Kasama Bound

Some of you may well be wandering what it is that happens when we run a Life! Conference somewhere. Well a picture paints a thousand words, so here is a photo gallery to explain the what and how of some of what we are doing.

we're all ready to go!

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas……” Ok we are not quite the Blues Brothers, but here are Andy and I ready to travel north to Kasama. Our trusty (but getting a bit decrepid) Isuzu is behind us, our trusty steed for this trip.

545 Kilometres, north east of Mkushi lies the large town of Kasama, it lies on the Great North Road whose ultimate destination is Tanzania. It took us 5 and a half hours drive to get there. Here we met Cornelius who told us that we needed to go a further 30 km into the bush, where the conference was to be held. 30 minutes later after bumping down a dirt road we were there.

This is Andy with Webster Chewe. Webster attended our Life! Planter’s conference which was held last July in Lusaka. At this conference we talked about the need for the church and community to come together to help people to understand Christ and to transform their community. It is usual for churches and people to be apart in many villages, this causes severe problems in areas that are already dependent and poverty stricken. Webster is not paid for his time, he volunteers it because it is not our work, most importantly, it is what God is calling him to do.

This is our home for 4 days. Our trusty tent and a whole host of gear in the back. The buildings behind are a rural school. It looks idyllic doesn’t it? There’s no mains water, no electricity and no lights! People here live in mud huts and mostly grow their food to survive.

This is Andy speaking to the 30 or so villagers that have come together. Through seminars, group work and fun we look at the themes of dependency, working in groups, the hope that Christ brings and how together with Him, the villagers can achieve great things! We believe in the potential of people, no matter how poor they are, especially if they know God. Through this work many villagers have discovered that they have a place in what God is doing and can be part of it too. From taking in orphans to fixing roofs, these lovely people are beginning to have hope.

This is a typical small group. This concept whilst common elsewhere is often unheard of in the rural areas. We help people of different denominations to come together with people in their community in such groups. Each village will have at least one group and together they can learn and make a difference. Here the people are preparing a sample group drama which they must act out together.

This is Webster’s group praying for one another. Their success depends on God and each other. It is not what one person can do with God, it is what many can do with God.

We also encourage the groups to pray and work together across villages. Here in this picture that are praying for one another village by village. They will nominate a few people to form a team that will help to coordinate the work of the village groups in the area. These teams form a spearhead in the future for further training and planting.

At the end of the conference, everyone get’s a certificate to say that they have attended. There is dancing, singing and great happiness 🙂

We hope and pray that the future is bright. Many don’t truly believe that those who are poor, dependent and rural can be used by God to do something truly magnificent. WE DO! If Kasama is like anywhere else, the 6 groups that will begin will continue to grow. As they grow, new groups will begin. People will become Christians as they are not shut outside of the Church, and as everyone come to know Christ, they will work together more and more to see their own community transformed.

We’re not trying to set up a project, we’re trying to inspire and equip a whole generation of people to move out of relational, financial and spiritual poverty.

A Year and a half ago, there wasn’t even one star on this map. The Life! Initiative did not exist, now there are stars everywhere. They represent either contacts beginning work or existing groups and work. Zambia is 4-5 times the size of the UK with poor communications, so the work is often logistically and geographically challenging. There are 7 million people in the bush, we want every one of them to know the life, potential and future they can have. You really do need to stand with us and pray with us.

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The Spirit

The heat of the sun is beating down on the iron sheets above me. As they warm, they creak and groan as the metal expands under the heat of the sun. I’m sat in what I suppose is a traditional village church. This church is located about 30km outside of the northern Zambian town of Kasama.

The floor is broken cement, it was probably laid quiet a few hears ago now. People sit on simple wooden benches and the windows are just openings made in the brickwork. There are no window panes at all. A simple wooden cross painted with red gloss paint adorns the wall. To say it is rough and ready is an understatement.

We are camped in my trusty Vango Tagus 400. It sounds like a spaceship but it is actually a tent. The shade of a number of pine trees gives us shelter from the sun. We bath in a concrete bunker, with a broken iron sheet as the door. There is no electricity and no running water. The only water, is from a well at the school.

When people come from abroad, rugged buildings and lack of physical things is the first thing they notice. You then get a scramble to fix those material elements. People come to build, they come to fix up. What we miss all so easily is that there is a link between the spiritual world and the material one. You affect the former, it changes the latter.

I’ve just spoken to a bunch of villagers about the Holy Spirit. We talked about being children of God, having a common heritage. At this moment I am utterly spent. I’ve retreated back to my tent for a while. As I was speaking I was thinking to myself. The spirit really does give us everything ad Christians both to know God and change the lives of those around us. how often though do we start in the Spirit and then return to our own effort?

I heard a story from a group in Nchelenge the other day. A woman beca,e a Christian attending a life group that was using rooted in Jesus, which is a discipleship course. To this we supplement with a heavy dose of Christian social responsibility. She has taken in some orphans in her village into her own home. Why? It’s a work of the Spirit. She looked at the children one day and felt that they were all Gods children. So she took them in. Another area has prayed for their crime ridden area for a year. Many of the trouble makers lives are now different, they have become Christians. The area is no longer known for crime. The spiritual affects the physical very profoundly.

Andy has come from the UK and he’s speaking to a group of around 25 villagers. At the moment he talking about everybody having a place in a small group, in church (in the widest sense that meets in their village). It’s a powerful message because villagers are usually disempowered and don’t have hope for a better future. They definitely don’t believe that they can change their world. Yet because of the Spirit they can. The Spirit is the great equalizer. We need him to know god ANC we need him to make a lasting difference. Rich and poor alike is is the same. Humanitarianism depends on a stronger human helping benevolently a weaker human. This is not humanitarianism. Charity depends on the richer giving to the poorer. This is not charity. This is simply the Spirit welling up from within people in acts of godliness, generosity, power and change. That is how the Spirit works. I’m not a philanthropist, humanitarian of anything. I’m simply a Christian who believes in the power of God to change people.

The road that has led us here has it’s roots earlier in the year. Webster has organised the gathering here, and he back in july attended a planting conference of ours in Lusaka. Its really exciting to think that seed we planted, we are here watering. In fact our effort is only small, it is really Gods effort at work. It again is the Spirit.

This work is spreading. This week we are in kasama, next week in Mkushi, the week after we hope in Namibia. This isn’t because of anyone’s brilliance. It is because of the Spirit.