We are foolish when we don't do that. When we choose the "more sensible" option by the world's standards, if we KNOW that God has called us to do something else.
Today's Stop 13 is about our calling to expand and invest in new Zambian projects, in the midst of the worst economic crises since I've been alive --- complimented by some of the most economically unstable situations in southern Africa over the past 20 yrs.
So --- how do we keep that attitude/mentality of faith in God over the long haul? How do we daily keep saying YES, when no would be more convenient? It's something I wrestle with myself. When I see the things God has called us to and the long road we have to travel (again). Then, I think of those moments of God's faithfulness -- by reading back over journals, talking to my wife, talking to dear, life-long friends.
In 2007, I traveled to Ndola, Zambia to visit the Theological College of Central Africa, along with Trevor Bunch, one of our Board members. (Read Trevor's reflections on our trip). We traveled there to dream about expanding our ministry from Zimbabwe to Zambia, while continuing to work with seminaries. TCCA is one of the most widely respected seminaries in Africa and after much prayer over 2005 & 2006, we felt called to go to Zambia for lots of reasons -- to see what God would have for us there.
Over the next 2 years, (including a 2nd trip back to TCCA, this time with Katie) we faithfully prayed about the things we were learning and over time, grew deeply committed to pursuing what we believe to be God's calling on the ministry of Forgotten Voices: to expand into Zambia. Not leave Zimbabwe, but expand -- to grow and extend our reach -- to expand our territory.
As the leader of a very small startup non-profit, struggling to raise awareness and garner massive support for Zimbabwe, I can assure you I had my "reasonable" doubts with God -- arguing about why and how and when and what this expansion into Zambia would all mean for Zimbabwe. Through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, I presented our requests before God and this is what we learned as a Board and leadership team:
1) That God had indeed called us to Zambia
2) That God cares for widows, orphans, vulnerable children
3) That God equips those that choose to care for them
4) That God stands with least of these, even when the strong -- especially when the strong -- seem to ignore them
5) That God wants us to continue to work in and through the church in both Zimbabwe and Zambia
6) That God wants us to equip leaders in the church -- focusing on graduates of TCCA (Zambia) and TCZ (Zimbabwe) to help them realize their local dreams for taking care of the widows, orphans, and vulnerable children within their communities.
7) That God would raise up supporters to hear their stories and hear their cries.
8) That God was only asking us to say YES and do everything in our power to love people as best as we can, to make wise decisions, and continue to say YES.
Since that first meeting at TCCA in 2007, we strived to do all of these things -- some better than others. But, looking back, I'm pleased with our Board, team, and small 3 person staff in Africa for remaining faithful along the way.
Where has this led us? To help realize the dreams of 6 pastors (pictured here) in 2009 and identification of 6 more to assist by year end in 2009. All the pastors are graduates of TCCA in Zambia. So, great, right?
Great that we have remained faithful and (I believe) wise in answering the calling God has placed on our ministry. Encouraged by those that have joined us. Encouraged by the way God has extended love to those in need.
But, we also see the great challenge it is to faithfully stay the course -- to continue saying YES. To continue sharing and asking more of you to respond. For more of you to pray with us. For more of you to demonstrate Christ's love for those churches in Zambia & Zimbabwe that are caring for the people that God CALLS us to care for. We rejoice at what has been done and we cry out to God for what remains.
As you know, between now December 15, we need to raise $50,000 more to help our church partners send about 5,000 kids back to school in January 2010. Kids that have lost one or both parents. Kids who have lost parents that once had big dreams for their kids, but these parents have since passed away. Kids that have churches ready and willing to champion their cause in the name of Christ -- but kids that need more champions like you and me to help these pastors have the financial resources and a prayer team to help them say YES daily to the challenges before them.
This year, amidst all of the demands for your time and your money, join Forgotten Voices in helping realize the potentially forgotten dreams of parents who have since passed away --- and say "YES -- I REALLY CARE. These kids matter to God and to me."
Consider making a gift to Forgotten Voices. Thanks! We need it. More importantly, these graduates that God has led us to need it so they can help the kids that are literally showing up on their doorsteps -- these pastors keep saying YES, when NO makes more sense. They keep trusting that God will provide. We are doing the same by again asking you. THANKS!
We are thankful for your continued YESes and your willingness to share our story with others.
To learn more TCCA and our new partnership just underway this year, keep reading. Also, turn in Friday for a listing of all the TCCA grad projects we now trying to fund, with a highlight on one, which will be Stop 14:
IMPACT: Fund Alumni Development position for 2 years; Connection with over 200 TCCA alumni to determine needs in ministry, with special emphasis on HIV/AIDS program development within the ministry
# Impact: 200 TCCA Alumni