Our final week in Zambia turned out a bit differently than we expected, which, we have learned through the years, is to be expected!
It started on our way from Namibia to Livingstone, Zambia last Monday when we stopped in Mwandi, Zambia to spend some time with Percy's mom and our dear friend, Gertrude. We had a wonderful visit with her!
It turned out that an old student of ours, a smart, highly motivated and wonderful young woman, Beverly Inonge, was in Mwandi, too. What a joy to see her after at least 4-5 years and to learn that she has finished her teacther's training and is awaiting a post in Mwandi District! It was a joyful reunion!
We left Mwandi reluctantly, and headed to Livingstone. Percy Muleba had arranged training for us with two of our former students, both of whom are planting churches, Pastors Imasiku and John Zulu. It was to have begun Tuesday evening, but for a variety of reasons, both pastors had to cancel at the last minute. We were very disappointed, to say the least.
Still, we had two days of training planned with our GTN colleague, Doug Dorman (Myrtle Beach) and his team. Doug has spent the last three years working with Ken Buckner of Come Go With Us (a Livingstone based ministry) to train a group of Tonga (Zambian tribe) pastors, and he had asked us to sit in on his final two days of training and give him feedback based on our experience.
We really enjoyed helping Doug and his team, meeting the amazing Kingdom-minded students, getting to know Ken and his wife, Karen, better, and coming away with some helpful tools to complement our training. It was a very worthwhile two days. We'll likely see Doug and his wife, Joan, in May when we return to the States.
Unexpectedly, it turns out that one of the men Doug and Ken have been training was an old friend and former student of ours, Pastor Arold Mudenda. Arold pastors a Wesleyan church in Mwandi, Zambia and was, for many years, the project Director of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children's project there. We had trained Arold in church planting, among other things, and I had led Bible studies for his members, and preached at his church a number of times through the years. What an unexpected, and very pleasant surprise to see his face among the students! It had been 3-4 years since we'd seen each other, and we enjoyed catching up.
As you might imagine, with this being our 20th visit to Zambia, we have made some friends in Livingstone. One of them, a lovely young woman, invited us for Sunday dinner yesterday. We had a wonderful time, the food was delicious, and we had the pleasure of meeting some of her extended family who unexpectedly decided to drop by on their way back to Lusaka, Zambia. What a wonderful chance to deepen a relationship that has grown precious to us through the years!
Today, we had lunch with Pastor John Zulu. He was sorry about canceling our training, but glad he could connect with us before we fly home. We had a long conversation during which he described his new church, and told us about his successful efforts to combine entrepreneurial business development with discipleship, something we had encouraged him to do when our team (including our dear friend, Eric deNeve) trained him for two weeks in 2015. What a joy to see the fruit of our training and his labor for the Kingdom!
Tomorrow, we hope to meet with Pastor Reagan, one of our Nangweshi students who is studying in Livingstone at the moment. Reagan is in the Zambian army and has now planted a new church near Mongu, Zambia. While on patrol, he met a husband and wife under a tree during a rainstorm. He led them to Jesus, and they established a church under that same tree which now numbers about 70 members. We look forward to seeing him and discussing his desire that we train his new leaders when we return in August.
Would you continue to pray for us as we conclude our work in Livingstone and fly home Wednesday and Thursday? Please pray for a great last couple of days, and for safe, healthy and uneventful travel. And please pray for Percy and his family as he travels home with us. Percy's wife, Muyunda, and his daughters, Natasha, Thabo and Nsala will be without him for five weeks. Thanks and we love you and are praying for you, too!