Today was another wonderful day in the Lord’s service. As mentioned in the last post, we met twelve of the pastors and evangelists that Pastor Atawa is working with in and around Bulawayo. These men came to our hotel and we met for about an hour or so just getting to know one another. We all introduced ourselves and told a little about ourselves and the ministries we are responsible for. All the men who gathered at the hotel on Monday evening had one request in common…they wanted to be better trained and equipped for the Gospel ministry. Many of the men are currently taking theological correspondence courses from a school in South Africa. They were thrilled that they would be able to spend the day on Tuesday in a day long pastoral training seminar.
Very little preparation had been done prior to our arrival for various reasons, so this meant that I needed to find some sort of meeting room for us to use for our seminar on Tuesday. The Lord provided! I made one stop at the front desk of the hotel where we are staying to see if they had a room. This hotel does not but the manager on duty was quick to recommend a place. He put someone else in charge and led me a few blocks down the street and around the corner to a beautiful building called the Bulawayo Club. It looked like a mansion of a very rich person from the 1800’s. As we entered the front door I was skeptical about whether we would be able to afford it. When I mentioned this to the manager of our hotel he said let me see what I can do, I know the man in charge. Sure enough, they offered us a room for a very affordable, reduced rate. This building is beautiful on the inside and out. From the history and pictures I read hanging on the walls, the area that we were in was the wing that honored Cecil Rhodes. This was the European man who was chiefly responsible for colonizing much of South Africa. Zimbabwe which was at one time called Rhodesia (named after Cecil Rhodes) before the country changed its name after they achieved independence. Just an interesting little tid-bit of history for the day. You can see some pictures of the place that the Lord provided for our use here: http://www.bulawayoclub.com/photo-gallery/
Most of the pastors and evangelists met at our hotel at 9:45 so I could show everyone the way to the meeting room. Once our classes got started we spent the day going through the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose to begin to lay a firm foundation of doctrinal unity. There was some good discussion along with questions and answers. At the end of the day time was given to the group of seventeen pastors and evangelists to discuss what they had learned and to organize themselves for ongoing study of the Word. They plan to begin holding monthly pastoral meeting to go through the course material that Pastor Atawa and Pastor Gullerud had gone through over the past several months. All of the men continued to stress their desire for more training in the Word. There was a definite spirit of humility before God’s word among these men. It was a pleasure to teach them and an even greater joy to hear men so eager to be better equipped to serve our Lord. Pastor Atawa is hoping to continue correspondence courses with Pastor Gullerud so that he can share the lessons he learns with the men he is working with.
After our meetings ended we all piled into a small pickup truck and began taking the men back to their homes. Our final stop was at the church where one of the evangelists who had been at the seminar attends worship. He wanted his pastor to meet us. They must have known we were coming because many of the women of the congregation were there to sing a few songs and they had Cokes cold and ready to be served. After greeting the pastor and a few women from the congregation I explained to the pastor why were in Zimbabwe and what we had discussed in the seminar. By the time we were ready to go the pastor was explaining to us that he was in need of more training himself and was wondering he could be “enrolled” in the future classes that they will be having. We told him that he was more than welcome and we encouraged him to speak more with Pastor Atawa. It would seem that the young man from this congregation who attended the seminar had this in mind the whole time. Before we left, he came and shook my hand and gave me a hug and said that he was so glad that we met his pastor and he just knew that his pastor would want to train with us as well! The Lord is good!
Well, it is Tuesday evening here and we will be heading to the airport tomorrow morning at 9:30. The first flight will take us to Johannesburg, South Africa where we will spend the night before Pastor Ude and I part ways. While in Johannesburg we will also meet with a man there from Congo who Missionary Koenig has worked with over the years. His desire is to start a Lutheran congregation there. We will only have short time to meet when he comes to our hotel for visit.
From Johannesburg, Pastor Ude will continue on to India and I will make my way back home via, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Rome (Italy), Washington, DC and then finally home. This is always the worst part of the trip…having the work that I came to do complete and finished and yet still far from home and my family. I always wish I could just snap my fingers and be home. Hopefully, I will be able to get some work done on the way home so I can have a little time with the family on Saturday. It will be so good to see them and all the folks at Faith on Sunday.
Internet access has been limited and we have been busy and on the move so much the past few days that I haven’t been able to post…my apologies.
Let’s see…the last post had us arriving safely in Lusaka, Zambia via buses and taxis. After one day running around Lusaka to take care of the mundane, but never dull in a developing nation, tasks of exchanging money, buying water, and arranging for our laundry, the day was over and we ate some really good food at the hotel restaurant, made plans for the next few days, updated the blog, and finally went to bed.
The schedule that Pastor Ibrahim had laid out for us took us on several city buses (cramped is a huge under-statement) and a couple of taxis to an area outside of Lusaka where Pastor Ibrahim has focused his evangelism efforts. The village where he is working is called Sonadi. I suppose you could consider it a suburb of Lusaka but not in the good sense like in the U.S. This is not the kind of place where those, with some financial means, long to get away from the hectic city life. This is a community of the very poor. They live in shelters put together with whatever sticks, mud, thatch, and broken or cast off construction materials they can get a hold of. There are no real streets or roads, just muddy paths that lead from house to house and from shop to shop. Most of the shops we saw were selling small amounts of grains, home grown vegetables and greens, and dried spice leaves. Pastor Ibrahim travels to this community each week for evangelism. He is working to start a congregation for the people here. There are no other churches working here and that is why he chose this particular area to work. There is really no chance of starting a congregation that will ever be able to support the ministry since the people are so impoverished. What a wonderful example of Going into all the world. This is not just a little pet project for Pastor Ibrahim either. He is not really supported by a larger congregation either. He simply came to Zambia at the request of a friend to spread the Gospel in Zambia. He lives in a spare bedroom of a friend who has a wife and family of three children to support as well. He draws no salary and lives meal to meal as his host is able to provide. It is quite humbling to work with a man like this. He is such gentle and kind man full of love for others and has compassion that is evident in all he does. Just one quick example of his compassion and selfless service…as we were working out way through the community (more on this later) we took a quick turn down a path that led to man who was extremely dirty and un-kempt. His hair was matted down and I am sure he didn’t own a toothbrush. He was seated on a broken piece of concrete pipe with a metal sheers in one hand and a piece of twisted and bent corrugated steel sheeting (like you see on a roof of a barn or shed) across his lap. His crippled legs were sticking out to one side. His eyes and face showed the confusion of one who does not have the full use of his metal capacities. The appearance of such an individual brings two completely different emotions. One the one hand such a sight tells you that this is one person you might want to steer clear of because he no doubt, is full of disease, lice, and other such things that no one wants to be in contact with. The smell too, I am sure, would be repulsive as it was apparent that bathing was not a priority nor probably possible for him on a regular basis. On the other hand, the compassion that grips the hearts when you see an individual like this is overwhelming and the heart yearns to do something, anything, to help him. Pastor Ibrahim ran across this man on one of his first visits. He resisted the urge to steer clear and stay “safe.” Instead, moved with Christ-like compassion, he walked down to this man and began to visit. He found a man who has “a gentle and kind heart” with a crippled body and a simple mind. He has no one to care for him but there are many who treat him very un-kindly. He makes a small living by collecting and selling scrap metals. He lives with two other men in a small, mud-waddle-thatched roof, house that is no bigger than most storage rooms in a modern U.S. home. There was no door on the house, just a dirty, raggedy sheet that covered the entrance. Pastor Ibrahim spends time visiting with this man each week as they discuss the heavenly home that our Savior has prepared for him where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more cruel words, no more hunger, and no more suffering. And then he gives him a small amount of money to buy food. As Pastor Ibrahim handed him a small amount of Kwacha (about $2USD of Kwacha) I asked Ibrahim where he gets the money to help this man. He responded (with not even a hint of pride) that he fasts one day each week so that this man can eat. “Humbling”…seems like too small of a word or concept to describe the moment. Ashamed is maybe a better way to describe the emotion that I felt then and am feeling again now as I remember the experience with tears welling up as I type. The one statement that echoes through my mind over and over while I am on these trips, experiencing the joys and the sorrows of such work is this… “we can and should be doing so much more…we must do more!
Let me describe as best I can with mere words, the evangelism work that Ibrahim is doing Sonadi. He travels (probably 1 hour or more by crowed bus) to this village (slum) each week. While on the way he stops off a hospice house for Aids patients to share God’s word with whoever they allow him to speak with. They have many restrictions he tells us. We stopped on our way to Sonadi, but were unable to see any patients because of the restriction on that particular day. Ibrahim did not seem surprised but was disappointed as he explained that many there do not have long to live and they need to hear the Gospel. After his stop at the hospice he precedes another 5 kilometers or so down the road until he arrives at the path that leads the short way to Sonadi. When in the village he has a number of homes where he is known and they are eager to be taught God’s word. He comes with a short ½ hour Bible study prepared to share. But he also goes to house by house, shop by shop, and asks if he could spend a short amount of time visiting with them about God’s word. The day we were with him we were welcomed into six different homes where Pastor Ude and I took turns sharing a simple Bible message of God’s Law (to bring us to repentance) and His Gospel (to reveal our Savior from sin and death.) We concluded our message with the encouragement to look for Pastor Ibrahim each week and to attend the Bible studies he conducts each Sunday morning at 10:00 am. We were also welcomed into a few homes of families who were already familiar with Ibrahim and you could see their love and appreciation for this humble man of God. Ibrahim also likes to go to the football/soccer field where the children play to see if he can strike up a Bible study with some of the young people. The day we were there it was beginning to rain and so we were unable to stay outside on the fields to talk with the kids. Ibrahim was disappointed. It was a long, hot, and exhausting day, but still so invigorating to spreading the Gospel in such a way. One of the men we spoke with outside his shop was very thankful to hear us. He told us that at one time he had thought of being in the ministry but had fell away and had done many sinful things. He said that he had tried to go back to church that he was just too bad. You could tell that the burden of sin was heavy on this man. It was a joy to share with him the even greater joy of sins forgiven in Jesus name. I am hopeful that he will stay in contact with Ibrahim and more importantly continue to rejoice in the peace of God through faith in our Savior!
Our last day in Lusaka was spent in a seminar with the Pastor Ibrahim and the men he has begun to instruct in the Lusaka area. There were nine men in attendance (this included Pastors Yumba and Amos from the Kitwe, near the Congo border, who traveled with us to meet Pastor Ibrahim and discuss the work in Zambia). The day began with prayer and singing. Pastor Ude and I went through most of the CLC Statement of Faith Purpose to assist Ibrahim in laying a solid foundation of doctrinal unity upon which to build the CLC-Zambia. I also discussed the goals and limitations of the work that the CLC Board of Missions is able to pursue in foreign fields. Pastor Ibrahim, who has been with the CLC-Tanzania for many years already understands that our work overseas is focused on the training of faithful pastors to spread the Good News. But it was important in the African culture for the men to hear it from someone who is “in charge.” Of course, a few hours of teaching is not enough to dig as deeply into the word as necessary for us to establish fellowship, but as I stressed repeatedly, it is a necessary beginning as we work together to lay the cornerstone of a solid foundation by which we will be able to serve the Lord in a God pleasing way. The men were all very receptive to the Word and had only questions but no disagreements or challenges to what was taught. All in all, the day went well and I trust that, according to God’s will, the men there are well on their way. Pastor Ibrahim is a dedicated and faithful preacher and teacher of God’s word. His organizational skills will serve well. Just this morning, as we chatted over breakfast, Ibrahim was telling me about the outline for a teaching syllabus that he will email to me soon that will layout the teaching schedule for the next two years. Then he commented that it is very important to have a working and organized teaching syllabus in place before he begins the regular pastoral training classes so that time and effort is not wasted. It was music to my OCD years when I heard him speak of the need for organization and efficiency! This man is a gift to the people of Zambia as he works to prepare faithful preachers of the Word! Thank you Lord!
With our time running short in Lusaka, we concluded the seminar around 3:30 with a devotion as the women (who prepared an incredible meal) joined us for worship. Pastor Ude and I were both given the opportunity to speak. I thanked the Lord for this opportunity and for the men and women who are so eager and willing to hear and learn and be trained so that they can faithfully serve the Lord in whatever capacity the Lord grants to each of them individually and as whole. I am eager to see what the Lord unfolds in Zambia over the next few years. It appears that the Lord has opened another door of opportunity for the spread of the truth of His saving word!
We departed Lusaka with a rented car and driver as we headed for the Zambia/Zimbabwe border.
This trip took us to the city of Livingstone near the famous Victoria Falls. We were told that the trip (by car) would take around 5 hours. I had looked it up on Google maps and had my doubts. My doubts were confirmed when the 5 hour mark came and went and we still had 200kms to go. We were told we would arrive around 9:30 pm. We didn’t arrive until after midnight. We searched around for a hotel and were able to find a descent (not nice) hotel for the night. We checked in and after a quick, cold shower, went immediately to sleep. The next morning we inquired about the distance to Victoria Falls from where we were at. After we discovered that the road we would take to Zimbabwe was only a few kilometers from the viewing site we decided that it would be worth a couple of hours to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And it was definitely worth the extra time! This is the rainy season and so the waters were high and rushing. We spent about two hours hiking around on the various trails that give you some spectacular views of the widest (over a mile wide) water fall in the worlds. We saw the spot where Dr. David Livingstone first spotted the falls. Words and pictures will never be able to describe what the Lord blessed us to see. If you are interested….just Google Victoria Falls and you will find far more than I could ever describe. We only spent two hours…I wish I had about two weeks to explore this area just for fun…maybe someday! I found the picture below on the internet since none of the pictures we were able to take can really capture the falls. Incredible. It was a great experience seeing this incredible place, especially when we really had no idea we would get the opportunity. Usually I like to research a place before I go there. This time it will be fun going home and researching Victoria Falls with the kids after I have already been there. This seems to happen to me a lot. Take a peek at these website if you want to learn more about Victoria Falls.
After our time at the falls we the two kms across the bridge over the Zambezi river that forms the falls and divides Zambia and Zimbabwe. From the bridge you get another breath-taking view of the falls. We got through immigration and customs with no trouble at all, negotiated a taxi to the bus stop just outside of Livingstone, Zimbabwe and found a bus to Bulawayo for $20/each which we found out about half way through the trip was $5 higher than the locals were paying. We (and the locals) comically refer to this as the Muzungu (white-man) tax. The bus ride wasn’t bad at all but it was long and loud. They don’t seem to know how to turn down the music in Africa. We arrived in Bulawayo around 9:00 pm where we found a taxi driver to take us to the hotel that had been reserved for us. There was one taxi driver who seemed somewhat overbearing and pushy but he was apparently the only one who knew where this hotel was at. So, I reluctantly went with him…wrong decision. He took us to a hotel that was 10 kms away by the same name when our hotel was really less than a few blocks from where the bus dropped us off. I even gave him the address but he was convinced that I had the wrong address. Well, as it turns out, there are two hotels owned by the same company. The one outside of town is a restored mansion/castle that only has nine rooms and they rent for $110/single to nearly $200 a night. The other hotel owned by the same company is a modest by perfectly fine hotel in the city centre that rents for much less. After some inquiry, the receptionist at the hotel where the taxi driver dropped us off, realized that we must have been looking for the other hotel, graciously gave us a ride back into the down town in her own car as she was going that direction anyway. We checked in, found a nearby restaurant (Chicken Inn…like KFC) where were had a meal and then headed off for another much needed night of rest.
Today we met Pastor Apostle Liberty Atawa for the first time. He is now making preparations for our short time here in Bulawayo. We will meet with him that the other pastors he is working with this afternoon and tomorrow. We only have a couple of days here so we stressed the importance of making good use of our time. We leave on Wednesday morning.
I was able to talk to Beth a little bit the other day. She said a couple of the kids are having a hard time with me being gone again for so long. I miss them all a lot too. Please keep her and them in your prayers.
We arrived in Lusaka, Zambia on Wednesday evening after 12+ hours of travel in big buses, little buses, and a few taxis. We were met by Pastor Ibrahim, Evangelist Peter, and a few other friends. We were taken to the Kakwele lodge which is owned by a relative of Evangelist Peter. A very nice place (with wifi) with a very accommodating staff. The owner is giving us the room at a very reduced rate because he is trying to help his nephew with his work in God's Kingdom. Most of yesterday was spent running around Lusaka on public buses trying to make arrangements for our time here in Zambia. We also tried, in vain, to find a good mode of transportation to our next stop in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We were hoping to find a regional airline that would fly us there without spending lots of money. We were not able to find a flight for under $500 so our plan now is to hire a car/driver to take us to Livingstone on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border on Saturday evening after our pastoral conference. We will spend the night in Livingstone and then find a bus to Bulawayo on Sunday morning. That should put us there by late afternoon on Sunday.
Yesterday I also had the privilege of leading an impromptu Bible study at the home of Evangelist Peter for his family and a few members of the congregation that meets in his home. We had around 12 in attendance.
Today (Friday) we will be going with Pastor Ibrahim and Evangelist Peter on their evangelism visits to area hospitals and the university.
We finished our time in the Congo with a half day pastoral training seminar for pastors and evangelists of the ELCC and CCLC on Tuesday morning. Since one of the primary goals of this visit was to introduce Pastor Ude as the new visiting missionary to the DRC and to allow him to begin the important process of building a good working relationship with those he will be working with, it was decided earlier that my part in the seminar would be to simply introduce Matt to the men with the encouragement to embrace him as their new missionary and to reinforce with them that he is now their main line of communication with the Bd of Missions and then step out of the way. This turned out to be a very good thing since I came down with some sort of stomach virus or a touch of food poisoning during the night. Because I was up most of the night in the bathroom I was in no condition to do much more than speak for 10 minutes or so and then sit in the back and long for my bed back at the hotel.
Matt taught lessons on the proper interpretation of the Parables and methods for incorporating the parables into our preaching of God’s Law (to show us our sins) and His Gospel (to show us our Savior). He gave examples from the different types of parables that we find in the New Testament. The lessons were well received with many questions, comments, and a few examples from some of the more experienced pastors in the crowd.
After the seminar we returned to the hotel where Matt had some lunch and I took a nap. I was very thankful that we had a two hour break before our afternoon meetings with the translation committee with members from both the ELCC and CCLC. I felt much better after my nap and ready for the work that the Lord put before me.
Pastor Kintombe of the CCLC serves as the chairman of this committee and seems to be doing a good job of organizing the work. Back in 2010 (the last time Pastor Mayhew and I visited) this work of producing good teaching materials in the language of the people had come to a halt due the suspension of funding from CLC because of the troubles between the two groups. Once a peaceful and God pleasing resolution was accomplished we were able to help them print several copies of teaching booklets with funding sent about a year ago. It was good to see that they have been able to put their differences aside for the sake of the Kingdom work. Of course there are still some difficulties that every committee faces, they have found a way to work through them. We reminded each other of the things we discussed the last time I was there concerning the privilege that we have as fellow servants of our Savior who forgives us our many individual sins and thus motivates us through His patient and longsuffering love to forgive others as we have been forgiven. It was a good a meeting and I was blessed and encouraged to be a part of it.
We also met with leaders of each of the church bodies to discuss the work and the specific plans that they hope to pursue in the near future. There are so many needs and good ideas that they have for spreading the Gospel in the Congo. It seems that my standard response to so many project proposals goes like this: “that is a wonderful idea and a great way to spread the Gospel. We will pray to the Lord, who is our great provider, that He will provide the resources for you to pursue this plan.” In the Congo we heard again proposals for building schools. I have pictures from the last time I was here of one congregation of the ELCC where they have a rather disheveled school building where over 200 children are in attendance. All of the teachers are very under-paid and they lack the basic needs of any school such as chalk, note books, text books, etc. They gave us a proposal to build a new school building with an office for the teachers and a new latrine (outhouse). The cost for this building project is around $35,000. Amazing to think that an elementary school building project in the U.S. would cost in the millions and we would barely even bat and eye. The CCLC has also given a proposal to assist in building a school in the new village where they are working near the Zambia border. In addition to these two requests we also have requests from several other places around the world where the Lord has blessed us with the privilege of working in His Kingdom.
All of this is very humbling…to think that the Lord gives us (each of us) the privilege of freely giving the time, talent, and treasures that He has so graciously given to undeserving sinner like us so that others might also learn of the forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life that is ours through perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ!
Oh sing unto the Lord, for He has done marvelous things! He has taken poor miserable sinners like us and given us such a glorious future with Him in Heaven…how can we not spread this message as far and as wide and wherever and whenever He opens the doors of opportunity! Thank You Lord for blessing us with the privilege of blessing others with Your love!
After a couple of days in Zambia we are back in Lubumbashi for one more day.
We spent the past two days traveling south of Lubumbashi to the newly developed village of Wiski near the DRC/Zambia border and then into Zambia to visit a congregation and meet with the pastors in this area.
Pastor Yumba is working with the government to build the new village of Wiski. This village is being built in, what was formerly, just Africa bush country. Now that the war in Congo has come to an end and a government is now in place that is making great strides, the border territory between the DRC and Zambia has become a hot bed for commercial endeavors since south-east DRC receives much of its goods from Zambia. The government recognizes the need for more housing in this area and has designated a portion of the government owned land for a new village. When I was here two years ago we visited the area by walking a mile, or so, on a foot path through the bush until we found the plot if land that had been designated for the school. This plot of land was marked out by small flags tied to bushes and palmetto trees. Pastor Yumba has been appointed/hired as the chief of this new village and has the duty of seeing to the details of building a school. The foot path has now been replaced with a road that was clearly being used by heavy equipment and trucks. The bush was now cleared into clearly identified plots for building homes and business. Not many houses have been built yet but there are a few and more will come as the government makes low-interest loans to families. The school building is well under way with the walls erected for three classrooms and the roof on one classroom that we were able to use for a combined worship service with members from the Lubumbashi (who traveled 2 hours one-way for the service), Kasumbalesa, and Wiski congregations. They used this service to dedicate the new school building. There was much singing and I was blessed with the privilege of preaching the sermon. About mid-way through the service three men showed up from Kitwe, Zambia which is about two hours south of the DRC/Zambia border. They are part of the group of eight pastors and evangelists that Pastor Yumba has been working with. They drove a car to the border to give us a ride to Kitwe on Sunday afternoon. It is about two hours from the border to Kitwe.
We arrive at the Kitwe congregation much later than anticipated. This congregation is outside of Kitwe off the main road. We met briefly with the congregation and gave them some words of encouragement from the Scriptures. Since it was so late in the day we were unable to meet with pastors from the area who had gathered there in anticipation of our coming. Today (Monday 1/23) was supposed to be spent visiting a couple of congregations in the morning and then the three hour trip back to Lubumbashi. Instead we arranged an impromptu pastoral training seminar at the guest hostel where we stayed. We discussed the benefit of spending some time with these pastors verses visiting the congregations and determined that our time was better spent training several pastors who could then take what they learned and apply it to the ministry entrusted to them. The meeting with the pastors was only a few hours long but definitely worthwhile. We were able to set up an ongoing, monthly, training schedule that will allow Pastor Yumba to come to Kitwe monthly for ongoing training in the Word. All of these men appear to dedicated servants of the Lord. None of the men/pastors have any formal Theological training and it is quite evident to us and to themselves that they are limited in their understanding of God’s word. They made it quite clear that their desire is to be trained for the Gospel ministry that has been entrusted to them. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to meet these men and establish a plan to give them the training that they desire and require for the work which they are doing in God’s kingdom. What a privilege to be involved in this work. I look forward to hearing and perhaps seeing one day the blessing that the Lord brings to the eight congregations that these men serve as they continue to grow in their faith and understanding of the Scriptures.
After the pastoral training we gathered for a few pictures and then jumped in the car to make our way back to Lubumbashi for the pastoral conference with the pastors of the Eglise Lutherienne de Confessionale Au Congo (ELCC) and the pastors of the Congregation Confessional Lutherienne Au Congo (CCLC). If you haven’t figured it out already, the prominent language in the DRC is French. The common language is Congolese Swahili. Suffice it to say that we work with translators. The pastoral conference will be held tomorrow with time to meet with the joint translating committee in the late afternoon. On Wednesday we will travel to Zambia again where we will meet up with two of the pastors from the area who we worked with yesterday and today. They will travel with us to Lusaka, Zambia (about 6 hours south) where we will be meeting with Pastor Ibrahim who was originally trained in our seminary in Tanzania before he heeded the call of his friend to come to Zambia to establish a conservative Lutheran church.
For now, I am tired and stiff from all the travel and sitting at pastoral conferences. After a very nice, hot, and relaxing shower, I am ready for bed.
I talked with Beth and kids yesterday and they are doing well. Please keep them in your prayers as well as the work here and Faith congregation.
We (and our luggage) arrived safely in Lubumbashi, DRC. We were met by pastors from both the ELCC and the CCLC. After we cleared customs, immigration, and a check of our vaccination records, we headed to our hotel to get checked and meet with the leaders of the two church bodies that we will be working with. The meeting went well as we planned a schedule that would allow for visiting congregation for four days and a one day joint pastoral conference. Following the meeting we grabbed a bite of supper at a restaurant down the street from our hotel and then we headed to our rooms for an early night. I tried my hardest to stay awake, but by 7:30 pm I just couldn't stay awake...so I gave in and slept until about 2:30 am and then I was up for the day. I think tonight my body clock will completely adjust and I should get a good night of sleep.
The past two days have been busy working with the leaders of the ELCC and getting a Zambia visa for Matt. We met with about 12 pastors and elders of the ELCC yesterday for a pastoral training seminar. In the evening we attended and I preached at a worship service in a near by congregation. I had forgotten how beautiful the voices of Africa are. They can harmonize so well with no accompaniment other than a drum or two. Following the service we were asked to visit with the seven widow women in the congregation about ways that they can support themselves. Hearing their stories and seeing the pain in their faces was another harsh reminder of how hard life is for so many on this continent.
Tomorrow we head south with the leaders of the CLCC to visit the newly established congregations just over the border into Zambia. We will stay the night in Zambia and visit more congregations on Monday before returning to Lubumbashi on Monday night so we can attend the joint pastoral conference here on Tuesday.
I've talked to Beth a couple of times and she and the kids are doing fine.
I'm looking forward to a good supper tonight and hopefully a good night of sleep.
I arrived in Ethiopia at 8:00 am after a loooong 13 hours flight. Since the airline dropped the flight that I was supposed to take to the Congo today, they put me up in a decent hotel with meals and wifi. I'll be here for 25 hours.
I received an email from Matt Ude (the missionary who I am meeting) as he was waiting for his flight from Nigeria. He is on schedule to arrive this evening. The airline will not provide him with a hotel room so I planning to meet him at the airport and bring him here to share my room.
After a nice 5 hour nap I'm now heading out to find a barber, buy a cheap cell phone that will work in the DRC, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. I'm also hoping to find some good Ethiopian coffee.
After a restless night of sleep in anticipation of a 13+ hour flight...I am at the Washington Dulles airport ready to "GO" about the work of my heavenly Father.
Your prayers for me, Beth and the kids, the members of Faith, and those I go to serve and work along side are much appreciated!
Tomorrow I leave for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), then on to Zambia, and finally to Zimbabwe. I've had friends and the members of Faith asking me over the past couple of days where I was going, what I was going to be doing, and if I was planning to write a blog again this time. Truth be told, I wasn't planning to keep a blog going this trip, but since a few have asked, I will. It also serves as a good notepad for writing my reports when I return. So, I'll use this first entry to fill in the details of the where, what, and why of this trip. I will also provide an itinerary so you can be a bit more specific in your prayers (that are much appreciated). I'll get the itinerary out the way first.
16 JAN - Depart from St Louis and fly to Washington, DC. (overnight in DC to save $400 on the next flight)
17 JAN - Depart DC at 10:45 am (fly 7187 miles/13.5 hrs) to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
18 JAN - Arrive Addis Ababa at 8:05 am (23 hr layover while I wait for Missionary Ude to arrive from Nigeria at 8:45 pm...hotel and meals provided by the airline due to extended layover)
19 JAN - Depart Addis Ababa at 9:05 am (fly 1620 miles/4hrs)
Arrive in Lubumbashi, DRC at 12:25 pm
19 JAN - greetings and meeting with the leaders of the ELCC and CCLC to get reacquainted and discuss the schedule and pastoral conference.
20-21 JAN - visit area congregations of the ELCC and meet with the leaders to discuss plans
22 JAN - visit area CCLC congregations and meet with leaders to discuss plans
23 JAN - Pastoral Conference/Seminar with pastors of the ELCC and CCLC
Missionary Ude will lead a study of the Gospel of John
Pastor Ohlmann will lead a study titled: "God's Grace in His Choosing"
23 JAN - late afternoon...travel to Kasumbalesa near the Zambia border with CCLC
24 JAN - visit CCLC Zambian congregations
25 JAN - travel by bus or air to Lusaka, Zambia (546KM)
26 JAN - Meet with Pastor Ibrahim and spend the day making arrangements for travel to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and working on the details for the pastoral training seminar.
27 JAN - Evangelism work in and around Lusaka (hospital and university)
28 JAN - Pastoral Training seminar and evening worship
29 JAN - travel by bus to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (766KM)
30-31 JAN - meet Pastor Liberty Atawa and the men he is working with. Spend the two days discussing Scripture as we work toward doctrinal agreement.
1 FEB - depart Bulawayo at 2:30 pm on a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa
overnight in Johannesburg, SA
2 FEB - depart Johannesburg, SA (fly 2526 miles/5.5hrs) to Addis Ababa
2 FEB - depart Addis Ababa (fly 2779 miles/6hrs) to arrive in Rome, Italy at 2:25 am (3 FEB)
3 FEB - depart Rome at 3:25 am (fly 4495/10hrs) to Washington, DC
3 FEB - arrive HOME at 1:42 pm!!!!
What follows is from the January 15th CLC Monthly Mission Newsletter. It gives a brief overview of the trip. It has been the goal and practice of the CLC Board of Missions to maintain a regular schedule of personal visits to the various church bodies we are privileged to work with around the world. Missionary Matthew Ude lives and works primarily in India with the CLC-India and the BELC but part of his duties include annual visits to the West African country of Nigeria where he able to meet with the leaders and many of the pastors and seminary students of the Nigeria-CLC. Because of security concerns, he is unable to spend time at the NCLC headquarters in Efa but rather the leaders and pastors come to the large port city of Lagos for a pastoral conference. This works out well as leaders from our affiliate churches in Togo and Ghana are also able to attend this pastoral conference. Missionary Ude will be in Nigeria from January 9th-17th.
Following his visit to West Africa, Missionary Ude will meet the chairman of the CLC Board of Missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he will be introduced as the visiting CLC missionary to the ELCC and CCLC. They will spend their time in the DRC visiting with the leaders of these two church bodies, visiting and preaching at congregations of the ELCC and CCLC, meeting with the joint translation committee, and teaching at a joint pastoral conference. The CCLC has been active conducting outreach over the Zambia border where new CCLC congregations have been established. The visitation team is looking forward to visiting these congregations to encourage them and the pastors with the truth of God’s saving word. The visitors are also planning to see how the Lord has blessed the ELCC and CCLC over the past year and half since the last CLC visit as they have worked to put their differences behind them. As was reported, following the August, 2010 visit, three officers from each church body joyfully signed a resolution and agreed to forgive the sins of the past and work together for the glory of our Savior and for the expansion of God’s Kingdom in D.R. Congo. You can read the history of our involvement in the DRC at: http://lutheranmissions.org/history/congo-history/
After six days spent working with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the DRC the CLC visitation team will travel to Lusaka, Zambia to meet with Pastor Ibrahim Karioki who was trained at St. Peter Lutheran Seminary in Himo, Tanzania before responding to a call from friends in Zambia to establish a confessional Lutheran church where proclaiming the whole truth of God’s saving word is the priority. The time of visitation will be short but will allow an opportunity to visit the newly established congregations and meet with the evangelists that Pastor Ibrahim is currently training to be faithful shepherds.
Following the Zambia visit Missionary Ude and Pastor Ohlmann will travel by bus to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to conduct the first face to face meetings with Pastor Apostle Liberty Atawa. A few days will be spent studying Scripture together as we strive to establish fellowship based on unity of doctrine. Please pray that the Lord will bless this time spent in His Word.
On February 2nd, the two CLC visitors will part ways in Bulawayo where Missionary Ude will then travel on to Chennai, India to resume his work and Pastor Ohlmann will return to St. Louis, MO.