Thank you so much for your prayers for our team that went to Zambia and Congo from September 27 to October 8. Below is a brief summary of how we saw the Lord work.
We saw your prayers answered as we went through customs and immigration: We had the privilege of seeing how your prayers were answered as we made it through immigration and customs at the Zambia/Congo borders with no problems both going into Congo and returning to Zambia in less than an hour. There were over 250 eighteen-wheel trucks backed up awaiting permission to get through the border. We made it through in less than an hour each way. Considering we were walking through what is called “no man’s land” we really sensed your prayers. This was above and beyond even our imagination to move through the confusion of so many people waiting with no difficulty.
We saw your prayers answered as we saw people responding to the gospel: We had the privilege of seeing over 260 people come to Christ. We saw one new church started while we were there as well as heard the report that the number of new churches in Southern Congo had grown in number. When I wrote to you before going, I reported that there were 28 new churches there. However, we found instead the number had grown to 34. We saw church leaders committed to reach out to unreached areas and start ten more new churches this year. We traveled about three hours north of Lubumbashi as we traveled in a van to see a new church and got to preach to that church. We also preached in 5 churches in the Lubumbashi area.
We saw your prayers answered as we taught: Each day, we got to teach about 25 men and ladies who were excited to receive all that we shared with them. After teaching 8 or more hours a day, they were always eager for more.
Thanks again from each of our team members (Pastor Shawn Barnard, Chris Zink, Jim Potts, and Ed Miller).
Yours in Christ,
Edward Miller (on behalf of Zambia/Congo Team)
Report from Shawn Barnard, March-April 2009
Blog post – Surrender – April 10, 2009 at 5:36pm
Although I was hoping to blog each day while in Zambia, it just wasn’t going to happen. Needless to say, it’s Africa. There was an “internet connection,” but it was like riding a slug when you’re use to a Ferrari. The first day I tried to load a page, it took 10 minutes . . . just for the text. As a friend of mine says, “Africa wins again.”
So . . .
There is much to be said in the upcoming posts simply because it cannot all be said now. For those of you who have had the privilege of engaging in missions, especially in 3rd world countries, there is always much to be processed. One thing that I’ve learned, after my sixth trip to Africa, is that no trip is ever routine. It is never mundane, or typical. It is always unique. If you listen, and go with eyes-wide-open, and your heart equally receptive, there is much you will learn; and question; and chew on; and cry over; and be changed by it all.
People often ask me, “How was it? Tell me all about it.” And I try. But there are no words that could ever adequately describe the experience. You just have to go . . . and quite honestly, you should. Maybe not to Africa, but somewhere. Whether it’s in a third-world country or across the street visiting with a neighbor, the location of your mission engagement is not what makes the experience indescribable. It’s the activity of God in that place that makes the experience impossible to put into words. Wherever it is, you should go. And the reason you should go is because, as Christ-followers, we are called to do so. It really isn’t an option if obedience is the desire of your heart.
For the past five years, I have had the privilege of spending time in Zambia, Africa. My heart, it seems, is drawn there. As a matter of fact, I often tell people that my second home is Zambia . . . and I mean it. I can’t put my finger on why, but my heart is wrapped around the people; and what God is doing there resonates deeply within me. Perhaps it’s working with orphans at the Chande Orphanage in Ndeke township. I’m not certain of all the details of Heaven, but it seems that God gives me a glimpse and a taste of what it might be like when I walk into a room of 260 children who are singing “Here I Am to Worship,” and they are smiling and singing with angelic voices like they truly mean it.
Or, it could be that I am so drawn there because the taste of death is palatable, both physically and spiritually. These people, not unlike the other 1.6 billion unreached people in the world, are in need of the life that is only found in Jesus Christ. I am humbled that God allowed me to see 313 people give their lives to Christ while we were there. And I have been changed by one in particular, whose surrender will be forever etched in my memory. The story goes like this . . . I was asked to preach a three night crusade at a “soccer field” in a township called Wusakile, just outside of Kitwe–a city of close to 1.2 million people. On the second night of the crusade, the crowd gathered as two choirs from local churches began to sing on the make-shift stage that was constructed by men from local churches in a matter of just a day and a half. If you had seen what they had to work with, and what they built, you would be amazed. By the time the music had finished, and just before I got up to speak, there was a moment where I caught just a glimpse, perhaps, of what it must have been like for Jesus when the crowds would gather to hear Him speak. From the stage I could see those who had gathered in front of the platform, but on the fringes people were sitting on logs; leaning against trees; standing outside bars; even across the highway people were standing and listening. It was an amazing thing. As I finished the message, and desperately tried hard not to worry about the bugs that were flying in my mouth and the grasshopper that had taken up residence on the back of my neck during the sermon, the invitation was given to anyone who wanted to come and talk with a counselor about giving their life to Christ. And this is what I’ll never forget: an middle-aged man, from the back of the crowd, began to walk forward. But as he was coming to the stage, both of his hands were held high in the air. His head was somewhat bowed down. Out of all the people that were coming down, he caught my attention. This man understood what it meant to completely surrender. As a matter of fact, as he approached the stage to talk with a counselor, he was led to a grassy area just to the left of the stage, and even then he still had his hands up. The counselor was the one who lowered this man’s hands. Talk about fighting back the tears. In all honesty, the song that kept coming to my mind was, “All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His daily presence live. I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus, I surrender. I surrender all.”
For me, the take-away is this: Everyday should be lived with such surrender. It’s impossible to cling to that which steals our affections when we come to Jesus with both hands open, and lifted high. So, here’s to living today with open hands, lifted high, so that we might embrace the one who is worthy of our surrender.
The Testimony of Charles and Jan Van Norman:
Charles and I are very proud to be Christians and members of Inglewood Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas – a church with a vision for missions.
In 2006, when we decided to go to Zambia we knew we would see things Ed and Linda Miller and the 2005 IBC Team had described but we didn’t know the eagerness of the people to learn about Jesus nor the severity of the poverty.
We always heard that God doesn’t call the equipped but that He equips the called. We are not teachers, but we do know that God held us in His arms and that He stood by us during these two mission trips and gave us courage to speak His word. It didn’t seem to matter to those precious children that we had a funny accent. What mattered was that we were all there to love them and to share about Jesus. We were thrilled that 77 made professions of faith in 2006 after Holiday Bible School and 103 in 2007.