For those waiting to hear more about the vol. team I have no way of communicating with them while they are out. They will be back to our house Tues. around lunch. I'll update as soon as possible.
We all know that God is sovereign and that He controls our lives and the circumstances of life. However, we often go through our day to day lives as if we are making it up as we go along. Sometimes, more than anything, we need a reminder that God is in control and that His kingdom is bigger (and more real) than what we can see, touch, taste, and feel with our limited senses. This is exactly what the Lord did for me a few days ago. I was up a bit early on this particular day and already dressed and moving around the house, when I heard a knock at our gate. It is odd that I even heard anything, because the dogs weren't barking too much, and most folks who know us now come to our back gate and not the front driveway gate. When I got out to the gate (the time was about 7:00 or 7:30 AM) I saw a man that I had never met. He was dressed nicely and spoke good English and I did not recognize him. This usually adds up to someone trying to work a scam. I remember a check in my heart as the Lord reminded me to not be so critical and jump to conclusions. You know when you have lived here as long as we have, and when everyone is looking to you as the answer to their emotional, spiritual (and most often) financial problems you begin to get quite skeptical. However, after that gentle admonition from the Lord I just listened to the man's story. His name was Paul Mukabe Mashala and he was traveling from Mozambique to Solwezi in Northwestern province. Apparently he had grown up as an orphan in Mozambique but was from Solwezi originally. He had been back to Mozambique to visit and was on his way home when he fell ill on the bus in the Chongwe area. He suffers from TB and from HIV/AIDS and when he collapsed on the bus they took him to the clinic here in Chongwe. As people were helping him, they were also rifling through his possessions (this is not uncommon) and took his cell phone and money. He spent a few days recovering in the clinic and then was released, but had no way to get home. He went to the police and tried to find out if there were any Baptists around, because apparently he is a Baptist "church member" in Solwezi. They know me and sent him to my house and that is how he found me. As I listened to his story, I became convinced that this was probably a true story and decided to help him out. As I came out of the house with the money back to the gate (he wouldn't come in for fear of our dogs) I felt the Lord gently nudging me to witness to him. "What a shame," the Holy Spirit seemed to say, "if he was brought here and you helped him financially but he went away lost." As I talked with him, I asked him what made him to leave the Catholic church in 2006 and become a Baptist. He shared that he had realized that he was just a Sunday Christian and felt like he needed to really serve God. He met a Canadian missionary once on a bus who talked with him about his faith and encouraged him to find a good Baptist church. He had taken the man's advice and was now worshipping in this Baptist church in Solwezi. Yet, I asked him if he had ever repented of his sins and been born again. He said that he knew he should do that and he wanted to do that, but he never had. When I asked him why, he answered "we don't have a pastor at our church and the people said I should wait to receive Christ and be baptized when we have a pastor who can help me." To be honest, this is one of the most tragic things I have ever heard, and it lets you know just how much work and training we have to do here in Zambia, even among our own churches. I explained to him what salvation really was and told him if he wanted to he could pray and receive Jesus right there on that spot in front of my gate. I asked him if he would like to do that, and his answer really touched my heart. He began telling me the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch (I guess he had heard it in church) and how the Eunuch had said "here is water what would keep me from being baptized?" He said, that guy recognized his chance when it came and he was not willing to pass it up... "this is my chance," he said, "I would not want to pass it up, yes I would be grateful to receive Christ right now." And that is what he did... I shared the gospel with him in detail, made sure he understood, and then he prayed a prayer of repentance and faith right there in front of my gate with people walking by and staring. After he prayed, I prayed for him and went on his way. After reaching Solwezi, he borrowed a neighbor's phone and let me know when he had reached home safely, and has since called again to thank me for helping him and showing him how to know Jesus. What was so amazing to me is how he recognized the "divine appointment" in that Ethiopian Eunuch story all on his own, and was not willing to pass up his own "divine appointment." Maybe there are more of these divine appointments out there passing us by every day and we are just too busy or too blind to see it, and realize that God is really in control.