I wake up sensing some of that inevitable culture shock. The action is non stop and even though I have spent seven years of my life here it is still a different cultural setting that assails all of my senses making all of life just a bit more intense. The reaction is usually naps and early bedtimes, but that is not possible. I have some coffee in the house before going to prayer. We have a men’s and women’s meeting scheduled for the afternoon. I spend some time talking with the guys after prayer and then go by Themba’s place of business. Themba made this appointment with me, the times moved around, with a meal at first, but now just me stopping by. Themba played the murdered young priest in the film “James Tembo, Detective”. It was when I stopped by to see Themba that Danny Chiluba walked by on his way to work and let me know that he and his wife felt disrespected because of what I said over the pulpit. That cultural clash of misunderstandings, something that was always part of the preaching experience here in Zambia, now was alienating someone whom I had nothing but good feelings for. I can’t say I was the perfect picture of grace at this moment. Joan and I both felt this almost simultaneously when we first came to Zambia, Joan did a women’s meeting and talked about hygiene and some simple things a woman can do to smell good, and I preached about the simple words of grace such as “thank you” and “you are welcome” and “please”. You would have thought that we were reinstating colonial rule over the natives in the reactions we received, Eventually our hearts shined through the misunderstandings and all were able to receive from us with grace upon our Western mindsets. I am hoping for the same results with Danny.
Themba is now the manager for an auto parts business owned by his brother who runs a bigger shop in the capitol city of Lusaka. In my “think big” preaching Themba wanted to be a doctor, we realistically talked, and how about pharmacy. Themba is very together and is becoming an “uncle” within the church, a person that others can approach for help during emergencies. I need to include a quick story that I included in my sermon last night of the unjust steward. Somehow our acts of kindness with “unrighteous mammon” on earth get translated into those people we help receiving us in eternity. I cannot spiritualize exactly what that means, but it means that the spirit of grace and giving that Jesus imparts and cultivates within his church reaches into eternity. Zambia is full of thousands of organizations to help Zambia. People have asked me about giving to these organizations. Mainly you are creating jobs, that require vehicles, equipment and property. They become the “uncles” in a given community and their lives as “uncles” will far outstrip the contributions to helping the poor of the organization. Zambia does not appreciate being used as the poster child pulling the strings of the hearts of the givers to any given organization. At what point the Minister of Agriculture made a big appeal on TV, radio and the papers: Find me one person who has died of starvation in Zambia. What an insult to a people, that they would stand by and watch someone die of starvation and not help them. I was thinking about renting a boys home at one time. Some people were going to rent us a house, but there was one condition, there was a 12 year old girl who needed to keep one of the rooms in the house. It turns out that her parents were business people buying and selling and on one of their trips they never returned. Although reported to the police no one knows what happened to them. The little girl continued to live in the house with the neighborhood becoming an extended family for her. She would eat here or there, and this one or that one would help her to buy clothes and pay school fees as she needed them. Theresa Kagolo explained all of this to me. Someday Theresa and all of those who have helped that little girl get to heaven and that girl is there waiting for them acknowledging their giving into her life. I digress.
Themba’s life took a turn when his brother’s bookkeeper showed his “unjust steward” colors (common in Zambia) and the brother decided to send Themba to University to study accounts. Themba had done a great job in building up the shop here in Mazabuka. His main accomplishment was going through the process of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s to get a procurement contract with “sugar”. This is a big deal. The brother will cover both shops while Themba goes to school. School is great and he meets a great girl, and one thing led to another. He talked everything out with Pastor Tembo, discipline was involved and he is in the process of making it possible to marry this girl, whom I would meet that very night at church. I once asked Pastor Mitchell how many of the guys who have had problems over the years came to you first before it became discovered. The answer was one. There is something valuable in having a level of relationship that can be honest about failings and yet work through the necessary disciplines to accomplish the godly purposes of spiritual restoration and growth. I have nothing but an added respect and appreciation for Themba as I leave his place. Being able to meet the girl later than night after service and speak to her with grace and blessing would only be possible because of Themba’s honest heart.
Time is speeding by and I want to see Charles Chifuku’s place of business and I want to track down Mr. Nyoni and talk with him. I go to the council where I meet and talk with Henry, my blessing, who is now the driver for the mayor of Mazabuka. He lets me know where Mr. Nyoni’s offices are, they are at the old engineering offices where I first visited when I began the process of getting land to build a church. Land for churches is free is Zambia. Driving to the spot brings back all of these memories with the faces of all of the actors coming alive again. Mr. Nyoni, who plays Joseph in the film, is a very active man. He and his wife, Janet, are major anchors in the church. They had lunch with us long ago, wanting to come to church with us, as we were right across the road from their house; but there was more to it than that. The issue we talked about was a common issue in Zambia, women in ministry. Mrs. Nyoni with a personality of gold was a sought after speaker in many arenas of life including Aglow and other churches. The Potter’s House has male leadership and I told her I don’t have a problem with what she does, but would she have a problem with the male leadership of our church? Well as time went on Mrs. Nyoni would catch the vision through my wife’s life and ministry of being a woman who built up her husband, allowing him to be the leader, and raising her children with biblical understanding. The result has been a blessing of ministry to our church as Mrs. Nyoni continued Joan’s ministry to the young girls in church and Mr. Nyoni has blossomed as a leader at home, church and in Mazabuka. So I was pleased to get a chance to talk with him. We stood in the shade by a vehicle he just bought for a great deal that he was getting ready to turn around and sell for a profit. He had read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, I think that was the title, but he has taken on an entrepreneurial spirit that has replaced the Kaunda socialist spirit that educated him. He had just returned from China where he had spent 3 months taking courses. They want him back to get a PHD, we talked about the factors in making a decision. It was wonderful to get time to talk with him as he shared his thoughts about China, the Chinese and the church in China. He had to take off for Lusaka and he let me know that he wouldn’t see me until Saturday at Shimungalu.
We are scheduled to have lunch with Ebraheim and his brother Mohammed at Mohammed’s house. Mohammed’s wife is the sister to Nasheem the wife of Ebraheim. So I need to hurry to the edge of the market where there is one building. In that building Charles Chifuku has set up shop. I am looking forward to hearing as he is looking forward to telling the story of his adventures in life. Charles was the editor of the “James Tembo, Detective” film. I let him loose on my computer to learn how to edit the footage we were taking. He did a great job. When I met him, he was a parentless youth, needing school fees to continue his education. He lived in a lean to shelter next to family’s house. He was fed there until he started coming to our church when he was asked to move along. He started pounding rocks from the rock on our property. The money he made financed his education and he graduated as a prefect with high hopes but no way of continuing on with his education. I always have entertained hopes that I could sell enough copies of the “Tembo” film to bless all of these guys but my efforts have come to naught. So when I left he was another young man in a nation of 80% unemployment looking to find his way through life. As I left he let me know his plans of opening a business center.
Two years ago, and two years after leaving he let me know he was still patiently working his plan. He didn’t give me all the details at that time, but now I was going to hear the whole story. He gave me a coke as we sat down in his office. He had a compluter, a copier and a printer. The cost of all of these items is about twice what we are use to paying in the states, it is always amazing to realize that the items that create wealth are more expensive in a third world country than a first world country. He started out by using Pastor Tembo’s computer to type papers for people. He began to develop a clientele of people who worked for NGO’s and students who needed professionally typed papers. He said at times his fingers ached because of the amount of typing he was doing, just like his body use to ache pounding rocks all day long. But he had a goal and a purpose. He had already approached Mr. ______, sorry can’t remember his name, he is a Congolese man, married to a Zambian, who had a dramatic conversion from drinking and violence to become an elder in the church. He collects aluminum and tin scrap, melts it down in a home made smelter at fashions pots and pans at prices that can be afforded by the common people of Zambia. He does well. He came to church in one of those package deals with his single friend and business partner and another good friend. I can see their faces but can’t recall their names. Kunda is the single man and Maxwell (Maxwell’s silver hammer) and I still can’t remember our main guys name. Charles approached Mr. _____ for a loan. They went down to Lusaka and priced out the equipment. Being a smart businessman he asked Charles to come up with half of the money before he invested the other half. He would hold the money for Charles. So Charles typed and he typed and he typed some more moving closer and closer to that day when they could go down and purchase the equipment. The big day arrived and when he got back he realized he had another problem. He wouldn’t be able to operate out in the open with this equipment he would need a place that would be protected from the dust and a place that would be secure at night. At first he was forced to operate in the marketplace, closing off his stall as best he could and then sleeping in the stall to safeguard the equipment. Then the miracles of miracles happened and he was allowed to rent the only office space in the market place. He thanks God and recognizes his faithful labor as a typist opened this door. He has paid Mr. Sinongwe? back and now looks forward to the day he can marry. Pictures below.
I will not be able to make it through the day at this setting, need to get ready to go down to Carbondale for a rally.