Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Outreach in Mumbwa (Part 1)

This past weekend, Luke Whitfield and I went with a local church to do outreach in several villages in Mumbwa.  Someone donated funds so that Luke could purchase "Salaula" (about 100 pounds of second-hand clothes) to be distributed to families in the villages before winter hits.  It's amazing how so little goes so far here in Zambia.  Giving out the clothes was not the only thing that we did during the trip.  

When we first arrived, we attended an evening service where Luke preached on being a Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Pastor Collins Chipaya (our guide for the weekend & pastor of a large charismatic church here in Lusaka) then led a time of prayer for healing and other various things.  After the service, we went back to the hotel to get rest for the next day of ministry.

The next morning, we visited a village where I was asked to preach to a year old church plant.  After preaching, Luke and Chiluba (another leader in Chipaya's church) had those with ailments line up in the front of the congregation and then they prayed for each person separately.  One of the men there was suffering from chronic knee and back pain.  After praying for the gentleman's knee, he said that the pain went away.  So they proceeded to pray for his back as well.  As their hands were on his back, they felt his back pop and the man's pain went away!  Praise the Lord!  That afternoon, I had to leave to get back for Gracyn's birthday party, but this was not the only miracle that occurred over the weekend.  There were many more.  

I'll talk about them and the ways that God has challenged my views of him since this trip in our next blog. 

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cooking for the Family

Please be in prayer for Kerri.  It seems that she might be suffering from the flu.  It has been making its rounds through our team and on Saturday night, after Gracyn's birthday she came down with a fever.  

Not to, in any way, make this about myself, but I think it is times like these that gives a father and husband real perspective as to the role a wife and mother plays.  I've been screaming UNCLE to God since Sunday night, but apparently He is still having fun watching me squirm.  Yes, I know I'm a wimp.  

Tonight, was kind of a "cake topper" experience.  After watching the kids all day, I needed to cook dinner.  So, I made a little "Macaroni  Surprise."  I boiled some water and cooked the noodles.  Then I went searching for the powdered cheddar cheese to mix with the noodles.  Well, to my amazement, the entire bag of cheese mix had turned into a brick of cheese mix.  I couldn't even break it up by slamming it on the counter.  I then decided to just get some spaghetti sauce and mix that with the noodles.  The only problem was that I forgot to drain the noodles.  So, now, instead of having spaghetti sauce and noodles, we had a watered down version of spaghetti sauce with noodles.  I tasted it to see if it would taste as bad as it looked-- and it did.  Especially, being that I didn't cook the noodles long enough.  

So, what did I do next?  The only viable option in my mind...  I pulled the brick of cheddar back out of the trash and started chipping away.  After getting enough chunks to successfully flavor the noodles, I mixed the two and voila "Macaroni Surprise." As soon as Kerri came into the dining room, she asked: "What smells like puke?"  To which I replied "Dinner."  Although it didn't look very eatable, Kerri, Caleb, Maddie & I ate a bowl full.  It wasn't all that bad.  At least that's what I thought, but Gracyn refused to eat any of it.  After torturing ourselves by downing this scrumptious meal, we gladly fed the rest to the dogs.

All that to say, please pray for Kerri to get healthy.  I don't know how much longer I can last!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Gracyn

Gracyn's birthday is in 2 days, but we decided to celebrate it today.  We have been trying to think of a way to get the orphans out of the Bill & Bette Bryant Centre.  So, we decided to invite them to the party as well.  When we first started visiting this orphanage, there were 11 children in the home.  Now, there are 18!!!  So, when you count these children, the children of our workers and the children from our other team members, we had over 40 children show up for the party.  Throw in the adults in and we had close to 60 people.  Crazy huh?  We decided to rent one of those inflatable slides, which was a tremendous hit.  All of the children absolutely loved it.  They didn't stop playing on it from the time they got there until the time they left.  All in all, I think Gracyn had a wonderful birthday.  Above are some pictures from the day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Baby Allen

Yesterday we hosted a surprise baby shower for Steve and Stephanie Allen, fellow AZ team members and friends.  It was a fun time of fellowship and little gifts for baby Allen.  We all wrote down special blessings, scriptures, or prayers and put them in an album for them.  Steve and Stephanie and their three girls are leaving next Saturday to return to Washington State for the birth of their new addition.  Please pray for our friends as they travel home.  Pray for a smooth and easy delivery and a healthy baby!  Pray that they get back here quickly, because we sure are going to miss them!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A couple of firsts

This morning I had another first in Zambia--a first traffic ticket.  I was headed across town when a traffic cop stepped out in the middle of the road and flagged me down.  Yes, that's right.  Here in Zambia, most of the traffic police don't have vehicles.  So, instead of sitting in their car with a radar gun, they stand on the side of the road.  When someone is going over the speed limit (meaning anything over the limit), they step out into traffic and motion them to pull to the side of the road.  This time they got me!

This evening, I had another first--a visit to the funeral home.  One of our Zambian friend's (Alex) father passed away from complications related to a stroke.  When I say funeral home, I don't mean one like in the States.  Instead, it usually takes place in the home of one of the deceased's family members.  When we arrived, all of the men were congregated outside while all of the women were inside.  The guys were quite reserved.  Most of them didn't even talk very much.  They just sat down in chairs outside and kind of stared into space.  But the women were much different.  They were all inside sitting on floor mats wailing.  At first I didn't know it was the women making this sound, because it was like something I had never heard before.  It lasted the entire time we were there (about 1 hour) and I was told would last much longer.  Right before we left, the pastor asked me to share some encouraging words with the family, which I was praying he wouldn't do.  I felt so unequipped to share with this family, because I only knew one of the sons and never knew the man himself.  But I prayed that God would provide the words.  I do hope they were encouraged despite the circumstances.

Please pray for this dear brother.  Alex has just been someone who has blessed my soul since we've been here.  He is a man of great joy and a constant encouragement.  Pray for him and his family during this time of sorrow.  Pray that the God of all comfort would settle their hearts and bring them a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Growing Up...

For all of you who are reading this post and thinking, "Great, another parent doting over his child," I'll spare you the misery.  I won't sit here and tell you how my little one is a genius (which she is), or how she's the cutest in the whole world (which she also is).  I'll spare you of all that.  I just wanted to say how amazing it is to watch my children grow up right in front of my eyes.  It seems like just yesterday that we were in Baptist Hospital and Kerri was giving birth to Caleb.  Now, our Little Maddie is just about to walk and she's saying small words like ball, juice, mommy, daddy & bubby.  I can't believe that in December, she'll be a big sister and we'll have a 4th in the Roberts clan.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday Outreach

Just wanted to update you on the weekend outreach.  Last night went really well.  There were about twice in attendance as compared to the first night.  The really cool thing was that the church pretty much ran the whole evening by themselves, except for us providing the projector and movie.  After the showing, a young man named Jeffrey, came to me and shared how he had become a Christian two years ago, but had been struggling with different issues since then. I tried to encourage him with the scripture that we are all new creations once we become followers of Christ and that with God's help, he needed to turn away from some of the things he was struggling with.  His story is common here in Zambia.  There are many in the church who are struggling with their relationships with God.  I am thankful for Action Zambia's calling to strengthen the church here in Zambia and I'm glad to be a part of this work.

This morning, there were 11 individuals who attended Great Commission as a result of the weekend outreach.  Some are new believers and some are believers who haven't been part of a church for a very long time.  Please pray for these dear people.  Pray that they would continue in the discipleship class that is being taught on the church Sunday mornings.  Pray that they would grow in their relationships with Christ and become active members of this congregation.  Please continue to pray for Great Commission.  Pray for the leadership.  Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday Outreach

The outreach went really well last night except for some first minute hiccups.  It was supposed to begin at 6:00 pm, but we had some technical difficulties (the power went out, DVD audio wasn't initially working, etc...), which pushed the start time back to 6:45 pm.  We had a fix for the power, a generator, and the audio from the DVD player to began working after we turned it off and on again.  After everything was fixed, it went pretty smooth from there.  We played the first half of "The Passion of the Christ" and then Luke shared the Gospel.  After the message, Great Commission leadership handed out information.  They will be starting a Sunday morning study on how to live the Christian life.  Their desire is for some of those in attendance last night and tonight to come to faith in Christ and then begin this class as a way to be further strengthened in their faith.  It's refreshing to see a church who not only wants people to believe, but to be changed by that belief.  It's encouraging to see them taking the responsibility for their neighbors by providing a way for new believers to grow in their relationship with God.  Here are some pics from the evening.  Thank you so much for praying.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A little excitement...

One of our fellow missionaries (Tracy Singleton) has had a rather exciting week.  It first started downtown on Cairo road when he was almost the victim of a pick-pocket.  He was walking through a crowded section of the street when a gentleman passing in front of him grabbed his shoulders.  Instinctively, Tracy grabbed his back pocket where his wallet was located and found that it was already half-way out.  Another guy, standing behind him, was trying to steal his wallet.  When Tracy realized what was going on, he yelled "Thief!  Thief!"  The two men just walked away.

Later in the week another interesting thing happened to Tracy.  He was standing in front of his house when he noticed what looked like a snake on the other side of the yard.  So, in curiosity, he walked towards it to get a better look.  When he got about 10 feet away, he saw that it wasn't one snake, but two.  They were Cobras that were mating.  Here's where the fun began.  Cobras become highly aggressive during mating season.  These two particular snakes were no exception.  They stopped what they were doing and started chasing Tracy!  Unfortunately, he didn't have anything to defend himself with, so he just back-peddled as fast as he could.  When he reached the door of his house (snakes still chasing him), he picked up a container that was on the ground beside the door and hurled it at them.  This was enough for the snakes to stop the chase and allow Tracy enough time to open the door and get inside of the house.

So, all that to say, it's been quite an interesting week for our friend Tracy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Some Prayer Requests

  • This coming Friday & Saturday, we are having a video outreach in the Cilenje compound.  We're expecting between 300-400 people to attend.  We will be showing "The Passion of the Christ" video.  Please pray for the logistics (power available for the entire showing, no problems with the electrical equipment) as well as the people in attendance (that God would open eyes and ears to His gospel).
  • Please continue to pray for Kerri.  She is tired these days with the pregnancy, but has yet to get sick.  Pray also for the health of the baby.
  • Please pray for our team.  Myself, Luke, Graham & Megan all have been battling the Zambian flu.  Graham's has turned into pneumonia.
Thanks again for your prayer and support.  We couldn't be here ministering without you standing behind us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Something Funny

Not much has happened recently that was blog worthy.  So, I went back to the recesses of my mind to pull out something funny to write about--my first meeting with Michael Kandela.  Luke and myself were having our first meeting when Michael told us that we both reminded him of different people, both of which are celebrities.  He told Luke that he looked like John Seena (don't know if I spelled that correctly or not).  John Seena is a buff wrestler that wrestles with the WWF.  (By the way, the WWF is huge here, everyone watches it.  But that's another blog.)  Then he got to me.  He said that I reminded him of Mr. Bean!  Luke gets the buff wrestler, I get Mr. Bean.  When I later preached at his church, I asked the congregation who I looked like, and with one accord, they all said Mr. Bean.  What do you think?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Maybe You Could Help This Couple

I had a meeting yesterday with Pastor Michael Kandela. He invited me over to discuss various things concerning the ministry, but then stopped to share something personal with me. Something he has given me permission to share with each of you. Pastor Kandela several years ago began to feel God’s calling upon his life to become a preacher. At the time, he didn’t have the means to go to seminary. So, he prayed that if God were in fact calling him into ministry full-time, he would provide a way for him to attend seminary—and for this he prayed for several years.

About 2 years ago, God answered his prayers. He provided a partner from the U.S. who was willing to pay for his schooling and another partner to pay for his family’s livelihood. So, he followed the Lord’s leading and started seminary. Since then, he has completed two years and is excelling in his studies. In his time away from family and studies, he has also managed to plant a church, “Great Commission,” which is the church that we are currently partnering with in ministry. So, in addition to taking 6 classes per term, managing a family of 4, he is also preaching on Sundays, teaching Sunday school, leading a cell group and a discipleship group, and spearheading Saturday outreach into the community surrounding the church. The reason that I mention his commitment to ministry is because it truly is just the outward expression of his heart. Michael is a man who loves the Lord and desires to see Him glorified here in Zambia.

The reason that I am writing this post is that his circumstances have changed. The individual, who has been supporting his family’s livelihood, is unable to carry this load any longer. Michael called me yesterday to tell me that his family has run out of food and doesn’t know what to do going forward. He asked me if I could share his situation with some of our friends and family back home to see if someone would possibly be willing to sponsor his family until he finishes seminary in Nov 2010. His monthly costs are not too high, about $130 USD. Would you prayerfully consider sponsoring this family?  If one or some of you would be interested, please contact us via e-mail. Donations for this would have to be sent directly through our Bank of America account and would, therefore, not be tax deductible.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It Has Arrived!!!

Where as in the States, you can go to a car dealership, find a somewhat dependable vehicle, make a purchase and drive home the same day or a few days later, it is not the same here in Zambia.  Because cars driven in Zambia are highly unreliable (i.e. odometers are often set back several thousand kilometers in attempts to resale the car at a much higher price) , we had to go outside the country to purchase a vehicle.  So, we ordered this vehicle from Japan.  About 2 months later, it has now arrived.  

We just thought we would share a little bit about how it got here as it shows God's involvement and His answers to your prayers on our behalf.  When the car was in Tanzania, we asked several of you to pray that it would be cleared and unloaded from the boat so we could have a driver pick it up.  It just so happened that it cleared on the same day our carrier had a truck in Tanzania.  Meaning we didn't have to wait another 2 weeks to a month for our carrier to be back at the same port.  

Another hurdle was customs at the Zambian border.  We have had teammates who have had vehicles and vehicle parts stalled at the border for several weeks at a time.  This didn't happen with our vehicle.  The car was picked up on a Wednesday in Dar Es Salaam, transported to the northern border of Zambia, cleared and was in Lusaka in less than a week!

The final hurdle was Registration.  Typically after imported vehicles arrive in Lusaka, they have to sit in the carriers lot for another 2-3 weeks while they apply for clearing from the Ministry of Finance and get the proper papers filled out for registration and tags.  Our carrier told us that the paperwork provided at the border was enough to clear it through the Ministry of Finance (which is not the norm) and that we could drive it off the lot that day (Which is something we totally didn't expect)!

So, all of that being said, Kerri and I just wanted to say thank you so much for your prayers.  We are glad that we have friends and family like you continually lifting us up to the Father.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Expecting the Unexpected

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with a great deal of surprise, but also a great deal of excitement that we share the following news with you. A little over a week ago, Kerri and I found out that we will be welcoming the 4th Roberts child into our family this coming December. According to an ultrasound that we had this morning, Kerri is about 6 weeks along and expects to deliver sometime near Christmas. Please be in prayer for us over the next several months. We have some decisions to make concerning where to have the baby and request that you ask the Lord to give us wisdom. We also desire for you to pray for this child’s health and development while he/she is in the womb. Thank you so much for your prayers for our family during this time.

Brent & Kerri

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Adjusting to Culture

I thought you would appreciate this story...

I drove Pastor Michael Kandela home from our discipleship group meeting this evening.  When we got to his house, he was telling me to "pass his greetings to Kerri and the children," but he was saying it in Nyanja.  Over the past couple of months, Kerri and I have been trying to learn Nyanja.  So, I asked him to repeat what he said.  As he repeated, I tried to mimic the words, but without much success.  After fumbling over the words one more time, I said "I have a long way to go."  

Immediately, Pastor Kandela got out of the car and said goodbye.  It took me a minute to figure out what had happened.  When I did figure it out, I rolled down my window and asked him to come back.  I had to explain to him that when I said "I had a long way to go," I meant that I had a long way to go in learning Nyanja.  Pastor Kandela said that he thought I was trying to cut the conversation short, because I had a long way to travel back home.  We then laughed at what had happened.  

Later that evening, he called and told me that his wife Monica laughed when she heard about our misunderstanding.  I'm quickly learning that some of the things that I am used to saying in English, have to be fully explained when speaking with Zambians.

Monday, May 05, 2008

So, What Happened to the Goat???

Since my blog post about preaching and receiving a goat, we have received many different emails asking the same question:  What happened to the goat?  Originally, I had planned on, yep, you guessed it, supper!  But Kerri reminded me of something.  There's a young boy named Grandson who lives out near the ACTION ministry centre who had a goat that was stolen from him.  One of our teammates Megan was going to get him a goat for his birthday.  So, we called her up and said, "Do you want a goat?  We've got one!"  She brought Grandson over to our house later that afternoon and we parted company with Billy.  That's what the kids named him.  Grandson was very excited.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


We wanted each of you to know that we are trying our best to keep our blog updated daily, but sometimes things in Africa don't work out quite like we want them too.  Our power, which for sometime had been consistent, is becoming more and more unreliable.  Where we were experiencing power outages 3-4 days a week for just a few hours, we are now experiencing outages 7 days a week, sometimes multiple times during the day.  Please pray for our sanity!  Pray for our team members also.  There are many who have it worse off than we do, based on where they live in the city.  Anyway, just wanted to put a few pics of how we spend the time entertaining the children when the power is in fact out.