Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Waiting in Line for a Body

This past weekend was a tough one, but one that is all too common in Zambia. Our guard Charles's sister Barbara Kangwa lost her brief struggle with meningitis. Her husband had previously passed away, meaning that all 5 of her children are now double-orphaned. As I was talking to Charles the morning of the funeral, he said something that really shook me. It was very non-chalaunt in delivery, but the implications were significant!

He said that they had to get to the mortuary that morning very early, before it opened, because if they didn't, they would have had to wait in line for Barbara's body for a better part of the day. Did you catch that? Wait in line for a body? The impact that poverty, malnutrition, poor healthcare, and disease has had on this country is hard to fully convey. But even after his saying this, I didn't fully grasp its implications until we arrived at the graveyard. As you can see in the picture above, when we arrived there were a bunch of people. Probably close to 500. Barbara's funeral was one of several that were to take place that day.

At the grave site, the pastor preached a small message and then they lowered the coffin into the newly dug hole. After about another half hour of shoveling dirt, the hole along with the coffin were covered and family members were invited forward to place flowers on the grave. This was the toughest part emotionally, because the first to place flowers where the orphaned children.

As I thought about this situation, I was struck with the reality that this is life in Zambia. We live in a culture where people face hopeless situations on a daily basis, where people can't find work because of 70% unemployment and where children die from treatable diseases. Where almost a quarter of the population is HIV positive, where there over 500,000 orphans, and where life expectancy peaks at 38 years, a culture where you have to wait in line for a body because there are too many deaths!

And because of this, I am convinced even more about the need of the gospel for Zambians. Jesus Christ is their only hope! Without Him, there's suffering and then there's eternal suffering. Without Him, people here die and all they have to look forward to is hell. But with Him, there is so much more. With Him, there is Joy in the midst of suffering. With him there might be some suffering, but it will be far outweighed by the eternal reward that is awaiting in heaven for those who trust Him with their lives.

Please continue to pray for the family as they mourn the loss of Barbara. They are stuck with some tough decisions that they have to make concerning who will get the children. Most likely they will be split up amongst family members. Pray that they would have wisdom in knowing who to send them with. And pray for the family members that will be accepting these children into their homes. Pray that they will be treated with love.

Thank you

Friday, April 23, 2010

Update on Barbara

Thank you for those of you who have been praying for Charles' sister, Barbara. Unfortunately, last night at midnight, she passed away. She was 26 years old and she leaves behind five children (the most recent, a three month old baby). Please pray for Charles and his family during this time. Please, also, pray for us as we seek to minister to this dear family.

Thank you

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prayer Request

Please be in prayer for our guard Charles' sister. She is suffering from meningitis and is currently non responsive. This evening, she has been transported over to the primary hospital for spinal taps and medication, but things don't look good at the moment. Please pray for the family, for wisdom in seeking treatment and for peace throughout the process. Pray for healing from the "Great Physician." And pray for Kerri and I, as we seek to help, but not interfere.

Thank you for your prayers,

~Brent & Kerri

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Funnies of the week

Lazarus doesn't rise again
Many of you were probably amused by the story of the chicken revival a week or two ago. Because the little chick was raised from the dead, we aptly named him Lazarus. Well, this morning, we found out that Lazarus doesn't rise twice. Apparently, the mother hen got into a shelter that the little chicks couldn't get into. Instead of doing something about it, she slept on the inside and they on the outside. Needless to say, we think Chiku (our dog) made a nice meal of them!

Can we get another?
Since we first brought Thomas Mwila into our home, he has had a habit of climbing into bed with Caleb in the middle of the night. Every morning, Caleb would wake up with a sleeping buddy and every morning, he would come to us to complain. We've been doing all that we can think of to try and encourage Thomas to stay in his bed, some nights with success, some nights without, but for the most part, he has still been doing it. Well, last night as Kerri was putting the boys to bed, she laid down with Thomas and just talked. She was telling him that we were going to have to start punishing him if he didn't stay in his bed. It was the second part of this conversation that got interesting.

Thomas asked "So, when you brought me home from House of Martha, what was that called?"

Kerri replied, "Adoption."

Thomas: "Adoption, yes, that was what it was. Do you think we can go back to House of Martha and adopt another boy?"

Kerri: "Why Thomas?"

Thomas: "So I can have someone to sleep with."

Needless to say, we died laughing.

A Terrorist?
One of our good friends here, a missionary with another organization has had problems getting his income wired from the States. After a month of various trips to the bank and getting to the point where they really were struggling to pay the bills, they found out why. Apparently, he had somehow been put on the United States Terrorist Watch List. If you knew our friend, you would understand how ridiculous that really is. I guess you should all feel safer knowing that our government is now putting missionaries on the Terrorist Watch list.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flooding in Lusaka

The rains have taken their toll on many families in Lusaka. The picture you are seeing above is at Lusaka's Independence Stadium. Currently, there are over 250 families who have been forced from their homes because of flooding in the various compounds. They are staying in tents which have been provided by the Red Cross.

Our very own, Luke Whitfield, was visiting the tent town trying to determine how we might be of assistance, when he was approached by a local news station for an interview. The video shows the flooding and some of the families which are living in these temporary structures.

To view the video, click here.

Please be in prayer for these families and also be in prayer for our ministry. Our ministry exists to equip local churches for ministry to their communities. We are trying to mobilize the pastors and churches associated with our programs to help these people. Over the next few weeks, they will be trying to determine the best and most practical ways to reach out to the families living in these tents. Once they decide how they are going to help, they will then be tasked with motivating the members of their churches to participate both financially and physically in this ministry. Pray that God would provide these pastors and church leaders wisdom as they seek to minister to their community. And pray that the Zambian believers in their churches with will also catch the vision.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

He is Risen!!!

Tomorrow morning we celebrate the most important day of the year to us as Christians. The resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Well, in light of the Resurrection, I thought I'd share a little resurrection story that happened here at our house yesterday. I'm pretty sure it will give you a laugh! I must preface with 2 facts about our household: 1) we have a lot of chickens, and 2) Ellie constantly escapes the house whenever a door is left open and we find her toddling around the yard getting into all kinds of trouble.

So, yesterday afternoon I was in the kitchen when I heard Brent say, "No, Ellie, no!" When I walked outside to see what was happening, I saw Brent standing with his back to me, swinging something in his hands and then hunching over whatever it was. As I walked around him I saw him holding a baby chick in his hands and blowing into its beak!! Yes, he was. Of course I was a little dumbfounded for a second, but then managed to ask, "What ARE you doing?"

"Ellie killed it, " he said. "She had it in her hand squeezing it really hard, and when I picked it up it was dead." (It was really limp and lifeless as I looked at it too) "So you're giving it CPR," I asked with a giggle. "Yes," he said, "why not?" So, there he stood giving the chicken mouth-to-beak and swinging it like we had learned to do with newborn puppies that needed to be revived. After a few minutes the chick opened its eyes and began to perk up. After a few more minutes it stood up in Brent's hand, and after a few more minutes it was back with its mother and siblings roaming around the yard scratching for food! Alive and well!

I thought only my husband would be so crazy as to do CPR on a dead chick. I certainly wouldn't have! It gave us a good laugh, but also demonstrated a simple spiritual truth: "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5)." God picked us up when we were dead - not struggling, not sick, not dying - dead and unable to do anything to save ourselves. Then He breathed the life of Christ into us and brought us back to life. But not just any old life, life IN Christ. Just read through the first chapter of Ephesians and see what the life IN Christ means! What a gift! This is what we celebrate on Easter. Jesus is risen and we can be risen with Him to walk in a new life! Thanks for the illustration, honey!