Thursday, January 31, 2013

CROSS at Ciyanjano

This January we were rewriting the contracts for our workers here at Ciyanjano and thinking about the future of the ministry here and about serving the people that work for us - the people that help us serve churches. Every year we like to go through ACTION Zambia's child protection policy with our workers. It's a document that lays out appropriate behavior with children and is extremely important in a country where child abuse, including physical, sexual, and mental abuse is very common. Since Ciyanjano is hosting many children's camps and youth retreats and holding our own events we want to make sure that our employees are clear about expectations and appropriate interactions with children. In talking about how we could do better than just the child protection policy we decided to ask our own Derek and Kristin Dearth to come out to Ciyanjano and run a shortened, 10-week version of the CROSS curriculum. This course covers issues of HIV/AIDS, domestic abuse, gender issues, and especially how the gospel bears on these issues. I'm so excited that the Ciyanjano staff gets to go through this information with the CROSS team. Pray that they will hear the truth in love and turn every part of their lives over to Christ and pray that they will grow in their faith and joy and continue serving churches and children in a way that glorifies God. For more info on CROSS, check here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nothing In My Hands I Bring

Hi! This is Tricia. I just wanted to spend a little time telling you all what God has been doing in my life lately. Chabwino? Is that okay?

God has given me the amazing gift of his son, Jesus. While God has blessed me with all kinds of other things in this life, there is nothing shinier, fancier, trendier or better than Jesus and the message he brought with him that through faith in his atonement and resurrection we could be reconciled to God. Because of Christ I will spend eternity with God... no death... no pain... just the life that God originally meant for his children. This is truly incredible!

I am ashamed to say that on a daily basis I am tempted to believe and often do believe that there is something better than Jesus. I look to other things to provide the comfort or solutions I require each day. Most recently it was a couch. And that is a long, ridiculous story that I will spare myself the details of.

But oftentimes the thing that I am believing in is actually myself. Yes, MYSELF. The teeny tiny God that I like to worship most often is myself. For all of you who know me personally, you know how silly this is. So through a very wonderful and mystifying series of events God has been teaching me  all about exactly what I bring to the table... and that is NOTHING. Sure, I can rely on my own strength and wisdom, my own experiences, my own image, my store of intelligence or resourcefulness. I can make things happen through my organizational skills or my articulate nature. But God has been showing me just how true it is that everything I try to do without him, well, it's just garbage.

In John 15 Jesus taught his disciples that "Apart from me you can do nothing." It doesn't say that apart from Jesus I can do some sort of cool stuff, or maybe at least a little bit of good, or scrape by. It says that I can do NOTHING. Nothing of value at all. Isaiah taught that when we are not following God, the good things we do are actually just filthy rags in God's eyes. That's strong language. And yet somehow I am always tempted to think that I have something to give on my own. Like I have a second gas tank of my own that I can switch to if the Holy Spirit tank is empty.

Recently a non-Christian friend of mine had a near scrape with a possibly very dangerous situation. It could have been the last day of her life. I love her and I pray for her as I do for all my friends who don't know the love and grace of Jesus. In passing I read her post on Facebook about what happened and my instinct was to share the gospel with her. The Holy Spirit was screaming in my heart that I have one thing that I value more than anything else:  Jesus. I have one thing that is of real value to my friend:  Jesus. There is an old hymn that says, Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling. Friends, this is the truth. I have nothing in my hands that is of real value to anyone. But because of the grace of my heavenly Father who gave his Son for me, I have a Savior.

To any of my non-Christian friends reading this, and to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, this world is passing away and there is only one thing we have that will be of value forever and forever:  JESUS. Instead of giving my friend the most loved and valuable thing I have, I gave her garbage. I was a coward and wrote something about being glad she was okay. I told myself that I was being loving and that is good too, right? No. Not right. I was more concerned about keeping things cool between us than about the thing that will bring her the most good. Oh, how often I have failed in this way. Lord, forgive me!! Forgive us all!

Father God, give your people courage. Father forgive us for worshiping other gods besides YOU, and for putting our faith in anything besides YOU. Thank you for your Spirit that reminds us each day exactly what we have in our hands. May the good we do never be separate from the gospel we preach and the God we serve. You teach us, God, that our faith is dead without good deeds; help us also to always remember that our good deeds are dead without our faith, without our Savior who gives life to all we do. Father, help us to be faithful in sharing about the only thing we have that is of any eternal value to anyone:  JESUS. Give us eyes to see this life as you see it, and to see people as you see them. Help us to lay down our lives and our image for the sake of our friends. Father God, have mercy; help me to stop wasting my time.

John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Friday, January 25, 2013

For those of you praying for our Bible club, here's an update. Our numbers are growing every week with kids bringing friends even when we're plenty overwhelmed already! The kids are learning and having lots of fun. Please continue to pray for safety for the children, for the young lady that is translating to do a good job, and mostly that these kids would know and love and follow Jesus!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bible Club

So, in case you were wondering, there are a LOT of children in Africa; and here in Kasupe it's no different. I (Tricia) have met a lot of kids walking around Ciyanjano's neighborhood... a lot of kids with nothing to do but throw rocks and who knows what. Even the kids that are in school are completely bored about ten minutes after school is out.

As Kelly and I worked on Ciyanjano's ministry plans for 2013 and 2014, I have really felt God asking me to reach out to the children I know. Thus has begun a trial run of a Bible Club. What is a Bible Club you ask? Basically I'm just doing Sunday school stuff with the kids every Friday afternoon and my hope is to also help a few of them along with some reading and writing but... we'll see.

This Friday was our first meeting. I personally went around to kids' homes and spoke with moms and invited the kids. I invited 18 hoping to get somewhere between ten and twenty to actually show up at the right time. Well, yesterday I had around 26 kids and I think most of them are pictured above. Judy is my assistant, she is a teenage neighbor who is helping with translation and she is pictured at the top right.

How was our first meeting? Well, we met in our classroom building and sat in a big circle. I started with God creating the world and I'm using the Jesus Storybook Bible which Georgie Reed brought us recently. It's by far my favorite children's Bible and I'm so glad to have a new one to use. Anyway the kids loved it, and I was super pleased with Judy's help. She really got into it, and so did the kids. Then we colored. Everyone was having a blast. Then while we were singing a song, Judy's little sister quietly stood up and moved toward the center of the circle... and barfed. Yep, she just totally barfed. A lot.

Working in Zambia, and working with kids anywhere really, means rolling with the punches, right?! Anyway, we dealt with stuff and she was fine and the kids had a little more time to play at the playground than I anticipated, but that's fine. They were stoked!!! Next week will be another exciting adventure I'm sure. But I know that God has big plans for all these kids. Please pray for me and Judy and for all these gorgeous kids!!!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ablution Block Phase #3

We're moving just as fast as we can on Ciyanjano's new ablution block. We've been slowed a bit by heavy seasonal rains, but now most of the brick work is finished and we're putting up the roof! We're not quiet as far along as would have liked to be by today but that was simply because our power has been out the past two days and our welder does not have a genset. God willing, this monday we'll be putting the roofing sheets on and all the brickwork will be done by the end of next week. That's when we really get to work on figuring out our plumbing. Our goal is for the project to be totally completed and ready for use by Easter weekend when we'll be hosting the Vernacular Reformed Baptist Churches of Lusaka family camp. Last year they brought about 150 people including children and have been planning this year's camp ever since. Let's pray that things continue to move quickly and smoothly and that we'll be ready long before that date (since there are sure to be kinks that need to be worked out!). We decided to use steel roofing trusses on the building for a number of reasons. The first was that the cost was not much higher than that of timber. In total it should be an extra $400-500. We considered the high cost of timber, the fact that rainy season's hot and humid days warp all available timber, the cost  and time (and smell) of treating the timber with creosote to protect it from termites, which are a HUGE problem at Ciyanjano and we though about the amount of moisture in a building where there would be toiles, showers, and sinks to further warp and further deteriorate timber trusses and since we really liked our welder, we're excited to see a termite-proof roof!