Battles and Blessings

Well it is certainly a little while since I wrote on my blog here. Forgive me for that, it’s just one of those things that doesn’t seem to happen when I want it to. Maybe it’s because I have been writing so many things lately. Jude and I have been working on a resource called ‘Love Your Village’ to be used within the Life! Initiative programmes in the villages. It’s been a hard slog not helped by chronically slow internet access. I’m also writing a book as well! It’s all about how I come to find myself doing the things we are doing here in Africa. So, Watch this Space…….probably for quite a long time.

Well I guess this is a blog post that is simply aimed at catching up so read on.

I remember a few years ago hearing a sermon by Nicky Gumbel that talked about Battles and Blessing, it was from Thessalonians in the Bible I think. Whenever something good is going on, there are always other things, that are not so good happening at the same time. One is a blessing, one is a battle.

It’s a little bit like that here. What’s good at the moment is that the work seems to be pushing forward in all kinds of new areas. There are potentially 5-6 new areas starting in the next couple of months, however at the same time there are tensions and pressures that rise to the surface. A team in North Western Zambia has had some kind of fight and are definitely not speaking to one another. One or two other people have displayed character flaws that are discouraging. One person in particular I had high hopes for, showed their hand, when asking me for a large sum of money. That disappoints me. I guess that it is not that you have a system and just make the ‘system’ happen anywhere. You must remember you are working with people, with their flaws and strengths. Anything subject to people will always be in some type of flux and have some issues.

One of the key elements of the battle here is discernment. The ground we are working within is very prone to dependency. Everyone will welcome you with open arms but they will want a healthy pay off as well, in terms of ‘blessings’ that will come their way. I’ve seen this many times, and it seems to be that the Church just does not learn this lesson.

Sometimes you can see this trait very obviously and I’ve learnt that sometimes it just takes time for this trait to come out. Part of discernment is time. If you are unsure of someone’s motives, simply put them into a holding pattern and see what emerges. It is difficult for negative traits (and in particular being in it for the money) not to arise after a few weeks or months.

Another issue is that dependency is a very spiritual thing. The thing is, if you bow the knee to it it makes your work easier. Any church, any group, any NGO can get a hearing in a community by promising lots of money and then dishing it out. This makes the work easier and dependency grabs an even bigger hold on the people. To not do this, can make things extremely hard. It is the right way nonetheless. I guess that is the second part of the battle acting consistently and acting correctly.

One of the thoughts that has been bugging me lately is that I feel like a foreigner here. No surprise there, because I am. My visa at the moment is temporary and I must every 3 months go to immigration to sort it out. Whilst not a huge problem it just underlines the supposed ‘temporary’ nature of everything in terms of life and family. It is a fact that is some immigration officer decides we are out, we simply are. That makes a subtle war on your heart at some level, it can discourage you.

The kids are doing very well. They have finally begun to settle at school which is a great blessing. Believe me it’s hard taking your kids to school when they simply don’t want to go. That has finally abated.

All in all things are very well despite the discouragements. I’m even in my newly decorated office room here in the house. We’ve converted what was a very old tatty room (and in Zambia tatty means tatty) to a room which is light airy and cool to work in. This is my first day in here 🙂

We are going to be back in the UK from 2nd December to the 30th of January so I am sure we will see some of you that know us.

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2 thoughts on “Battles and Blessings

  1. Hi Jon and Jude, Great to hear how the battles and blessings are going on; and especially delighted that school is going so much better for the boys.

    Looking forward to seeing you in December,

    Rob & Jan x

  2. I was sure I posted a comment before!!! Any how, its always so challenging to read your posts Jon becuase they remind me of everything a Christian life should be about (but which mine probably isnt!)
    All the stuff about handouts – we visited Kenya in July and I saw some of that myself. you cant blame people for asking, but its si hard to know what the truth is about why people are nice to you!
    You sound at a bit of a low ebb, so I am praying for you and Jude. Great that the kids are settled into school. Blessings from Lymm x

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