Newsletter (October 10, 2019)

Dear all, As promised, we have been writing another newsletter as soon as we sent out the last one. This sets a new record of sending out a newsletter in two consecutive weeks!

There is something that we would love to share with you that evolved into a series of interesting experiences for us. The whole process started from a meeting in August with a family we knew from TCCA times. But we will keep that to our next newsletter.

This time we would first write about our trip to the Eastern Province in early September. This also sparked something exciting for us. We were supposed to spend about a week at Covenant College in Petauke as Timothy had to review some library cataloguing done by his trainees. The first week of September was ideal as we just had our turn serving at the Chinese church. It was also the last week of term break and so I did not need to go to the Drop-in Centre. We thought it would be good to spend a day trip to Chipata which was another two hours’ drive, to see if there are many Chinese there. Deep down, we were wondering if we should relocate to this region as there may still be a lot we can help at the college in Petauke. We have been praying for the Lord’s guidance. So we need to investigate the ministry opportunities in the biggest city of this region. Our director was pleased that we were making such plans and gave us two contacts in Chipata. In the end, Timothy decided not to go to Petauke as the load-shedding hours were too long for him to function properly at the library there.

Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead to the east, to visit Chipata, the capital city of the region. It was our first time to almost the eastern boundary of the country. It has been developing fast in recent years, but nothing compared to the Copperbelt. It was a long drive, taking us seven hours on the road and so almost nine hours to reach the destination as our simple lunch took much longer to be prepared than the time for us to consume it. Then it took us more than an hour to sort out our lodging. The inn gave us something very different from what we had booked. We had to pay more for a fridge which we did not want in order to have a shower unit rather than a bathtub. In compromising, they were willing to swap the beds for us.

To make a start we went to look for the obvious. There was a sign on our way of a Chinese shop. It was not difficult to find. It was big and we managed to talk with three Chinese, a man and two ladies, all very friendly. We asked them if there were any Chinese restaurants there since we heard there are many Chinese people in Chipata. We were surprised to hear there were none, but it made sense as all companies have their own Chinese chefs! The Chinese working there are all staying within their big compounds which are scattered in the outskirts of Chipata. Even they themselves hardly see them except when they come to do shopping at their huge shop. We were not disappointed in this finding as it was quite similar to the Copperbelt situation and to some extent in Lusaka too. It seemed to us God was telling us he closed the door of Chinese ministry in Chipata. That is fine with us. We only want to find out what He is leading us to.

The following day was more interesting. We spent the morning with a pastor of a church plant of our church in Lusaka. His home was right at the back of the church, so it was good to kill two birds with one stone. We visited the church too! We have known him for quite a number of years as he had help from Timothy getting Christian literature. He made good use of our presence and asked if Timothy could help in setting up a library for the church and other related matters that he saw we were doing for other churches. He also gave us a very good picture of the needs in Chipata.

The Muslim influence in that region is very strong. The Indian Muslims are well off and they give relevant handouts to different target groups. This is very attractive to most people in this country as they are in general poor and are in need of all kinds of resources. They are making good progress and there is an increasing number of local Muslims in Chipata. They also have boarding schools for the little ones, and they are very successful in influencing the small children at their tender age. He was convinced that children’s ministry and setting up good Christian schools from nursery level is most needed there. We were impressed that he had already a plan of this and had been doing preparatory work for quite a while.

What he told us was reinforced and complemented when we met with an American missionary couple later on that day. Yes, Indian Muslims’ influence was huge, and they were surrounded by local Muslim neighbours. The lady was working on literacy as well as outreaching to the Muslims. She explained men workers doing evangelism and discipleship are very much needed. Her husband very often has to be away doing Bible translation for the minor tribes. He told us fulltime radio broadcast is the most-needed ministry there. We had a good time of fellowship with them and we promised them we would tell SIM Zambia to recruit missionaries for the needs there and that we would surely visit again.

We have to go back as we still have not visited one contact given to us. And we were thankful they told us there were riots that particular day in Lusaka, mainly against South African shops because of xenophobia in that country. There may even be one in Chipata the following day.

We heeded their advice to leave Chipata early in the morning at 7 hours and we made it to Lusaka around 14 hours, without stopping anywhere at all! I could not sleep well our second night in Chipata, not because of the potential rioting, but because of trying to digest what was in my head. That idea of fulltime broadcasting inspired me of something else. We actually came to know some Chinese in Lusaka from different walks in life. They have to work seven days a week and they stay close to where they work. But they almost do not have their own time and it is not possible to invite them to church or Bible study. Besides, some Chinese working for state companies were given advice not to go to any church or involve themselves in religious activities. So it dawned on me that a weekly hour slot of broadcasting may be an opportunity to reach out to them.

This idea consumed us. We held some discussions with several groups of friends and after prayerful consideration and go-between from friends, we made contacts with a Christian radio station in Lusaka. We were being assured that the radio station would be interested and would allow us such a Chinese outreach programme. The initial contact was positive, and we were asked to go to have a chat. We had a very interesting meeting with the manager together with the contact we had. They are keen on our idea. They were happy that the Chinese church would also be involved with this in various ways. They asked many good questions and were happy with our answers.

Yet they are concerned they may lose their Zambian audience for the time slots given to us purely speaking in Mandarin. They suggested that the programme can be done in both languages. They explained that the locals are interested in learning the Chinese language and it would be attractive even to teach a word each time! We welcomed this idea as this would certainly broaden the audience as well as the objectives of the programme. Right away we told them it was our intention to include some Zambian culture to help the Chinese folks to understand their new environment. It would be nice to explain to the Zambians some Chinese culture too to bridge the gap of the two different communities. They were amazed when we told them some Chinese characters actually contain Christian beliefs behind. Now we are going to meet again in about two weeks, and we are going to present them some suggested topics.

Meanwhile we are making all kinds of arrangements. We have secured the involvement of a Christian lady in the Chinese church. She is an experienced journalist back home and she is still practising here. She is thinking of quitting her job at the end of the year so that she can be more involved at church! She has a lovely voice so very ideal for the task! She was pleased to hear of this ministry opportunity, and we are thankful for the excellent timing! There is still a lot we have to organise. We pray that if it is His will, He will guide us through, and we can serve Him through this means. Through the radio station it may allow us to reach out, not just to Lusaka, but to other parts of the country and it is going to cover Chipata very soon. We learnt again God can do much more than what we ask and pray for!

Please pray for us as this is something completely new and challenging to us. Blessings.

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