If Zambia's home, then Mwandi is our living room. The ride from Livingstone to Mwandi on Friday, July 14th should have taken about 1.5 hours, but it took over 3 hours because of the deteriorating road conditions. The potholes were worse than ever and it made for a very tedious trip.
Still, it was wonderful to be back in Mwandi where we are staying in our old friend, Fiona's, place on the river. We are the only ones here so it has been very peaceful and quiet. There's nothing quite like waking up to beautiful morning light and the sight of mokoros (dugout canoes) on the Zambezi River.
That evening, we attended a crusade sponsored by the Livingstone Mission Center (LMC) which featured a Zimbabwean evangelist. LMC is headed by David Newcombe from Jupiter, Florida and he brought an American team with him. Pastor Kimo, his wife, Natalie, and daughter, Emma were joined by Rick Branson, an evangelist, all from the Jupiter area. Amazingly, they had all attended the Rise Missions Conference in South Africa so we had already met them!
Saturday, July 15th, we were invited to join Pastor Moses Yamba, an old friend, at his Evangelical Church in Zambia (ECZ) in Sesheke, about 30 miles away. A district-wide youth choir & praise team conference was underway and it was quite a sight to see dozens of colorful tents on the church grounds. It was even better to listen to the beautiful voices!
Abby and I were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves and I was asked to pray for the conference. We then enjoyed a lovely fish, nshima and greens lunch as the guests of Pastor and Mrs. Yamba. It was further exposure for us to the ECZ and its leadership which we appreciated.
That night, we attended the last evening of the crusade where Rick Branson gave an invitation to those who wanted to follow Jesus for the first time. Joyously, a number of folks stepped forward and they will be followed up by local church leaders in the days to come.
As the crusade drew to a close, our dear friend, Pastor Arold Mudenda, invited me (Doug) to preach at his church, Pilgrim Wesleyan, on Sunday morning, July 16th. We were delighted to accept the invitation.
Worship at Pilgrim was hampered by a planned power interruption, but to be honest we were delighted. It meant that the praise and worship teams used traditional Zambian drums, and the beautiful four part harmonies the Lozi people are known for just flowed. The worship was amazing. It made preaching so easy. I felt carried by the Holy Spirit. I focused on Psalm 22 and, apparently, it tied in beautifully to a sermon series Pastor Mudenda has been preaching on Esther. I'm grateful. Abby was asked to pray at the end of worship and the Lord used her well.
An old student of ours, Obby, has become very involved at Pilgrim where he facilitated a Live School last year and now co-leads the youth and younger adults ministry. It was great to see him and to hear he is doing well.
Abby & I have taught at Pilgrim several times through the years, leading Bible studies, preaching and training leaders in church planting. When we began working with them, Pastor Mudenda's church was meeting in his front yard under a simple shelter. Now, they have a lovely worship center and a strong congregation.
It was heartening to hear that Pilgrim has planted a new church in Limpopo, about 20 miles into the bush. Pastor Mudenda rides a motorcycle there, reminiscent of the Methodist circuit riders who planted churches in the United States in its early years. Of course, they rode horses!
Monday, July 17, was a rest day from training, although we had a visit from Lewis, a retired United Church of Zambia pastor, who shares our heart for bush ministry and sound biblical training. Since retiring about 18 months ago, he has planted three new bush churches. Now that's an active retirement!
I had a fascinating conversation with him about the danger of breeding dependency in people as we do mission. He warned that if missionaries (and pastors) are not careful, they'll produce spoiled children instead of mature disciples. Happens in the USA, too, doesn't it?
That evening, we hosted Percy's wife, Muyunda, for dinner because Percy was in Livingstone checking on their kids and making sure the electricity is hooked up sooner rather than later in their new home. We'll see him on Friday, July 21st, in Sesheke.
On Monday, July 17th, we moved from Mwandi to Sesheke.
Please pray that the Lord will gather the right leaders for training as we teach in Sesheke, Lilonga, Nangweshi and Mongu, that he will empower us by his Spirit and enable us to continue to rest well and pace ourselves sensibly!