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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Religious and Indifferent in Sardis

In this talk we look at the Letter to the Church in Sardis, Revelation 3:1-6. There doesn’t seem to be much good said about the church in this once thriving city. We examine what it means to be truly alive and truly a follower of Jesus. Even thought this message is hard, it contains some fantastic encouragement. We can walk with God into eternity proud of what we have achieved here. For those of us who struggling, maybe even dying spiritually, we can be turned around so that we can live. No-one is ever beyond hope.

Click below to listen to the talk audio

Download the Powerpoint Notes for the talk below

light-in-a-dark-world-the-letter-to-the-church-in-sardis

This podcast was recorded at South Church, Mkushi, Zambia 4th September 2016.

© Copyright, Jon Paul Witt, 2016

© Image Copyright “Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland.” Jon Paul Witt 2016.

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

Difference

I’m sat in a classroom in Kayuhembe Basic School right in the middle of the remote town of Mwinilunga in North Western Zambia. (check out the gps reference in this post) 30 people sit around. Cornelius is speaking about Psalm 1 and the importance of having the right fruit as a Christian, the importance of making a difference. That’s after all why we are here, to help people make a difference.

In the background I can hear the many sounds of African life. The thump thump of a probably the biggest speaker in the world is pulsating through the town. Children laughing, people going about their everyday business.

I was very aware last night whilst camping here that a lot of the experiences I have are very varied, rich and really quite vibrant. I am very privileged to have them and maybe I can share some of them here. Having them whilst fun, does take a toll sometime though. Last night I found myself feeling incredibly homesick, and I wasn’t sure if that was for mkushi here in zambia or the UK.

On the way here yesterday, on the endless road that runs from Solwezi to Mwinilunga, we came across an Egyptian guy that had broken down. He had a flat tyre, but his jack was broken. Stuck in the middle of nowhere. We stopped. We helped him and he was in his way. Imagine if no-one had stopped. He would ha e been there for hours. We passed one car in 3 hours. He could have been there for days………

Last night the night watchman in the school was in a bit if a flap. No one had told him that we were camping at the school. He didn’t mention anything to us, instead he went off to get an army officer. Later the officer turned up, and was questioning me as to why we are here. It all boiled down to trust and initiative. The watchman couldn’t ring the deputy head, who did know we were coming, he also couldn’t make a decision on his own. He was fearing for his job, his livelihood. The army officer could see there was no problem, but if the watchman had been trusted or been encouraged to trust his own judgement, the situation would never have happened. Never been interrogated by the army before……..

Africa is also very loud. About 400m from our camp is a food shop. Dark, dingy and lacking in stock, nevertheless it is there. There ,is also a speaker the size if a man there. The whole town also knows about the speaker, From 7am until 10pm is is there every day. These things used to annoy me, now I have just got used to them. I like my peace and quiet. I have to shut myself in my tent, put my headphones in and play my own music to do that.

Bathing can also be fun. Africa us also very dark. At the school here, there is grass in the middle that is in full view if the town. Last night, without a bathroom we got a bath in the middle of the green, in full view. It was so dark that no one noticed.

In all of this “experience” and interest, real people are working out real lives often in very real circumstances. As I’m writing this, Cornelius has just said, “this stuff is life changing” and that’s the point. Changed lives, changed people, changed communities. That’s why we are here, that’s why I go through all of these experiences, simply to act as a catalyst to make it happen. I know that I am making a difference.

Location:T5,Mwinilunga,Zambia

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.