"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. . .He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
(Phil. 4:13; 2 Cor. 12:9)
Dear family and friends,
Can you believe it? Last week we celebrated our 1 year anniversary in Africa! It has been a year full of lessons in faith, humility, endurance, unconditional love, and team unity. I am convinced that this past year was mostly about God working in His missionaries so that He could someday work through His missionaries. Now here's my greatest act of faith - to look back on all my pride, selfishness, unbelief, failure, weakness, whining, and apparent lack of "progress" in the work over the past year, and truly believe that God is smiling. He is. I have a perfect High Priest who intercedes for me, and the Father does not look past His Son to frown at me. Isn't that great? Excuse me while I jump up and down and shout for joy! And if the Father is pleased with this pathetic missionary, guess how He feels about you?
By grace, I can testify to evidence of Christ's work in us. We just returned from another trip to the bush - a guy's trip to put the finishing touches on a functional water system for our land. The trip was full of unpleasant surprises, difficult challenges, and disappointment. When compared with one year ago, however, I can see in us an increased experience of peace, joy, and trust. We have pleaded with God that we not just grow numb to the difficulties of life in Africa, but instead, that we would endure with genuine joy. I believe that He will continue doing that supernatural work in us.
In the past month, we have seen some historic achievements in our construction work. In imitation of the Patriarchs, who dug wells in the land that God had promised them, we have pressed on to bring water from the river to our camp structure. God has sent some remarkable and perfectly timed help for the last two steps.
First was a visit from 2 dear South African friends from Cape Town, Pieterfrancois and Frans. Both men had a unique role to play. Frans is an electrician, and when he planned the trip to come see us, he had no idea that we would be wiring the solar panels and water pump. In two days, we had the solar array assembled and set in concrete, panels mounted and wired, pump placed in the river and wired, and water line run to the hilltop. When water came out of that pipe on top of the hill, our shouts of joy startled some poor children walking down the road hundreds of yards away!
As a side note, because of receding flood waters, we've had to wade chest-deep into the Zambezi 3 times to move the pump. The pump cannot be permanently placed until the low-flow period of September. Since most of the small islands in the river are covered by flood waters, the crocs are pushed to the river banks, making this the most dangerous time of year to be wading overflow areas near the river's edge. Praise the Lord for His protection! We really are trying not to cross the line into testing the Lord our God.
Back to the visit from Cape Town. . .we also watched Christ do the unexpected through Pieterfrancois. Pieter has been friends with Dominic for many years, and he came to Zambia with a strong passion to pursue his friend. He was perfectly gifted to play the role of mediator, and I am happy to report that there has been sweet reconciliation in our relationship with Dominic. Please pray that the Lord will work more than remorse and good intentions in Dom, but bring about genuine repentance and the obedience of faith. The Spirit has also gifted Pieter with brilliant insights into the church, and he graciously mixed penetrating questions with helpful ideas.
The next step in our water system was the placement of two 5000 liter water tanks on top of our hill. Each tank is over 6 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter. Without a trailer, we were faced with the perplexing problem of transporting them to the bush. A man in our church in Livingstone has a large flatbed truck and is currently out of work. He volunteered his truck and drove the tanks to our land. Six men carried each tank to the hilltop, and the job was finished far more easily than we had feared. In 2 more days, the tanks were connected to the line from the river and the line to the camp pavilion. There were more shouts of rejoicing when we turned on the outside tap at the pavilion and water flowed. I think our Lozi crew was even more excited than we were. Vincent said, "Praise to God! No more trips to the river to fill buckets. The crocs will see us no more!"
Our first build team from the U.S. arrives Wednesday, and within the next 2 weeks we hope to have working toilets and showers in the pavilion. Then at last it will be adequate for extended stays in the bush while we finish the bathrooms and kitchens. Maybe we'll complete our 3-month construction project in 10 months. I wonder how long the houses will take . . . .
In my last update, I expressed sorrow over the lack of comprehension of the Gospel in our study group. This month I have a glimmer of hope to report. Our last stay in Livingstone caused us to miss two Sundays in the village. We assigned Vincent and Joseph to teach on the stories of the Passover and the bronze serpent. Their assignment was to show how the stories pointed to Christ. On the first Sunday, a woman was killed by a croc in a neighboring village, and Bible study was canceled to search for the body and comfort the grieving husband. (This woman had probably attended our preaching visits to that village, tho I don't know for sure. The husband always attended. Another sober reminder of the uncertainty of this life, the finality of eternity, and the urgency of our ministry.)
The next Sunday, Vincent taught on the bronze serpent. Without any coaching, he asked the group what the story reminded them of. Vincent's sister answered, "It reminds me of Jesus dying for our sins." Then Vincent, without our help, actually made the connection with John 3, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness . . ."! Finally, there are signs that some are "getting it." Oh, how I long for the day when we can live with them and be the body of Christ among them, day in and day out. If occasional teaching yields a little fruit, what will a consistent daily example produce?
Please pray for us....
...that we will never forget the lessons of this past year.
...that the Lord will prosper our construction efforts.
...that the Lord will provide a reliable and skilled interpreter for our teaching ministry.
...that the Lord would be pleased to call many sons and daughters to glory from Western Zambia.
By His grace and power,
- Sean Reece
HeartCry Missionary Society