Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Whitfields


Please take the time to read this update from Luke and Elise, our good friends and partners in Evangelism and Discipleship here in Africa.  Cool stuff!


Dear Friends

Greetings from increasingly hot Lusaka, Zambia. I (Luke) wanted to write a quick note and let you know the latest on new ministry opportunities and development with us. As Elise has mentioned in a previous update we have been investigating ways to “mobilize” the churches we are working with. We have realized, during our two years here, that there is much knowledge transfer going on in churches but very little mobilization of the congregation. While knowledge and study of God’s Word is essential, if that knowledge cannot be transferred into practical actions are we really helping the Zambian we came to serve? It to this end that we have been intent on developing outlet ministries that allow different congregation to see the power that exists when we take the knowledge of the Word of God to the streets. This has mainly been in the areas of door to door and open air evangelism, as well as hospital visitation.

The past two weeks I have gone over to the main hospital here in Lusaka, UTH, and spent time visiting with various patients. I always take a member from a local church with me because of the language barrier and most importantly because we are hoping they will catch the vision for themselves. Yesterday, 25/08, we went to the pediatrics ward and all I can say is that I left broken hearted. So many little ones with tubes stuck all over their bodies and anxious mother with looks of desperation covering their faces. We went to visit a little 8 year old boy named Enzo. This little guy has a significant hole in his heart which means you can literally hear his heart murmur without a stethoscope. With or without treatment the diagnosis is that Enzo will probably die in the next year but the hope is that treatment might prolong the inevitable. We went to love on little Enzo and pray a pray for healing in faith, what a privilege to serve this little one in this manner. 

While there we also meet a little girl name Musonda who, just like Enzo, also had a heart condition as well as problems with her lungs. As we prayed for her she labored heavily to take each new breath in, but when we finished she rewarded us with a big smile. Her mother, a Jehovah’s witness, was reluctant at first to let us pray for her but finally agreed. After we had finished we noticed that all the other patients in the ward has gotten up and left the room we were in. We took this a clear rejection of our prayers and proceed to leave the ward. 

As we enter the hall, Musonda’s mother came running after us and frantically explained that she was concerned that we had only prayed for her daughter, what? As I asked the Zambians who had come with me to explain what she was so concerned about, they told me that there is still much superstition towards whites (we are sometimes thought to be Satanists) and she believed bad things would happen to her daughter if we only prayed for her. We assured her that we had just prayed for a little boy in the next ward named Enzo but she would not be satisfied until she asked him for herself. These are the little ways satan has bound these people in fear and keeps them from receiving the healing message of Jesus Christ. Continue to pray that the name of Jesus would break down these spiritual barriers and that He would continue to equip us to do battle for His name sake.

We are also still organizing a meeting with the head of all prisons here in Zambian with the hope that we will be granted permission to begin work in the prison system here in the country (amazing opportunities for ministry). 

I continue to help lead, with my good friend Brent Roberts, a small group ministry with Great Commission Baptist Church. We are excited as we have identified two future leaders in the group and are hoping they will partner together to start a new small group within the church. This is such an answer to prayer as our mission, from the beginning of our small group ministry, has been to see replication happen (praise God). We also began work a couple of weeks ago on creating a curriculum for evangelism that will be piloted at Evangel Baptist Church, which is the church we are currently attending. I have begun a five week program on evangelism with the men’s group each Saturday morning a 7:30 and I am excited at the evident eagerness to see a heart for evangelism fostered at this church. 

Please pray as the long term vision for this program will be to implement it into all levels of the church—leadership, men’s/women’s ministry, youth programs, AWANA, small group, etc. Elise and I feel that this type of training and educating is why God has called us to Zambia. 

Also, as you continue to pray for us you might be interested to know that last Tuesday 08/19 the president of Zambia passed away in Paris, France. This has been such an interesting time as the government has decreed that there will be 21 days of national mourning which will end with his burial on my birthday September 3rd. Things remain very stable here but the implementation of the new government would prove to be troublesome. I am sure that violence will be avoided at all costs but as we have seen in other instances bathing these types of situations in prayer is essential. Pray that Zambia would continue to remain a beacon of stability in a somewhat unstable region and that the Christian heritage they claim would continue to be the cornerstone on which this great country rests. 

FYI—please check out our blog at: as we have added some new feature that will allow you to give online and also sign up for email updates every time a new entry is posted. 

Thanks again for your continued support and prayers. We are so appreciative of your partnership.

His Servant


Sunday, August 24, 2008

I think we're winning the war

This afternoon, Kerri came inside with the laundry, which had just been cleaned.  When she got it out of the dryer, she noticed a different smell in the laundry room.  She said it smelled like a dead animal.  So in stepped Brent to save the day.  I went out to the laundry and pulled the dryer away from the wall and looked in the vent and sure enough, there was a little furry dead rat.  We figured it had been there at least a day or two.  What stinks, besides the dead rat, was that we had to wash all of the clothes again and the ones that we had washed, we had to hang to dry.

Since we've laid poison out, I think we've killed about 5 adults and two babies.  So, I hope this is evidence that we are winning the war with these little critters!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Conference

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak to about 25 pastors and church leaders on the subject of church cell groups.   Things went pretty well except for a few glitches (One, I was late and, two, there was no electricity).  If I had been giving the presentation in the first few months of being here, I probably wouldn't have anticipated the electricity being out, but being here 6 months (now a veteran--yeah right!) I was prepared.  I just used the printout of the powerpoint presentation as reference and used a white board to draw all of the illustrations.  

During and after the presentation, there were a lot of questions from those in attendance.  That coupled with the fact that no one fell asleep made me feel like today was a success : )  In fact, several of those in attendance said that the conference gave them a whole new perspective on cell groups and that they looked forward to implementing some of the things that they learned from our time together.    Thank you so much for praying for me during the preparation and presentation of this material to these church leaders.  Please continue to pray that some of the things that were taught will be applied at the various churches in attendance and that God would be glorified as a result!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ministry Stuff

Developing Curriculum
Please pray for me over the next several weeks.  I am developing some basic discipleship curriculum that is geared towards the African Church and new believers in the African church.

Cell Group Seminar
This coming Saturday, I will be teaching a seminar to a group of local pastors and church leaders on Cell Groups.  In addition to discussing the need for cell group ministry, I will be training these leaders on how to facilitate.  Please pray for me as I teach this seminar.

This past Monday, I sat down with a deacon at Great Commission who wants to start a piggery as a means to provide financially for his family.  His desire is to get this piggery up and running so he can leave his current job as a teacher and go into ministry full-time.  We projected all of his startup and operational costs.  He plans to begin in the next few months.

Hospital Visitation
Luke and I will begin visiting Lusaka Teaching Hospital this week with members of Great Commission.  Pastor Kandela expressed a desire for his church to start this ministry.  So, Luke and I will be doing whatever we can to assist them.

Discipleship for Pastors
Graham and I will be starting a Navigators 2:7 discipleship course with a group of 12 pastors and church leaders in the first week of September.  Our desire is to see these leaders equipped to then go and train the leaders in their church on how to disciple their church members.

Zambia Loses Their President

The President of Zambia, Levy Mwanawasa, died yesterday in a Paris hospital from a stroke that he suffered from nearly a month ago.  The government declared 7 days of mourning, which started yesterday, and will hold a funeral service sometime shortly after that period.  Since Zambia is still fairly young, when it comes to gaining their independence, this is actually the first president that they have ever lost.  Vice President, Banda, will step in for the next 90 days, at which point they will hold elections for a new president.  Please pray for Zambia during this time.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Ok.  We made it back safely, but I do have some great stories to tell.  Instead of giving you every single detail of our camping trip to Mushingashi, I'll try to give you just the highlights.  If you are receiving this via e-mail, you will have to go to our website to view the slideshow:

Leaving for Mushingashi
On Thursday night, I went to Luke's house to pack up the car.  We decided to do this a day early to make sure we could fit everything in or on the car.  As you have seen from the first picture in the slideshow above, we barely made it.  Gracyn and Payton (Luke's son) had to sit in the back seat on top of the tent and the food and hold a cooler in between them.  It was truly a sight.

Day 1

Setting Up Camp
When we arrived, we pulled out the cans of diesel we had packed in the car.  I decided that it would be better to go ahead and pour the diesel into the car so we didn't have to keep track of the cans while we were there.  The only problem was that while trying to pour the diesel, my hand slipped and, as a result, I got sprayed all over my head, face and pants.  Yes, I know.  I'm retarded.

A Walking Safari
After setting up our tent, we took all of the team's children on a walk up the Kafue river.  We ended up walking about 1/4 mile up the river before turning around.  What's significant about the 1/4 mile?  The next morning, our guard, who took us on the walk, told us that we had come within 100 meters of a Pride of lions (7 lions)!  I don't know what we would have done if they would have seen us with all of those little buffet items, oops, I mean children.

Fishing on the River
Luke was the fisherman of the group.  He brought his collapsable rod and reel with various fishing tackle.  He and I went down to the river right in front of camp with the kids and went fishing for about an hour.  Luke ended up catching 3 fish which we had the cook prepare for everyone to sample.  Later, that night, I was in camp and decided to shine a spotlight on the river in front of camp--the same place we were fishing earlier.  That's when I saw 3 different sets of eyes reflecting the light from the water.  Yep, crocs!  In fact, the next day, we saw a 13 foot croc a little ways up the river.  Let's just say that the kids didn't join us on any more fishing expeditions the rest of the trip.

Night Safari
You guessed it.  It was dark, our spotlights didn't provide enough light and we didn't see much.  Whoever thought of going out to look for animals in the dark?

Sleeping in the Tent
After a long day of driving, setting up camp and exploring the wilderness, Luke and I had the task of trying to get 5 children to fall asleep in a tent without the assistance of the wives.  We managed, but sleeping that night was a chore.  The ground was very hard and me, Caleb and Gracyn were trying to share two sleeping bags that were a bit too small.  As the night got colder, I kept waking up.  I think I ended up getting about 5 hours of sleep.

Day 2

Safari Drive
Most of our other teammates got up and went on safari before 6:00 am.  Luke and I were still trying to recover from the previous night of no sleep and didn't get out on safari until around 8:00 am.  As we drove, Luke caught something out of the corner of his eye.  It was a lion.  At this point, we left the driving trail and tried to maneuver the car around rocks and fallen trees to get as close as we could.  In the car was Luke, myself and our 5 children along with the guard from camp.  As we drove back towards the lion, we realized that she wasn't alone.  There were 6 others.  This was the first time that we realized that the tent we were sleeping in the night before with 5 kids was less than 1/4 mile away from 7 hungry lions!

Relaxing Afternoon
That afternoon, we took several of our teammates back out to see the lions, and then went back to camp to play games and just chill out.

Dinner Surprise
As we were eating dinner, the man in charge of maintaining the camp interrupted us and asked if we would like to come outside and see the lions.  Those same 7 lions had left their place 1/4 mile from the camp and decided to walk in our direction.  When we got outside, we watched as all 7 of them walked through the outskirts of the camp.  At this point, Gracyn, Caleb, Caleb's daddy and even the camp staff, didn't like the idea of the campers sleeping in their tents another night.  So, they graciously let some of the ladies on our team use one of their chalets and me, Luke and the kids used the group room.

Lunar Eclipse
After all of the excitement from the evening, the team gathered around the fire in the middle of camp.  We learned that there was going to be a lunar eclipse.  So, we put the children to bed and then the adults sat and watched it.  Pretty great way to cap the day off!

What in the world was that?
After watching the eclipse, Luke and I headed back into the group room and went to sleep for what we thought would be the night.  But much to our surprise, at 1:00 am we awoke to a loud shriek just outside, a few feet from the building.  A hyena had ventured into the campsite and made this awful noise.  If you have ever seen "Lord of the Rings," it sounds like one of the sounds dark lords made in the movie.  Luke and I both sprung up ready to defend the little ones, but the hyena had already made its way off into the night.  Luckily the kids never heard a sound, but needless to say, Luke and I had a hard time going back to sleep after that.

Day 3

Overall, we had a wonderful weekend and experienced things in God's creation that will last as memories for the rest of our lives.  After breaking down camp and team devotions, we jumped into our vehicles and headed back to Lusaka.  Kerri was happy to have her hubby and children back safely and we were happy to see her again after our first African camping trip!  Thank you for praying for us while we were away.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pray for our Campers!

This morning at 7:00, Brent, Caleb and Gracyn shoved off with Luke, Macy, Emma and Payton Whitfield to meet the rest of the team and then caravan to Mushingashi Game Conservancy.  They will spend the weekend with most of the rest of our team camping (yes in a tent - a huge 3 room one, though) and driving their own safaris in the park.  We decided that it would be best for Maddie and me to skip this one.  She is at such a busy age and always getting into things that just the thought of having her camping in the "wild" was stressful to me!  So, she and I will be enjoying some one-on-one time together, and I'll be enjoying some more alone time than usual.  I have been craving time to myself for quite a while now.  

I can't wait to post the picture of the guys and kids packed into our car like sardines.  It was hilarious!  Our car seats 7, so they had every seat filled and all their stuff packed under, behind, between and around the kids.  Gracyn and Payton were in the jump seats in back completely surrounded with pillows and sleeping bags.  If they were to have an accident, God forbid, those two would be just fine!  The bigger 3 kids were in the back seat with absolutely no leg space, and in addition, the top of the car was loaded too.  It was a sight, for sure.  Incidentally, don't worry, they are all wearing seat belts!  Thankfully their trip home should be much lighter.  I just hope they make it there without any horrid leg cramps or puking!

I'm sure they are going to have lots of fun, and we'll post some pictures as soon as the crew returns on Sunday.  In the mean time, would you please pray?  
  • Pray for the safety of all our team members as they drive far away from civilization and return on Sunday.
  • Pray for all the vehicles to function properly and for an abundance of diesel (it's been short here in Lusaka lately).
  • Pray for their safety and health at Mushingashi and that God would keep critters and reptiles at a safe distance from them all. 
  • Pray that all who are on the trip have fun and enjoy relaxing and enjoying God's creation!
  • Pray that Brent and Luke won't lose their minds with 5 kids and no Mommies.
  • Pray that God will give me some refreshing time in His presence this weekend.
  • Pray for Elise and Tazi Whitfield as they return today from a week-long ministry trip to the bush.    
Thanks so much!  

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Going on a short vacation

Our team is doing a team retreat this weekend.  We're headed to a place called Mushangashi, about 4 & 1/2 hours west of Lusaka.  We were told to pack fireworks if we didn't have a gun because lions have been known to wander around the outskirts of the campsite.  We'll also be on the Kafue river and yes, the river has Crocs!  I guess this isn't like camping in the States.  Is it?  

Due to the increased risks of malaria, Kerri is staying home with Maddie, but me, Caleb and Gracyn have been taking our malaria meds and will be heading out for our first African camping trip tomorrow.  Should be an experience!  Please pray for us and our team.  Traveling in Africa isn't as easy as it seems and even though my dad isn't on these roads, they are still dangerous.  (Love you dad!)  We'll post some pictures sometime after our return.  God Bless.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Nice Surprise!

This past Saturday, we were invited to a church fellowship day with Great Commission.  Pastor Kandela asked our family and the Whitfields to come and spend the afternoon, eating, playing games and just hanging out.  What we didn't realize was that they had organized the event for us.  When we got there, we went to one of the rooms onsite and had a time of worship.  After worship, several of the members of the church, including leadership, stood up and shared testimonies of how we had been a blessing to them.  It felt kind of weird, because I feel like they have been more of a blessing to us than we could ever be a blessing to them.  After an afternoon lunch and some basketball, we headed home.  All in all, it was a very nice surprise and a very encouraging time of fellowship.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Choices, Choices, Choices

Kerri's mom took this picture on her visit here to Zambia.  Just thought it would be a good representation of the different choices we have when we go grocery shopping.  Whereas in the States, you can choose from Cocoa Puffs, Fruit Loops, Rice Krispies, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, etc... here in Zambia we don't have that luxury.  If you love Kellogg's Cornflakes, this is the place for you!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Devotional, Ministry Tidbits & Khoswe (a Rat)

"Blessed are the people of whom this is true, blessed are the people whose God is the Lord." ~Psalm 144:15

We were reading over Psalm 144 this morning before staff meeting. The psalm is 15 verses long, but it was the last verse that stuck out to me. Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. It just got me thinking about the richness that I have in my relationship with the Lord, the spiritual blessings that were bestowed on me by the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf.

I, then, started thinking about some of the trials that I have faced here and how, in my flesh, I have been more prone to complain instead of rejoice in the fact that through it all my God is the Lord--that no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the trial, I'm being led through it by the Lord. The same Lord that the Scriptures show as faithful and trustworthy, slow to anger and abounding in love.

It was as if God was trying to re-center my thoughts and affections on Him by reminding me that I am blessed, not materially, but spiritually. Not for anything that I have done, but for what Christ did for me at calvary. Anyways, I just thought I would share this verse and what God taught me today. So that hopefully it would be an encouragement to you.

Ministry Tidbits
  • The cell group ministry with Great Commission is going well. There seems to be a regular group of attenders and we've been getting to know each other a lot more in recent weeks. Two leaders have emerged in the group and Great Commission hopes to launch a new cell group with one or both of these leaders in the near future.
  • I will be leading a presentation on Cell Groups with a group of pastors and church leaders for various churches in the Chilenje area. Please pray for the leadership in attendance, that they would see the value in using cell groups as a means to disciple members of their church.
  • Our guard Charles and I did an inventory count on his store and figured out his first month's profit.  In a month's time, his family had a profit of close to 265,000 kwacha (about twice what they were making with his wife breaking bricks). 
  • This past Saturday, I went with Alex, one of the deacons from Great Commission, to his property in a village east of Lusaka in the town of Chongwe.  He is trying to start a piggery in order to provide enough income for him to go into ministry full time.  We'll meet later this week to do some cost estimates for starting the piggery.

Finally, the Rat, or Khoswe in Nyanja.  This morning, our guard Charles found this little critter in the bottom of one of our outside trash cans.  We see them all the time, but can never seem to catch them.  Unfortunately for this one, he fell into a can he couldn't get out of.  Gracyn didn't take it too well when I gave Charles instructions to destroy the varmint.  I think she thought it would make a great pet!

Monday, August 04, 2008


Do you wonder what we do just about every night, after dinner, giving the kids their baths and putting them to bed?  Here's what it looks like for us.  Took this picture with the camera on our beloved, the computer.  We're so boring.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Chocolate Explosion

Poor Maddie! We just had to take a picture of our little cutie after a hard morning. Maddie is growing more and more independent and loves running around without being held on to or confined. Lately, however, this has caused her some bumps and bruises. After church this morning she tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and face-planted into the concrete. Within a few minutes she had a huge goose egg on her forehead and a red, swollen nose. A few minutes of laying her head on Mommy's shoulder seemed to make her feel better, but we thought that she might like a little "pick-me-up" and gave her a couple of chocolate cookies as we were driving home. When I turned around to check on her I found her this way...asleep with a chocolate explosion on her face!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Getting our Zambian Drivers Licenses

I'm trying to be as detailed with this as possible.  So, you can see just what we go through to do simple things here in Zambia.

The other day, Kerri and I went to get our Zambian drivers licenses.  When we arrived, we got into line, but it was at this time that I realized that the DMV needed xerox copies of our passports.  You see in Zambia, they don't have xerox machines in the DMV.  You must either copy them yourselves at your home (which we could not do the morning of because of lack of electricity) or you have go to a photocopy store to get the copies.  So, in a mad dash, I ran to the photocopy store next door to the DMV.  Unfortunately, they did not have any electricity either.  So, one of our teammates told us of another photocopy store down the street.  Instead of getting out of line, Kerri held our place and I ran to get photocopies.  Luckily I found the place and it had electricity.

Once in line, we were told that we might have to take a test, but we weren't told what kind of test it would be.  Megan, who was escorting us through this whole procedure, assured us it would be no big deal.  When we entered the room with the examiners, I sat with one guy and Kerri sat with another. The guy I was sitting with asked me if I knew the 10 rules to driving. I said, I knew a bunch of rules from back in the States, but wasn't sure to which rules he was referring. He then said, "The 10 rules that everyone should know regardless of where they come from." When I told him that I was still unsure to which rules he was referring, he told me to go and buy the highway code book, know the 10 rules and come back another day. Funny enough, the guy that Kerri was sitting with didn't make her recite any of the 10 rules and she walked out with the necessary paperwork for the next step in the process. 

The story doesn't end there though. After being told to know the 10 rules to driving, I went outside and found someone who was selling photocopies of the 10 rules. I  paid him 10,000 kwacha (about $3) and then headed back inside to study.  After getting in the back of the line, I had about 10 minutes to try and memorize the 10 rules.  I can't remember any of them to include in this post, but I learned all ten in those few minutes and passed the test.  I can now see why there are so many bad drivers here in Zambia. If all you have to know are 10 rules, none of which really have anything to do with actual rules of the road, something must be wrong.

After passing the test, Kerri and I had to follow "normal" Zambian procedures to finish applying for our licenses.  We went to one line where they entered our information into a computer.  Yes, I said computer!   We then stood in another line to have our pictures taken, and yet another line to pay for processing.  After paying for processing, we learned that we would then have to drive across town (about 30 minutes away) to get signatures on the forms that they printed for us during processing.  To this day, I still do not know what these signatures were for.

So, we headed out to the car to drive across town.  But just then, a police officer chased us down, on foot of course, and told us that we needed to speak with someone inside.  Apparently, before taking these forms across town, we had to get a signature which gave us approval to take the forms out of the main department of motor vehicles.  So, we complied and got the necessary signatures from the men in the very first room we had been in.  That makes sense.  When we got across town, we found a small office with two employees in it.  One read the forms and stamped them while the other provided his signature.  Seems to me that they could have stationed these employees at the main DMV, but who am I to question their processes???

After leaving this office we headed back across town (another 30 minute drive) to get back into the same line where we had paid for processing before.  We handed him the signed forms, paid some more money and were printed receipts.  Our official licenses will be ready in a mere 3 months.  For those of you who complain about the DMV in the States (which I definitely did) I am here to officially tell you that you don't have anything to complain about.  This process started at 9:00 in the morning and ended at 4:00 that afternoon, still with no licenses in hand.