My time in Zambia was spent in the City of Kitwe, which is located in northern Zambia. Unlike Zimbabwe where there is not much industrial development and investment in the economy, there are things going on in Zambia. There are roads being built and a lot of building and activity in the mining and manufacturing sector. The vast majority of this investment is by the Chinese and so there are many Chinese expats living in Zambia that work in these Chinese operations or are in the country and operating some sort of business. Large compounds are built to house these workers and there are two near the mission property where I was staying. There are dozens of these compounds around the country and and one of the Bishops from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zambia has a compound filled with Chinese workers right across from his church. Bishop David as I will call him, was considering how best to minister to these workers and was feeling like something had to be done to reach out to these people. In discussion with Bill Pipke an idea for a cultural center was born. The name of this ministry is "Bridging China and Africa (BCA)". The ministry leaders were able to purchase a 13 acre property through the generosity of many Canadians and it has been turned into a Cultural center. A Chinese Christian family that Bill got to know in Beijing agreed to move to Zambia to be the leaders for the center. JJ and Patricia and their two children have been living in Kitwe now for about three years and the center has become a place where the Chinese can come and enjoy the gardens, share a meal together and attend a church service and learn about Christianity. Every Sunday 40 chairs are set up in Patricia and JJ's living room a church service in Mandarin takes place. JJ is a very good networker and he has contacts that are extensive in the Chinese Zambian community. He took Garry Fess and I on a short road trip in the area to show us the developments in the area and it was amazing how many times he pointed to a business and told us he was friends with the owner and/or they were members of the church.
|The living room at the cultural center set up for the morning service|
|JJ and Pastor Garry Fess, one of my travel mates from London, Ontario|
One lovely lady whose name is Imelda is employed as a housekeeper to help Patricia and JJ to care for the center and she is a single mother who has 6 children and lives with her mother and the income she receives is the difference for her family. JJ is in a wheelchair, and Patricia teaches at one of the local schools so Imelda is a huge help to them. The center has a lot of square footage and beyond the spacious home for JJ and Patricia, there is a large meeting area, games room, a second apartment and 5 dorm rooms which are all used when work and ministry teams come from Canada to assist the ministry. As things get busier there may be need to bring on more staff to care for the property. Of course the majority of the funds for this work come from generous donors in Canada either from Churches, personal donations or corporate support. It is always amazing to me how the financial and material needs of the ministries continue to be met and it requires a large effort by Bill, Don and Marie Josee to travel around Canada and connect with Christians to share the vision and mission for BCA and CLI. It is clear to me that as our global workers are able to share the stories of the lives that are being changed around the world through the work they are doing, people are prepared to give to support these efforts. The Church in Zambia is large but finances in many cases are extremely challenging. Unemployment is high, especially among the uneducated and poor that live in the squat communities. As I have shared before a large focus of International Missions in places like Zambia are to be able to provide educational opportunities to train pastors, develop trade schools and business opportunities such as teaching people to sew, or motorcycle mechanics so that they can start a small business of their own and begin to lift themselves out of poverty. Another big part of the work is coming alongside local pastors and congregations to help support their ministries in the community they serve. Sponsorships for pastors to get additional theological education, helping fund raise for church building projects or even micro finance opportunities are some of the ways the Canadian church helps the PAOZ. The last Sunday we were in Kitwe I had the opportunity to attend a church service in one of the squats. Mary, who is the administrative assistant at the bible college which was started by the Pentecostals from Canada but is now owned and operated by the PAOZ, took us to her church and it was a highlight of my week.
|After Church everyone comes out as the Pastor,and us as guests shook their hands and they stand in a semi circle to chat|
The church was small and simple but very serviceable. It was packed out and actually several people came to the door and looked in and then left because there was nowhere to sit. To address this the church has been in a building project for many years. they bought a piece of property next to the existing church and since 2004 have been working on it. they have the walls up but are at a standstill until they can get the timbers and roof tin in place. After the service the pastor and his building committee chair met with Garry and me over cookies and juice and told us about the need they have for funds. They have been fundraising with 7 groups within the congregation trying to do what they can to bring in the money they need to finish the roof. That would make the structure secure but they will still need a floor, doors and windows, etc.
We were told that they needed 42000 Kwaacha to purchase the roof materials and they had the expertise to do the construction. To date they had raised 2000K. They needed about 5000 Canadian to finish this part of the project. While we did not make any promises, we did say we would share it with folks as we could and keep this project in mind as we had opportunity. There is no shortage of projects to get involved with and sometimes it is hard for me to come back to Canada and see the disproportional distribution of wealth we have here. It does give me some peace to know that we have opportunities as Canadians to partner with worthy charities and causes and build relationships with other Christians around the world through the connections of our global workers and national partners. I like the fact that I have visited so many of these places, got to know the folks in charge of the ministry and see first hand the need and care in which the local ministry teams build community and provide opportunities. These folks use this money carefully and respectfully and the difference it can make in the lives of the people they help is unreal.
Not everyone can retire from full time employment when I did and have the opportunity to volunteer their time and go plug into these ministries, I count my blessings almost everyday. For anyone who is reading this you can participate in this work that we global workers do by agreeing to stay interested and follow the work Cheryl and I do and the others who do similar things. You can encourage us and if so inclined pray for us as this is extremely important and needed. Here is the kicker...you can also partner with us by agreeing to give to projects or connecting with us to see how you can get involved in one of these ministries. Cheryl and I have made the decision to support ourselves in this volunteer mission effort. We have been humbled by some donations from our church, family and friends that has helped us pay for some of our travel and we are incredibly grateful for these gifts. We have learned that while we do not actively seek donations, we do need to be open to this option for those wanting to give, and also to direct their giving to the places and projects they want to support. My desire for anyone reading this that is wondering how that can connect with this work in a more tangible way is that they would actually do something about it. Consider how you can invest your time and/or some of your money in a project, the people leading it and by extension the communities and lives of the people impacted by it. Talk to me about this. It is not my plan to start soliciting you for funds, but I will always be interested in telling you more about the work we are involved in and as the conversation leads I am certainly happy to talk to you about how you could participate with us in this work if you are interested. Not everyone can go do this work, but for those of us who are able to go-we need the rest to be the senders. I would ask you to consider what you can do to get more involved in what we are part of. Let me tell you some of the stories over coffee, or lunch or around our meal table and I would be so pleased to be able to help you connect with some of the people I have met and for you to be able to invest in a meaningful relationship with God's people in other parts of the world. Thanks for reading and for your encouragement and interest in both this blog and what Cheryl and I are doing. We appreciate each and every one of you.