The Spirit Gives Life

The Spirit Gives Life is a session built upon our new discipleship material, “Foundations for Life”. I’m currently writing a few chapters for my organisation Dignity. We have multiple authors from multiple backgrounds all callaborating to make a fantastic resource. As you can tell from the recording it’s really informal and the session would normally be done as a small group study in a village.

I’ve intentionally left the banter and interpretation in so you can get a feel for what speaking in Africa is like. This session is being translated into Bemba as I speak.

Also note, the importance of ‘story’ in speaking within Africa. The story of Faith and her sail in the Okavango Delta is designed to be memorable and a modern day parable of how the Spirit works in our lives.

Have a listen and visit another world!

Recorded at Dignity EQUIP Camp September 2016, Mkushi, Zambia.

© Jon Paul Witt and Dignity 2016.

© Image Copyright. Spyderonlines.com

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To Pioneer

The Matusadona Hills crown the view of Lake Kariba in the hazy distance. As I look out from one of the southernmost points of Zambia, I wonder how many seemingly unconnected events have collided to bring me to this place.

People sometimes ask me what pioneering is about. How do you begin something?

Now there isn’t a simple answer to that question, but for Christian ministry, some of it is simply following the Spirit, a hunch, intuition or whatever you want to call it. Following that hunch then takes a commitment to try it, to follow it and to be open to whatever it may bring.

So, I’m some 600km from my home. Bernard, one of our Impact Team leaders has come with me and we are simply here to meet some villagers. We are based at a camp in Butete Bay, which until recently was a simple fishermen’s camp. Now the area is slowly being developed through the involvement of my friend Rammy Singh amongst other people. 2 or 3 shore side chalets have sprung up, cooled by a pleasant but constant breeze off the lake.

Most of the workers from the camp come from 2 or 3 of the eight prominent settlements around this area. The settlements are very poor. Southern province and the Siavonga area are hardly well developed areas of Africa. As Bernard speaks Tonga, we spoke with some of the workers last night. We explained to them about trying to start a group in the community to teach about Christ and find ways of helping one another. These are the groups we call Life! Groups. They agreed and thought it was a good idea. This afternoon we now have a meeting with a lot more villagers some 10km from here where we will talk to them some more.

Funnily enough, an annual conference of one of the bush churches based in Zimbabwe happens to be in the same village this afternoon. As fortune would have it, Alfred the security guard is good friends with the bishop of the group of churches. We are going to greet them and explain to them later today. Is it fortune? Luck? Or the plan of a good, interested and involved God to move His work forward? You tell me!

Coming from Europe, people I know are more conversant with strategic plans, collections of goals and the like. We have them, but the implementation is more people based and well I guess, “fuzzy!”. Learning to live with following the Spirit, hunches and “fuzziness” is part of the missionaries and pioneers toolkit. Without it we would simply be very conservative and ineffective businessmen. You cannot pioneer with a business plan alone.

The reason is that true lasting change is actually achieved in the hearts of people. That way people personify what you are trying to achieve and are the “plan” rather than simply obeying the plan.

An awareness to be open, to listen, mental agility to connect the dots that you can see and some faith to connect those that you cannot. A commitment to follow through when you are not sure of where you are going and some bravado to convince others, inspiring faith that it is all OK. These are some of the ingredients of a pioneer. This is some of what it takes to begin with nothing and make something happen.

Maybe pioneers are some of the biggest blaggers in history but maybe just maybe sometimes they are right.

Bound

The young man was tied up, bound and left in a room on his own. The parents didn’t know what else to do. His madness was all pervading. He couldn’t talk, he refused to eat and appeared confused all of the time. For three years this had been the situation. Left in the dark dusty room of a typical high density residence, his condition worsened and worsened.

It’s 4’o clock in the morning. The residential areas of the remote town of Mwinilunga are quiet. Rhoda calls Loves to come and pray for her brother. No-one can cope anymore. He still lies bound.

Loves and the family pray for the young man. They take him to the hospital. His condition is improving.

A few hours after being prayed for the young man is able to talk, he can ask for food and wants to eat. He can recognise his family and relatives whom he has not seen or talked to for 3 years.

Loves bathes him and continues to pray for him for two days. By this time he is fully recovered.

He is not bound anymore. Jesus has set him free.

(from a report collected by Bernard of Dignity’s Central Impact Team, from Loves Kwangu in Mwinilunga)

Maslow’s Hierarchy

Whatever part of me thought that it might be a good idea to build, whilst not having a permanent house and growing our work, needs to be taken out and shot! In the last few days I’ve rapidly formed the opinion that I cannot be superman and must go with the shape of life that we have here at the moment. Namely we have to get a house built!

The psychologist Maslow defined what he called a Hierarchy if Need. At the bottom are things like food and shelter, and the top, ah! I can’t remember but less important stuff. I’m telling you, I have been up and down that hierarchy quite a few times. At one point last week I had somewhere to live for 2 days, now it’s 3 weeks!! Although the person who was meant to be moving in to our house is in fact now not coming, so you never know…

Tack onto that thought the fact that Gods plans will happen anyway and that at least gives me a way forward. What do I mean by that? God has a plan that supersedes and takes our plans and situations into account. I really don’t know how he does it, but I’ve seen it time and time again. I sometimes wonder if God does his work despite me 🙂 this should mean I can focus on my current needs and leave Him to arrange the expansion of the work. After all, God can do it an awful lot better than I can.

That doesn’t mean I do nothing, just follow the leads and do what I can, when I can. Let me give you an example. Within 24 hours of being in the country Rammy had suggested that we look in Siavonga, which is on the border with Zambia and Lake Kariba. Unbeknown to him we had been thinking about a place to investigate in Southern Province. Then, because of my slightly mad life at the moment I figured that to send Bernard, not myself was a good idea. Unknown to me was that Bernard was about to talk to me about going to Siavonga anyway. Do you think we may be being pointed there? That’s what I mean when I say that the Lord has a way of making His plans happen.

So at the moment I’m slightly up in the air, grasping for support even more than a little overwhelmed but I do believe this is all somehow in Gods will. The bible says that the Lord orders the steps of a righteous man. At the moment I really should hold onto that for dear life.

Its going to take me quite a few weeks to climb Maslow’s Hierarchy again!

100 Groups for Dignity

We have some fantastic news! The number of villages within which we have a Life! Group meeting has reached 100! That means in 100 villages across Northern Zambia there is a group of people meeting together, learning more about their Christian Faith and what it means for their village. They are literally learning to Love God and Their Neighbour.

This is a fantastic milestone and we are extremely encouraged by it.

This vision began 3 years ago in one area, now these groups are spread across 30 areas. We believe very much in the capacity that villagers have to know God and to help others, so all of our effort is placed realising this potential. Through relationship, training, Impact Teams and the like we keep on supplying the correct nutrient for the right attitudes and practice to grow from within Rural Africa itself. From that one group, people now gather over an area of some 2000 miles right across Northern Zambia even into Angola.

This means a lot more people know about Christ, a lot more people receiving love and even orphans and vulnerable people being cared for.

That’s what Christianity is all about. 

(This post was also shared on our sister Dignity Zambia specific blog, www.kerygmamagazine.com)

Never will a child…..

If you want to know what our work means here in Zambia and how I relates to villages, people, hunger, donor aid and the like read the powerful words below that were spoken by Cornelius Chalwe last week at our leaders gathering.

They are very zambian and unedited, I wanted you get the immediacy of them

“We need to pray very hard…because they have brainwashed people in our villages
All people want to see is some handouts in our villages
That time has now gone. Zambia is paradise. Zambia is heaven on earth
No one can sleep hungry, no one
Unless that village is under attack
Unless in that village, people are not thinking, they are not focused
Some Churches have brainwashed people by giving them clothes, what, what, what, wherever they go
Every time they see Jon, they think he has come with a bale of clothes, a bunch of
money, it’s not that
That time has now gone
We have to work very hard
Zambia is fertile, Zambia has very good rainfall, we have rivers everywhere, streams
We can do wonders for the poor in our villages
We can grow a lot of things, vegetables, bananas
and help our vulnerable people we have in our villages
never in Zambia I saw a child sleeping hungry during our time myself, no
except during these days because we have been brainwashed
even our government depends on handouts, donor run government
that has just brought us something else
so we need to change the attitude in our villages
when they see us working together
something will speak out
As Jon was saying we need to die [to ourselves] but this will be a seed
that will remain in Zambia
unity, be focused and commitment
that will help us a lot, Praise the Lord.”

Aid doesn’t work, never has, never will, think about that next time you support a project. The only way is unity if purpose, unity of people, hard work and commitment. We achieve this through people knowing God and loving their neighbour as themselves.

Then, never will a child sleep hungry again.

Simple isn’t it?

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Location:T2,,Zambia