Thursday, April 23, 2009

Musings on Ministry

Because today's blog will likely be our last from Zambia (although one of us will probably write some closing comments after we arrive home), we will give you three different perspectives. Today's writers will be Michelle Asay, Amy Kieser, and Steve Moltumyr.

Vacation Bible School has drawn to a close. We have had the delightful opportunity to work with about fifty orphans, some of the pastors' children as well as some of the children from the village. The transformation from last fall to now was incredible. Their smiles were huge and came so very quickly. They remembered the songs that we sang in October and laughed whenever we were silly. The numbers grew from Monday to Thursday and when we attempted to share fun fruits today we had to have the kids share as our numbers exceeded eighty.

We found them waiting for us each afternoon as we traveled the road to our meeting place and we've had them following us at the end of each day. We have been aided in our venture by Pastor Navice's son, John. John will be a great teacher in the near future as he works so well with the children.

It truly is challenging to say, "Good-bye". We wonder if we will have the opportunity to see them again and how their world will have changed because of the Hope Center. We left them with Numbers 6:24-26 as that is our prayer for them as well.

Michelle Asay

I have been struggling with the words to express what I have experienced in teaching the pastors' wives this week. It has been my complete privilege to teach parts of 1 Corinthians to them. I cannot imagine a more gracious group of ladies. I believe I could stand before them and recite "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and they would be appreciative. They have been an enormous blessing to me, and they have such a deep hunger for God's Word. On the first day, we gave them Bibles in their native tongue (Bemba), and there were shouts of joy like I have never heard before. We took a tea break halfway through our time together. While we were on our break, I looked in to find every woman hunched over her new Bible, reading it! What a blessing they have been!

I also have made a new best friend in Mirriam Musonga, Pastor Navice's daughter. She has been my translator this week, but she is so much more. She is also my sister in Christ and my dear friend. She has taken what I have said and made it come alive for the women of Zambia. She has been able to expound on and apply God's Word for them in ways I could not have imagined. It is my prayer that our lives will cross again, for I have come to love her dearly. It was the pictures of the orphaned children that drew my heart to Zambia, but now Mirriam and these dear pastors' wives have captured my heart, as well.

Thank you for you partnership with us in prayer. We have felt all of those prayers.

In Him,


It's very hard to describe in a few words, or even many, an experience like we've all had these days in Serenje and the impact a time like this has on a person's life. Perhaps the best I can say is that as different as our lives are from the people we've been serving this week, there are profound similarities. The greatest similarity being our need for Jesus Christ and the love He brings into our lives. As I've taught the pastors from I Corinthians and listened to them describe their needs and the needs of the people in their churches, I have been impressed with how important the truth of God's Word is in all of our lives. We live in very different cultures, but our need for God's truth to live purposeful and joy filled lives is exactly the same.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Worship in Kamena and a few other things

Hello, blog readers, and greetings from Tim Wiebe in Zambia (and thus ends Tim talking in the third person). The trip so far has been excellent - we have seen God work in many ways in, through, and around us so far, and are excited to continue the work God has initiated over the next few days before we begin our trek back.

My role here has been primarily to help teach a group of pastors from church in and nearby the town of Serenje where we are staying. I have been teaching on the the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and my prayer is that this material on the third member of the Trinity will help inspire their worship, further their discernment, and both motivate and encourage their service for the gospel. I have been teaching for close to 2 hours each day from 11:00am-1:00pm, directly following Steve Moltumyr teaching on 1 Corinthians. The pastors have been gracious and seem to be responding well to our content. When I was here in Sept/Oct, I was impressed at the eagerness with which these pastors received biblical teaching, and have been both challenged and impressed by the same this trip. On top of that, this second trip I have benefited from the relationship already established with many of the pastors; I truly enjoyed seeing these partners in the gospel again, and have been encouraged by their perseverance for the cause of Christ.

After teaching, each morning, I have spent at least a bit of each afternoon with the orphans and those in our group leading vacation Bible school for them. Though I have primarily observed the vacation Bible school, it has been AWESOME to see those in our group helping out more directly - God has gifted them tremendously to work with children, and it's fun to see the kids' eyes light up whenever the group arrives.

A few others from our group just accused me of writing a novel, so I'd better draw this to a close...I have attached pictures from our time in a village called Kamena - this village is where we worshipped on Sunday morning. It is always cool to hear people praising God in a different language and rightly reminds us of the picture we get of worship in heaven in the book of Revelation, where we read of people from every "tribe and tongue" worshipping our common King, Jesus.

The people here contine to bless us, and we would appreciate your continued prayers for unity as a team, partnership in the gospel with our Zambian family, and joy in ministry and being ministered to.

Monday, April 20, 2009

School in Kamena

Greetings from Serenge! Yesterday was another overwhelming day with so many wonderful experiences. We helped with another large food distribution, giving out food to about 100 children. We also had the privilage of attending two different worship services in the bush.

We visited a school in the town of Kamena. Pastor Navice introduced us to a very special man named Morgan. Morgan is the headmaster of Kamena School. He is also the man who came up with the perfect name of "The Hope Center." There are over 300 students K-7th grade! Kamena School has four teachers. Three have sacrificied a part of their salaries to pay for a fourth teacher. Children sit three to four students at a desk. They make their chalkboards by rubbing dark colored leaves on the wall. When the classrooms become hot, they hold class outside beneath a grand shade tree appropriately named "Wisdom Tree." We were able to present a suitcase of basic school supplies on behalf of Chris Ihley. Morgan said, "They will no longer say we are a poor school they will say we are rich!"
~In him, Traci Gratopp

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Greatest Need

Today began with a food distribution to 48 orphans. What a joy it was to see, in person, those children who will be using the Hope Childrens Center. It was sobering and humbling to watch the children come up, one by one to receive a large bag of maize, and a small bag of dried minnows (yes minnows). As Traci was handing out the food, the tears came without warning. That's how it happens around here...God shows us reality, and suddenly your American, ethno-centric idea of a "need" is shattered. You see the Zambians as people in need of a Savior, just like us.

In the afternoon, we went with Pastor Navice, and 3 other Zambian pastors to visit with people in a village about 3 km outside of Serenje. This was a brand new experience for a few of us. It was amazing to talk about Jesus to hurting, yet receptive people, who are living in circumstances and family situations that for most of us are unfathomable. Today, the Lord used His church to put the Word of God into the ears and hands of people who desperately need hope. This need is universal. We all need it.
It gave us great joy and hope to see the same God at work in Nebraska and Iowa, also at work here. He is present and His work is being done by faithful men and women who are obedient with their time and energy to impact the lives of the people in Serenje.
~Molly Loneman

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Trek to Serenje

It's been something of a whirlwind, but we are here safe and sound in Serenje, Zambia! We flew non-stop and overnight from Chicago to London. We were in London for a day, so we did some sight-seeing. The highlight for me was a tour of Westminster Abbey. As we were ready to leave, we came upon the burial place of David Livingstone, a British missionary to Zambia in, I believe, the 19th century. His last words were written there. He said of Africa, "All I can add in my solitude, is, may heaven and rich blessing come down on everyone, American, English, or Turk who will help heal this open sore of the world." Reading that quote was the highlight of London for me, because that is precisely, in some small way, what our group is trying to do.

We then flew non-stop and overnight from London to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, arriving around 6:30 AM Zambian time. After some shopping in Lusaka, we headed out on our overland trek to Serenje in a van loaded with seven people, 14 bags of checked luggage, and various pieces of carry-on luggage! Six hours later, we arrived - tired but so grateful to God to be here at last.

Yesterday, which was Friday, we toured the Hope Center - the orphan care center that Brookside is building in partnership with Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. We had seen pictures, but nothing could prepare us for the overwhelming experience of seeing the nearly completed campus. There is an all-purpose building, a bathhouse, a storage shed, and a guest house. There is a large area dedicated to farming a number of different plants: corn, watermelon, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and more. Eventually these plants will feed the orphans and there may even be enough to sell locally. We met Pastor Novice, whose vision began this whole endeavor, and it was truly a privilege to meet a man so humble and fully devoted to the cause of Christ.

In the afternoon, we visited a nearby waterfall called Kundalilla Falls...a beautiful sight. Some hiked farther than others. (O.k., I didn't make it all the way down the canyon!) But we all greatly enjoyed the trip.
This morning we participated in a food distribution for about 50 orphans. Each child was given a 25 kilo bag of "mealy meal" (ground corn) and a plastic shopping bag of dried minnows. It was an emotional experience watching these precious children be so grateful for so little. The girls curtsied, and they were all smiling and laughing.
We met the twenty or so children that our church has sent back to school. I may have mentioned this before, but it costs about $100 a year for tuition, books and uniforms to send a child to school for a year. We also learned that there are still ten more orphans whose school year has not been funded. It is my prayer that they, too, will be able to go to school very soon.
This afternoon we are going to do some door-to-door evangelism, which will stretch all of us, I think, but we are looking forward to it. And tonight we will have the treat of eating at the house of Pastor Novice and his wife Ketty.
Would you please pray for us? Pray that we would continue to be healthy and sleep well, as we adjust to the time and altitude difference. Pray that our work here would be fruitful and that God would be glorified in all we do. Thank you.
Hopefully tomorrow, Molly Loneman will update the blog with pictures of our work (and play) here so far.
God Bless you,
Amy Kieser

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zambia Here We Come!

We leave tomorrow, and the question I hear the most is, "Are you ready?" And I keep thinking, "Is anyone ever ready to jump completely out of her comfort zone and into Africa?" But ready or we come!

You may be wondering who the "we" are. A new group from Brookside Church is heading to Zambia on Monday, April 13th. "We" are Pastor Steve Moltumyr, Pastor Tim Wiebe, Pastor John Alford, Michelle Asay, Molly Loneman, Tracy Gratopp, and Amy Kieser (that last one is me :)

We're going to Serenje, Zambia with several purposes in mind. The pastors will be conducting pastoral training for local Zambian pastors. The women will be leading a VBS program for about 50 orphans, and I will have the privilege of teaching a group of pastors' wives. All of this will take place at the Hope Center, a facility we are building in partnership with Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa.

Will you be partners with us in prayer? Please pray for our travel, our ministry time, for the children, the pastors and their wives. Please pray that God would use us to minister to them and more importantly to bring glory and honor to His Name.

I grew up in an Air Force family and whenever we would be uprooted from one place to fly off to another (often on short notice), my mother would attempt to bolster our spirits by saying, "We're off on another one of life's great adventures!" It became a family motto...mostly because it's really hard to get four little girls to be happy about moving to places like Korea and New Jersey! But as I think of it, it's a really good motto for our trip. We are off on another one of life's great adventures. And, by God's grace, I think I might just be ready!

Amy Kieser

P.S. The next post will probably not be written until Thursday, as we will be in "travel mode" until then.

P.P.S. Earlier posts on this blogspot were written by Jack Archer during his three month stay in Serenje.