Archives for category: bible. truth

I was privileged to speak to the staff at Loloma Mission Hospital this morning before they started the week/day. Morning Devotions start at 0730 and are over by 0800. I admire the staff who work in Mission Hospitals as they are doing a very important job. They have a great care for the people who live in the area, which amounts to about 55,000 people, but their services also benefit people from other districts, provinces and even neighbouring countries. The medical work started in 1956 and since then has grown to be a well equipped hospital (by African standards) with 120 beds for in patients. There is also a large outpatients department and various programmes involved in primary health care. 


The Mission statement of the hospital is to communicate by word and deed the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to members of the district, based upon the truth and teaching of the word of God. It is wonderful to see a health provider seeking to meet the medical needs of patients without forgetting that the spiritual needs of the individual are vitally important as well. Historically medical training was holistic but we in the West have forgotten that human beings have spiritual needs. Matthew Parris, a journalist with atheistic leanings wrote on the 27th of December 2008 in The Times (1) about a visit that he had made to Malawi, his boyhood home ‘Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good’. 

Later in the article Mr Parris reflects on a previous opinion he had of Christian Mission and faith and why despite being an atheist that he is convinced that it is Christianity that is good for Africa – ‘I used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing. First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world – a directness in their dealings with others – that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

Mr Parris goes on to tell of this increasing conviction when at the age of 24 he toured all over Africa. I’ll let him tell you for yourself as he expresses himself more succinctly than I would – ‘We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission. Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers – in some ways less so – but more open’.

The final piece of his article that I want to share with you is a record of his visit to Malawi in 2008. He states that things had not changed – ‘This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service. It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man’s place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.’

As a Christian I am bound to agree with the sentiments that Mr Parris expressed but please bear in mind that he is 1. Intelligent, 2. Good at expressing himself, 3. Contradicting his own worldview, 4. Well travelled and familiar with Africa, 5. Reflecting on a lifetime of experience, 6. Saying that the timeless truths of Christianity still work.

In closing, in case you are wondering my topic for the ‘Devotions’ was the final words of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. As a Christian I believe that the death of Christ is the only hope that we can offer this world. I should clarify that statement – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the only hope that we can offer the people of this planet. I could spend my life developing new medicine and it would have an incredible impact on the world – that would be quite amazing. It could be my passion to develop a new fuel that possibly could save the planet ecologically and incredible as that would be it’s impact on the life of humanity would be limited. Extending the human lifespan and the quality of life would be an admirable goal but on its own it will never deal with the ultimate problem of death and all of the other dilemmas of life BUT the work of Jesus Christ on the cross has unending consequences for this world.

There are positive consequences for all who choose to believe the truth of the gospel – as Mr Parris discovered Christianity affects people’s lifestyle for their good and the good of others but it also deals with sin and provides eternal salvation. First Timothy states in chapter four verse eight that ‘godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come’.

The statements we looked at today were – 

Matthew 27:46 
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me

John 19:28
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!

John 19:30
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!

Luke 23:46
And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ”

Please reflect on these statements. Jesus was forsaken of God to pay the price of sin so that you could be saved. He endured agony on the cross and His thirst was so that you might be satisfied for ever. Jesus’ cry ‘it is finished’ reminds us that He did everything that was required to provide salvation for all who are prepared to repent and believe the gospel. The final statement reminds me that the Lord Jesus, unlike everyone else, had power over his life even in death. He willingly laid down His life and dismissed His spirit. Thankfully He arose from the dead three days later. His resurrection is the proof that salvation is now freely available to all.

Do you believe it?

1. Matthew Parris, The Times, 27th December 2008

This is the second Saturday that we have been in Zambia. We set off this morning at about 0915 to visit the village or township of Chipanda. We made a few scheduled stops on the journey to pick up people who had arranged to come with us. In addition to this we made a few unscheduled stops to drop off people we had collected on the way. In Zambia people just ask you for a lift if you stop to pick up someone else as there are very few taxi’s and buses are not very common. Walking and cycling are the main means of transport for the majority of people. This keeps them fit. You can see people setting out on foot for their fields between 0400 and 0500 in the morning. There is also usually a constant stream of people on bicycles heading toward local markets with produce stacked high in every possible position on the bicycle frame. If you don’t have a bicycle then you just ask someone you know if you can borrow their’s and as long as it’s back within the month, don’t worry!! 


That’s a bit of an exaggeration but, honestly, people do borrow bikes and then fail to return them for a considerable period of time. You see my cousin asked if he could borrow the bike and I said yes. While the bike was with my cousin his brother in law spotted it and said he needed a bike to go into town. His uncle came to visit the day my cousin’s brother in law got back from town and decided that he could use the bike for a day or two. It would unsociable to refuse any of these requests as we are one big family in Zambia and so my bike disappeared for a long time. This sounds like a far fetched tale but this they way things actually work in Zambia. Sadly despite sounding very generous it breeds a lazy attitude to life as why would you work hard if you can get what you need from the other members of your family and why would you work hard and earn good money when all that happens when you have money is that everyone in your village (i.e. Family) expect you to fund them as you have money. The Bible teaches that ‘if a man would not work, neither should he eat,’ 2 Thess 3:10. The Bible teaches this as far as our responsibilities for ourselves and our families are concerned but it balances this truth with the fact that we ‘should do good unto all,’ Gal. 6. 10. Christian’s should be generous to others but responsible to provide for their own families.

The conference went well. Today’s topic was about the promised return of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Church (1 Thessalonians chapter 1) and His promise to return to this planet one day to judge the world (Zechariah 12:10, 14:4, Revelation 1:7 etc). It is essential that Christian understand and live in the good of these topics. 

If you are not a Christian both of these topics should alarm you. They need not if you repent of your sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Yours through Grace, 

Stephen



For quite a few days now I have been working in the mornings on various presentations that I have been giving while in Zambia. There have a been a mix of events, bible teaching with the local church, children’s events, teens night, meeting with seniors in the their own village and visiting some of the local villages in the villages of Manyinga. 


The people of this area live very simple lives and yet they are so grateful for what they have. Don’t get me wrong I know (from talking and listening) that some of them complain from time to time but when you see their living standards I know that most people from where I come from would not be content to live as these people do. 

My day started with a visit to the local High School. The students were very happy to see me. We discussed the UK and the various regions of England as well as the four countries which compose the U.K. and the five countries that compose the British Isles. The students were asked if they had any questions for me. There were interested in what the weather was like in the UK. Not a topic that a Brit wants to talk about when sitting in a Zambian winter where it still manages to never rain and the temperature in the middle of the day is in the middle 20 degrees centigrade. I was then invited to ask the students a question. I thought about it and decided to ask if they had any ambitions. One lad wanted to be a pilot and another guy said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a pastor or a doctor. We had quite a discussion about how a pastor (or a bible teacher etc) dealt with ‘souls’ but a doctor attended to physical and mental health needs. You might make money as a doctor, the boy thought, but would that be a good reason to be a doctor. Medicine is an hourable profession and one that is well worth while perusing but we need doctors who have a love and a care for people. We need men and women whose passion in life is tell people about the love of God and the grace of God which is perfectly seen in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My day filled up quickly with a brief photoshot with the senior staff of the High School, a visit to the Nursery School followed by a look in the local book shop. Books were limited and the shop is not as well used as it could be. Where I come from we are so privileged to have access to literature both in book form and electronically. The greatest book we possess is the Bible, the word of God. The Bookshop has a number of bibles which was good to see. The Bible claims to be the word of God and I as a Christian believe this to be true. The good book says that ‘the scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. 3. 15, it also says ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, Rom. 10. 17.

After this we visited the local airfield. This strip of land needs to be well maintained for the few times in a year when a light aircraft calls in Loloma. The grass needs to be kept down and a gravel runway maintained. It’s not what we would think of as a runway but it serves the local communities well in emergencies.

My morning ended with a brief call in to the hospital and tea with a couple of men from the village. It was a privledge to chat about life and the issues that we face on a daily basis. 

I visited a local village, Chilumba, in the afternoon to speak to a group of about thirty children. The children were lined up waiting outside the church hall when we arrived. They were all polite and excited as they rushed into the hall. It is wonderful to see their bright and happy faces as they sang to us some of the many choruses and songs they know. As English is the official language of Zambia (a legacy of the One Language: One Nation policy of Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda) I was able to talk in my mother tongue. I am however learning to speak slowly so that Zambians can understand me. I did wonder when I arrived why one of the local missionaries, who is from England, spoke English so slowly. I now know – if you speak fast people don’t understand. What’s the point of coming to talk to people if they don’t understand what you say. The Bible talks about a trumpet giving an uncertain sound, 1 Corinthians 14:8. If this is case then no one would hear the message of the gospel and be warned about coming danger. This statement in the Bible was made in the context of people being warned of danger, in ‘days of old’, by the means of the blowing a trumpet. We still need to warned to ‘flee from the wrath to come‘, we need to be aware of sin and it’s consequences. If we don’t make the message of the bible clear then people will be unaware of their danger. They will also be unaware of the protection they they can have (the Bible calls it salvation) through faith in God’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – Acts 16. 31

How do you talk to 79 teenagers who you have never met before? Well from my point of view it was quite scary. The teens came in bit by bit until the room was full. When the singing started it was enthusiastic and loud but maybe not as tuneful as it could have been. 


The singing was in English, as was my talk, which was good but this meant that my translating companion was not present so I had to get on with the job on my own. Seventy nine teenagers at the best of times is scary without the additional stress of feeling well out of your comfort zone in terms of country, culture and age profile. 

The topic for the evening was – Why should I trust the Bible? I am going to do something slightly unusual. I am going to paste my notes to this post and leave it there for tonight!

If you can’t read or understand my notes let me know and I will send you some digital ones.

Stephen

Stepcar61@gmail.com


Something’s Missing in Lusaka 


If you have been reading my blogs you will be aware that I am with a team of six people making my way across the globe to Loloma in the North West Province of Zambia, Africa. So far we have traveled from Manchester to Dubai and Dubai to Lusaka. Everything was going well until we were nearly in Lusaka – then they dropped the bombshell. “Your luggage is in Dubai, you are going to be in Lusaka in an hour and we’ll get our cases to you as soon as we can”. 

I suspected as much but was assured that this would not be the case. When we were running (well walking at a reasonable trot) between one end of Terminal 3 and the other (in Dubai) I asked the ground staff what would happen to our cases as I was unconvinced that they would get to our plane before it took off.. Two members of staff, on separate ocassions, assured me that if we got on the Lusaka flight so would our cases. Well they didn’t!

Promises can be empty! Words can be cheap. It’s easy to say a thing but not so easy to carry out what you say. Unless of course you are God. The Bible says that He is ‘faithful and true,’ Rev. 19:11. There are many verses that speak about the trustworthiness of God. Paul, the apostle, wrote to Timothy one day to tell him about a statement that was worth trusting – ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief,” 1 Timothy 1:15. 

Can you trust an Airline? Well to be fair, you can most of the time! But things will go wrong and the best of people cannot deliver the goods all of the time. You can, however, trust God. He is unchanging in His character, unyielding in His holiness, unlimited in His strength, unstinted in His generosity, unbending in His fairness and justice and unrestricted in His grace. 

How does that all work? That’s a good question to which the only genuine answer is have a look at Jesus, who He claimed to be and what He achieved by His death, burial and resurrection. 

If I can help more get in touch. I’d be happy to help.

Stephen 

07747 101352
Stepcar61@me.com