Newsletter (October 9, 2008)

Dear all, Hope you all are enjoying the beautiful spring in New Zealand.  In Zambia, temperatures rise steeply after August and it seems that we move from a cool season directly to a very hot one in two months.  Everyone is looking forward to the rain now and, according to people, it may come any time, although it won’t be in any big scale till late November.  We are coping quite well with the heat (many thanks to all your faithful prayers!) and it is not very hot this week, as most days we have scattered clouds which block the strong sun.

SIM has been carrying out country reviews since 2007 and this month it is Zambia’s turn to have such a review.  Two teams, each comprising three members, are visiting SIM missionaries and organisations closely related to SIM, addressing two major questions: Are we heading in the right direction? Are we functioning well?  They will present their report to the SIM Zambia Field Council at the end of next week.  Hopefully something positive will come out from the report.  The team visited us yesterday and talked to us for two hours.  Since we are very new here, we may not be able to give them very meaningful inputs, but we tried our best to tell them what we have observed so far in Zambia.  Of the three members, one came from South Africa, another is a medical doctor serving among the Quecha people in Bolivia, and the third one is a Zambian lady not affiliated with SIM.  It was great to be able to meet and talk to them.  Timothy gave them a tour of TCCA and while they were in the library, the medical doctor pulled out a biography of Jim Elliot and casually said that he was his uncle!  In case you don’t know, Jim Elliot and his four companions were missionaries from America and they were killed by the Aucas in Ecuador in January 1956.  Many books have been written about Jim Elliot and he is one of the most famous martyrs in the 20th century.  His journal entry for October 28, 1949, contains his now famous quotation, expressing his belief that missions work was more important than his life: “He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain that which he can not lose.”

The Zambian lady at first thought the medical doctor was joking and just could not believe it.  When the fact sank in, tears ran down her face as she was so moved and she told the doctor, “those people killed your uncle and yet you are now serving them!”  The doctor also told us that Jim Elliot’s elder brother is a missionary in Peru.  He is totally unknown to the outside world but he and his wife have been in Peru for 60 years!  They have planted so many churches and led so many people to Christ.  Indeed they are truly unsung heroes!  They are in their mid 80s now but still people keep on going to see them to seek their advice.  It is so moving to hear such true stories.  Let us thank and praise God that so many unsung heroes are still faithfully serving Him in the world.  We don’ t know who they are but God surely knows them.  What a contrast between the two Elliot brothers.  One served the Lord just for a few years and then God called him home, yet another one is still serving God after 60 years and God blesses his work abundantly.  We can only say with William Cowper, “God moves in a mysterious way.”

Another thing that is worth mentioning from yesterday’s visit is that God answers our prayers, again in His own way.  According to plan, we were supposed to meet the team over lunch, from 12 noon to 1400 hours.  Zara became quite anxious because normally we do not have power in the morning and sometimes power will come back very late.  If this were to be the case, then we would not have the time to prepare lunch as we can not talk to the team and cook at the same time.  However on previous Wednesdays, sometimes we have power in the morning and sometimes the power comes back quite early.  So our prayers were something like “God, please let us have power on Wednesday morning, and if power really goes off, please let us have it back early.”  Well, guess what, we did not have power in the morning, as usual, and the power came back quite late and yet we have ample time to prepare lunch for the guests.  How come?  It is because the planned schedule was turned upside down!  One person that the team wanted to see was down with malaria, another person had to go to Lusaka, so they had to change their time to meet with the team.  Then most crucially, the team was supposed to meet the principal of TCCA at 9am but at that time there was no sign of him.  Timothy was very anxious as he was the one informing the principal that the SIM review team was coming to see him.  Upon enquiry he discovered that the principal went somewhere else to preach and would only be back at 11am!  So the only way not to keep the team idle was for us to meet them from 9–11am.  The team was most gracious in accepting all these changes and we had a good time chatting with them.  Then Timothy brought them across to see the Principal at 11am and not long after that power came back and Zara had ample time to prepare lunch as the team wasn’t back until around 1300 hours.  So everything turned out fine after all.  Isn’t our Lord amazing!  At first we didn’t understand why there were so many hiccups, but then at the end of the day we could see that this was a perfect arrangement from God and everyone was happy and everything worked out fine.  Again this is a small thing but God did listen to our prayers and answered them in His own way!

Sorry we can only talk about what happened in one day this time, but we want to share it in detail with you as it is so uplifting and exciting to experience all these happenings yesterday (8 October).  In Christ.

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