The 10×10 Challenge

A few weeks ago Ethan and myself travelled down to Bernard’s village to make a video for Dignity. Ethan did the filming, I did some scripting and then Bernard and myself took an inordinate amount of time getting it right!

We need to fund a huge expansion in the village work of Digntiy in Zambia. To do this, we need your help!

Please, please watch the video below and share it. We need 100 people to do the 10×10 challenge. Maybe you and your friends could be some of the 100?

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Mission for Everyone

This morning I’ve been for a walk in the what some would call, “the freezing cold wastelands of North Wales”. Yet it has snowed, it is icy and I love it! There’s something about the clarity and deadness of sound that fresh snow brings. You can see for miles and the snow deadens the noise of the world so everything seems pristine and tranquil. I can really think and see clearly!

I’ve been off for a few weeks and as well as getting on with some things other than ministry, I’ve been thinking and praying about what the future holds. I don’t know about you but I need threads, ideas and facts upon which I can base my future actions and movements upon. God understands this too. Faith is often not blind faith, principally it is faith in the one who calls us. He is totally reliable. In my experience faith is often not unrelated from the present either. The God who beckons us forward is the same God who has been preparing us, shaping our circumstances and leading us to the point where we may make a leap of faith or two. We notice the leaps but we seldom notice the quiet movement that the Spirit has been making behind the scenes for years.

There are all kinds of exciting ideas that I have looking at the future of Dignity, most of them are significant upgrades and developments of existing work. Yes there are some new leaps of faith as well. The one concept that we have always been about is that mission is for “everyday people”, wherever you are. We know the poor can be used mightily by God, how about everyone else? Over the years I’ve become experienced in cross cultural, rural and community based mission. Maybe it’s time to use some of these very hard learned lessons in equipping others and reaching others.

I do believe that God is moving anew in his people. Some of the ideas we have worked with for years are gaining traction in wider circles. There’s a revolution coming that doesn’t base itself on superstars in the faith, but on the church, a people, a mission for everyone. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have a calling to serve, to reach out, to be Jesus to everyone we come across and to seek out those we don’t come across. We need to up our game in the forgotten and rural areas of this world. We need to reach more people and equip more people to reach others also. Simple really 🙂

Dr RT Kendall recently at The Evangelist’s Conference got all prophetic. Of course it was very biblical, he is a renowned theologian. However the sense of now-ness of what God is saying really spoke to me. “God will work through the faceless”. That phrase resonated with me powerfully. You can listen to the whole talk here.

Heidi Baker again not so long ago spoke about similar themes at a conference here in the UK.

Here’s an example of a call to action about mission and what God is doing from the leader of Ivy Church, Anthony Delaney. Ivy are the church that send Jude and I out on the ministry we have. Again, we are all needed and it’s about redoubling and focusing our efforts on the lost, together.

Whatever you think of the prophetic elements there’s one element that speaks to me loud and strong, God will move through ALL of his people. The Spirit will empower us to do this. The future of the church is for everyone to fight together in unity. For those of us who get a little twitchy at the sound of prophetic words and anointing let me remind you of something very rooted in the word. Isn’t that the point of the Body of Christ? We are meant to move together with Christ as our head. At the moment we have limbs all over the place. Arms flail in different directions, parts of the body who don’t know what they should do, everyone thinks they are the head…. it won’t do and I do believe God is calling time on this. What God will do is not new in the sense that we have not seen it before, but it will be in out time, in our generation, because let’s face it, his world needs it.

Are you one of the faceless? A person that has never been a superstar? Never called to the spiritual heights? Well that doesn’t really matter because God has a role for you, in his mission, in his plan to reach this world. That’s the move of the Spirit that’s coming.

If you need a few threads upon which to base your future, there’s some for you.

Don’t we understand? It’s a mission for everyone.

So if all I have said is true I wonder, what will our response be? Answers on a postcard please……

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

Seeing the Future

The Future

9 o clock in the evening is beginning to get on in Zambia. The sun sets at 6 pm and at this time of year the temperature drops, it actually feels cold and there is  vibrant chill in the air. Even a muzungu (white person) from England like me feels it.

Yet last tuesday, things were only just beginning.
Yet last tuesday, things were only just beginning. Around 25 people were still on buses all over Northern Zambia. The thought that I may have over-cocked the organisation ‘this time’ was more than going through my mind. You see, 25 villagers, those overseeing our work in Zambia were all coming to a conference organised by myself. The distances are vast. to give you an idea, a place called Kapiri Mposhi is considered ‘just down the road. It is in fact 75 miles away, about the width of North Wales, or from Manchester to Birmingham. No-one thinks twice about going that distance.
Earlier in the day some pastors had been stuck in Kitwe (some 4 hrs away) as they had underestimated their travel costs. At the time, I was getting a fuel filter in my car unclogged, so I was a little stuck. They were thinking that maybe only two of them could come to the conference, how would I get some money to them? Good ‘ole Western Union came to the rescue. A lesson learnt for the future I think.
I was on the ground at 7 pm, I ‘found’ some pastors in a bar at 10 pm in Mkushi. It was so cold they had overcome their usual hesitancy at entering such places. I must admit a little wry smile came over my face, I’ve been trying to tell them for years they have no need to fear such places. The others arrived around midnight after a 12 hour journey to Mkushi, the base from which we work here in Zambia.
The fact that 25 people had come was staggering enough. A few txts and phone calls were all it took to arrange the conference (and a few frantic phone calls whilst they were on various buses). These people are not just simply a part of what we do, they are what we do here in Zambia. If I’m honest I secretly hold a fear every time I come to Africa that it will have all fallen apart. It doesn’t however, God is doing something long lasting and real here!
These 25 people, represent maybe 100 leaders and probably a thousand people who are part of the groups we have begun in the villages in Zambia. Some groups are as small as 10, and I’ve heard reports of groups as large as 50 or 60. They are grappling with issues such as how to make an impact in their villages, how to overcome conflict, how to work as a community and how to work inter-denominationally. It was these issues that our leadership conference was to address. However, as usual, I didn’t take the usual route to get there…..
We held the conference at Ndubaluba Outdoor Education Centre in Mkushi, Zambia. The conference was a mixture of seminars, discussion and fun! For many years in the UK, we’ve used the outdoors to teach people teamwork, endurance, lateral thinking and the value of others. All of us remember at school going on such things. Our whole education system is based upon solving problems and finding solutions. It teach us to express ourselves. The education system (if there is a one) in rural Zambia is not like that. It is more directive, people give standard answers to questions and problems. That has defined the church, defined leadership and defined the way people approach ministry, life and well everything. It’s like the potential of rural Africa is held in an airtight container of missed opportunity and lack of vision.
“If you want things to change you begin with God working in people. “
If you want things to change you begin with God working in people. You then help those people to grasp hold of everything that God has for them. So, if the future is people, you sow as much in to them as you can. We talked about sacrificing our lives for the greater causes of God, we talked about provision and that God can provide for anyone. Then, we spent the afternoons solving problems. I will never forget the sight of Ranger, Joel and Vincent up Jacob’s ladder, some 10 metres above me working together to get to the top. Cornelius leapt 2 metres in the air when his team finally dropped a ball in a canister using no hands. Even the women, who are usually sidelined were fully involved. The impact of these times are brought home to me, because I have seen the difficulty of people beginning to move in this direction, I’ve seen the arguments, the dependency and the poverty.
This can really change the world. To have hope in, to trust those who have nothing, whom with a loving and powerful God can change their world. You could build a thousand mission centres and buildings and get nowhere near the impact of this.
Friday morning. Time for reflection, time for talking and a time for planning. What would the result of our time be? I’d laid some items before our friends, some ideas if you like. Perhaps for me the most important to me was that they for the first time ran their own training for the Life! Initiative. I asked them if they would consider forming a group of leaders in a neighbouring area, if they would mentor them, if they would train them. Going round the groups, they all had different ideas how, different ways to get to the same goal, all of them were excellent and valid. That excites me so much that it is hard convey here. In each of the three areas I would expect another cluster of groups to form in the coming months, and more importantly they are going to do this themselves. I certainly don’t want to intervene and rob them of the confidence, strength and exhilaration they will get from this.
So, friday lunch time, they went home. The truck arrived to pick them up and I watched them leave the centre singing and dancing on the back of a Canter truck. I do believe that the hopes and prayers of their areas go with them, certainly my hope and prayer does. On such people, we will see real transformation, real change and a future for rural Africa that is vibrant and real. Nothing and I really do mean nothing could and will tell me otherwise.

Responsibility

Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir (now that is a surname!) is in what could be deemed as a difficult situation. About a year or so ago after her country’s economy collapsed, she is facing legal pressure from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to take responsibility and pay back the money the country defaulted upon. The issue is that her population do not see things the same way. They point out, why should they pay more than their ‘fair’ share of the responsibility. After all they lost money too.
I’ve only met 2 Icelanders (I’ve no idea if that is the correct term). They were a mother and daughter on a Portuguese Course in Faro, Southern Portugal. Quite what 2 icelanders were doing learning Portuguese I don’t know. They seemed good people though, and had a very good idea of fair play and responsibility. Probably the icelandic people have a very good point. Why should they pay for a banking collapse…..
Now is this post about Iceland? Well no! It’s actually about Africa and in particular the area of responsibility. While Iceland struggles with the implications of international fiscal responsibility, African countries can struggle with responsibility for their own people. African villagers can struggle with a sense of responsibility for one a wider section of their rural area.
As a European who works in Africa, you are constantly fighting two enemies. The first is cynicism, the second is your own naivety. Somewhere in all of that, my faith in God sits, somewhere between, or despite the two. Constantly it is this question of responsibility that prompts my thoughts.
On one hand you have naivety. I am kind of jaded from hearing about different ‘projects’ that many people embark upon from a UK perspective. (and you could lumps in the Americans and the rest of Europe with this). Take what happened in Haiti as an example, with children being inadvertently trafficked out of Haiti by a naive and well meaning missionary. A lot of the church to church missional work that goes on, is of this variety. It is naive and the difference in responsibility is where it is shown.
The project in Africa tends to believe that it is the responsibility of their partner to fund, work and generally get them out of any hole they get themselves in to. The naivety comes when a partner accepts that at face value and does not recognise these attitudes are born of poverty, dependency and non- responsibility. The responsibility gets shifted to one side of the partnership and well it ultimately fails. Africa has a problem with responsibility. Whether it be families who believe that a wealthy relative will help, or wether it is a pastor getting blessing from his western brother, the problem is the same. Someone else will do it, someone else will take the can, someone else will bail me out. You see the similarity to the UK’s attitude to Iceland now don’t you….
That naivety if not understood, learnt from and framed properly leads to cynicism. Your view of everyone and everything becomes coloured by the experience, which is a bad. All because of responsibility not being exercised. Ask an Icelander what they think of the UK at the moment and you will see that. Ask many a ‘burnt’ missionary about Africa and you will also see it. Long term missionaries in Africa are often a cynical and quite bitter bunch, why? It is simply this issue.
Our lack of responsibility takes the following face. We believe that it is our responsibility to help the poor at any cost, even if we take the prime responsible position in a venture or relationship. This actually can show a shocking lack of responsibility and foresight. If you take initiative away from those who struggle with it in the first place, you and they will ultimately fail.
I’d love to see many people take a fresh look at what they are doing and in particular the area of responsibility. I think mission work would truly get pulled into the 21st century if we did this. The idea that we are somehow to save the poor is well an affront to them (and I include some big campaigns in that view) but the view that the poor can do it themselves is completely unrealistic and naive. What is needed is some servant hearted work, where we serve and encourage people with God to take responsibility for their own lives.
Going back to Iceland. Maybe those people who saved in Ice-save need to recognise that they have a responsibility. It was their decision to settle their accounts there and so whilst maybe not their fault, they are partly responsible. As humans we are always looking for someone else to blame, someone else to compensate our misfortune. That is as true in Africa, as it is in Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Some would call it human nature……. part of God’s work amongst those in this world whether they are rich, poor, lack or white is to recognise that our actions or lack of them have a consequence. That is called responsibility.