It was a normal Tuesday in Makunka, where Jesse was preaching to the pastors and leaders at his regular leadership meeting. After the meeting,  he and the leaders were praying for  each other in the dilapidated church building. A woman was walking by and heard people praying inside. She approached Pastor Enock who was standing outside and asked, “Do you think they can pray for me? I’m sick.” He said, “Yes, they can!” She said, “Can my demons can come out?” He responded, “Yes, they can!” 

           The realities of the Kingdom of God are becoming more and more real to me as we continue to minister to people who, in the natural, are in a hopeless situation.  The Gospel is the only answer that these people have and we are privileged to be able to be carriers of this Life-giving Message.  The level of physical need can be overwhelming at times, especially in comparison with the lifestyle we are accustomed to as westerners.  We believe that it is essential to have running water, toilets, electricity, and a vehicle.  The people we work with everyday have none of these things.  They have to walk anywhere from a half a mile to three miles to get every drop of water they need and it doesn’t rain at all here for over 7 months of the year.

          After 2 years of reaching villages in the Sekute Central and Makunka areas, it is now time to break open a totally new area and advance the Kingdom with a new strategy for reaching these people. On July 20th, an expedition team of 12 people from the states will go out for 9 days to an area called Sikaunzwe. They will travel on foot from their campsite and visit every hut they can reach to encourage people and preach the gospel. We will be joining them for a few days and stay at their campsite. Our sector missionary, Hannah Sauer, and her father are on this team and it will be good to see Hannah again since she left Zambia last year to go home and raise funds.

          It’s that time of the year again, when the small group of missionary staff on base gets invaded by tons of short-term expedition teams and around 20 students who come from all over for our 3-month Advanced Missions Training program. The first night I met the students they looked nervous and unsure what to expect, like every new class. Most of them probably couldn’t believe they were in Africa. Our Pastors, Tim and Kelly Franklin, had the privilege of teaching these students for a week straight along with other guest speakers. It’s awesome watching God through these teaching sessions gently tear down years of wrong thinking about God and our faith and renew their minds in the reality of His love and grace. 

           We’ve committed 5 years to the Sekute chiefdom in Zambia. 5 short years. It may seem like that isn’t enough time to accomplish much of anything or to truly disciple someone before leaving them. But our Lord and our example, Jesus Christ, had only 3 short years of actual ministry to change the world. How did He do it? He didn’t stay here on earth to keep an eye on how the ministry was going. He left and entrusted His ministry to earthen vessels such as ourselves. He believes in us, and we believe in the people in the villages.

          God’s presence has been filling our lives. A couple weeks ago I was laying on a mat outside our hut, looking up at the stars. We had worship music playing and I was worshipping God with all my heart singing this wonderful verse: “All of my life, in every season, You are still God, and I have a reason to sing; I have a reason to worship.” When I went started to get up, I needed someone to help pull me up and I felt so heavy. I thought, “It must’ve been a long day or I must be sick or something!” Then I realized - that was the presence of God! It was just the beginning of the manifestation of the glory of God that Jesse and I have been praying to see in our lives and in the villages! Here are just a few awesome testimonies of what God has done this past month:

           “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).  When people hear the living Word of God, the powerful force of faith is awakened in their heart and they believe the Truth which makes them free.  This is one of the core things I focus on in the villages as we minister to the people and we are constantly encouraging them to stay in the Word of God.  While I was out in the villages last month God gave me an idea for getting more teaching out to the leaders.  Most of the people out there now have cell phones that hold micro SD cards.  They usually are playing music on their loud speaker on the phone from the memory cards.  I realized that we could put teaching on the cards for them.

          It is good to be home! We returned to Zambia around the middle of January. It is so beautiful and green now because it is the rainy season. We had a warm welcome from our friends at the base who were anticipating our return and they had our house cleaned and prepared for us. When we left for South Africa the house was still unfinished so I had quite a bit of work to do on it when we returned. I installed our gas hot water heater we purchased in South Africa, installed the kitchen sink, stained all the concrete floors, and installed our washing machine. It feels like we now have a home after living in a tent for a year and a half, which we really thank God for.

          It was a week after my due date and with each passing day, we were becoming increasingly more nervous that Isaiah would not arrive before Jesse’s mother had to leave to go back to the states. Even though we enjoyed her company, we really needed her to watch Rebecca during the birth as we had planned months ago. We didn’t even know what to pray. We could pray that God would make him hurry up but what if he wasn’t ready? What if God had a certain date he destined for Isaiah to be born? We went to the airline to try and change her ticket to a later date, and there wasn’t one available seat until January 27th unless we paid $2,000! We contemplated inducing the birth but that didn’t seem right either. We just decided that we needed to trust God, however the situation was going to work out. Proverbs 3:5 became so real to me during that week: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

          It’s definitely a new season for us in every way. We are on a 6-week furlough in South Africa and will be coming home to Zambia to a new house and with a new baby. On November 11th we left Livingstone, Zambia and drove 19 hours to South Africa. Once we reached the border of Zambia and Botswana, we had to take our vehicle on a ferry across the Zambezi river. I couldn’t believe it when we arrived at the shore of Botswana one minute later. You’d think they’d build a bridge instead! We drove an entire day through Botswana, only passing through 2 cities the entire time. All we saw for miles were cows and donkeys all over the side of the road and in the medians. We were really surprised after all that to pull into a first-world city called Gabarone at the border of Botswana and South Africa. We decided to lodge there and finished our trip the next day.