Repent and Believe in the Gospel!

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Mother’s Day.

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The boys installing the new water pump.

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The girls!

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Our growing garden and little boy!

Number 5 is Alive!

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The most exciting news I have for you this month is that we are expecting our 5th child around September 1st of this year! This is new territory for us as neither Jesse nor I were brought up in a home with more than 4 children but we believe that a having big family is the Lord’s plan for our lives and we are very ready to welcome a new family member soon! Right before Easter we drove to Lusaka for a proper ultrasound and the Dr. said everything looked good. We also found out that we are expecting a baby boy! I’ve had all my children’s names in my heart for many years now so this one will be Nehemiah James.

Our Easter tradition is to travel to the Livingstone Rapid 14 base and spend the weekend with our fellow missionary staff. They always make it special and provide a great meal. I know our children really enjoyed seeing all of their friends and participating in an Easter egg hunt.

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Easter

As we entered Chipepo on our way back from Livingstone, I saw actual ponds on the side of the road with ducks swimming in them! Apparently while we were gone there were downpours of rain! Of course it was too late to bring back the lost harvest but this still greatly benefited the livestock by providing more grass and water. The hot weather has finally relented and we are transitioning into “cold season” which is typically May, June, and July. Some people have started eating what little maize they harvested from rainy season. Judging by the decrease in the demand for mealie meal, the intensity of the food crisis has subsided for now but we anticipate a growing demand this year as they run out of maize again.

In just a few weeks Pastor Tim arrives for his annual visit to teach the AMT students at Rapid 14 and preach at our Headmen’s Leadership Training. His visit will kick off our steady stream of visitors and ministry events scheduled for the year. Jesse is working hard to fix up our base bathrooms for visitors and has to drop off our trailer in Lusaka tomorrow for some upgrades since the leaf springs keep breaking. The lake is receding rapidly and and the gas-powered pump at the lake is barely operational so Jesse is trying to repurpose the first borehole we drilled (which only gave us rust-colored water) by installing an electric pump in it and using it instead of lake water to water the grounds.  And in the midst of all these projects, we’ve had trouble with our solar batteries so he is trying to keep the power on for us!

I am back in full swing with homeschooling and although it is very time consuming, the kids and I are enjoying the quality time together. Plus, it’s really fun doing preschool with Samson and in the afternoons Hosanna likes to join us and sit at the table and color!

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We have a fenced-in area on our base for a garden which has never produced well because of poor soil. After trying many things, we were ready to shut it down but just to keep some of our workers employed, Jesse has been using the trailer to help the men transport loads of sand out of the garden and replace it with fertile soil from where the lake has receded in front of our property. We even had them mix in dirt from termite mounds to add clay and nutrients. Our disciples and workers are so excited to see the garden finally thriving and I think they see that this is something they also can do for their own gardens!

It is interesting that this breakthrough came after a recent visit from Chief Chipepo when he had the whole group at our pastor’s meeting pick up a handful of sand from where were standing, pray over the land, and command the very soil to produce. We had scheduled the pastor’s meeting because we were hosting pastors from a church in Sebring, Florida during that time and wanted them to impart something into our leaders. Chief Chipepo met Dustin and Ansley during a visit to the states and wanted to see them again so while he was here he also shared a message to encourage our Zambian pastors.

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Chief Chipepo (blue shirt) and his entourage.

And finally, we are happy to announce that Shane and Chelsea’s baby, Zeal Eugene Bloedorn, was born on April 6th! So precious!

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It seems like we will be ships passing in the night after they return to Zambia in June because we will be headed to South Africa for the birth around the middle of August. We are planning to come back to Zambia for one month after the baby is born to reconnect with the team and then head back to the states the end of October. It’s funny to think that everyone who saw us leave with a newborn will see us come back with one too!

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • There is a bar that has opened up in the community and there are many atrocities happening there, especially that children as young as 6 years old are drinking alcohol. Please pray for this entire operation to shut down and for people to repent and serve the Living God.
  • For a local church named Apostolic Faith Mission whose pastor abruptly abandoned them to take a paid pastoral position with another denomination in town. Pray that God will provide them with a true shepherd who will care for their souls.
  • For grace as the students increase their workload to complete our Bible School in a timely manner. Graduation will be held before we leave in August!
  • Revival in all the villages where our disciples minister weekly.
  • For a rebellious spirit that is increasingly rising up in the chiefdom to be quenched. People are defiant and openly speak against all authority and persist in illegal fishing which robs the community of food.

Thank you for your prayers for us and our chiefdom!!!

Here are a few more pictures from Easter:

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Through Faith and Patience

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

I’m sure most of us are familiar with this scripture and especially the fact that it makes absolutely no sense to the rational mind! I’ve often thought, how many Christians can ever be mature enough to find joy in suffering through a trial? Is this realistic?

All of 2019 so far has been, well, really difficult for Jesse and I and without much reprieve. We are so blessed in our marriage and family and God’s hand on our ministry keeps exceeding all of our expectations. But in our minds we had pictured a beautiful, relaxing few months of thunderstorms during this rainy season and instead we were hit head-on with a severe drought. In fact, some are saying there hasn’t been one like this in Zambia in 35 years! The plan was to continue helping organize trucks of food to relieve hungry people just until harvest came but now most people have absolutely nothing to harvest. The maize fields are completely dried up. This means that we will continue to bear this burden with the people for at least another year.

Without a drop of rain this time of year, the temperatures are almost comparable to “hot season” which is October and November and we always brace ourselves for it. But this additional heat wave was unexpected and all the villagers are sleeping outside their houses at night to stay cool. Every morning our bedroom starts heating up at 7am and even as the sun is setting we are eating dinner in 95 degree heat. After days and weeks of praying, the rain wouldn’t come and the heat wouldn’t go! During all of our responsibilities of managing our missions base, working on various projects, ministering, and keeping villagers alive through food distribution, the weather has been extremely physically taxing. (As a side note, our solar A/Cs have been our saving grace!)

Once we realized we have no control over or knowledge of the end of this season of testing, we had to lay down our rational minds and disappointments and embrace the inner change such an extreme environment was forming in us. (That’s why the scripture says “LET” patience have its perfect work.) We see the joy now. The joy comes from watching your relationship with God blossom through adversity as He helps you to release those things that are keeping you from going deeper in your walk with Him. When you are broken down beyond what you can bear in your own strength, you begin to look again to the Lord to sustain you in all things. Why do we ever doubt His leadership and question His commitment to shepherd our souls in whichever way He sees fit? We must learn to trust Him for HE IS GOOD! “…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12)

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When I think about the tens of thousands of lost souls in our chiefdom, I long to see the gospel preached at a faster pace. But then I catch glimpses of heaven’s perspective. The work we are doing is deep and strategic for laying a firm foundation of real Christianity. Our first class of Bible school students are set to graduate this August and the material all of us are studying has undoubtedly changed our lives. Wherever these men go, they bring revival and reformation. One of our guys, Livias, has groups of children coming to his home on the weekends to be discipled by him.

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Livias with his field that God preserved through the drought by a miracle!

The church most of our students attend has exploded in growth because of our disciples winning souls in their villages and bringing them in. A few weeks ago, 70 of their church members came and cleared our whole property to earn money to help build a bigger building.

 

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We require our zone managers (Elisha, Livias, Loyd, and Pastor Nehru) to send their weekly reports and photos electronically through an app on their phones. All week long the testimonies keep pouring in. Elisha reported this month that he was just passing by a bar while some drunk men were arguing about what the Bible says. They called Elisha over because they knew he was a preacher and started asking him questions. Finally he got tired of answering questions and started preaching the gospel. The whole group gave their lives to Christ! 

Although it’s taken a lot of patience, we are beginning to see the local body of believers being knit together. It is no coincidence that Jesse is a builder by trade and wherever we minister, God uses him to join pastors together in unity. (To this day the pastors in our former chiefdom are still meeting and working together!) Last night he held his first pastor’s fellowship dinner at one of the pastor’s homes. There were 7 very influential men there from different churches who all are kingdom-minded. He even was able to get a leader from the Seventh Day Adventist congregation to attend! In the past, this denomination has been ostracized from other Christians because of their firm stance that Saturday is the correct day to go to church. But praise God that the food relief project has gotten the attention of SDA followers and leaders and they are slowly beginning to trust us. One of the SDA leaders in Loyd’s zone named Chester walked all the way to our base one day to tell us he wanted to join with what we are doing and now attends Loyd’s weekly Bible studies!

Throughout the years as part of the discipleship process, we have sadly had to release some people from working with us when they became unrepentant and untrustworthy, all the while praying for them and trusting that Jesus would watch over them and bring them back into His arms. We are overjoyed when we get to witness the Lord bring them back into fellowship and ministry. We had one young man named Nchimunya who started strong with us first but eventually went through one year of walking away from the Lord. Although he has a long way to go before becoming one of our top leaders, he is in our Bible School and assisting in ministry. We recently promoted him to our head gardener, and within one week he has already transformed our base into a beautiful place! I am also so grateful for the work that the Lord has done in the young lady named Eustar that I recently hired as a maid and nanny again after we had a rocky start last year. We are starting afresh this year and she is enjoying allowing me to disciple her. She is eager to be involved in ministry and even led one of her neighbors to the Lord a few months ago! (On a personal note, I am so thankful for some good help around the house!)

Jesse and I have been scrambling to finish house projects before busy season starts, visitors start rolling in, and the rest our team arrives! I have been preparing for our next school year that will start right after Easter. Here are some photos of what we’ve been working on:

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We have wanted a custom catch-all/charging station for 4 years!

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Reading nook in school room.

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Second bathroom finally finished!

 

Shane and Chelsea’s baby boy is due to arrive within the next couple of weeks! Amanda is 50% funded and her goal is to come to Chipepo around the same time as them which will be early June.

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • A safe and quick delivery for Chelsea.
  • For God to give us wisdom and strategies for helping our community through this difficult time.
  • For Zambia to help its citizens during this famine without corruption or delay. Some people can possibly die of starvation if they don’t receive assistance.
  • Greater unity among the pastors and for them to have wisdom for how to train and equip their members to be of service to the Lord.
  • Favor with the SDA leaders so that many people would be free to benefit from our ministry.
  • For our family to have strength and endurance to persevere with joy each day as we are obedient to this glorious calling.
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Excellent attendance at our last pastor’s meeting!

 

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Speaking to girls ages 9-16 about their value and identity!

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Growing up too fast!

Love Wins. Every Time.

What started as a small-scale effort to help provide some villagers with affordable and accessible food has exploded into a chiefdom-wide project involving many communities, leaders, and a fleet of delivery vehicles including tractors, fishing rigs, transport trucks, and a 15-ton box truck. We knew that helping was the “right” thing to do, but we did not realize it was the divine strategy of God to weave us together with the people and gain their trust and affection like never before.

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Zambians are generally so open and loving but coming into Chipepo 4 years ago, we knew there would be a lot of skepticism and past wounds from other westerners that we had to overcome. The older generation still remembers the tragedy of their homes and schools being flooded when the dam for Lake Kariba was constructed under British rule in 1959. They will even tell you with sorrow that their parent’s graves are buried underneath the waters. British soldiers forced the Tonga people from the fertile valley up into the mountains and the few villagers that put up a fight were killed.

Others in recent years have seen the selfishness of westerners who only come for business and treat their Zambian workers harshly. But perhaps the most devastation has come from church planters who have come from town and started churches that indoctrinate the people in division and fear of other churches. There are many unsaved and undiscipled people trapped in these religious establishments that were formerly unreachable for us. Their churches preach against us, and some accuse us of satanism (funny, right?). But the breakthrough came by an act of kindness that could not be theologically understood. Giving a hungry person the food they need bypasses the mind and goes straight for the heart.

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When we started delivering food in Siabbamba, Elisha heard a story about a really interesting service that happened at one of the churches. One of the church leaders stood up to preach, but instead of preaching from the Bible, he began preaching against us and forbidding the people to purchase our food. The congregation actually stood up and started shouting at the man saying, “No! You are wrong!” and insisting that he sit down! Never before have we heard of church members actively resisting false doctrine! Our guys have overheard people remarking that there is no way a person involved in satanism could be showing so much love to people.

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This relief effort will continue up until the harvest at the end of April. Below is a map of the areas we have been able to deliver food to weekly. The red marker is our base, and the yellow markers are our current distribution points. There are still further areas within the boundary of our chiefdom that need help and we are brainstorming the logistics of how to reach them.

Meali Meal Locations

After trial and error, Jesse found an excellent company in the capital city of Lusaka that sells us bags of mealie meal for a great price and can bring 560 bags to Chipepo up to twice weekly. We were in Lusaka when we sent the first truckload and they made it all the way through the dangerous, curvy mountain roads and then managed to get stuck in sand just outside the gate to our base. Our team of disciples was already there waiting to offload the bags into our container so they worked all through the night trying to get the truck out of the deep sand and mud.

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They didn’t have the winch on our truck and Jesse wasn’t there to direct them. The next day, Elisha sent a message and could not contain his excitement. He kept thanking Jesse profusely for everything he’s ever taught them and done for them. We are witnessing the culmination of disciple-making. These men finally understand that they have what it takes to do what we do! They know that through Jesus Christ there is absolutely no limitation on their lives!

While we were in Lusaka running errands last weekend, I started feeling stabbing chest pains. By the time we reached home from our trip I couldn’t even unpack the groceries but had to try to stay in bed. Bedrest is futile in such a hectic environment as we live in, and I declined to the point to where I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. At 1am on Tuesday morning I told Jesse that we had to pack up again to go see a doctor. So we left at 5am with all the groceries on the counters, fresh vegetables in the fridge, and a pile of dirty laundry in the washing machine. With no adequate health care along the route, we ended up back here in Lusaka where I was diagnosed with pleurisy – most likely from a virus. I am much better now although I still feel far from being 100% and we cannot go back home until I am well so please pray for a rapid recovery!

We appreciate your partnership with us in such a glorious assignment to Chipepo. It’s never easy but it’s never boring and it’s always worth it!I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

If you are interested in giving a one-time gift towards this project, please contact us at jesse@overlandmissions.com and we will send you more information!

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Samson being his cute self! 

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Kids’ first time seeing a movie in Lusaka.

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Our Tribe!

May This Be Your Best Year Yet!

It’s our turn to hold down the fort over rainy season while our teammates are on furlough in the U.S. raising funds and seeing supporters and family. As the dust settles from the busyness of ministry, visitors, and the holidays, we reflect on the transformation we’ve seen in our chiefdom in 2018.

It has been over a year that our disciples have been weekly ministering in their zones. When we meet together each week, their testimonies are downright mesmerizing and I especially enjoy the unique flavor of each of their experiences. I constantly encourage them to be confident in their personal anointing from God and not to compare results, ministry styles, or Bible study attendance amongst each other. Here are the men that make up our core leadership team:

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Elisha is a true evangelist and runs with zeal. He has boldness to gather together all the leaders in his area and minister to them. Now that he has “earned” a dirtbike after countless hours of painful rides over rocky terrain on a bicycle, he is ministering every chance he has and his wife loves to join him.

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Livias is a humble man with intense compassion for others. He often sees miraculous healings and has heavenly visions of angels and Jesus. The people in his zone adore him as he preaches, ministers, and teaches people how to read.

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Pastor Nehru has been a pastor and church planter for a long time. He is one of the most amazing Christians that Jesse and I have ever met. His whole life is about the kingdom. Everywhere he goes he is listening to the Holy Spirit and preaches boldly to anyone of any age. People will wake him up in the middle of the night to pray for their dying relative and when he prays for them, they recover. He even has seen drunk people become sober as he preached to them!

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Loyd has 4 children of his own but takes in children from his extended family without question. He has such a gift to draw people together by his gentleness and patience. Anywhere we plant him, over time, he is able to convince sinners to come to repentance, and encourage a large number of believers to meet together regularly to study the Word and seek God.

Working alongside these men are pastors, leaders, and young evangelists that have a passion to see God change their villages. Every week our guys take young men with them to their zones to let them experience the thrill of releasing to others what they have learned in church all of these years!

My favorite recent testimony seemed like it was straight out of the Bible! A few weeks ago, Livias and Kebby traveled by boat to Kasukwe for ministry. On their way back home, they were hungry and flagged down some fishermen in a boat to try to buy some fish for dinner. The fishermen replied that they had been fishing all day and barely caught anything in their nets. Livias boldly told them when they pulled up their nets that they would catch more fish than they had caught all day. They didn’t believe him at first, but finally they decided to believe and they all prayed together. When they pulled up their nets, they had over 22 lb of fish! They were so grateful that they told our guys to take as much as they wanted!

In addition to traveling with our disciples to their zones, Jesse has been busy with a new project. Because of last year’s poor harvest following a drought, people are already out of maize (their staple food). There are some shops that sell it here, but most people live so remotely that they are struggling to make the journey to go buy a bag of ground maize. Some women have to hike over mountains carrying their 55 lb bag of food. People who have to travel across water have to pay to ride in a boat which adds to the cost. The government has not offered assistance yet, and Chief Chipepo has done all he can do, so their need basically fell into our laps. There is no way we can eat a nice meal at our home every night while people around us are suffering for their basic sustenance. We had to do something. Jesse started hiring trucks to go to town and bring bags of ground maize to our base. He then takes the food and delivers it with our truck to the different areas. We have trustworthy volunteers in different locations around the chiefdom who are selling the maize at a discounted price from their home or shop then returning the income for us to reinvest into more food. People are extremely grateful for our efforts and are beginning to understand that we came here for them! They especially love seeing the whole family when we go along for the drive! (If you want to know more information about this project and how you can help, please contact us at jesse@overlandmissions.com).

We were concerned that there would be a drought this year too since it simply would not rain. But praise God the rains started at the end of December and are going strong! As of right now, I am finishing up my first year of accredited homeschooling and our littlest one just turned 1 year old on January 2nd! Looking ahead at this year, we anticipate a lot of special visitors and expedition teams and will be scrambling to graduate Bible School students before we head back to the states at the end of the year. Thank you for continuing in prayer for us and we pray that this will be your best year yet in Jesus’ name!

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No Road? No Problem.

It may seem as if we already have taken the road less traveled to reach the villages surrounding us, but beyond Chipepo Central are areas with impossible and ugly roads, villages virtually cut off from society by towering mountains, and people living on islands in the lake who regularly travel by boat for basic supplies. We take such pride in the men who have faithfully pioneered into these regions by traveling up to 4 hours one way by bicycle or rowing a boat. They persevered for 1 year though their bodies were continually exhausted from the journey. Once, Elisha rode his bicycle up rocky terrain with his hefty 2-year old child strapped to his back as his wife struggled on a bicycle beside him to reach his area of Siabbamba!

We thank God that we received a donation which has dramatically increased our capacity as a ministry team. It was intended to accelerate ministry by covering the price of a dirt bike and a boat motor for our disciples! What used to be a 1.5 – hour boat trip to Kasukwe for Livias now takes 30 minutes, and his brother Elisha is reaching Siabbamba in 2 hours instead of 4 (although he is still getting used to driving the bike). Once they reach their zones they now have plenty of energy left for ministry. 

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Last week was Elisha’s first time taking the dirt bike out to his zone. People were happy that he is able to come more frequently now and villagers in even farther areas are beckoning him to come minister there too! On this trip he visited the home of a village headman and preached to all the members of his household. 11 people received Christ that day!

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It is our tradition that if we are in Zambia during Thanksgiving we join our fellow missionaries at the Rapid 14 Base in Livingstone to celebrate. They always go above and beyond to make a truly magical and festive evening and allow all of us to request our most sentimental side dishes to make it feel like home.

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Since AMT graduation was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we came early enough to watch them graduate and say goodbye. Our team is extremely fortunate and blessed that someone in this AMT class felt God calling them to Chipepo and committed to join our team! Her name is Amanda and she is from Wisconsin. She has a passion for keeping a small farm and for youth ministry which will bless our team tremendously. Currently she is back in the states fundraising but will head back to Zambia once she reaches 100% support!

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(Left to Right) Rayanna, Prudence, Chelsea, Amanda

Rains have already begun all over Zambia, although our region patiently awaits the rain which normally begins sometime in December. Shane and Chelsea are headed back to the U.S. for a time of fundraising and the birth of their first child in April! Now with the busy season of visitors behind us things are quiet with just a few workers on the base. Our goal during this season is to concentrate on absorbing more of the Tonga language and culture and to spend more quality time visiting pastors and building relationships. The Bible School stills continues every Tuesday and has been such a beautiful resource for investing into our disciples. We ourselves are growing and being encouraged through the lessons.

This year our Christmas decorating was complete with presents under the tree by December 1st since our dads brought wrapped gifts when they came in September! We would love to be in America with family right now but we do enjoy our simple Christmases in Zambia. In case you were wondering, we aren’t planning on a visit to the U.S. until the end of 2019.

We pray that you have a wonderful Christmas and find plenty of moments to meditate on the wonderful gift God gave to us when He sent His only Son into this world to redeem us forever!

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Prayer Requests

  • Safe travel for the Bloedorn’s and a fruitful time of fundraising as well as a safe and healthy birth for mom and baby.
  • Plentiful rains for the people of Chipepo as they grow crops which are their sustenance.
  • For pastors to be unified and edified as Jesse starts a “pastor’s fellowship” soon with those pastors who have caught the vision for ministry outside of their own churches.
  • Deepened understanding of the language and culture for Jesse and I during this season.
  • Protection for our family as rainy season brings snakes and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • For Amanda to stay encouraged as she fundraises and to reach her financial goals quickly.

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Just Sit with Them

How can sitting at a village funeral for half of the day, barely conversing with anyone, and simply eating local foods that are served to you accomplish anything? Surely there must be preaching or some miracle to really make an impact. Surely there must be an agenda or a strategy to truly bring heaven to earth. And yet, we are in awe of how our mere presence deeply impacts every person in attendance. They see Jesus when we step out of our air-conditioned vehicle and into their world. The only interaction these people have had with westerners (mostly businessmen) left them with the understanding that white people don’t eat with them and certainly don’t eat their food. They don’t greet them in their language and are unconcerned and unaffected by their suffering.

This past Tuesday we attended a funeral for a man who had been sick for a long time. He was Mr. Winard’s (the Chief Rep) wife’s brother. We sat nestled in between the people and drank a mixture of sugar and pounded maize from a cup that was probably only rinsed with water by the last person who used it. We made feeble attempts to communicate in Chitonga but most of their words went over our heads. There was nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to say. We just sat with them. And when we left, Elisha told us that the ladies were sad I had to go. 

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Yet they may never know how their smallest act of kindness also touched my heart. We women all sat on mats in a sliver of shade from the roof of the house. I sat with my legs straight out in front of me as they did. My shins were in the sun and after 30 minutes I began putting on sunscreen. They understood that my skin is different so immediately they tried to help make room for me to scoot back. When that didn’t work, they positioned my backpack in front of my feet and draped a cloth over it to shade my legs. These people love so well.

By the middle of October it was already time to submit our year-end report to Overland. As I compiled the data, I paused to reflect on an incredible testimony concerning the headman for one of the villages in Elisha’s area of Siabbamba. Over the past 3 years, we have had a tremendous impact on the tribal leadership of the chiefdom by holding an annual 2-day intensive conference. Since the May 2017 conference, he has completely stopped drinking. Later that year we held a marriage conference for these same leaders. Pastor Tim asked us to have a paper translated to hand out to all the leaders. It explained how to ask for forgiveness, and also how to give forgiveness. It has been amazing to see the power behind that one piece of paper and the simple message it carries. After hearing our pastor preach about marriage, this man was able to make amends with his wife and restore their marriage. As a headman, he serves as a judge for disputes in his village. He said that every time someone comes to him with a problem, he has them read that piece of paper and tell him if they agree with it and most of the time, the problem is solved. This wisdom has also helped him restore other marriages, even between people that were already divorced!

We had the pleasure of hosting 5 AMT students at our base last month. By the end of the week, they really grasped the beauty of discipling the people that you are surrounded by. They sat in on deep teachings from the Bible School on our back porch and watched Chelsea minister to women’s hearts in her own home. They met our closest disciples and saw how they are considered family. They went with these men to their zones and saw how they take what they have learned and selflessly give it away to villagers in difficult to reach places. In essence, they caught a glimpse of the Kingdom and how it is not found in buildings or programs, but within men’s hearts.

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13 people squeezed into our van!

That same week Jesse was scheduled to speak to a crowd of around 1,000 people at a national conference for a denomination called The Apostle’s Church that was taking place in our chiefdom. Our team and the AMT students went and listened as he exhorted believers to be filled with the Spirit and to preach the gospel!

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Jesse preaching at far left.

Recently, we had the privilege of holding a baptism on our property for two of our workers. We have been hesitant to baptize in the lake but now that the kids have an inflatable pool, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity! Blue was very ready to be baptized and when Sydney heard about it, he said he wanted to be baptized as well! 

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sydney

 

As we have been pushing forward, the enemy also has been busy with taking lives. Many people have died just in our local area this year. One man we know lost two sons within a few months of each other. Some people that have been sick for many years have died recently. A little girl was accidentally hanged by a swing made from a bicycle tire when she was alone. As I mentioned in another newsletter, our friend’s son was stoned to death by his own uncle. Not only are people suffering with tragic loss, but ministry is taking a toll with the abundance of funerals that last about 3 days each. For those of you who are committed to pray for us, please believe with us that the thief will no longer steal, kill, and destroy but that people will experience abundant life in Jesus Christ! Also, this is the month that rain should begin so that people can being planting their seed. People are going hungry from a bad harvest last year and it is crucial that we pray for the rains to begin!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who partners with us in prayer, finances, and friendship! We couldn’t do this without all of you! Please feel free to contact us with any prayer requests at heather@overlandmissions.com.

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We have solar A/C in two bedrooms! It is life-changing!

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Teaching our Bible School students how to play a board game for the first time.

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Hosanna is 10 months old!

Zambia – A Beacon of Hope to Africa

3 years ago, our fathers met Chief Chipepo for the first time. I served lunch as they sat at a small plastic table under the shade of a tree in front of our family’s safari tent. As the lake glistened behind them, he pulled out a newspaper clipping. It was a picture of him giving a Bible to the president of Zambia. The chief then boldly quoted the prayer of the missionary and explorer David Livingstone: “Lord, on this land (Zambia) where I rest my bended knees, let it become a mighty Christian nation, a beacon of hope to the African continent and a light to the rest of the world.” Like Livingstone, our chief has devoted his life to see Zambia not only saved, but for its light to shine for all nations to see. 

When Chief Chipepo heard our fathers were coming to Zambia for 2 weeks of September this year, he eagerly asked to meet us all for dinner right before they left to go back home. So 3 years later our fathers again sat with this incredible leader and were astonished to hear what God has done through him since their last meeting. For years he has been visiting government officials and chiefs, preaching the gospel and distributing Bibles. 2 years ago he spearheaded the Tribal Chaplaincy Program together with Overland Missions with the goal of training and assigning an indigenous chaplain to  each of the 288 chiefdoms in Zambia to guide chiefs to lead their people in ways of the Kingdom, rather than ungodly traditional ceremonies and practices. As if his reach wasn’t enough, now Chief Chipepo is the chairman for meetings consisting of many tribal (non-government) leaders that are working together with the African Union. This means he is influencing chiefs, kings, and sultans from every country in Africa! Our fathers were already in shock after hearing his testimonies and then couldn’t believe a man of such authority would ask for THEM to lay hands on him and pray for him!  

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Chief Chipepo (middle) and his grandson (left).

 

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Chipepo Chiefdom’s First Bible School!

Almost 200 leaders from 16 different chiefdoms in Zambia gathered together in Livingstone last week for our annual Sector Conference. This conference is truly the crux of our Sector department, and is quickly becoming the most highly anticipated event of the year for our indigenous preachers. When I am seated together with everyone under the giant pavilion each year, I try to fathom the magnitude of what is taking place. I look across the crowd and think to myself, “This must be the most important meeting in the entire nation of Zambia. These are the preachers in the villages that will ultimately transform the nation with the gospel from the inside out!”

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Packed into the 5-day conference was preaching and lessons on farming, budgeting, and time management – all topics chosen to create well-rounded disciples of Christ. In the past, we have only had 7 disciples that were involved or interested in ministry that attended this conference, but this year we had to hire a minibus for the whole week because we needed to send 15 people from Chipepo! Elisha, Loyd, Livias, and Pastor Nehru brought the disciples that they are raising up in their areas and Chelsea’s ladies came as well. Our disciples said that everyone from the conference enjoyed it so much that they wanted to stay there forever! Continue reading