Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Disciple-makers are disciples in the making

My task last week was to teach 22 Zambian Christian school teachers a course on Missions in Africa. George Benson Christian College has been training school teachers for 20 years or so. Of late the Zambian government has not been hiring all of the teachers that the college graduates. So a fund has been set up to provide these teachers a minimal stipend and place them with schools in northern Zambia where there is need for churches to be planted.

When I heard about this my thought was, 'Why not educate some of these teachers in the principles of missions, cross-cultural communication and church planting, then challenge those whom God calls to such work, to become vocational missionaries in nations where English and school teachers are in demand?' This was the goal of my course at Mapepe Bible College near Lusaka.

In telling about mission opportunities I focused on Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda and Sudan. Six or eight of the students showed great interest in these possibilities. Some will attend a church planting movements workshop in July.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Another of God's Surprises

Two weeks ago my sister Claudia and her husband Jerry arrived from the U. S. to visit Nancy and me in Rwanda and then to accompany us to Zambia. Why had they come at this time? It was another of God's many surprises. Claudia said that Jerry, who is retiring this July from more than 30 years of teaching medicine at the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, abruptly said to her one day, "What would you think about us going to work in Zambia for a while?" She was taken aback as he had never indicated any interest in doing such a thing before. Apparently Jerry was thinking about some way to serve others in his retirement years.

Of course, when I heard that they wanted to visit us in Rwanda on their way to doing some fact-finding in Zambia, I immediately hatched a plan to recruit Claudia and Jerry for Rwanda. We set up interviews with individuals in the medical field and various health institutions including the medical school at the National University in Butare and others in Kigali. We toured facilities and asked a lot of questions.

Then we flew to Lusaka, Zambia where Jerry had contacts and appointments with health officials at the University Teaching Hospital there. For two days he worked alongside an ENT doctor (Jerry's specialty) examining patients in clinics in the hospital. Then he was given a strong invitation to join the staff there where he would be able to teach candidates in the field of Ear, Nose and Throat surgery. After comparing opportunities to serve in either Rwanda or in Zambia, Jerry felt that he would actually be able to use his skills and accomplish more by teaching at the University of Zambia. So he decided to accept the invitation.

Nancy and I would have loved to have Jerry and Claudia live near us in Rwanda, but Claudia was born and grew up in Zambia, so perhaps it is fitting that she and Jerry will get to serve the people there again at this stage of their lives. I hope their example of retirees who want to continue using their skills to serve people for a few more years, will inspire others to venture out to the places in the world where opportunities to serve are many and where needs are great!