Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Hate Mosquitos

I know God has a plan for creating them, but let me just take a brief second to say that I hate mosquitos.  Here's a 20 second video of what we encounter on a nightly basis - swarms of mosquitos.  In order to sit anywhere in our house without the protection of a mosquito net, we either have to cover ourselves with bug spray or pull out the electric racquets we have for swatting them.  

Alright, I'm done complaining.  We do love living here but it has its challenges.

If you are receiving this post via email, you can view the video by clicking here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get killed by the dog and eaten by a family of 6!  So, you remember that chicken I got from preaching in the village church this past Sunday (the one pictured above)?  Well, he made it through the first 36 hours with flying colors.  But then our dog, Chisomo, took an interest in him (a deadly interest).  We woke up Monday morning to a dead rooster.  So, for lunch, the Roberts had chicken.

The problem, in addition to the dead chicken, was that I was having our guard Charles bring three hens to the house that morning.  I figured that if we had a rooster, we could get some hens and have a steady supply of eggs.  Well, without a rooster, we weren't going to have any eggs.  So, we bought another rooster the next day.  So far, so good!  They have all survived the dogs since Monday and we already have two eggs.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Village Experience

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach at a church in a village just North of town.  This is the same church I preached at about a year ago when I brought home my first goat.  Pastor Mark Mwale, invited me to go back to this church and it was such a blessing.  

Because of other required passengers (Pastor Mwale & my translator), I wasn't able to take the whole family, but Caleb was able to go with me.  I made him the camera man.  So, most of the pictures that you see are ones that he took.

It was a typical Zambian bush service (lasted about 3 hours).  When we arrived, they setup chairs in the front of the church for us.  After a few worship songs and announcements, they asked me to come up and preach.  Things seemed to go pretty well.  I was sharing about the permanency of God's salvation - that if it is a gift, by His grace and not by our own good works, then there is no way we can lose it!  Being that many churches here in Zambia struggle with legalism, I thought it was a very applicable message.

As the service concluded, they asked us to come up to the front and yes, you guessed it, Brent was going home with another live animal (a rooster)!

After the service was over, some of the women of the church had prepared a nice lunch for us (Nshima, Greens & Chicken).  Here's another interesting tidbit about culture here in Zambia.  When men get together and eat, they do not talk.  Talking is for after the meal.  So, here we were (me, Caleb, Pastor Mwale, my translator Mr. Phiri and the pastor of this church sitting, eating our lunch in complete silence).

I hope you enjoy these few pictures from the trip.  If you are receiving this post via email and cannot see these pictures, you can view them on our website or at the following link.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Through the Eyes of Another

I asked a few of the members of the team that visited in August if they would share a highlight experience from their trip to Zambia.  Below is a posting by David Stumbo, a dear friend and member of our home church.  Please take the time to read about how God used him & impacted his life during his time in Zambia.  Thank you David for putting this together!

The AIDS epidemic has plagued Zambia horribly, and is one of the reasons why the average life expectancy in Lusaka is about 37 years old.  I had the privilege one day of our trip of walking through the Chaisa compound with Mark Mwale, pastor of Emasdale Church of God, and pray for people who were dying of AIDS in their own houses.  This was part of the C.R.O.S.S. ministry (Churches Ready to Overcome Silence and Stigma) that Action Zambia has organized to minister to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Lusaka.  

Pastor Mwale introduced me as “Man of God” everywhere we went in the compound.  Mark Mwale, however, is a true “Man of God.”  He wakes up at 4 AM every morning, straps 10 hand crafted charcoal grills to his bike, and carries them 5 miles to the city market to provide income for his family (7 biological children and 6 orphans), church and community.  He has very little materially but was so giving and open with what he did have.  I was so privileged to spend time in ministry with this dear brother in Christ.   

The stark poverty that I witnessed up close in Chaisa is something that was truly a shock to the senses.  Many of these houses were no bigger than a small room in your house, with cinder block walls and no windows.  There was garbage lying in piles all over the place, and ditches filled with dirty water running through the low lying areas between the dwellings.  Young children were everywhere in the streets and alleyways, playing with whatever they could get their hands on to make into a toy.  Without exception all turned their attention directly toward the only white face within sight walking through their compound.  The young ones smiled and laughed, calling out “Mzungu!” (which means “white person” in their native tongue).   The smell of this place was very pungent, and is also something that I don’t think I will ever forget. 

We visited three particular houses along the way, with lots of walking in between.  The first was occupied by a lady named Edna, and her mother Violet.  Edna’s husband had recently died of AIDS, and Edna herself was now afflicted with AIDS and Tuberculosis.  She indicated that because of her sickness, it was very difficult for her to have the energy to work to support and feed her family.  She had a look of complete sorrow and desperation on her face as we talked to her and prayed for her.  

The second house was occupied by a man living alone, who was about my age, and who was both afflicted with AIDS and completely blind.  His days are spent sitting on the step outside of his small dwelling and chipping off enough wood to make a small fire to keep warm at night.  He indicated that his mother would go into the city to try to obtain the AIDS medications for him, if and when they were available.  This man seemed to have a strong faith in the Lord, and we prayed for encouragement and strength for him in what appeared to be a lonely situation. 

The third dwelling that we visited was very unique, and presented me with a situation that I had never experienced until then.  We were greeted by a woman outside the front door, who went inside to a dark room in the house behind a curtain to talk to the person inside.  I heard a weak, but animated voice inside speaking Bemba to her.  Pastor Mwale could also hear and interpreted for me, saying that the man wanted us to go away unless we had food or medication for him.  Despite his protests, the woman waived us back to the room behind the curtain.  The room was dark, but I could make out a frail figure on the pallet, and as I placed my hand on his arm, all I could feel was skin and bone.  The man was saying something in a high-pitched voice, Pastor Mwale tells me, “He says that he has evil spirits.”  We begin to pray for him, first of all confronting the demonic spirits inside of him and calling them out in the name of Jesus.  I could feel the body trembling under my hand as we prayed.  We also began to pray for complete healing.  As the prayer reached a crescendo, Pastor Mwale and I were going back and forth seamlessly, me in English and then him in Bemba.  As we closed the man’s body stopped trembling, and he started saying “thank you” repeatedly. 

This was certainly a first for me, although Pastor Mwale acted like it was something that was pretty common for him.  For a conservative, country boy from South Carolina to be teamed up with a charismatic Zambian pastor to confront forces of Satan in the middle of one of the poorest urban areas in the world shows not only how big our God is, but that he also has a sense of humor. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kasempa (Reflections)

I'm sorry for not publishing many posts lately.  I hope the next few weeks will be better.  I didn't want to just put up a post describing our trip to Kasempa without sharing some of the things that God had me processing over that weekend.  So, in no order...

I think God for my Zambian friends
Pastor Kandela, Alex & Laban have been a tremendous asset for learning culture and adjusting to life here in Zambia.  This trip, though, was the first time that we got to spend this much time together.  I think it was an opportunity for us to see each other in an environment where we could just relax and have fun.

The Cultural Gap
Even though this trip was a great opportunity to spend time with some of our best Zambian friends, I was further struck with the fact that even with all I have learned in my first year plus of time here in Zambia, there is still a gap in communication.  There are things that I don't know if I will ever understand, but I am encouraged that the gap is closing.  Pray that it would continue to do so.

God can only work through my weakness
As I look at who I am and try to figure out how and why God would use me in ministry here, I am reminded over and over that "His Strength is Perfected in My Weakness."  If, at any time, I think that there is anything in me, except for Christ, that will make me successful in ministry, then I am in a bad position.  Pray that I would be dependent upon Him.

These were just some of the things that I was processing over the weekend in Kasempa.  I hope for more opportunities to take trips like this in the future.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kasempa Part II

Oops.  I scheduled this post to publish to the website over a week ago, but I put the date in October instead of September.  Sorry!  Anyways, here's more of our trip to Kasempa.

Sunday Morning Church
That Sunday was the first service of this new church.  The pastor asked me to preach.  So, I prepared a message on Foundations of a Christ Centered church.  I thought it was an applicable message for a new church plant.  When we arrived, there was another church holding a service just outside.  It was obvious that the Pastor and leaders from Great Commission were concerned that those invited from the previous night's crusade would confuse this church with their church, but everything went ok.  There were about 8 in attendance including the pastor.  And the reports we have received since that weekend is that they are still meeting.  Please continue to pray for this young church as they seek to reach their community with the gospel.

Sunday Afternoon Hike & Hospital Visit
That afternoon, we decided to hike up a nearby mountain.  I think I quickly realized just how out of shape that I am.  If you watched the video, you will see just how much I was huffing and puffing.  After returning from our hike, we stopped by the local hospital to visit with patients.  Kasempa is home to one of the best private clinics in Zambia.  So, people come from all over to receive treatment.  The men's ward that we visited was full with guys suffering from burns to malaria to you name it.  It was a difficult place to minister in a place like this, but also rewarding.

Sunday Evening Prayer
So, near the end of the trip, the pastor shares that his wife has been struggling with some physical ailments that the doctors can't seem to provide medicine for.  He asked if we (Luke, Me, Alex, Pastor Kandela & Laban) would anoint her with oil and pray for her.  There was reason to believe that some of the things she was suffering from were spiritual.  As we began to pray for her, she started convulsing and collapsed to the ground.  She began telling the pastor that he was a bad man and when we asked the demons to tell us how many there were, she said "We are many."  Now, this is the first time that I have encountered a situation like this.  Coming from my conservative western perspective, I was of course skeptical, but as we prayed, it was clear that this woman was either possessed or being spiritually oppressed by demons.  After about three hours of prayer, she was released from her bondage.  I'll try to post some reflections on this as well as some other things that happened over the weekend in a later post.

Monday Early Morning Drive Home
So, on two hours sleep, we all loaded up at 3:00 am and headed back to Lusaka.  After getting to Solwezi, we heard something squeaking in the car.  When we stopped, we determined it was the engine belt.  Knowing that if we stopped to try and find a mechanic, we might be spending a few more days up north, we decided to continue our trip and hope that the belt didn't fall apart.  About 30 minutes after seeing the belt loose, while we were driving between Solwezi and Chingola we blew a rear tire.  Apparently, there was a piece of metal in the road that the front tire through into the back tire and the tire exploded.  So, our hopefully 9 hour trip quickly turned into an 11 hour trip.

I'll stop here.  The next Post will be on some of my reflections from the trip.  Until then...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Tribe are you From

Back in the States, when you want to know where someone grew up, you would ask them "Where were you born or where did you live when you were growing up?"  But here, things are a bit different.  Every Zambian relates where they are from by tribe.  If you're from the north, you are bemba, the north west - Kaonde, South - Tonga, East - probably chewa.  If you ask a person where they grew up, they might look at you with confusion, but if you ask them what tribe they are from, they will tell you without hesitation.

Just an interesting tidbit about the culture we are ministering in.

Tomorrow, I'll be preaching in a village up north.  Please be in prayer for me as I share with this congregation.  Also be in prayer for me next Sunday, as I will be preaching at a church in Chaisa compound.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Random Update:  Now that Maddie is potty training and in big girl clothes, she likes to sneak off occasionally and dress in her bubby and sissy's clothes.  Here's a picture of her wearing a conglomeration.  

I uploaded a video a few weeks ago showing images from our trip to Kasempa, but haven't had the chance to tell you about the trip itself.  Me and Luke went with our friends from Great Commission up to Kasempa to assist with a church plant.  This was my first trip up north and the first time that I have gotten to spend time with Zambians for an extended stay in their home.  It was truly a cultural experience that I will cherish for some time.

The Trip
We arrived on a Friday after a 10 hour ride through the copper belt.  Zambia is known world-wide for their production of copper and it was neat to see some of the major copper mines that are operating in the North.  The roads for the most part were ok, except for a two-hour stretch between Chingola and Solwezi.  But sleeping in the car is something that I am not good at.  So I didn't get much rest before we arrived.

Our Arrival
We stayed with Michael Kandela's brother and wife the entire stay.  So, when we arrived, they had already setup the rooms with mattresses and mosquito nets.  It was obvious that they gave us their bedroom and moved to a smaller room to make us feel welcomed.  Then, for dinner, the wife made a complete Zambian spread.  Here we were, the Americans, the ones who "have everything" and this family was sacrificing all they had to welcome us into their home.  It was extremely humbling.

Saturday Morning Evangelism:
On Saturday morning, after waking up and eating some toast and jelly, we headed out for door-to-door evangelism.  We had to walk about 5 miles before reaching the village we would be ministering in.  We could have taken the car, but we told them that we wanted to approach the weekend the "Zambian Way."  We wanted to experience ministry as much as possible from their perspective.  The morning was pretty uneventful.  We visited with a few homes, but for the most part, we were checking in on members of the new church plant.

Saturday Evening Outreach:
Saturday night, we planned to show the Passion of the Christ in town center.  As we were setting up, everything seemed to be going wrong.  The announcer who was supposed to go from village to village to announce the movie showed up an hour and a half late.  The power supply for the speakers wasn't working and there were only a handful of people.  But God was faithful.  The announcer went on his tour, the power finally started working and people began to show up from everywhere.  By the time we started we had about 250 people and by the end of the movie, we had close to 400.  After the showing, we had a time of prayer and many people stayed behind.

In interest of keeping your attention, I'll stop here and continue this post tomorrow.  Until then...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Utmost for His Highest

I was reading this post this morning on and thought I would share it with you.  It was just an encouragement to me.  So, I thought it might encourage you as well.  This particular website publishes the different devotionals from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  If you aren't familiar with this devotional, I would encourage you to mark this website as one of your favorites and visit it often.



"Ye shall be holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16 (R.V.)

Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is. The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. Nowadays we have far too many affinities, we are dissipated with them; right, good, noble affinities which will yet have their fulfilment, but in the meantime God has to atrophy them. The one thing that matters is whether a man will accept the God Who will make him holy. At all costs a man must be rightly related to God.

Do I believe I need to be holy? Do I believe God can come into me and make me holy? If by your preaching you convince me that I am unholy, I resent your preaching. The preaching of the gospel awakens an intense resentment because it must reveal that I am unholy; but it also awakens an intense craving. God has one destined end for mankind, viz., holiness. His one aim is the production of saints. God is not an eternal blessing-machine for men; He did not come to save men out of pity: He came to save men because He had created them to be holy. The Atonement means that God can put me back into perfect union with Himself, without a shadow between, through the Death of Jesus Christ.

Never tolerate through sympathy with yourself or with others any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind - every detail of the life under the scrutiny of God. Holiness is not only what God gives me, but what I manifest that God has given me.