Latest Newsletter and Prayer Requests

(Sam playing at Papa and Nana’s house in MN)

Hi everyone,

Here (click here) is our latest newsletter, and below are some updated prayer requests. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Prayer Requests

  • Pray that God would supply several more supporters to partner with us, as we seek to strengthen Christ’s Church. Click here to donate.
  • Pray for traveling mercies and fruitful connections, as we travel in Michigan and Indiana the next week and half and speak at two different churches.
  • Please pray for donations for our ACTION Zambia Discipleship classes. We have wonderful Zambian facilitators who spend significant time discipling aspiring church leaders to know and apply God’s Word. Would you consider giving to help this valuable ministry continue and flourish? Any amount is so appreciated! Click here to donate.
  • Please pray for donations for the Faith Tabernacle Church HIV Children’s Feeding Program. This is another extremely important ministry, which provides HIV positive children with nutritious meals, Gospel teaching, games, and basic education. Click here to donate and put “Faith Tabernacle” in the “Comments About this Donation” box.
  • AZ needs help! ACTION Zambia needs long-term couples/families to come and lead our Children in Crisis ministries; to train and disciple pastors in our Pastoral and Leadership Development (PLD) Department; and to help with maintenance and grounds management at Camp CiyanjanoPlease, contact Derek, if God may be leading in you that direction!
  • Please pray for us as a family, as well as for all the families of ACTION Zambia, that God would supply all of our physical and spiritual needs in Christ Jesus.

Update: From the Land of Snow, Ice Cream, Lattes, and More

We are finally emerging from the “Great Holiday Silence” to say, “Hi!”

img_4042We have been back in the States for seven weeks now. We survived the busyness of Christmas as we traveled to and fro between MN and WI. But the “busyness” consisted of seeing family and friends, eating delicious food, sipping lattes, discovering the strange concept of “winter,” playing with new toys and old pianos, loading up on ice cream and Christmas cookies, driving on wonderful roads, and more. So, in other words, we haven’t been roughing it.

Since Christmas, we have spent some time resting and seeing more wonderful people, including a quick trip to see our former director in Zambia and his family, Tim and Andrea Hilty. Our “tour” of visiting supporting churches kicked off last weekend in Janesville, WI, and now this coming weekend will find us in Marshfield, WI. Thanks to my parents for watching Charlie and Sam, so we can actually interact with people at these churches! Apart from the churches, we have been able to speak at a small group from our church in Minneapolis (Bethlehem), and tonight we speak on “ministering among the poor” at a missions fellowship through Bethlehem.

And next week, we head to California to see friends, former teammates, and supporters, who we have not seen for a very long time! It has been so great to connect with so many people in the short time that we have been back.

A couple prayer requests:

-While back, we are trying to raise money to buy a second vehicle. As most missionaries have discovered in Zambia, it’s really hard to live as a family, where roads are rough and transportation is poor, with just one vehicle. The truck we are purchasing is not as expensive as our other vehicle, but we are still hoping to raise about $6,000 for that. Click here to donate and put “truck” in the “Comments About This Donation” box. Thanks!

-Also, God has been so gracious to raise and sustain our monthly support over the last six years of being in Zambia – we praise him for that! But circumstances change for people, and prices change in Zambia, and we are finding ourselves a little short monthly. Would you pray that God would raise that through new ministry partners? Click here to donate.

-Lastly, pray that God would give us all the rest that we need while we are back. Charlie is homesick for Zambia, his dog, his aunties and uncles, and the sun. We want to help our little “third culture kid” to enjoy his time in America well and find joy wherever we are.

Thank you!!! We hope to see many of you in the next couple months before we return to Zambia!

Remembering World AIDS Day in Zambia

Today is World AIDS Day, and for the last six years Kristin and I have lived and worked in Zambia and spent four of those years primarily ministering with and through the CROSS Project HIV/AIDS ministry in the compounds of Lusaka. This has been a distinct privilege and also a heart breaking reality at times. On World AIDS Day, let us remember the unbreakable hope of the Gospel found in Jesus Christ and pray for countries like Zambia, where every one is either “infected or affected” by HIV/AIDS.

Below the numbers(below) is an article that I (Derek) wrote in 2014 about “When You’re in Ground Zero,” it’s shares the story of Vera, an HIV positive child who passed away in the summer of 2014.  _______________________________________________________

Zambia 2015 (information below taken from Avert)

1.2 million people living with HIV

12.9% adult HIV prevalence rate

60,000 new HIV infections

20,000 AIDS-related deaths

63% adults on antiretroviral treatment

“In 2013, over 54,000 adults and 12,000 children became newly infected with HIV in Zambia.1 These figures represent the plateau of HIV prevalence in the country since the mid-nineties; HIV prevalence is neither increasing or decreasing. At its height, HIV prevalence in Zambia was 14.5%, and as of 2013 is still high at 12.5%.”

“One in every eight people in the country are living with HIV, and life expectancy is just 58.1 years.3 However, this is a considerable increase from the 2012 life expectancy of 49.4 years, partly thanks to improved access to antiretroviral treatment.”

Children, orphans and HIV in Zambia

“Children have been severely affected by the HIV epidemic in Zambia, where 150,000 children are estimated to be living with HIV, alongside 600,000 children orphaned by AIDS.”

“However, these figures are declining and Zambia is expected to reach its target of reducing new child infections by 90% by the end of 2015.19”

“A huge part of this progress is due to the implementation of a rigorous prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme, which has seen the percentage of children born HIV-positive drop by 51% between 2011 and 2012.20 Over 96% of women received PMTCT support in 2013, meeting universal target levels.”

“Latest data also shows that 60% of men under the age of 50 have never been tested for HIV, and only 33% of young people have tested. Couples counseling and testing is also extremely low in the country, despite this being an effective route to testing more people for HIV elsewhere.”

“A study in 2012 found a combination of reasons explaining why people were not testing, including a fear of stigma, rejection by their sexual partner, a fear of antiretroviral treatment, and a belief that traditional medicine would keep them healthy if they became ill. These beliefs are ill-informed, but also reflect the continued stigma around HIV in Zambia.”

_______________________________________________________

When You’re in Ground Zero

img_1667

Ground zero is defined as, “a site of devastation, disaster, or violent attack.” It seems like it would be pretty obvious to someone to know if they are in “ground zero.” And most of the time, it is. But sometimes you can be in ground zero and not even know that you are there. For instance, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa is very deceiving, and one can hardly realize where ground zero is, until you find yourself there, in that “site of devastation, disaster or violent attack.” That happened to me (Derek) on May 28th.

The CROSS Project HIV/AIDS ministry that we coordinate has been helping out at a local feeding program that happens three times a week for over a hundred children who are all HIV positive. Mostly, we help with some counseling, basic medical care, and some administration work. However, it is run and operated out of a local church in George Compound by Pastor Wozifera and his wife, Easter, both of whom are on staff with ACTION Zambia.

Pastor Wozifera sent me a text on Monday morning, May 26th, and informed me that Vera, one of the children from the feeding program had passed away at a local hospital that morning – the funeral was on Wednesday. Myself, Pastor Wozifera, Easter, and Eta, one of our national workers with CROSS, all went to the funeral. Vera, who was only 14 years old when she died, had lost both parents to HIV and was living with her grandma, so the funeral was held at her grandma’s church. Because I was the only westerner attending the funeral, Pastor Wozifera, Eta, and myself were quickly ushered to the front of the church and were instructed to sit near the family (an awkward situation that many Westerners find themselves in).

As I sat across from Vera’s family in the front of the church and started to think about the situation with Vera and what led to her death and what was being said in the funeral, I realized that I was in the middle of ground zero of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Southern Africa. And the reason that I knew I was there was because of the silence about HIV/AIDS that pervaded the situation with Vera and the funeral itself.

Vera’s family never told her that she was HIV positive. Vera found out about her HIV status inadvertently two years ago through a staff member at a local clinic. This led to Vera feeling a lot of bitterness and anger towards her family for not sharing her status with her and wondering why this was happening to her. Why did she have to get HIV from her Mom at birth? She had done nothing wrong. Right before her death, Vera confessed that she had stopped taking her ARVs (immune system boosting drugs that help suppress HIV) for the last year. She did this out of bitterness, anger, fear, and the depression that she was feeling over her HIV status; because of the silence and mistrust that had grown between her and her family; and as a way to rebel against her family and, in some way, get back at them. Pastor Wozifera said he also felt that Vera had never really accepted or, probably in may ways, understood her HIV status and all that it involves.

The characteristic silence during her life spilled over into the funeral. There was no mention of HIV or why Vera had died. The Pastor officiating at the funeral did not take the opportunity to talk about how important it is to share one’s HIV status with their family, to talk to the affected children about HIV, etc. HIV/AIDS was completely left out of the the entire funeral service, even though the entire reason why the funeral was happening was due to HIV and the unnecessary and tragic consequences in a young girl’s life because of silence about HIV.

Going to Vera’s funeral and burial was extremely sad, because her death was so unnecessary and she was so young. But it was also a powerful reminder to me of why we are here in Zambia and that the ministry that we are doing with HIV/AIDS and churches (the CROSS Project) is so important. There is still a lot of work to do, a lot of prayers to pray, and the hope of the gospel to share!

img_1666A picture taken at Vera’s funeral

Home Assignment Starts in One Week

Well, we are down to the final seven days before we leave Zambia for our third Home Assignment of our almost six years that we have been back in Zambia. We have been busy trying to get done everything we need to get done before we go. Thankfully, two of the biggest things, like getting our work permits and Zambian Driver’s licenses renewed were able to get done and with over a week to spare!

img_3803Our Christmas Tree this year. Even though it won’t be up very long, we decided to put it up for the boys. They were both thrilled, and Sam is generally pretty thrilled by it each and every morning.

Now, we just need to get our house ready and packed for one of our Zambian colleagues and his family who will be staying here while we are gone, and we ourselves also need to pack for the States. We are trying to dig out all of our winter stuff here to bring back to a Midwest that is getting pretty cold compared to a Lusaka that is in the upper 70’s and rainy. We also look forward forward to this Saturday as we welcome back the Huckabys from their six month home assignment and say goodbye to Tracy and Karen Singleton as they head back to the States after 9 years of ministry with ACTION Zambia working with pastors and leaders.

Every Home Assignment makes me feel extremely blessed. Blessed by Teammates and National Workers here who take up responsibilities as we leave and those right now back in the States who are getting vans ready for us to use, digging out winter clothes from storage lockers, and preparing places in their homes for us to stay in and the list could go on and on. We are so very blessed by everyone on both sides of the Ocean that do so much for our little family to travel back, speak, connect with family, friends and supporters and, hopefully, also get some rest, which we feel like we could really use.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we travel back starting next Wednesday at 9:30pm Lusaka time – prayers for safety and also for our kids that they would travel well from Lusaka to Dubai and then on to Chicago.

Thank you so much for your love and support and we look forward to seeing so many of you very soon!!

Sam and Charlie getting ready for America…

img_3775

Fall 2016 Newsletter

Greetings from a very hot and dusty Zambia!

In this newsletter, we give an update on some ministry things and that we will be on Home Assignment soon – we leave Zambia on December 7th! Click here to see out latest newsletter.

Thank you so much for you love and support!

img_3565

Sam trying to stay cool 

New ACTION Zambia Deputy Directors

AZ logo BEST transA week ago, our ACTION Zambia Board of Trustees, approved my recommendation for Kelly Huckaby and Pastor John Chitambo to both become our new AZ Deputy Directors. I have known and worked with both Kelly and John for almost six years and am very blessed to have them both now helping out in a greater leadership capacity within AZ. They will also both continue on in their roles at Camp Ciyanjano for Kelly and the CROSS Project for John.

We would all greatly appreciate your prayers as we lead this team forward and seek to glorify God by strengthening the local church, especially among the urban poor, here in Zambia through the various ministries of AZ. Also, special thanks and appreciation to Tracy Singleton for serving as AZ Deputy Director for many years up until the end of 2015.

Both Pastor John and Kelly, besides many other qualities, are two of the funniest people I have had the privilege of knowing. In that spirit, below is our newest (and only) album cover. We don’t plan on releasing any music, just the album cover.

img_9e82e1c13fa6-1

 

Piling It On

There have been moments in the last 6-12 months where I have wondered, “Really, God? Was that petty annoyance really necessary? Because it feels like insignificant frustrations are getting piled on.” And, of course, the answer is that God is sovereignly, lovingly working Christlikeness and worship in my broken heart…though it hurts and burns.

But, as I have thought quite a bit about the phrase “piling it on” – because the power still goes off at unscheduled times and just when I am ready to put the bread in the oven or wash a load of muddy boy clothes, or the hot water doesn’t work…again, or the water tank starts leaking out of the blue, or the boys are exceptionally needy and naughty when we’re about to host 13 people for dinner, or… – I was reminded of a different kind of piling it on this morning from Romans 5.

5:1 – we have justification through faith

5:1 – we have PEACE with God through Jesus

5:2 – we also have obtained access by faith into grace

5:2 – and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God

5:3-4 – not only that (!), but we rejoice in our sufferings…because we know that God is working good things (endurance, character, hope) through the suffering

5:5 – God’s love has been poured into our hearts

5:5 – we have the Holy Spirit

I hope and pray that, in all the “piling on” of God’s carefully designed “petty annoyances,” I will remember the much greater piling on of the incredible and totally undeserving riches of God’s glory.