Sunday in Mazabuka

We woke up Sunday morning to our boiling water pots and our Starbucks instant coffee. We got ready for church and made it about half way through Sunday School. Good attendance and good questions and comments for Pastor Tembo. Dr. Okello, who looks just like my doctor here named Dr. James, had helped Pastor Tembo by doing Sunday Schools for a while. As Sunday school ends it is the time to say hello to everyone. Most of the names fly back into my mind as I greet each person. Gared the excellent footballer, I forget and am quickly reminded by his footballer buddy, the goalie, (respected by all of Shimungalu for his courageous stand in a match there) whose name I remember and now for the life of me can’t remember now, It will come to me. I talk with Dr. Okello, explaining the gracious librarian, and mentioning that I almost came over to his house last night to watch the football match, he says I should have. The pleasantness of seeing most of the faces I am familiar with combined with introductions to new folks is a different joy set aside for returning missionaries. Then there are the couples. We started church with mostly young teen agers. We baptized 70 people at our fist baptism and now to see those young people, now grown and married or intending to marry is very gratifying. The new equipment is proudly in use, its more than new equipment, it is an act of caring that adds a worthiness to the church.

Service begins, there is something special about an African song service that no visitor can easily forget. The memories, the joy combined with a spirit of celebration added to the worship combine on your spirit to just make you plain thankful to God. The song service is vibrant, with Timothy Zulu (Detective Tembo) leading song service as he moves around with the singers standing stationary adding to the back and forth refrains with the song leader. Only one English song, a song taught to the church by Tony Williams, the rest are Nyanja, Congolese, and Bemba. They sing the welcome song to our family which brings the mature women of the church dancing down the isles to the platform and then back to their seats. Pastor Tembo gives me a footnote explanation to excuse and explain so that I could appreciate the spirit of the moment.

Before I am going to preach we are given a special song by Alvah (the special agent of the Tembo film) with Everisto. Alvah gives a testimony of what God has done in his life. Now he is a teacher in the Northern Province, married and waiting to return to Mazabuka and church when his two year government assignment is up. This is encouraging in so many ways. The church has maintained I sense of loyalty even as young people have shifted for education or jobs, they all desire to be back in Mazabuka. Alvah and Everisto blend their voices with the rhythmic beat in the background to bring glory to God and what He can do in a life.

I give one of our gifts to Pastor Tembo, and will stretch the gifts out over the week since one of them in in Laura Michelle’s bags that haven’t arrived yet. I came two years ago as an evangelist working out of Prescott and preached accordingly for the church, but now I am back to pastoring and I had been doing a series of sermons on the parables taking thoughts from A B Bruce’s “The Parabolic Teaching of Christ”. I would preach one of those sermons each service through Thursday. I started with the Sower and the Seed. Easy to preach, easy to be there with folks willing to hear and willing to spend some time at the altar.

Many more hellos after service as we take Pastor Tembo, his wife Bette and their son Wilbert out to lunch after church. Nshima and chicken, beef or fish is what makes the world go around in Zambia, just ask Barry Bayles. This little restaurant is open on Sunday because the owners and workers are 7th Days. The 7th Days are probably the most established and influential churches in Mazabuka. Many conversations were started looking for the common ground of faith to finally get to my opinion about keeping the Sabbath. I would explain that their are two kinds of 7th  Days; there are those who believe that they are saved by faith through the work Jesus did on the cross and they would grant me salvation on the same terms; and then there are those who believe that you must keep the 10 commandments including the commandment to keep the Sabbath and if you don’t you are not saved, meaning me: and then I would ask them which one they were with some astounding moments of clarity. Lunch was good and we went back to the guesthouse for a quick nap.

The nap lasted longer than it was suppose to and we all struggled out of a very deep sleep to just get to church, the song service had already began as I made my way up to the platform to sit next to Pastor Tembo with my apologies. Timothy gives us some special music and I preach a sermon about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. A long time is spent after church talking with people, my girls are spending lots of time with the Mubika girls, and we are in no hurry to go anywhere. The big van is too much of a waste to drive home empty and Nellie (Mrs. Joseph in the film) lets me know that she now lives on the far side of town. She has brought her sister, who had gotten saved in prison after being caught selling hippo meat. Her sister would end up coming all week with Nellie. Nellie is the wife of one of our best men, Mwapesa, he passed away while we were pastoring in Mazabuka but she and her 3 children are braving life onward together. She has kept a teaching post at a private school and her son Charlotte has matured into a young disciple in the church. We give them a ride home and then visit the only store open late at night in Mazabuka besides the taverns. It is a small store run by a non-Muslim Indian. We go in to purchase some snacks among the drunkards and the like. A couple of off duty policemen come in and reintroduce themselves to me as I can only recognize the faces. Yes, the police who helped me in so many ways, in fact the very store I was in was the store that got robbed the night our church was broken into with the equipment and generator stolen. The power company hooked us up with power the next day, and the day after that a speaker and amp were recovered so we could have service and a month and a half later all of the stolen equipment was recovered with the criminals apprehended. This was unheard of in Zambian and gave our church a little superstitious standing among the potential thieves of the future. It would be later on that as a judge brought me to  court to squeeze some money out of me that the Commanding Officer of the Mazabuka police came back to the judges private chambers to plead for my release because of my good relationship with the police. I could go on and on.

We make it home with power, enjoy a snack, peak at football but none of us can keep our eyes open and we are all quickly asleep. Here are some photos of Saul, Mike and his baby, no wife yet, Rroydd and his wife and baby, Audra and Mishack and Mr. Sacota, (he found a good one in the church to marry in his old age), the girls under the mosquito net, the restaurant and Alvah on our trip to Lusaka where he got the bus the next day.

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About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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