Wednesday, July 15, 2015

REMINDED in Kitwe, Zambia (12 JUL 2015)

Since my last post we traveled from Livingstone to Lusaka and then on to Kitwe, Zambia near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. Missionary Matthew Ude and his wife Vanessa had been in Kitwe for a few days before we arrived. The reason he was there was because of a change in immigration laws in the DR Congo which prevented him from acquiring his visa to enter DRC to conduct pastoral training among the men of the CCLC and ELCC as our CLC Visiting Missionaries have been doing in the past. So, rather than just return to India having already spent valuable time and resources it was decided to bring a limited number of pastors from DRC to the Zambian city of Kitwe which is the nearest city to the shared border. While not exactly what we had planned, this did have one advantage that I otherwise would not have benefited from if our original plans would have gone forward. Funny, how God’s plans are always better than our own! The original plan was for Pastor Ude to be in the DRC for a couple of weeks working with the men there while the Mission Helpers were working in other areas of Zambia. Then on the last few days of the trip we would make our way north to the city of Kitwe where we would meet up with Pastor Yumba to visit area villages where he is working with pastors and evangelists to strengthen existing congregations and develop new opportunities. And since the Matt and Vanessa had their return flights already booked out of Lusaka, Zambia I would get the opportunity to visit with them as well. As it turns out, the Lord’s plan was to bring several pastors along with those pastors who make up the leadership of the CLCC from Congo. This was an incredible blessing. It has been over five years since I first met these men after there was a falling out among some of the men we had been working with in the DRC. This “falling out” had to do with non-doctrinal matters in the areas of church governance and organization. It appeared back then that these issues and their seeming inability and unwillingness to come to any type of reconciliation were significant enough that it would most likely lead to a suspension and possible end to our work in the DRC. Joyfully, by the end of that first visit to DRC back in 2010, the Lord brought about a resolution to the issues that were causing the problems.  By the end of four days of reviewing and studying what God’s word had to say concerning their areas of disagreement and our freedom in these areas of adiaphoron, namely church organization and governance, hands were shook and the estranged parties joined together in singing praises to our Lord as He brought reconciliation. I admit that I was surprised and skeptical at the time. I still get goosebumps as I remember the unexpected joy of that day. I’ll have to admit that it was a lack of trust, on my part, in the Lord’s ability to bring about true and lasting reconciliation between the parties involved. Of course there was no basis for my skepticism because we’re talking about the God who loved us so much that He reconciled us to Himself through the sacrifice of His beloved Son. We’re talking about the God with whom all things are possible!

I went back to Congo the next year and again the following year to introduce Missionary Ude as the visiting missionary to the DRC. With each subsequent visit I was able to witness, with joy in the Lord and with contrition over my doubt, as the Lord continued to work in and through these men that had been at such odds just a few years earlier. Today, I was REMINDED of all of this as these men met together to grow in their understanding of God’s word and to encourage the men they work with as Missionary Ude taught the last few lessons he prepared on the early chapters of Genesis. I was REMINDED today of how foolish we sinful humans can be when we try to elevate our own skepticism and doubt above the love and wisdom and abilities of our Savior who can raise the dead, give sight to the blind, heal the sick, and earn forgiveness and eternal life for a sinner like me! Why would I ever assume that a problem between men is too much for the Lord to solve? I was REMINDED today again of God’s wisdom and planning, who knew long before the new DRC immigration laws seemed to thwart our well laid out plans, in giving me and the Mission Helpers the opportunity to meet and visit and encourage and be encouraged by the pastors from the DRC that were able to attend the pastoral conference here in Kitwe. It was such a joy to see the faces and hear their voices encourage one another and us. I had forgotten what dedicated and humble men they are and how much I love and appreciate these men. And I was REMINDED of how much these visits mean to them as they spoke of the blessings of “seeing each other face to face and growing together in our faith through the study of God’s word. In visiting with them I was REMINDED of their dedication, their humility, their love for the Lord, His word, the sheep they are called to shepherd, the lost and straying, and for us and each other. All of this would have been missed had my plans trumped the plans of the Lord!

All of this has REMINDED me of how the simple statements of faith are most often the best. As we have been traveling from village to village over the past few weeks teaching children the simple basics of the Gospel Heidi, Lydia, and Riley have been singing songs to the children at the end of our lessons. One of those simple songs keeps running through my mind as write. I’m sure many have heard it. The refrain goes like this “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!” How true, and I thank my God for reminding me of this again these past couple of days as I have had the privilege of seeing my brothers in Christ work together for our Savior’s kingdom!

On Sunday morning I was REMINDED that the grace and mercy of God is not bound by language, traditions, culture, or economics. His grace and power to save was generously poured out upon 43 men, women, and children as they received God’s gift of the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit through the water and the word of baptism. As I observed the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper being given by God and received by His chosen people, I was REMINDED of God’s grace in giving to sinners like us. I was REMINDED and humbled at the thought that these sacraments are a gift from our gracious Lord given to undeserving sinners like us. I was REMINDED how important it is that we continue to remind each other that these sacraments are God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves, not the other way around, as if we were doing something for God by being baptized or receiving the Lord’s Supper. As I struggled trying to follow along with the service that was being conducted in three languages (English, Bemba, and Congolese Swahili) I was REMINDED that God’s abundant giving does not depend on what language we speak, or the shade of the color of our skin, or the order of service we follow, or the traditions we follow, it depends only upon His perfect love for sinners—for me!

It’s good to be REMINDED of just how much our Savior loves us! Thank You Lord for such vivid reminders received today!

In Christ,
Pastor O.

No comments:

Post a Comment