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Mwandi Tutor Training

This past week we traveled to Mwandi, which is near the southern border in the Western province of Zambia (between Livingstone and Sesheke). We went to do a Tutor training which equips those trained to teach TEEZ courses in their local congregations. TEEZ is especially needed here because there is one minister for 14 United Church of Zambia (UCZ) congregations in this region and they did not have any TEEZ tutors before this training. The minister was very glad to have us come and equip some of the lay leaders to be able to teach and prepare others for ministry in their congregations.

The Mwandi UCZ church where the training was held

This was my first time to teach the Tutor course, so I was a bit nervous the first day but soon felt more comfortable. There was a translator, so I would speak in English then he would translate into Lozi. Most of the participants did speak some English, but they could understand more easily in Lozi. It was a bit awkward at first, but then I found there is a sort of rhythm to it and it gives you time to really think about what you want to say next. This training essentially equips small group leaders, so there are sessions about the church, starting a group, group dynamics, etc. The Tutor course is made up of 10 teaching sessions (I taught 3 this time) and 5 study groups where the students get to practice being tutors.

Students meeting in groups to practice being tutors

Mwandi itself was gorgeous. It is right on the bank of a tributary to the Zambezi river so I enjoyed watching the water, seeing the fishermen glide up and down in their canoes, and hearing the cattle grazing across the river. The first morning we were there I told Rev. Banda I felt like I was on vacation because it was so beautiful and relaxing!

A view from our guesthouse

Please pray for the tutors in Mwandi, that they will take what they have learned and teach many TEEZ courses in their congregation to equip others for ministry so that they will be built up into a glorious, vibrant church.   

The Mwandi Tutor Training group

Posted October 24, 2011
Archbishop of Canterbury & Quesadillas

This past Wednesday the Archbishop of Canterbury came to Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation, which is in the compound where I live. He was here for the Zambia Anglican Clergy Conference and of all the places in Zambia, he visited our little compound in Kitwe. He gave an address about the Anglican communion and some of its struggles going forward. Two things that he said have stuck with me.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

First, he talked about the main challenge of the church today as being faithful in each context while maintaining a family resemblance throughout the world. He was speaking specifically of the Anglican communion, but I think this challenge applies to the Church as a whole today. It made me think of the struggles we have been having in our denomination in just one country and wonder how to strive after unity in the global church.

Second, he talked about holy communication within the church. He urged us to treat one another with grace and love – as holy brothers and sisters – especially in the places we disagree. To quote the Archbishop, “We believe in holy communion, what about holy communication?” When he was asked what keeps him up at night, his one response was the lack of holy communication in the church.

On a totally different note, on Wednesday I also made quesadillas. I had made tortillas earlier in the week and decided to treat my housekeeper to a Tex-Mex classic. She comes on Wednesdays and Fridays when I am in town and we have lunch together. They were delicious!

A beautiful quesadilla
Charity, my housekeeper, about to enjoy her quesadilla
Posted October 16, 2011
About Theological Education by Extension in Zambia (TEEZ)

The TEEZ building

When we are not traveling to do trainings, I spend my work week at the TEEZ office. There are 10 staff who keep TEEZ running here in Zambia: the director, the training officer, two accountants, a registrar, a secretary, a receptionist, a driver, and a couple office assistants. The office is usually cheerful with interaction between the staff and lots of conversation.The national office has two main functions. First, we provide regional training for tutors who are then able to teach the TEEZ courses in their home congregations. Secondly, they keep track of all the TEEZ courses being taught in churches around the country and support the tutors who teach these courses. Last year TEEZ trained about 250 tutors and had around 2,000 students who completed courses in their home congregations.

The TEEZ staff (the receptionist is away on holiday)

So what exactly is my job? My primary responsibility is helping to conduct the regional trainings. TEEZ currently offers three trainings: Tutors, Ecumenical Leadership, and African Indigenous Christian Counseling (AICC). The Tutors training teaches how to lead a TEEZ course in your home church. This training includes information about TEEZ and basic small group leadership skills. The Ecumenical Leadership course is a refresher for people who are already certified as TEEZ tutors. It covers the topics of preaching, teaching methodology, leadership qualities, evangelism, and pastoral HIV/AIDS counseling. The AICC course is the one I wrote about last week, which encourages African counselors to use biblical, psychological, and African wisdom in their work. 

At work in my office

The people who are trained as tutors are lay leaders in their congregations who have volunteered to be certified to teach the TEEZ courses. After they are certified they are able to teach TEEZ courses to a small group of 3-12 people. The TEEZ courses taught in local congregations include basic courses on preaching, counseling, teaching, worship, and leading church meetings. The following are also offered as advanced courses: Synoptic Gospels and Acts, Old Testament Introduction, Pauline Epistles, Biblical Doctrine, Psalms and Selected Bible Study, and Church Administration. It is amazing to think that our little office is resourcing these courses all around Zambia.Please pray for the ministry of TEEZ, that we may be able to continue working toward our vision - “to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service” (Ephesians 4:12).

View from my office window
Posted October 10, 2011
First TEEZ training

This past week I traveled to Lusaka with the TEEZ training officer, Rev. Banda, to conduct a course on African Indigenous Christian Counseling. At first I was very nervous as this was my first time to travel in Zambia and to help teach a course. On Monday our journey started slowly as we had to make several stops before we could get going – including getting new tires on the truck, checking in at the immigration office, stopping for a meal, and picking up some supplies in a nearby city. Even though we left the office at 1:30pm, we did not really get on the road until 6pm so we arrived in Lusaka just after 11pm.

The guys checking out the truck and the new tires

We began the training the next morning, Tuesday, at a church in Lusaka. When we arrived the church was locked and there were people waiting outside because no one had informed the man who looks after the church that we would be there. After several phone calls we were let inside the building, got set up, and began the course. This course is based upon a book and DVD series by a Kenyan woman who studied at Fuller Seminary, so we mainly lead the discussions. After the first day I felt much more confident about being able to do my job well which was very reassuring to me. We had a good group of 23 students who will now be able to teach this course in their home congregations to equip counselors in their communities. The course lasted until Friday, then we traveled back to Kitwe on Saturday.

TEEZ participants watching the video and discussing in small groups

I also got to visit with a PC(USA) mission co-worker family living in Lusaka and working with Justo Mwale Theological University College, the Ellingtons. While I was there I met Cosmas, a student there who is sponsored by Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. He and his wife send their thanks and greetings.

Visiting with MAPC sponsored seminary student,Cosmas, and his wife, Elizabeth

Although I struggle with how things often seem to be taken care of in the moment here (as opposed to planning ahead as is my habit), I am continually amazed to watch how people work together and things work out.

Heading home

Posted October 3, 2011
Riots and a rooster

Things have been pretty exciting around Kitwe this past week. The Zambian presidential elections were held on Tuesday and the race was close between Mr. Banda, who was seeking re-election, and the main opposition candidate, Mr. Sata. The Copperbelt province where I live strongly supports Mr. Sata so there had been many rallies and campaigns leading up to the elections. Voting day was fairly quiet, but then on Wednesday there was trouble. There were riots in the center of town as well as in many of the compounds. The neighboring compound I had visited my first weekend here, Chimwemwe, had serious riots and the Nakadole market there was badly burned. The riots started over concern that the election results were taking so long and suspicion that the outcome was being rigged. We could hear the riots from the compound where I live and work, which was quite frightening. We could hear the people shouting and the police firing canisters of tear gas. I spent the afternoon and evening with another missionary family that lives here and stayed the night with a friend. At 12:30 am on Thursday morning they announced that Mr. Sata had won and we could hear the cheers. There were people shouting, blowing horns, and cars honking. The celebration lasted all through the night, the next day, and into that evening.

So how did we pass the time waiting out the riots? Well, I helped the family I was with catch their rooster who had gotten loose.It took us several attempts, but we finally surrounded him up next to the house. When he tried to dash he ran right next to me and I grabbed his leg! The rooster started flapping and flapping and only then did I realize I had actually got him. We also played games, enjoyed dinner together, and watched a movie, but the rooster was the most exciting bit.  I never thought I would be catching a rooster in the middle of a riot!

The rooster I caught during the riots
Posted September 26, 2011
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