Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sent to...Livingstone, Zambia - December 2017

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV)

The last time I in Zambia was in July of 2015 with the Mission Helpers. One of the privileges we had on that trip was to meet a group of pastors and evangelists in the area that were interested in the work that the CLC was doing in Zambia along with Pastor Ibrahim. There were about twenty-four men who were loosely organized and working together to spread the Gospel in villages out in the bush. Pastor Ibrahim had met the leader of the group on one of his trips through the area on his way to visit a CLC contact in Zimbabwe. Livingstone is just a couple of kilometers away from the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Before independence, these two countries were a British colony called Rhodesia.

Pastor Sait was the pastor who organized and led this group of pastors. None of these men had been given the privilege of attending a Bible college or seminary. They all seemed rather eager to learn. So, in 2015 Pastor Ibrahim asked me if we could travel to Livingstone with the Mission Helpers and spend a couple of days meeting with these pastors. The first day we had twenty-four men in attendance. By the second day we were down to fourteen. These fourteen men expressed their agreement with what had been taught and their desire to continue training in Lutheran doctrine with the goal of becoming faithful preachers and teachers of the truth of God’s saving word. We were thankful for what the Lord had done in Livingstone and a recommendation for minimal funding  for travel and meeting expenses to the CLC Board of Missions was approved and a few months later a CLC-Zambia pastoral training center was established.

Fast forward about two years and things have changed quite a bit. What we thought was a well laid plan actually fell apart when Pastor Sait suddenly died about one year ago. Now there are only three from the original group that have continued in study with Pastor Ibrahim. In addition to these three men, five new men have joined in the studies. Of these eight men, six have successfully completed an adult instruction course and received certificates of completion at a special worship service held on December 3rd.  

Six men who completed one year of study with Pastor Ibrahim
These eight men are committed to continued study with Pastor Ibrahim and would very much like him to move to Livingstone so that classes could be held more than just four days a month. There is definitely a strong desire among these men to dedicate themselves to the study of God’s word to become faithful preachers of God’s saving word.

As mentioned earlier, Pastor Sait died rather suddenly with much suspicion of foul play. The evangelism work that Pastor Sait and the others had been doing in rural villages had born fruit in one particular village that didn’t have a Christian congregation. The stories and rumors are many, but the consistent details include a tribal chief wanting to give land to the CLC-Zambia so that Pastor Sait could build a church for the village. The other parts of the story have to do with another (rather unscrupulous) evangelist that had also begun to work in the village after Pastor Sait’s group had found some success. As the rumor goes, Pastor Sait and the tribal chief sat to visit with the man to try to get him to stop spreading lies about Pastor Sait and the others in an attempt to ruin their reputation. Not long after the meeting Pastor Sait suddenly collapsed and died. It is suspected that he was poisoned by the rival evangelist.

Upon the death of Pastor Sait, the group disbanded and stopped meeting for classes. A few of the men called Pastor Ibrahim and told him that they wanted to continue studying with him. And so, he began making the 8-9 hour one-way bus ride twice a month to bring the truth of God’s word to these men. One of the men, Kebby Chifofoma, was asked to take over the pastoral duties of the congregation that Pastor Sait had served. He along with several young men from the congregation are now the group of eight students that attend the classes. These men all serve in different capacities and have a desire to spread the Gospel and start new congregations in rural villages that don’t have the truth of God’s word. 

Steve Liswaniso (left) Pastor Ibrahim (right)
One particular young man named Steve Liswaniso spent all of his time with us while we were in Livingstone. He was very attentive everything that needed to be scheduled and taken care of for the classes, worship service, memorial service of Pastor Sait, and evangelism efforts. We don’t know exactly what the Lord has in store for this group of dedicated men, women, and children, but we trust that His word will not return to him void, just as He has promised.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8–11, NKJV)

Public School where CLC-Zambia Congregation meets
The group currently meets in a public school classroom that is made available on the weekends. This is not ideal because every classroom is used by a church group on Sunday mornings for worship and it gets very chaotic and noisy as every group seems to be trying to out-do the others with the sound level of their speakers. The group would very much like to buy or build a church building that could serve the congregation and also provide a space for Ibrahim to stay (or live) and teach on his semi-monthly visits.
Pastor Ibrahim giving a test on the day's lessons
Please pray for this fledgling group of Christians, the men who have been called to serve them with the Gospel, and their evangelism efforts in villages where the Gospel is not present. Pray also for Pastor Ibrahim to give him the necessary dedication, wisdom, and commitment as he continues to train these individuals for the Gospel ministry and struggles with decision of whether to stay in Lusaka or move to Livingstone.

A little bit about Livingstone -- This city is located near the Zambezi river about three miles from Victoria Falls. It's also about four miles away from Zimbabwe border crossing. Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

Mosi-oa-Tunya from the air during the rainy season. photo credit unknown
Locally, it is referred to as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, which loosely translates to "thunderous smoke waters" because during the rainy season the mist that rises up from the base of the waterfall can be seen for miles and appears to be smoke rising out of the valley. It is an amazing sight. 

Victoria Falls near the end of the dry season. Photo taken by me on 03 DEC 2017
Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer of Africa, was the first European to see the falls and he named it after Queen Victoria. 
Statue of Dr. David Livingstone's first glimpse of Mosi-oa-Tunya in 1855

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