Just returned from a short visit to Gwembe, where we stayed one night with Wes and Laurie Wilcox. They are missionaries with the Southern Baptist and are part of a team working with the Tonga. Wes and I have talked about getting into some isolated valleys in the past and pulled out a map and started talking about making it happen. My projector is out of order at this moment but it would be great to get to some of these remote areas and show “The Passion”. Anyways we had a great visit and are now back home getting ready to implement all of my planning work for the last 2 weeks.
Bible study in Zambia has been different for me. Part of it is there is a portion of society here that still lives and operates on a level akin to the times of Jesus. The issue of accepting meat offered unto idols has been a non issue in the states, yet here it is an issue in the market and it is an issue when the Muslims give away meat during Ramadan, their time of fasting and giving of charity. Here complaints can be taken directly to the police, the policeman acts as the judge in trying to come to an agreement, usually money given to the aggrieved, so as to avoid having the issue taken to court where there are no guarantees. There is a proverb that states: “anxiety in the heart causes depression”. When you do a word study on “anxiety” you see it relates to not having enough food for the day. Depression being part of the American Lifestyle can only be connected to our inability to pay our car payment, certainly not being worried about eating. Yet here missing the daily meal for those being cared for by extended families can mean going without food for an entire day and a month without rain at the wrong time can send everyone into depression. I am saying all of this to say that I love bible study and the interaction I get with the congregation as we study together. I did a survey of the NT when I first got here and the readings exploded in life and relevance for me through the discussions. I had the church list out suggested topics and we did bible studies on 70 topics. Currently I am doing character studies in the OT. Ruth last week, and last Sunday the start of Samuel. Here is a short recap of the Sunday school:
Before really getting to Samuel, we talked about Hannah’s marriage. We follow Hannah to the temple and get Eli the High Priest accusing her of drunkenness. We see Eli’s attitude towards drunkenness and Hannah’s (wicked). Conclusion, casting your cares upon Jesus for He cares for you brings the peace that passes all understanding. Hannah receives the blessing and leaves facing all of the same problems but has the victory. We then moved onto Eli’s sons. This is where the church came alive. The issue of bad leadership strikes a cord here. We had a film series about submission to authority by John Bevere, with the teaser line being something to the order of how to handle bad leaders. The closest he got to dealing with that issue was here with Hannah. Hannah was insulted and yet she refused to disrespect the High Priest even though he had unfairly accused her of drunkenness and she receives the blessing. So now the narrative makes Eli even worse for not dealing with his fornicating sons. Their actions in regard to the priest’s portions and fornication were causing people to lose enthusiasm for the things of God. So the question became how do you take action against bad leadership. Obviously the whole book of judges was the history of the Israelites taking action against bad outside rulers, but what about when the rulers are appointed by God. Obviously God plans on taking action but during this time of living with bad Pastor Eli we see Hannah being blessed by his ministry and Samuel is growing into a man of God under Eli’s ministry. A question arose based upon a congregation chastising their pastor. Chastisement needs to come from a position of authority. Indeed the NT gives us a pattern to follow to deal with these issues. The kicker is how do some people get blessed during times of bad leadership and others don’t. Two conclusions: leadership is important and the church must do its best to allow for leadership to develop in the church, submission is possible, even with bad leadership, knowing that if the authorities at hand do not act God will. It was a great discussion.