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My first day in the district of Manyinga was spent with the Christians in the Manyinga Gospel Hall. It took fifteen minutes to walk there from Loloma Mission Station. To my surprise we were walking in sand, it felt as if we were crossing a desert. We passed a few washing and bathing areas as we approached the bridge to cross the river. This is a new bridge, parts of the old bridge can be seen beneath the new bridge lying in the river bed. The river depth markers indicated that the water, in the wet season, comes up to just under the level of bridge – this is quite a height! Crocodiles appear quite frequently, at that time of the year, so we were grateful that we are here in winter as are no crocodiles were to be seen. I am sure that I and some members of our party would have been a little more reticent to cross the river if there was any possibility of seeing one.


The conference day started with everyone congregating outside the Gospel Hall. Time was needed to greet everyone and to meet the elders of the church. The Regional Chief is a believer and so he came to the first two sessions of the conference. It is a cultural norm to kneel and bow before the Chief. Many of the congregation came to kneel before him, at the end of the second session, just before lunch. I am not convinced that people should kneel before the Chief in a church context but some people feel that this is right and culturally the locals find it very hard not to as they have been taught from childhood to do it (I will explain later that I do think people should respect the Chief). 


This particular chief has a lot of regional responsibilities due to the size of his region. The position of Chief is hereditary and is a long standing tradition. Head men in each village report in to the Chief and he is regularly consulted to settle disputes. The method of settling disputes is very intriguing. The Chief sits in an enclosure at his palace and has representatives who come to him with the particular issue under consideration. While the Chief is not seen he is sitting behind a screen close by and can hear all that is being discussed. His representative goes back and forth while the debate takes place and then the Chief makes a final decision which is binding. Sadly, Zambia, like the rest of the world is changing and some of his people do not feel that he has the same authority to make decisions that he once did. He is paid a salary by the government and has to work within government guidelines but I am told that, from time to time, there are some conflicts of interest. The Bible teaches that Christians should be ‘subject to the powers that be,’ in Romand chapter 13 verses 1-3 and 1st Peter chapter 2 verses 13-17. God created levels of authority for the good of society and expects people to acknowledge, respect and obey them. The only exeption to this is when a government forces a. Christian to disobey the word of God. In that case the Christian does not intentionally disobey the authorities but an act of purposeful obedience to the word of God unfortunately puts them in conflict with the law of the land. For a good example of this read Acts chapter 4 verses 1-22.


The conference went well. There were three bible teaching sessions. The topic for the day was ‘Four Proofs that you are a Chrstian’ and the evidence was drawn from the Epistle of First John in the New Testament. As I close this post let me list the four reasons for you. If you want the biblical references to back these points up please email me (stepcar61@gmail.com) and I will send them to you.


1. A Christian is someone who has their sins forgiven,

2. A Christian is someone who obeys the word of God,

3. A Christian is someone who loves their fellow believer,

4. A Christian is someone who believes that the Son of God was a real man called Jesus.


Thanks for reading this, 


Stephen



After leaving Lusaka on Friday morning, at 0830, we arrived in Solwezi Airport an hour later. Solwezi Airport needs to be seen to be believed. It is just a room on the side of the air strip. No security, no barriers, a walk through waiting room and toilets which are of the non-flush variety with a sink with no water to wash your hands. There was, however, a lovely shop opposite the Airport exit. The shop sells some high quality, beautiful, Zambian tourist momentos but when it comes to coffee or tea they serve whatever is available at the time. My description is not a criticism of the facilities. Once you are in this country you begin to appreciate what you have and all the obstacles that people face as they simply try to survive a day. For many dear souls the vital issue is – what have I got to eat at the moment and where will my next meal come from? We often grumble about we have and forget that we are so blessed ‘on the other side’ as the locals call it, i.e. The West. It is good to remember the words of scripture ‘be content with such things as you have,’ Heb 13. 5.


As we started our journey to Loloma Mission Hospital we could not help but be amazed at the markets and shops all through the town of Solwezi. It seemed to me to be one long road, a bit of a dirt track, some tarmac and lots of crators to avoid. The skill of our driver was apparent as he swerved the vehicle from side to side very skilfully. Thankfully at this stage we had not had much to eat!! Later on we valued his expertise in avoiding people, animals and potholes.

A cursory glance at the shops would give you the impression that you could buy whatever you wanted if you had the money. However when you went into the shops you soon found out that supplies were limited. Many stores were in desperate need of repair and it was obvious that eking a living out of selling goods was hard going. If you wanted a phone, a SIM card or some airtime you could make a purchase every car length. Banks seemed to crop up reguarly as did pharmacists and men’s barbers. The basics of life can all be purchased on the streets of Solwezi and food shopping can either be done in the local shops, the stalls or in the major South African chains that are now springing up all over Zambia such as ‘Shopright’ and ‘Pick and Pay’.

The people are very friendly and always keen to meet and greet you. Greeting people in Zambia is a major activity! I love the sign language that is the greeting system that these lovely African people use. The gentle clapping of the hands is the normal way of saying hello. This can be done at a distance, instead of calling out, but it is also used, in addition to words, when near to a person. The response can be twofold – two hands held high indicate  – I’m good, I’m strong or one hand across the chest convering the heart indicates ‘I’m well, kind regards to you’. 

Ultimately, the Zambian always has time for you. The lesson of taking time with people is one that we ‘busy westerners’ would do well to learn. Businesses and Institutions in the UK talk about being people focused but we have truly lost the art of spending time on people. People are the most precious resource that this world possesses. We must not forget this! Life can become cheap and people can get in the way of what we are doing. I need to be reminded of this as I am a very task oriented person. As a Christian I should know better as my God and Saviour loves people and was, and is, willing to invest everything in people. One of the most famous verses in the Bible states ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,’ `John 3. 16. One of the greatest proofs of God’s love and interest in human beings is expressed in Romans chapter five verse eight – ‘but God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us’. 

If you are cynical you might say if God loves us so much he should stop disease, provide more money and stop children dying etc. I should stress at this stage that God has done this; He does it through people. When God made the world He created sufficient resources to provide for the whole world. The reason why so many are deprived is not God’s fault, it is the fault of us, the humans. Greed in the human heart means that many are denied the things that God created for them.

There is little value in only removing symptoms if the cause of the problem is not addressed. If God simply removed the symptoms, i.e. the problems, then the same issues would come back to the surface time and time again. We need to discover why all of these problems exist and sort the problem at the source. The Bible gives the answer when it states – ‘just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned,’ Rom. 5. 12. All of the world’s problems exist by choice, by human sin. The solution is not found in us, it is only found in the Saviour whom God has provided – His dear Son, Jesus Christ.

The Bible verses which I have quoted earlier on in this post highlight the fact that Jesus paid the price to provide salvation and forgiveness to all who are honest, turn from their sin and sins (repent) and accept the gift of God which is ‘eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,’ Roms. 6. 23.

If I can answer any questions please get in touch – stepcar61@gmail.com

Stephen




Security at Lusaka Airport


Let me explain the security process in Lusaka. 

Security was very relaxed. We arrived at 0630 and our cases were weighed in two at a time. The cases were then labelled and set behind the desk. Eventually they appeared in a Reilly being wheeled out and put in the aircraft hold. At least we could see what was happening. 

Personal security was also interesting. For instance I left my belt on, my friend, Graham, took his off – it didn’t seem to matter one way or the other. We didn’t have to take liquids or electronic equipment out of our cases. No one was bothered! Refreshing and relaxed! Sadly it wouldn’t work that way in the west. We are so plagued by terrorism and violent men that we couldn’t risk relaxing our security checking systems. I am reminded that God never relaxes His security systems. Evil is never acceptable. Sin will always be outlawed. Nothing can enter the presence of God while still marked by sin. The book of Revelation states: ‘But nothing unclean will ever enter it (the presence of God), nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life,’ Revelation 21:27. 

I am so glad that we can be forgiven and acceptable to God. He has provided salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The word of God confirms in Romans chapter 5 verse 8 ‘But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’. We can be cleansed because ‘the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin, 1 John 1 verse 7. 

The security systems in Airports might change but God is the same yesterday, today and for ever. His standards are never lowered even though the world constantly downgrades its standards of morality. Thankfully he offers eternal salvation and His grace is rich and free to all who call upon His name. 

Praise God for all that He is and has done. 

Stephen  


Our flight eventually took off at 10:35 pm from Manchester. We were traveling in the biggest plane that I have ever been in – an Airbus A380-800. It was quite an experience. Emirates are a great airline to fly with. Even in ‘economy’ the loo’s are quite posh and you have a feeling of quality about the service. 

We were pushed for time when we landed in Dubai at 0810. We should have been in at 0725 which would have given us two hours between flights. But we didn’t get off the plane until nearly 0830. So, we had just under an hour to get from one flight to another. The heat (30 degrees plus) hit us as we exited the plane. You felt as if you could have cut through the heat with a knife. Once in the Terminal we were met by an Emirates representative who walked us through the Airport to Gate 30, Terminal 3. It is good to have a guide when you don’t know the way. This reminded me of the words of Jesus. He once said that He was ‘the way, the truth and the life,’ John 14:6. If we ever want to come to the Father (God) it must be through the Lord Jesus, He is the only access we have to God and heaven. Finding your way through an Airport can be a nightmare if you don’t know the way. You could go the way you think is right but end up in the wrong place. The Bible says it’s like that in life. There is a way that seems right…but the end thereof are the ways of death, Proverbs 14:12, 16:25. 
We are now on the next stage of our journey – Dubai to Lusaka. Some of our team are asleep as the night flight has taken its toll. The sun is shining, as you would expect it do do above the clouds in the Middle East. We are cruising at 562 mph and we have a head wind of 11 mph. There are six hours to go until Lusaka (God willing) and then we can relax for the evening and prepare ourselves for the penultimate stage of the journey – Lusaka to Solwezi. 
In the meantime every blessing to you all. 
Stephen 

We are on our way to Loloma in Zambia. When I say we I mean six of us. A doctor, a nurse, a seamstress, a cabinet maker, a theatre technician and a preacher. 
It’s been a long time in the planning but we are actually sitting in Manchester Airport waiting to fly out. Our flight should leave at 9:15 pm but it’s been delayed by an hour. We don’t know the reason why but sometimes God is protecting us by our delays. Think of the many car crashes you have come across. Did you ever think – ‘if I had been here 10 minutes earlier then it could have been me in that wreckage’. God is good to us in ways that we are not yet aware of.
Life is so unpredictable. Lusaka, the capital of Zambia is currently under a curfew. Locals have to be in the their houses by 8 pm. The missionaries in Loloma face the prospect of malaria every week! Just last week there was a break out of food poisoning due to a lizard falling into a pot. A little boy died and over 40 people were admitted to the local hospital. 
The scripture ‘trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to your own understanding’ springs to mind. 
If you are a praying person we would appreciate your prayers as we start out on this adventure. Our aim in going is to encourage the local Christians and missionaries. 
Stephen 

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