Hello from Zambia! Thank you for your prayers for our family over the past few weeks. In these days and turbulent times I know that you have a lot to pray for, and it means so much to us that you are remembering to pray for our family here in Zambia, and in the US.
On Monday Allison will catch one of the last flights out of Zambia to return to the US. She will fly through Ethiopia to Newark, NJ (in both places she will have a 12 hour overnight layover) and then on to Chicago. My parents will pick her up and she will stay with them for the time being. We are praying that the Lord will keep her safe as she travels and that He will put people in her path who will help her and show her kindness. Please join us in prayer for Allison as she travels.
We have spoken to Judah in Los Angeles and he is doing well. Judah has had asthma since a child, so his risk factor is higher than most. Andrea and Anna are staying at their college in Florida. The campus is closed and most students returned to their homes; however the girls are doing online classes and working their student jobs. We are concerned for our children during these times, but long ago we gave them over to the Lord to His excellent care. We are also concerned for our elderly parents. We pray that our worry will give way to increased faith in our great Lord. Please pray with us.
As I mentioned, Allison, Lord willing, will return to the US tomorrow, but Jill and I will be staying in Zambia. For this time in our lives, this is where the Lord has called us to be, and we will dwell among the people to whom He has called us to minister. We trust in His provision for the coming months in the same way that He has provided for us in the past 25 years we have served as missionaries to Zambia.
Zambia (and Africa in general) is about two to three weeks behind the rest of the world in being affected by COVID19, but just this week at least 2 cases were confirmed here. The governments of Africa are responding and this week it is likely that 95% of air travel into and out of Africa will cease. We are praying that Allison will make it out before this happens.
Zambia is much more prone to shortages and economic crisis than many of her neighboring countries because she is land-locked. Most everything that comes into Zambia comes in by road, and countries are shutting their borders and restricting movement in an attempt to contain the virus.
There is no panic buying or panic in general yet, but already there are shortages of the main staple food – maize. The exchange rate is falling daily and this also affects the Zambians.
We are trusting our Lord and we are encouraging our Zambian Christians to do the same. We encouraged our church members to buy a bit of extra food while it was available, but many live paycheck to paycheck and such an extra expenditure is out of reach for them.
Jill and I have taught our people about the necessity to cover their coughs, wash their hands thoroughly and often, and avoid touching their faces.
Today instead of an actual church service, I prepared a handout with the church announcements and prayer requests, our fill-in-the-blank Sunday School lesson and a written out sermon. I also wrote an informational paper about what they can expect in the coming months and the facts of what COVID19 is, who will be affected, and further steps they can take to protect their families. I also printed off a good article from a doctor answering many questions about the illness. Included with this packet of information was a bar of hand soap and a couple of large avocados from our tree. I spent 4 hours this morning visiting our church members delivering these packets and encouraging each family. I also informed our church members that the Friends of Zambia Library on our church property is open for them to borrow books during this time of school shutdowns and isolation. (One person at a time in the library.)
Jill and I have taken steps to be prepared to assist our church members and widows and orphans if the situation in Zambia turns grave. We pray that the Lord will give us wisdom as we assist where we can. Please pray for us.
Sadly, some people cannot understand the potential for crisis that is at our doorstep here in Zambia. As an example, here is an actual conversation I had on Friday with a 45 year old Zambian man, who like many others lives paycheck to paycheck.
Me: In the days ahead, there might be food shortages and increased prices for the food that’s available, and you should think of buying some extra mealie meal (the staple food in Zambia) or rice or cooking oil.
Me: Yes, I was just in town and already there are shortages of maize, and the mealie meal that is available has increased in cost almost 20% from last month.
ZM: I hate to ask this, but I need your help. My children are suffering at home.
Me: I am sorry to hear that, what can I do to help?
ZM: Our tv stopped working last week and my sister is selling hers for 1,200 kwacha. Could you lend me 1,200 kwacha to buy the tv as I do not have any money right now?
>> Note: 1,200 kwacha will buy 8 x 55lb bags of mealie meal. A family of 4 uses about 2 bags of mealie meal a month.<<
Me: You want money for a tv and not food?
ZM: Yes pastor, my children are suffering not having a tv.
I told this to Jill and it saddened both of us, but we considered this: how often have we asked amiss or asked for something to be consumed on our lusts when the Lord was waiting for us to ask for a spiritual need to be filled and all we could see was a “want”? Please pray that we will have wisdom to help Zambians and always serve them with dignity and respect.
On a more positive note, last Sunday before our Sunday school service one of the youths in our church told me that she was ready to be saved. I have known this young lady since she was about 4 years old. After the main service I sat with her and opened my Bible and showed her verses that she had already memorized and quoted at camp. What a blessing to be able to see her “tie it all together” and recognize her need for a relationship with the Savior! About 30 minutes later she bowed her head and asked Jesus to take away her sin and to save her.
Later that same day I had the great privilege to preach at the Ndola Bible Baptist Deaf Church through an interpreter. The pastor later told me that after the service 3 deaf adults received Christ as their Savior.
This week I baptized a college student who had recently received Christ as her Savior. She had received Christ the day before she left for university but had a great desire to be baptized. As soon as she returned to Ndola she invited all of her friends and we baptized her.
Although the Lord’s Ministry in Zambia may change somewhat during these times of shortages, isolation, and cancelled church services, the work here DOES continue. Thank you for your faithful partnership with our family.
Please know that we are praying for you as well.