April Prayer Requests

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Thank you so much for praying for us as a family, especially over these last couple of months, as Derek adjusts to his new role as ACTION Zambia Country Director. 

-We PRAISE God for His grace and strength these last couple of months as we have all adjusted to this new role, being back in Zambia after Home Assignment, and to life in Zambia as a family of four! 

-We PRAISE God for two happy and healthy little boys, who keep us on our toes. Please PRAY for them and for us as we seek to parent them in a way that is honoring and glorifying to God. We, as parents, need a lot of wisdom and guidance, and please PRAY that God would give these two boys soft hearts. 

-Please PRAY that God would give Derek wisdom and supernatural guidance as he settles into this new role as Country Director and seeks to lead this field.

-We possibly have a new family that will be joining ACTION Zambia this summer from Canada. They are currently with another organization here in Zambia but are looking to to transfer to AZ. Please PRAY that God would make His will and calling so clear for them. 

-Please PRAY for John and Eta (our two national workers in the CROSS Project), as they teach our new 5-week Domestic Abuse Lessons to the Ciyanjano Christian Campgrounds staff. So far, things are going very well with lots of good discussion about how Christians should look at domestic abuse. 

IMG_0684John teaching Lesson 3 of the CROSS Project – March 2015

-The CROSS Project is currently teaching the normal 16-week Biblical Worldview of HIV/AIDS Curriculum to two churches this term. One church is located in John Laing Compound on the South/West side of Lusaka, and the other is in Chilenje, mainly to a group of youths, near our house. Please PRAY for open hearts and minds as we go through the material with them. 

-PRAY that God would work mightily in hearts, minds, and actions as people think and pray about how should they respond as a Christian and glorify God in HIV/AIDS and domestic abuse in their lives, their families’ lives, churches, and communities.  

-Pray for unity, endurance, hope, and joy in Jesus for the ACTION Zambia team and sweet times in the Word each day. 

-We would really appreciate broad, general prayers for our entire ACTION Zambia Team as well as their ministries.

-Please continue to pray for more funds for CROSS and CROSS Graduation Bibles.

We are praying for additional monthly prayer and financial partners for us personally. Please click here for giving options, if you feel so led to donate to the Dearths. 

Click here if you would like to donate to help get Bibles future CROSS Project graduations. In the Comment box at the bottom of the page, type “Bibles.”

Click here if you would like to donate monthly  or one-time to the CROSS Project.

What Do Zambians Talk to Me the Most About?

IMG_1758What do Zambians talk to me the most about? That’s a good question, and the answer will probably surprise you.

You might think it’s the gospel or HIV/AIDS or why I live in Zambia or where I come from or that I’m mzungu (white person) or what I believe about such and such or how do I like being the new AZ Country Director. Well, I do talk to Zambians a lot about those things, but that’s not what they broach with me the most.

Apparently, I’ve found out, I must be one of the very few people in this country that uses the air conditioning in my car. Wait, you say, what does that have to do with talking. Well, when you use your air conditioner in a hot climate, condensation builds up on the a/c unit and drips down onto the ground.

This has been extremely perplexing and worrying to so many people. Whenever I’m waiting in my car to pick up John Chitambo for the CROSS Project HIV/AIDS ministry, at least once a week, if not more, someone knocks on my window to let me know that, “Sir (panic in their voice), there is some kind of water leaking from your vehicle!” Even the other day at a stop light, the guy behind me, who was in a suit, ran up, knocked on my window to inform me that water was leaking from my vehicle and that I should pull over as soon as possible. I tried to explain that it was ok, but I don’t think he believed me.

So, as much as I give a defense for the gospel in Zambia, especially in the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, I also, at least weekly, give a defense about my air conditioning to someone who is very worried about why my vehicle is leaking water.

10 Facts About Hunger in Zambia

IMG_1952Here are ten facts that shed light on the hunger situation in Zambia. Taken from allAfrica – click here.

1. 60 percent of people in Zambia live below the poverty line and 42 percent are considered to be extremely poor.

2. The prevalence of HIV among adults is 14.3 percent.

3. The number of HIV/AIDS orphans is estimated at 1.5 million which means that 1 in 5 children in the country is an orphan.

4. The prevalence of stunting in children – low growth for age – is 40 percent.

5. The prevalence of anemia is 53 percent among children under five years of age and 30 percent among women of child-bearing age.

6. 15 percent of children in Zambia are underweight.

7. More than 350,000 people in the country are food insecure, i.e. they do not have access to a regular supply of healthy food.

8. The mortality rate among under-fives is 75/1000 live births (a decline in recent years but still high in rural areas).

9. The infant mortality rate is 45/1000 live births (a decline in recent years but still high in rural areas).

10. In both rural and urban households, poverty levels are highest amongst female-headed households with extreme poverty levels of more than 60 percent in rural areas and 15 percent in urban areas.

I Need Thee…Right Now!

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Life in Zambia. There are many adjectives that describe our life here. Adventurous. Crazy. Exhausting. Unique. Fulfilling. Amazing. Frustrating. But the one that describes us the most is needy.

During our first week back, Derek and I were reminded that we found ourselves praying so much more than we did during our time in the States. There is a lot about life here that feels precarious. We feel our helplessness and weakness so much, even in simple things.

I remember sitting in the kitchen, which is on one end of our house, and hearing Sam cry in his bed, which is on the opposite end of the house. My feet were throbbing, as I was still adjusting to walking on our tile floors. The rest of my body was exhausted from the heat, humidity, and jet lag. But whether my feet hurt or my body felt hot and tired, Sam was still hungry. And I found myself instinctively crying out to God for strength to walk across the house and care for Sam.

Derek said that he continually finds himself praying for help to drive and navigate the roads, which are dotted with potholes and pedestrians and all sorts of vehicle situations (slow-moving cars, having to slam on the brakes for cars pulling out onto the road too late, vehicles broken down in the middle of the road, cars with no brake lights, the occasional dangerously fast and reckless vehicles, etc – if you are sensing that driving here feels like being in a video game, you’re absolutely “spot on!”). Driving is a life-endangering experience here, and “praying without ceasing” is an appropriate and instinctive response.

I think God likes it more when we are in Zambia than in the States, because we feel our neediness for Him more here. We call out to God more for help here. We feel desperate and unable to bring about the kind of change we desire. Our joy, our souls, our children’s souls, the eternal happiness of Zambians, our team, and so many more things hang in the balance. So, we pray. And we are so incredibly thankful for your prayers as well, which sustain us to continue on here.

38 Hours, 2 Parents, 1 Toddler, 1 Infant, and 1 Missionary Calling

There are two things about our missionary life that I wish could be different but, alas, are part of our particular calling right now: 1) the “feast or famine” part of getting to spend so much concentrated time with family, friends, church, etc and then being completely without those things when in Zambia and 2) traveling internationally with little ones.

I’m sure my normally healthy blood pressure levels shoot up in the weeks leading up to our long airplane rides, which would test the endurance of even the most patient and sanctified people. Anyone who asks how they can be praying for us as we prepare to leave hears a resounding “Pray for our flights with two little kids!”

So, now that my blood pressure has returned to its pre-travel levels after surviving our 38-hour journey (from when we left our Minnesota house on Saturday until we arrived at our Lusaka house on Monday), I want to share with you God’s grace to us along the way.

As usual, we had more stuff to take back with us than our luggage allowance provided. There was a slight chance that we could benefit from a “humanitarian airfare contract” with the airline we flew with, with which they could wave any extra baggage fees. We prayed for that “slight chance.” And God was gracious! No extra fees for us!

Unfortunately, the ticket agents in London were not as gracious with our extra baggage, and one guy gave us a bill for $750, since the humanitarian airfare contract was not recognized by our second airline. In God’s mercy, we ended up only having to pay $230!

Sam’s infant-in-lap ticket threw all of the ticket agents for a loop, and we spent about 3 hours in Minneapolis and London getting his tickets secured. But in the end, Sam was allowed to travel with us :), and we even got to use those lovely airplane bassinets for both of the 8-hour flights (a welcomed relief from carrying 15 pounds of squirmy cuteness)!

For how frustrating and tedious our airport experiences were, our 4 flights went almost as smoothly as they could have gone. Charlie was mostly content watching “Little Bear,” sleeping, eating tic tacs, and, of course, figuring out what all the buttons do (it’s a good thing the flight attendants don’t take their call light seriously)! There were occasional tears but no all-out tantrums or meltdowns! That was a huge praise.

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And when we arrived in Lusaka, we were greeted by lots of helping hands, smiling faces, and even a marching band! It felt so good to get to the end of that long and tiresome journey. As a bonus, Charlie slept for 16 hours straight the first night back, and we all have basically had no problems with jet lag so far! Thank you for your prayers!!! God answered above and beyond what was asked for or imagined.

Even as we cherish the memories of our time in the States, we are glad to be back to what is feeling more and more like “home.” Thank you for your continued prayers and support, without which we could not do this work!

2014 – A Year in Review Video

Here is our “2014 – A Year in Review” video! It’s a chronological collection of ministry (the CROSS Project) and family pictures from 2014. We are so thankful for God’s unfailing faithfulness to us this year, and we trust in His future grace for 2015 as we move into a new season of ministry with ACTION Zambia. Also, in case you missed our 20112012 or 2013 videos, just click on the years and you will find them.

Apparently, YouTube didn’t like the songs I put in this video, so I apologize if you live in one of the countries where this video will not work

Finally, thank you so much for all of your prayers and support for us in 2014!

MISSIONS DOESN’T STOP WHEN A GROUP HAS BEEN REACHED – David Sills

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/missions-doesnt-stop-when-group-reached

“Jesus gave the Great Commission to his church almost 2,000 years ago. He clearly instructed us to make disciples in every people group, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey everything he has commanded. After all these years, more than half of the world’s people groups remain unreached, representing more than one-third of the world’s population. The challenge to reach every people group as quickly as possible resonates in our hearts and prayers, and reverberates in missions conferences. We must reach the unreached because no one can be saved without the gospel.

But subsequent questions easily divide and distract us in our efforts to obey the Great Commission. What does it mean to reach the unreached? What does a reached group look like? And does a people group need any more missionaries once they are reached? Should I feel guilty or mistaken if I believe God is calling me to a group that some consider reached? Discussions about such questions often become more emotional than missiological.

The definition that missiologists often use to describe the term “unreached” is something along the lines of those ethnolinguistic people groups whose population is less than 2 percent evangelical, or those groups without a sufficiently strong presence of New Testament churches or numbers of Christians who could carry on the work without outside help. This percentage metric was devised by missiologists simply to have a commonly embraced benchmark to assist them in talking about levels of evangelical Christianity in various missions contexts. However, it was quickly adopted more broadly as a useful way of discerning which groups had the least presence of Christianity and therefore priority targets for missionaries. Indeed, some even used it to decide where missionaries should go to serve, and when others should leave ministries and redeploy elsewhere.

Certainly those groups with populations that are less than 2 percent evangelical must hear the gospel, and we should use all haste to reach them. Carl F. H. Henry said that the gospel is only good news if it gets there in time. Sadly, for about 50,000 people in unreached people groups every day, it does not.

Crucial Questions and Answers

Still, many questions remain unanswered. If a group is more than 2 percent evangelical, that is if it is not unreached, may we call it “reached”? Does reached mean that missionaries should not be there, that the work is considered complete and should be handed off to nationals? What about people groups that have been saturated in animism or some false world religion for centuries that subsequently embrace a gospel presentation? Haiti comes to mind—though the majority claim to be believers, a greater majority still practice voodoo. One thinks of Rwanda that had more than 90 percent baptized Christians when the worst genocide our age has known broke out; almost 1 million were slaughtered by other “reached” Christians. The lifelong task of discipleship should indeed be handed off to the national church, but only after they have been discipled.

Certainly most would agree that faithful obedience to the Great Commission and reaching the unreached is more than a matter of speaking the gospel message and moving on. But how much more? Jesus answered that question. He said to teach them to obey all he has commanded. That statement must not be abbreviated. The task of the Great Commission cannot be compared to running through a large darkened building, flipping on a few switches and announcing that they now have light even though thousands of other rooms leave most people in darkness. If that is all one understands reaching the unreached to mean, then we must agree that the great tragedy of the world today is not that it is unreached, but that it is undiscipled.

We have unintentionally created the erroneous perception that missions equals reaching the unreached. If one’s efforts consist of flipping on light switches and then hurrying to the next darkened room, that is not the Great Commission; it’s only half of what we have been commanded to do. Jesus said we are to teach them to observe all that he has commanded.

What, then, is missions all about? We are to strive to know God and to make him known. We are to reach the unreached and teach the disciples. The role of the Western missionary is often seen to be simply reaching the unreached, flipping on light switches, then leaving the discipling and teaching task to the national church. However, when the national church has not received deep discipleship, theological education, or pastoral training, the teaching cannot be handed off to them. The 1 Timothy 3 admonition that a pastor should be apt to teach does not just mean that he knows how to teach, it also means that he knows what to teach.

Teach Them Sound Doctrine

God has greatly blessed the churches of the West with centuries of Christian reflection on revealed truth. Western theologians and biblical scholars stand on the shoulders of all those who came before them, incorporating the insights revealed and lessons learned from schisms and heresies. All that God has providentially allowed or sent, and the ways that he has sovereignly guided the Western church, has resulted in what we Western believers understand evangelical Christianity to be. Wise stewardship must not treat this heritage lightly but should seek to share it in ways that are biblically faithful and culturally appropriate so that others may know. The core principle of discipleship is that the one who knows teaches the one who does not know (1 Tim. 2:2).

Every people group must have the Bible in a language they can understand. They should have biblically qualified and trained pastors. They should have their own theologians and authors who are well-equipped to reflect on the Scriptures in the context of their people’s worldview and write in their heart language. But this ideal world will not exist until we obey our commission to disciple disciplers, train trainers, and teach teachers. Nationals will one day be the best teachers, theologians, authors, and preachers for their national church—but only after they have been prepared. The background developed through generations of being steeped in pagan worldviews and false religions does not evaporate on praying a prayer of salvation. This is why Christ commanded us to disciple them.

Unchanging Truth in a Changing Culture

My grandfather taught my dad much about life, and my dad embraced this teaching, improved upon some of it, and then adapted it to the new methodologies of his generation before teaching me. Likewise, I learned their values and primary lessons but made adjustments to the world I live in to practice their wisdom faithfully. Many of the missionaries who brought the gospel to Europe had studied the writings of the early church fathers and learned from previous generations, but they made adjustments to embrace new languages and worldviews without changing the gospel. Music and liturgies the missionaries had learned in their past were often ineffective on newer mission fields. The Christianity that came to the New World continued to adapt and morph, but it has remained faithful to the original Word once for all delivered to the saints.

When missionaries share translated books, sermons, and lessons with peoples who have yet to prepare their own, they are not theological imperialists or imposing their particular beliefs on others. They are faithfully sharing truth they have learned with the full knowledge that their hearers will do the same. Reaching the unreached is a lifelong process. The pioneer missionary may begin the process and then change his approach to meet the evolving needs for the rest of his life, or he may plant a church and invite others to come behind him to do the deep discipleship and pastoral training. Teaching those we reach is not an optional component of missions. When Jesus said to teach them all he has commanded, he is saying, “Tell them all that I told you.”

Lost people of the world must hear the gospel to be saved. That is true whether they are in an unreached people group or not. Lost people in reached people groups are still lost, and everyone who dies in a lost condition will go to hell for eternity. Their only hope is to hear the gospel and repent. The task of missions is not simply to reach the unreached, allowing every missionary to define what that means for himself; it is reaching the lost and teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded.”

David Sills serves as professor of missions and cultural anthropology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and is president of Reaching & Teaching International Ministries. Sills has also served with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Ecuador as as church planter and general evangelist among the Highland Quichua people in the Andes, and as a seminary professor at the Ecuadorian Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served as rector and professor of the Baptist seminary as a missionary with Global Outreach International.