerings for our church. Not only that, but we also took up a special freewill offering today and the church gave an additional 3875K ($287). This sacrificial offering is a testament of the church’s love for the Lord and their desire to have a nice building in which to worship their Savior.
I would like to say “Thank You” to all the churches and individuals who have made the decision to stand with Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola in this project to replace the church floor. Your financial gifts and notes of encouragement are a blessing.
This week is THE week, and this Thursday is THE day that Jill and I will be reunited here in Zambia! On Tuesday, Jill will travel from Florida to Texas to Washington DC to Accra, Ghana to Johannesburg, South Africa and then on up to Ndola, Zambia. She will leave on Tuesday morning and arrive in Zambia on Thursday evening. Please pray for her as she travels. Please pray for her safety and good health, and for the Lord to put people in her path who will be kind to her and assist her.
We praise the Lord that He allowed Jill to be in the US for the past two months helping Anna through her mononucleosis and pneumonia. Jill was a blessing and comfort to all three girls. Anna is much better but is still feeling the effects of the mono. The doctor said that it could be 2 to 4 more months until the fatigue and other symptoms completely pass. Please pray for Anna’s complete recovery.
I am very excited to see Jill again. This has been one of the longest (if not THE longest) separations in our 24 year marriage. I think that it has helped us both appreciate one another more and strengthen our commitment to one another.
Thank you so much for your prayers for our sending pastor, Pastor Dave Brown. Sadly, his father passed away and Pastor Brown preached his funeral in New Mexico this last Wednesday. Please continue in prayer for Pastor Brown and his family as his mother suffers from dementia, and needs 24 hour care. Please also keep in prayer our good friends Cathy and Al and their on-going fight against cancer.
The work that the Lord has given us here would not be possible without your partnership. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support that allows us to serve here in this magnificent mission field.