Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
To this day we still rejoice in the testimony from a couple of years ago of the local shop owner who was touched by God and quit selling alcohol and pumping loud secular music late into the night. We enjoyed the peace…while it lasted. But recently a man who was kicked out of a neighboring chiefdom for disturbing the peace decided to settle right down the road from our base and open up a bar. Encouraging drunkenness in the community is enough of a problem but this situation has become an absolute abomination. People of all ages flock to this new social hub where half-dressed women walk around and children as young as 6 years old buy beer with money they acquired from selling fish. Students of all ages from the surrounding schools fall asleep during their classes because of spending all night at this place. Their parents are indifferent to their whereabouts and say, “This is the new Zambia”. People are fornicating in the surrounding bush and those who don’t participate in all the wickedness still have to endure restless nights caused by relentless music and partying. And maybe the saddest report to hear is that many church members are helping to keep this place in business!
Of course we pray for this operation to shut down, whether by a transformation in the owner himself or by chiefdom leadership taking authority over the issue. But then I wonder – if he leaves and another person rises up and takes his place, won’t the people still seek out ways to continue in their rebellion? The heart of the issue is the heart of the people who desire evil things. (Still, please partner with us in prayer concerning this bar, especially for the sake of innocent children being exposed to such things!) Church-goers flocking to this type of environment reveals the state of their relationship with God, and their very desperate need for ministry. The presence of churches in an area can never be the indicator of how much of God’s kingdom has been established in a place.
The message of the gospel truly is “good news” of all that Jesus did for us. But we can’t neglect to preach the call to repentance that precedes the freedom and blessings that are offered to us in Christ. If we want to be partakers of His kingdom, we have to submit to the leadership of the King. Repentance is not reserved only for the first time we surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is the attitude of a repentant and submissive heart that keeps us walking closely with Jesus.
Last week, Jesse scheduled a day to meet the people in an area called Sompani where we have been delivering mealie meal but haven’t been able to minister yet. The water pump on our truck wore out after he made plans to go, and our van could not handle the rough terrain but he still wanted to keep his word and get there by any means. We just bought a new dirt bike this month for our disciples to use so Jesse rode it alongside of Elisha on his dirt bike out to this zone which was over an hour away.
About 50 people gathered when they arrived and Jesse felt led by the Spirit to preach on repentance. After preaching, he called for those who wanted to gives their lives to Jesus to gather on one side of him, and those who wanted to recommit their lives to God to gather on the other. There was a lot of confusion and conversation as people coming late to the meeting thought people were signing up to join a church started by Overland! Then Jesse saw those in the groups talking to each other, and some moved back and forth from one group to the other. They apparently were trying to figure out which category they belonged in (which is really comical if you understand the frustration of trying to give a proper altar call in Africa where villagers will get born again – again and again!). Finally Jesse told them that it didn’t matter which group they were in, the point was that today they were choosing to follow God. To the best of our knowledge, 11 people were born again that day and 8 recommitted their lives to Christ!
One of our disciples, Livias, and his wife decided to stay overnight in his zone a couple weeks ago. He had tried to speak to a certain man the week before but he was too drunk. They decided to stay the night at his house this time and after ministering to his family all evening, he desired to recommit his life to the Lord. Livias went to bed but he was woken up around 3 a.m. to a lot of noise. When I heard this story, I expected him to tell me that someone was manifesting a demon, but on the contrary, the former drunkard was loudly praising and worshipping God! Livias and Lidia got up and worshipped with him and he began crying and calling out to God in complete repentance! We know this man will never be the same and we are looking forward to seeing how God uses him.
This week our Pastor from Melbourne, Florida, has been with us, spending quality time with us and ministering to the people here. We’ve begun a monthly pastor’s fellowship with 6 of the pastors who work most closely with us and each month a different pastor hosts the group. Sunday night we had all the men around our dinner table for chicken, rice, coke and brownies, and most importantly for an evening of hearing Pastor Tim encourage them from his years of pastoral experience. We are thrilled to see the body of believers in Chipepo slowly unifying and coming together in all areas of the chiefdom. Too much time has been wasted in unnecessary division and faultfinding within the church when there are souls to be reached!
Pastor Tim preached at our 4th annual Headman’s Leadership Training this week. In the past we have had a great turnout but because of some issues within the Chief’s council, the event was not organized well. Nevertheless, there were 46 headmen from all over Chipepo eager to be taught on leadership principles that will help them better lead their villages. The Holy Spirit gave Pastor Tim great practical examples to help them really comprehend topics such as communication, how to delegate responsibility, and how to make sure subordinates understand the directions that are given them.
One of the most exciting events of the year is happening this weekend! Twice a year we attend a week-long conference of revival meetings for our staff and missions training students at the Rapid 14 base in Livingstone. It is a time to reconnect with staff from all over Africa and be refreshed by guest ministers and testimonies from within our team. We have been trying to plan a fun trip for our Bible School students before they graduate in July so by a random turn of events they will be joining us! It seems that God had this little surprise in mind for all of us as part of His plan for further equipping our disciples as they continue to take ownership of the ministry in Chipepo. Bible knowledge has been wonderful for them, but when they encounter the power of God in these meetings, their ministries will never be the same!
My life these days consists of homeschooling, grading Bible school papers, and finishing up my own Bible School courses online. (That’s a lot of school!) Our family is looking forward to heading to South Africa in just 2 and a half months for the birth. Both Jesse’s mother and sister are officially coming to help with the kids during our stay there! We are excited to have that time with them. I find it very interesting that so far all the boys are being born in South Africa while the girls are born in Florida!
Please keep us in your prayers this week as we are traveling and setting aside time to receive impartation from the Lord. May our entire team be filled with the Spirit in a fresh way this week!