Thursday, June 25, 2009

Praise God for Progress

Thanks be to God for a great trip to Zambia and safe travel returning home. Besides of course missing my family, the most difficult part of the trip is the 48 hours (or so) it takes to get to and from Serenje. It's a great opportunity to practice patience.

The second half of our trip was amazing, and we saw a lot of the construction loose ends get tied up. I'm still amazed that the guys were able to oversee the buildings going up so quickly and with such quality. Progress in Zambia can be frustratingly slow, so it's quite a miracle.

The people were so thankful when we presented the new soccer goals, nets, and balls at three area schools, and they came out in droves. The Gospel was presented in each location, then we (Team Zambia/USA) played the local team.

Here's a picture of 33 of the smiling orphans in Serenje that the Hope Center is serving. Many of them have been given not just food and exposure to the Gospel, but the opportunity to go back to school through generous donations to cover their uniforms, books, etc.

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for and supported this worthy cause.

"Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me" Matt. 25:40

-written by Aaron Shaul

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Evangelism, Construction, and Soccer

Greetings from Aaron Shaul in Serenje! Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers as our group has been here about a week. I've joined a group of 6 others from Cornerstone Church, including Pastor Jeff Dodge. Our primary purpose here was twofold: to accompany a group of pastors on a church planting trip into the rural areas and make a final push to finish up this phase of construction at the Hope Childrens Center. God has been incredibly merciful and revealed Himself in many ways.

Upon arriving on Tues June 9, we gathered up some supplies in Lusaka and traveled up to Serenje. Wednesday was spent doing some work around HCC, then on Thursday we set off on our church planting expedition. The group of Zambian pastors/church leaders and Americans were broken up into 5 groups with 5-7 Zambians and 1 or 2 Americans on each team. Each group was sent to an area with no Bible believing church in close proximity. The team I was blessed to be on was sent to a small village area called Njelele about 1 hour from Serenje. Interestingly, we had to get permission from the area chief before commencing our evangelism. After that, we broke into groups of 2-3 and walked through the bush paths to small groups of mud brick/grass roof huts and began striking up conversations. The people were very friendly and open to discussion, although sadly many had been led astray by the Jehovah Witness, New Apostolic, or Seventh Day Adventist. It was such a priviledge to work alongside Pastor Navice Kalunga (our leader here who has started hundreds of churches), and we saw a number of people trust Christ, demon posessed individuals prayed for, and the Gospel go forth in a dark place. On Sunday morning, we held a church service in the school building. About 35 people attended, and 9 more stepped forward in committment to Christ. Following the example of Paul in Acts 14, the Zamian pastors appointed leadership; we also left them 12 Bibles in the local language and gave them instruction for future meeting and follow-up. Although I was exhausted from the rigorous days and lack of sleep due to the cold at night, my spirit rejoiced at so many people trusting the Lord. Upon our return to the Hope Center, on Monday our entire group met and shared what had happened in the 5 locations. It was a joyful time of sharing and praising the Lord for what He had done.
The rest of this week will be filled with tying up loose ends on the construction of HCC. From installing sinks and toilets, to painting, installing the well pump, and putting up window curtains, I'm sure the following days will go quickly. Another cool part of our trip involves local outreach. We are installing soccer goals at 3 area schools, playing with the students, and sharing the Gospel with them. Please pray for us this week, especially in regard to speed and safety with the construction, fruit from the soccer outreach, and reliance on the Lord for strength. Thanks so much for your prayers and support! so much for your prayers and support!