Monday, May 08, 2006

A Report from Ted in Zambia

Praying friends: Because many of you know him, and being keen to learn more myself, I asked my brother Ted if he could write a report about the work he has been involved in in Mansa, Zambia - for me to post on this blog. He sent the following to me last night (Sunday, May 7). Please pray as you read, and enjoy:
Because some of the Mansa youth groups were acting rebellious, they had, I found after returning to Zambia, been banned by their elders from meeting. Many of our youth were either not going to church, or had now joined non-evangelical churches instead. And the youth groups still around needed encouragement.

So we planned the first youth conference in three years, and that was held on Monday to Thursday of last week. Up to 300 kids came to the mission for it, most of whom slept here overnight. Each attendee had to pay the equivalent of 2 US dollars covering food for all four days--so a bit cheaper than it would be back in Canada (-: (A generous donation from the States helped to lower the cost.)

In total, fourteen kids made professions of faith. The way we do that here is by standing up during a sermon and shouting, "I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." People clap, and then the preacher keeps going. The funny thing is that usually they did it when it wasn't strictly a gospel message, so I guess it was also the general atmosphere of the conference rather than the message alone that affected them.

A couple of Mansa elders who have always been exceptionally committed to the youth work are thrilled with recent events. They and other elders gave good answers during the question and answer sessions, which the youth enjoyed so much that they voted to shorten the time alloted to games for more questions instead. A lot of committed and capable leaders from among my fellow youth members themselves were also invaluable in the conference details. We are now starting to promote such conferences in the many other districts as well.

One message during which seven kids made a profession was about why you shouldn't go near bars or the red light district. Unfortunately, too many of them do, because they get bored. Here at the Mission church, we have started up volleyball again, twice a week, and about thirty kids per week are coming to that instead. So as I always say, volleyball is great, not just because of what they are doing, but because of what they're not doing.

Many of the youth don't even own a Bible. Partly for this reason, one little book that Dad and I had been working on was completed just in time for the conference. It asks questions on all sorts of issues, from salvation, to drunkenness, and all the answers are then quoted straight from the Bemba Bible. To anyone who memorizes all 129 verses, we're promising a Bible, a Bible cover, and a hymnbook. I gave a promotion of the book, and told them that they could no longer give money as an excuse for not having a Bible, but only laziness :-). Already more than a hundred youth have bought these books and, hopefully, are beginning to memorize them.

For some reason, Amazing Grace had not been translated into Bemba before. Dad and I have now done so, and it was a hit at the conference. Many of the choruses they sing are lacking in content or even a little irreverent. While there are also a lot of decent African choruses, I hope to be involved in translating some of the good modern choruses as one additional alternative.

I've spoken at a couple of seminars in the last couple of weeks, and also accompany my parents to the different churches on Sundays, where I take one of two sermons. Hopefully through such preaching and in other way my Bemba will eventually be good enough for me to work on the revision of the Bemba Bible of 1956. I'm thinking of coming back here and becoming involved in this after doing further studies (hopefully) at Oxford, though how far I go in my studies will depend on how quickly Dad's Parkinson's develops. These further studies should help in my ministry; and should also help professionally, in case I am also called to employment in other parts of the world at different points in the future.

In the meantime I'm trying to help a little in the numerous other ministries around the mission here. Bill Rowe from Rochester, NY, was very helpful in this area during the two months that he was out here. People here really liked him. We're looking forward to more visitors, Andrew and Paul and Rachel T., who are planning to arrive in Mansa on Friday.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers. God bless,

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