Sunday, May 30, 2010

Graduation Tuesday

This past Tuesday, Luke and I were invited to attend a graduation. Two of the pastors that we led through the Navigators discipleship program have been busy for the past year leading groups of their own through the program. They invited us, along with Muvi TV and several family members and friends of the graduates.

This was a VERY encouraging time. A core value of our discipleship ministry is that those who participate would, in turn, disciple others. These two men, Pastor Mark Mwale and Pastor Devnod Kasoka, successfully trained about 20 men and women from their own churches. Sometimes in ministry you wonder if and when the work you are doing will bear fruit. So, it was nice to see some of the fruit that the Lord has birthed through our labor here in Zambia.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

From Another's Perspective

We were sorry to see our friend, Pete Williamson, head back to the states. He gave it all this past two weeks and our pastors here were very appreciative as were we missionaries. Our director asked Pete to pen some of his three experiences over the past year on paper. The result was this beauty below. Steve Allen asked for permission to share with you Pete's "zamflections" and he graciously agreed.

Zamflections (or What I've Learned from My Visits to Zambia)

Pete williamson
- pastor | Oikos Fellowship | Bellingham, WA USA

Up until about three years ago, Zambia was not among the number of African countries that I was aware of. That all changed when my friend Steve and his family felt a call to leave our town and the ministry that he was a part of there to go to this unknown country as a missionary with ACTION Zambia. Truth be told, I was not only ignorant but also fairly indifferent to this continent. Not that I didn't have a heart for missions; my wife and I had spent the first couple years of our marriage living in Japan while teaching English at a Christian school for Japanese kids. It's just that I wasn't interested. If anything, I wanted to return to Japan - not just for the people and the culture, but also the food.

Anyway, Steve had promised from the beginning that he intended for me to come over at some point to teach pastors and church planters among whom AZ was working. That promise became realized this last year when I made the first of what would be three trips in a 13-month period to this country. Now I can't get this place and especially these people out of my head or heart. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I really need Zambia.

I need Zambia for what it teaches me about the power of God working through the preaching of His gospel. It is a humbling thing to speak before a group of pastors and church planters only to realize that many, if not most have not only been pastoring for many years but have planted at least one or two other churches. Even more remarkable, is that they've done so without the training and resources (including Bibles!) that I have so easily taken for granted. The parable of the talents has taken on new meaning for me here, because I see men and women who have had scarcely a single talent but have through God's grace more than doubled it through tireless faithfulness. I have great hope for the work of the gospel in Zambia because of the character of God's workers that I've found here. They are eager to learn as much as they can - far more than I've seen anywhere else - and they have a wonderfully uncomplicated reverence for the Word of God as authoritative and true. If that sounds like a subtle indictment against the American church, I apologize. I meant it to be stronger.

I need Zambia for the perspective it gives me as an American pastor and citizen. These words of John keep coming back to me: you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. This verse, if anything, captures exactly the state of American (and Western) Christianity. I promise you, until you come here you will never understand how rich you and I are. We have no vocabulary for the poverty and suffering that are a part of the day-to-day life of most Zambians (except for politicians and far too many pastors). We are indeed rich, but in reality we are incredibly poor because we do not ask why we have been so blessed with all that we've been given. God does not give us all that we have to spend on ourselves, but to share with those who have nothing. Even Zambians - most of whom live on less than $2/day - understand this and because of this they are far richer than us. What's more, Zambia has shown me how much our prosperity has become a substitute for relationships. There is nothing in the world like walking through one of the many compounds surrounding Lusaka. And let me tell you it is one thing to see poverty like this in the pages of a National Geographic, but quite another to actually walk in it. And yet, what is so striking to me is how much the people who live here seem to be content and even joyful in spite of circumstances that would ruin most if not all Americans. I believe a big part of that is due to the fact that they know something that we don't - family and friends are far more important than any other possession and, equipped with those relationships, any suffering is made bearable. This high view of relationships also makes the friendships that I have now with a number of pastors and even churches all the more precious.

I am very encouraged by the work I have seen being done here by ACTION Zambia. I especially love their focus on befriending and equipping Zambians for the work of the gospel. In another year and a half, the first class of 15 pastors will graduate from the PLD (pastoral leadership development) training and already they are putting into play the things that they've learned with great enthusiasm. I am also very thankful for the missionaries whom God has called here. Each brings their own unique abilities and personalities to the team, but all are united in their love of God and the Zambian people. It may not be all that long before the fruit of AZ's work will be such a harvest that it will be time to move on to new ground, of which there is still plenty out there. In the meantime, please join me in continuing to support AZ with prayers and support. Better yet, go and see for yourselves what the Lord is doing here and the servants He is working through to accomplish His purposes. You may just find me there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kilometers for Kids

(Luke Whitfield, Brent Roberts, Steve Allen, Elise Whitfield, Megan Bloemker, Stephanie Allen & Kerri Roberts)

In Zambia, over 50% of the population is 16 years old and younger. Many of these children live in abject poverty. In Lusaka, the capital city, there are no parks or safe recreational areas. Children must resort to playing in garbage heaps, cholera infested waterholes and other dirty places where space is available.

(If you are receiving this post via email, go to: to view the above video. It's a must see!)

Action Zambia (AZ) is trying to address this issue. AZ has been blessed with a 22 acre piece of land (Known as Ciyanjano) on the outskirts of Lusaka. This past January, we started a three year development plan for this camp facility for Zambian churches and the youth in their communies. The vision is to have a place where compound churches (churches located in Lusaka's poorest districts) can bring children for week long camps to learn more about the love of God that is found in Christ and have fun while doing it. Think about it. Children who come from families where the average income is $1 or less a day, being able to escape their world for a short time and have a chance to just be a kid in a loving and safe environment.

August 29th of this year, 7 members of our team will be headed to Zimbabwe for a marathon. We will embark on the 26.2 mile (or 42 kilometer) race (The Victoria Falls Marathon) as a fund raiser for children camps in Zambia. We are calling the event Kilometers for Kids. Our hope is to raise enough money to build one of the two remaining camp sites for Ciyanjano. We have dedicated a website to the event: This site just gives additional information for the race as well as a place to make donations. Please take a look if you get a chance!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Before Megan, After Megan

We've had chickens disappearing from the yard over the past few weeks. While we knew the dogs were the culprits for most of the little ones, some of the bigger ones started to go missing. Well, yesterday we finally found out. An owl was up in one of our mango trees after a night of hunting in our back yard. So, we leave you with these two pictures taken before and after a visit from our teammate Megan.

Before Megan

After Megan

I think the chickens are safe now. I just don't know about the rest of Zambia!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Balipo Banthu

(To view the slideshow, please go to our website:

In Zambia, when you go to a home to visit and children are outside, it's not outside of the norm to say Balipo Banthu. It means "are there people here?" It seems like a simple and innocent phrase, but it is fed by a large cultural issue that is really impacting the future of the church in Zambia.

Children here are often not recognized by adults. In a lot of cases, children are not seen as being able to understand the things of God until they reach their teenage years. Did you hear that? This means, that in a lot of churches, there are no ministries geared towards children. There is little to no investment in youth. They are expected to just come and sit through the service and be quiet while the adults, who can understand the things of God, attend the worship service.

Here is the catch. We live in a culture, where over half of the population is 16 years old or younger. The adults are the minority! By the time children reach the "perceived" age of understanding it is mostly too late. These children need investment now, because they are the future of the church.

This is the vision that a group of missionaries have caught onto here in Zambia. Some missionaries from ACTION along with other friends and other missionaries have started a movement named: "Called for His Purpose". Their intent is to minister to those who have been forgotten and neglected over the years. This past week, Kerri and Elise were part of a night of worship. The event attracted over 200 youth from the community who have a heart to worship God. There are other events planned in the future, but this was the initial launch of Called.

Please be in prayer for this ministry.