Team Season Re-Cap

Due to summer vacation in the good old US of A the months of May through August are fondly referred to as "Team Season" around these parts... and I would imagine all around the impoverished areas of the world. ACTION Zambia, being a smaller mission, only hosts a few teams a year but some of the larger missions host a LOT. You can tell when team season is approaching because you start to see dazed looking white people with backpacks and matching t-shirts walking along busy roads pointing at things.

Short-term missions has been criticized for all kinds of reasons, and for some very good reasons. However, we believe that short-term mission trips are very valuable if you can find a good fit for your ministry. As the short-term team coordinators for AZ we have developed the following guidelines in choosing short-term teams. And believe me, we are very choosy.

1. We host short-term teams that will provide well-planned training to Zambian Christians in skills/knowledge that will help Zambians serve in their churches and communities. AZ's primary mission is always to serve the Zambian church.

2. AND, our teams additionally contribute directly to an AZ ministry, AZ staff, or the Ciyanjano/Kasupe community with funds, events, or projects.

3. We give preference to churches that have relationships with ACTION Zambia's missionaries or ministries.

So what does that look like? Here is a look at the three different teams that we hosted this year. I think you'll see why we're so happy with our team season this year. And why we want to continue to follow these guidelines.

The Allen Family APC Alumni Family Camp

The Allen family returned to Zambia in May to hold a family camp at Ciyanjano for pastors who had graduated from ACTION Pastors' College in 2011 and their families. The Allens planned the program and raised the money for the event. This family camp was not only designed for the families to have quality time together, Steve also gave valuable training to the pastors on discipling your family, a topic largely ignored in Zambian churches. Steve and Stephanie spent time encouraging ACTION team members also. And Steve also assisted our Pastor Leadership Development team with a one-day, inductive Bible study conference in the city.
Steve leading a session  in our amphitheater 

A hilarious round of "chubby bunny" with the youth

The pastors praying for the Allens as they prepared to return to the States

Twin Lakes Church Pastors' Wives' Conference

This group of five awesome ladies from Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, CA prepared a three-day conference for the wives of the pastors we serve. They covered important topics such as reaching out to people in their communities struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, and the widespread problem of domestic violence. Training like this helps the pastors' wives serve their churches. The TLC team also prepared a fun and educational program for the Ciyanjano Bible Club and contributed toward a feeding program supported by the CROSS Project.
TLC doing team-building activities with the pastors' wives

Rhonda and Kim leading a session in the amphitheater

The kids in Bible Club getting ready for the big event

Bethlehem Baptist Church Hospice Seminar

In cooperation with AZ's CROSS Project (Churches Ready to Overcome Silence & Stigma), the BBC team prepared for and raised the funds for a seminar for churches on hospice care. We hosted three different groups throughout the week where they learned valuable skills like how to safely move people who are sick, wound care, and hygienic practices. We received so much positive feedback from participants who said these workshops were extremely helpful for their ministry to people with HIV/AIDS. The BBC team also prepared and raised the funds for a wonderful and encouraging team retreat for the whole AZ team. It was a much-needed time of Bible study and refreshment.
Workshop on moving people who are bed-bound

Another hospice workshop happening on the new veranda

Boat-ride on the Kafue river with the whole AZ team and the BBC team. We saw elephants, hippos and crocs
Our Conclusion:
A well-planned short-term team can accomplish valuable ministry that benefits both Zambian Christians and the missionaries, without being a heavy burden on our staff. One of the things we love about this team season was everyone's willingness to roll with the punches and each team members' readiness to be uncomfortable as needed to serve the Zambian church. For a smaller mission like ACTION Zambia, we are very thankful to have teams come and help us accomplish training for the churches that would be difficult for us to do on our own. Thank you everybody for your desire to see God glorified in Zambia, and God bless you!