Last week the C.R.O.S.S Project was able to have our first “bush”/“farm block” conference. John Chitambo, our fellow worker in the C.R.O.S.S Project, started a church plant about an hour and a half north of Lusaka. Through some contacts that we made back when Leah LaPine was here and when we did the Chisamba Clinic, we were able to organize a small conference on the west side of Great North Road in the Sendwe farm block area. About 15 pastors and some of their wives came for three days as we taught a condensed version of our usual 16-week C.R.O.S.S. curriculum.
God was very gracious, the pastors were very receptive, and many of them said they were helped by the material. Some of the pastors remarked how they had not heard much on a biblical perspective on HIV/AIDS out in their rural areas before. There were some lively debates on how to counsel a couple who wants to get married if one of them is HIV-positive and addressed the issue of condom-use as a Christian, which is always a hot issue in Zambia. Some other big discussions we had were the usual debates about gender roles, how gender contributes to HIV, and traditional myths about HIV/AIDS that many people believe out in the village setting.
We also had a police officer in our class who was able to give us some inside perspective on why the police are reluctant to arrest and prosecute a domestically abusive man. Mostly, it is because many police officers have observed that if the abusive man is convicted and put in prison, the wife and children usually suffer more, because they no longer have someone to work and provide for them. It was some hard food for thought and made us realized how complicated so many issues are here in a country were there is so much poverty and domestic abuse. Please pray for these pastors as they head back to their rural churches with limited resources and shepherd poor, uneducated congregations that struggle with traditional beliefs and the increase in Muslim mosques that give money to the poor for food, education and wells. Pray that these pastors would stay strong in the Lord and that their congregations would not be led away. If you would like to donate to the C.R.O.S.S. Project to help cover the costs of this conference, you can donate here.
After our conference ended on Thursday, Kristin and I dropped John and Eta off at the main road to catch a bus back to Lusaka, and we head 2 hours north near the border of Congo to do a VBS for the missionary kids of Flying Mission Zambia. The kids were really good, and we had a good time. But, Boy!, were we super tired when we arrived home on Sunday night! We were so thankful to Lord for his sustaining grace and strength last week! Thanks for your prayers.