Friday, October 29, 2010

Death by the Preventable

This week, tragedy struck one of our friend's workers family. Their son, who was 4, had been diagnosed with a combination of Chicken Pox and Measles, but seemed to be be fighting the sickness with success. He was running a fever, but still had an appetite and was drinking plenty of fluids. Then on Thursday morning, he told his mom that he needed to vomit. Shortly after vomiting, he passed away.

I can't overemphasize just how often people die here from the preventable. On a daily basis, I pass people in wheelchairs who have been rendered crippled because of polio. It's common to hear of infants of HIV infected mothers who die from severe diarrhea because of being exposed to unclean drinking water in their formula. As we've wrote about in the past, children and elderly die often here because of Malaria. And yes, children die here every day from chicken pox and measles and other preventable diseases. Sometimes, it's just hard to swallow.

So what's the reason or cause? And yes, I know I keep coming back to this subject, but a lot of times it is poverty. Zambia is one of the poorest populations in the world. A majority of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Look at these statistics from the World Health Organization:

+ Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

+ In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.

+ More than 95% of measles deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.

+ Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide.

+ In 2008, about 83% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.

Many Zambians just cannot afford simple medicines and vaccines that would prevent a lot of the diseases that are killing people each day.

We have visitors who come from the West all of the time and their reaction is to say "being here shows you just how blessed we are to live in the West. We are very fortunate." While this is very true and a commendable observation, I think it stops a little short of where God wants us to take it. He wants us to be the "Good Samaritans," to go the extra mile, to make the sacrifices necessary to help these who are suffering. I believe he desires for us to say, "Lord bless me so that I may bless others or Thank You for blessing me, how may I use what you have given me (both materially and spiritually) to show your love to those who are hurting." He's calling us all to more than thankfulness.

One way that you can be a blessing to this family, today, would be to lift them up in prayer. The funeral is at 8:00 am this morning. Pray for peace and comfort for the parents and siblings as they mourn the loss of their dear child & brother. Pray also for Warren and Vicki as they mourn and minister alongside this family.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Testimonies from Action's Hospital Ministry

I've been meaning to write this post for a week, but haven't had the opportunity to sit down and gather my thoughts. Please take the time to read it as it details some encouraging ways that God has been moving by His Spirit through Action Zambia's hospital ministry:

A Teenager's Ear Ache:
Last Wednesday, Luke, Patson Sakala (a Zambian Pastor and friend of Action Zambia Ministries) and I went to do ministry at the local clinics here in Lusaka. I have been a few times before, but, honestly, a lot has changed since my last visit. When we arrived at the clinic in Ngombe, there was a crowd of people. Usually, there are about 10 - 15 people waiting to be seen, but this day there were around 60 - 70. Luke addressed the crowd and let them all know that we were there to offer prayers and that we would be coming by to each of them during our time there. So, Patson and I went together to one end of the line and Luke, along with another Zambian that he recruited, went to the other end.

As we progressed down the line, Patson, would introduce us both in vernacular and then ask why they were visiting the clinic and whether or not we could pray for them. Zambia is a little different from the States, in that when you ask if anyone is interested in prayer, most usually respond favorably. As we progressed down the line, we found that many different people were there for many different ailments. About halfway down the line, we came to a teenage boy who had problems hearing from his right ear. He said that he had been slapped in the ear and since then couldn't hear very well and was in pain. As we began to pray for him, I placed my hand over the hurt ear and prayed that God would provide healing to this boy's body. After a short time of prayer, we asked him if anything had changed. At this point he said that when I put my hand over his ear, he felt something different than he had been feeling, but the pain was still present. So, we asked him if we could pray again for his ear. This time, Patson prayed over him and as he ended the prayer and we opened our eyes. The look on the boy's face was completely different. Instead of looking sullen, he began to smile. He said that the pain was gone and that he could hear fine! We told him that God had healed him because he wanted to show His love for him. I can't tell you what an encouragement it was to see God heal someone right before my eyes.

A Muslim Woman:
A little later, there was a Muslim woman who was there with her child. She told Luke that her baby had been having diarrhea and wasn't generally feeling well. So, Luke asked if she would mind if he prayed for her baby, to which she accepted. After he prayed for the baby, he asked her if there was anything bothering her. Apparently, she had been suffering for weeks with eye pain. She said that both of her eyes were hurting. He again asked her if he could pray for her. As he prayed, he said a simple but bold prayer that through Jesus and Him only would God heal this woman so that she could know that Jesus was the reason for the healing. As soon as he finished praying, we all looked up. Again, the look on the woman's face was one of astonishment! She said that the pain was completely gone. It was an amazing opportunity to show this woman, who believed in a different god, the love that the God of the bible has for her through His son Jesus Christ.

A Girl and Her Mother:
I tried to save the best for last. A few weeks ago, Luke and a few of the pastors were at the clinic when they came across a young woman who was bed ridden. She had not been able to get up for several weeks because of severe pain in her back. They asked if they could pray for her to which she was very happy. As they began to pray, they prayed that God would release his healing power into her body and that the pain would go away. After praying for her they asked her to try and sit up. And she did! They then asked her to get out of the bed and try to stand. And she was able to do this too. She was so thankful for what the Lord had done through the prayers of these men. But this is just where the story gets interesting.

Luke and these pastors try to make it a point to visit the same clinics the same day of the week just to be available if anyone that they previously prayed for decided to come back to find them. Well, two weeks after this particular visit, the mother of this young girl came to the clinic looking for the men who had prayed for her daughter. She went straight to Luke and said "I saw my daughter before you prayed for her and I saw her afterwards. She is completely different than the time before you prayed for her. I wouldn't have believed it if I wouldn't have seen her with my own eyes. God healed my daughter! Now, I am HIV positive and I believe that the Lord who healed my daughter can heal me of my HIV. Would you pray for me as well?"

So, without hesitating, Luke prayed for her and told her to let him know what the results were when she got tested again. Well, this woman's eagerness to see what the Lord had done showed in how quickly she setup a time for her next testing. A few days before she came to visit Luke she had been tested and her CD4 count at that time was around 100 (typical of someone with full blown AIDS). Two days after being prayed for, her CD4 count had risen to over 800 (typical of a healthy adult). The lady, needless to say, was ecstatic about what the Lord had done!


I hope these few testimonies will serve as an encouragement that we have a God who cares for each one of us deeply and is still in the business of performing the miraculous! My intent is not to point to the miraculous, but to glorify the One who is behind the miracles - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. May it never be that we seek God for His miracles, but that we simply seek Him for Him. And may we rejoice not in the miracles, but rejoice that our names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20)!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Past, The Present & The Future

We recently finished putting together a ministry video for our home church. They were doing a dinner for the members of our church to get more acquainted with their missionaries that are serving the church across the world.

After putting it together, we thought it would be good to share it with you as well. It gives an update on our family and ministry life here in Zambia and our future plans as we continue to serve here in Zambia. If you would like to view the video, please go to the following link:

We also had our children put together a video for the youth at the church. You can see this one at the following link:

Thank you to all of you who support us through your prayers and finances to serve here in Zambia. Blessings!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Zambian Doxology

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach at Great Commission. I asked the pastor beforehand if the church could sing a specific song which both Kerri and I like a lot. It is a doxology that they sing in such a beautiful way. If you would be interested in listening and seeing the church members singing, click on the link below:

The sermon this Sunday went pretty well. I used the text from Genesis 22 to talk about Resting in God's promises & trusting Him with everything. Our deputy director gave a devotion recently about our highest calling as Christians not being trying to please God, but rather trusting Him. This seems to be an area that God has been working on with me over the past few months. So, I decided to share with this small congregation what God has been teaching me concerning trusting Him with everything.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Blind See

Our friend Luke Whitfield was sharing this story with us the other night and I thought it would encourage you. God still works in wonderful ways to bring His children into His kingdom!

Last week, Luke and one of the pastors in our pastor's college were going to a local clinic for ministry. This is a weekly ministry where Luke is helping local churches here reach out to those who are sick and hurting. At the clinic, there was a woman who was there because she was having severe problems with her vision. She could only see a few feet in front of her face.

Luke and Patson prayed for her to have healing and then Luke stood at a distance and held up fingers for her to count. She was unable. Luke still sensed that God was at work in the situation and asked to pray for her again. She welcomed the prayer and so they prayed again. After praying, he stood again at a distance and held up fingers for her to count. Again, she was unable. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Luke noticed a young gentleman who was a Rasta, a follower of the Rastafarian movement. He was looking on with what Luke thought was skepticism.

And at this time, the Lord impressed something else upon Luke's heart. He felt as if the Lord wanted Luke to have this young man come over and pray for the woman. So, he went and asked
him if he would agree to pray for the woman. Surprisingly, the man agreed and came over to pray for this woman with partial blindness. Luke led the man in a prayer for this woman and then did as he had done before. He stood at a distance and held up fingers for this woman to count. This time, she counted them perfectly! She had been instantly healed! He then asked the young man if he had ever seen anything like this happen, to which he replied "No." In fact, the young man then turned to Patson (the Zambian pastor) and asked him where his church was, because he planned on attending that coming Sunday.

As Luke reflected on the events from this day in hospital ministry, he made one observation which I think was right on. He said that although this woman's healing was a direct benefit to her and revealed to her God's love, he thought the real reason why God performed this miracle was to reach a young Zambia Rasta for His glory!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Farming God's Way

This past Thursday & Friday, I had the opportunity to visit a veteran Zambian missionary (Theuns Inglebrect) in Southern Zambia. He and his wife have served the Tonga people for over 14 years.

For the past 4 years, Theuns has been working with local farmers doing a discipleship & farming program called "Farming God's Way." That was the reason for my visit. I went to observe and train for two days so we could implement the same discipleship program here in Lusaka next year.

While I was down there, I took a short 15 second clip of local villagers working under Theuns tutelage. To view the video, click the following link:

If you want to learn more about the program, you can visit