We finished our New Year Overnight. It went really smoothly. One of the young men in the church has been armed with my digital camera and was taking photos of everyone in church. He also visited our 3 baby churches with Pastor Tembo. Pastor Tembo was visiting the churches to give our bible study books to the pastors to hand out to their congregations. Aucriddes went along and took photos of the church folks there also. They would all be meeting with us for the overnight. We start the overnight at 9:00 and go until 5:30 in the morning. Most Zambian churches do this et least once a month. My American sensibilities cannot stand the idea of losing a day of productivity once a month following an overnight. Overnights are part of life here. A funeral is basically an overnight although many people sleep during it. The taverns on holidays all have overnights. The curfew doesn’t allow for travel after a certain hour so if you are going to go into the morning you might as well stay until the curfew is lifted. We do it once a year for the new year and it is an accepted practice now. We pack out the building and there is a festive atmosphere to the evening. 9 hours of preaching and prayer would probably not cut it. I have tried different formats over the years. This year we mixed our music, sketches and preaching with 20 minute sections of personal testimonies. The idea was that when your photo came up you would come and give a short testimony. The testimonies varied. For some it was a difficult year, with many “God will never leave or forsake”s. Many were excellent testimonies of salvation and God helping people to overcome during the course of the year. I was amazed at the level of attentiveness during each testimony. Due to the folks from our baby churches more than half of the testimonies were in Tonga, Bemba, Nyanga, Lozi and even one from a Congolese dialect. I am amazed at the faithfulness of many of the people in our church who cannot speak English. The highlight testimony was given by a visitor. When the photo of Thompson Phiri came up I knew he wasn’t there but his family was. He couldn’t attend and so as we were ready to pass him over there was a stirring as a young man who I had never met came forward and quietly asked if he could testify for his father. Thompson is a new convert and he is a great guy to have in church. He has made some dramatic changes and the young man began to share those dramatic changes with the church. Yes, you could here a pin drop in the middle of that place. The finishing touch was provided by Pastor Tembo our assistant. By the end we are all dead on our feet. I told him he could pray and close or try and preach a little. Experience tells me that the preaching just will not hold folks at that late hour. But, the testimonies had stirred his heart. He began to talk about fear. He had come to a conclusion that as many had battled through many issues this last year they were focusing on those battles and were filled with fear instead of faith as they entered the new year. His preaching intensified as he took aim at that spirit of fear. You could feel faith build as he spoke. For me it was very gratifying to see his shepherd’s heart reach out to the people in our church. The photo is from Thompson Phiri at his work.