Three summers ago I remember taking the last ferry on a late summer’s evening from Oban to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. It was a beautiful evening, the sun hung just above the horizon and bathed the whole landscape in a beautiful warm glow. The Hebrides are perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the world, low slung islands and beautiful mountains competing for your admirations’ attention with the stunning seascape and wildlife. I remember arriving about 11.30 into Tobermory, that picturesque harbour in the north of the island. Even at that time of night it was still light. What a magnificent place. I’d gone there to meet some local Christians and to do some praying and mission. Maybe where I’m getting to is that to leap out on some quest in somewhere fairly remote in the world’s eyes, is not strange to me. I’ve been doing it now for some years.
I don’t know what reminded me today of that trip some years ago. Maybe I’ve been writing far too much today. I’ve had to finish some work I’ve had on the back burner for a while, because it all needs translating for a conference next month! The last couple of weeks have seen my family settle into Mkushi again. We’ve seen some people that we know and well life is very different here, but we are settling in! The kids’ school is 18 miles away for a start (about 25 mins), town is some 24 miles away. That is what maybe made me think of the Highlands, the sheer distance between everything. The church here is also constructed in a similar way. Lots of villages and churches residing in each village, with one or two larger churches competing for attention, but they are generally disconnected or can be hard to get to.
At the farmhouse, I have 2 or 3 workers, a night watchman, someone who helps in the house and a handyman, which is good because lots needs fixing up! They are called Frank, Moses and Lasford. Frank especially seems to want to teach me Bemba, a language I have hardly excelled at. I speak Pa Nono (little!) Then of course there is Anxion the farm foreman, who has set up a meeting for me in Chilata area, next week. It’s great! Whilst life is different, there is a very real sense that God has given us this place (for a while at least) so we can get on with the job of empowering people to reach and transform the rural areas.
The kids are at school. They go to Chengelo, which is a private Christian school that uses the English curriculum. (you can have a look at the school www.chengelo.sch.zm). It’s a great environment for them and I think gives them some stability in what has been a big change for them. Again I’m really thankful for this.
That again is what this trip, this time has in common with my trip to the Isle of Mull. It is a mission. Jude and I are both very mindful that we are here to do two things. 1) Stay close to God and 2) Accomplish a Mission that He himself has given us. I remember travelling to Mull to literally knock on someone’s door to encourage them. I think my opening line was, “I believe God has sent me here to encourage you!” What gives you the confidence (despite your doubts and the cry at the back of your mind that you are insane”) to do that kind of thing? It’s a sense of the Lord telling you to do it. No I don’t get everything right, but even when I’ve got it wrong it has worked out OK! So God has sent us here, we know that, and he has provided what we need.
This is so important. I’ve learnt that if you are not secure in this, you may as well pack up and go home as you simply cannot function in a spiritual or leadership sense. On one level you are physically doubting if you should be there in the first place and on the other you are so susceptible to the knocks and discouragement that come your way. We also then have an enemy who loves to take advantage of our vulnerable position and will make sure some knocks and discouragement come your way.
It’s actually a little strange for Jude and I to work together. As those of you who know us will know, we can have our moments 🙂 Jude is working predominantly on the practical side of the ministry, currently writing some notes encouraging villagers to use their lives practically in their village. It’s really exciting stuff. I’m trying to organise people and build networks for new work in the bush. At the end of July we have a conference for 30 individuals who could be future pioneers in the capital, Lusaka. They are from all over Zambia and even 3 from Namibia. So that again is encouraging and does bode well for the future.
The Isle of Mull is a long way away, the UK is long way away, and yet the task is the same. I really feel quite privileged to be here and privileged to having been chosen by God to play my small part in the extension of His Kingdom, that I pray will have no end in rural Africa. The mission we have is no easy one and yet we have God’s favour and his Spirit helping us to do it, opening doors for us and bringing people our way. These are thoughts, truths that as we step forward I want to hold on to.