5 Things I’ve Learned By Going to Zambia – Even Though I Haven’t Gone Yet

So, we’ve decided to go to Zambia this summer for a short-term missions trip.  We’ll be leaving after our final exams and head out for about a month, before coming back to Lubbock for the second half of the summer.  We’ve been talking with some of the missionaries over in Zambia, and we’re really getting excited about joining them for a short time.

It’s been an interesting experience getting to this point.  We’re learning a lot about ourselves, and about things we knew *nothing* about before deciding to do this – far too many to list off here.  But I think I can get the top 5 out without writing a book.  Here goes…

Number 5 – Sometimes You Just Need To Get On With It

I don’t know what you do when you have to make a choice between several equally attractive alternatives.  Me, I stall. (Actually, that’s true of unattractive alternatives as well, though there was nothing unattractive about the alternatives with this particular choice.)  We looked at Brazil, Cambodia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and others… all with great strengths.  Finally, we just had to pull the trigger on one, and we are really looking forward to it.  Of course, the decision was more than just pulling the trigger – maybe I’ll share what went into it some other time – but I’m glad we finally got on with it.

Number 4 – Everybody Has A Snake Story

Apparently, Zambia is crawling with Black Mambas and King Cobras, both of which are deathly venomous.  I’m assured that we’re in no danger, as they tend to frequent forested areas, where we won’t be. (Incidentally, if you’re confused by the fact that Wikipedia simultaneously claims that the Black Mamba is the longest venomous snake in Africa, and the King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world, you’re completely missing the point, which is that we’ll be in a country that has both, and if we run into either we probably won’t really care.)

For some unknown reason, the mention of two people going to Zambia for the first time is considered an excuse to present the most horrifying snake stories known to man.  All meant to comfort, of course.  I’m especially fond of the “Oh there’s no need to panic; you’re already surrounded by snakes in Lubbock, you just haven’t seen them yet” type anecdotes. Those are beaten out only by the “Snakes?! Pshaw!  Let me tell you about the scorpions I encountered on my last trip to” type anecdotes.

Number 3 – Friends And Family Are The Best

A bit of advice for anyone who didn’t grow up in a missionary family.  If you ever do decide to go on a missions trip, be prepared to spend copious amounts of time reassuring friends and family that you are not going to fall off the edge of the earth.  You would think that after moving to Lubbock there wouldn’t be a whole lot more that we could do to shock people. You’d be wrong if you thought that.

However, once we explain what we are trying to do, and that we won’t actually be anywhere near the snakes, our friends and family have been incredibly supportive of us in this.  We’ve had several people express their love toward us through prayers, words of encouragement, and financial support, and it is truly a blessing to see how God is using what we’re doing to work changes in not just our own lives, but others’ as well.

Number 2 – God Is Good

Arranging travel to Africa is no picnic.  Neither is coming up with a way to pay for it.  All the snake stories, concerns about safety, thoughts of exhaustion, and general I’ve-never-done-this-before type anxiety do build up.  Thankfully, we have many people praying for us, and if you’re reading this you are probably one of them.  God is responding to those prayers in amazing ways.  Somehow, piece by piece, the arrangements are falling into place.  Somehow, little by little, the money is showing up.  And somehow, day by day, God is transforming Bridget and me to be able to cope with this great adventure.

Number 1 – God’s Mission Is Our Mission

God wants the world to be saved, and men will never be saved if they don’t hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That’s why we’re in Lubbock; that’s why we’re going to Zambia; that’s why we’re heading back to Bermuda.

Please continue to pray for us.  Watch this space for updates.

God bless,

Donnie & Bridget


Do I Get It? – A Reflection on Acts 1-5

God wants the entire world to be saved, and sometimes man is slow to catch on to that fact. Even when man thinks he’s got it, he often doesn’t.

That’s what kept striking me over and over again as I read and reflected on Acts 1-5.

Jesus told the apostles to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the world” (1:8), and this they did. But I wonder at how long it took. The more I look at it, the more I think that for a while they didn’t get it.

From the very first sermon preached by Peter, there was a worldwide audience – “devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (2:5). He finished up the sermon by correctly saying that “the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off” (2:39). Peter’s theology was perfectly correct – not surprising since he spoke by inspiration (2:4) – God was (and is) calling not just the Jews, but all who are far from him, including non-Jews. But how far was Peter’s practice from his theology? At least 10 years, apparently. Did that make him a hypocrite? No. He just didn’t get it. God wants all men to be saved.

In a later sermon, he quoted the promise God made to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (3:25; c.f. Genesis 22:18). Of course, Peter is correct in applying this to first to the Jews, but could there be any clearer statement of God’s intention to bless all mankind through Jesus?

Then in 4:25-26, after being threatened for their testimony, the apostles pray to God for boldness and quote Psalm 2. Psalm 2, of all things! How could they miss David’s clear language, the inspired promise of the Father to the Son: “I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:8)?

Peter and the apostles had the clear statement of Jesus, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and a treasure trove of Old Testament scripture that they readily quoted – all pointing them to God’s mission heart for the world.  The local church was growing by leaps and bounds, lives were being changed, and God was being glorified. They correctly taught the eternal truth that God desires the salvation of all mankind – but despite all this, for a while at least, they just didn’t get it.

Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? As I write this, I have to ask myself – do I get it? Despite how I’ve painted the situation, the apostles and the early church did get it; they just had some challenges to overcome. It took about 10 years for Peter to get to Cornelius’ house. About 10 years since I enthroned Jesus as my Lord, I wonder if I really get that the gospel isn’t just for Bermuda, or Lubbock, or people that look like me, or think like me, or whatever.

Lord, help me to get it.

Who Was The Best Before I Got Here?

Can you picture Him coming onto the scene? Everywhere He looked, people were being beat up, tortured and tormented, by all the things that the bully was doing. All you had to do was look around at the disease, the demonizing, the disfigurement, the despair… There was absolutely no question who was in charge.

Until He showed up.

“…if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you” – Luke 11:20 (NIV)

Jesus came into Satan’s territory and picked a fight. He came to where the devil had power, where demons took possession, and disease was prominent. He looked around at all the enemies of mankind and said “Which one of you is the toughest?” He proved that he was greater than Satan by casting out demons. He proved he was stronger than sickness by healing all who came to him. He proved he was more powerful than sin by conquering death itself, the punishment for sin and the final enemy.

It doesn’t matter what was holding mankind back – Jesus beat up on all those things, and made a show of it.

There’s no comparison. He’s the Best.

One Answer

I can’t remember where it came from.

Somewhere along the line, either through something I heard or something I read, I picked up an idea. Basically, the idea is that in general whenever a New Testament author writes to correct a problem, the solution to the problem can be found in the introduction to what he wrote.

I don’t know how true that is (it seems reasonable), but lately I’ve been looking for it as I’ve been doing my reading. Obviously you tend to find what you’re looking for (certainly more often than you would if you weren’t looking for it), but I was struck by what I read last night in the beginning part of 1 Corinthians.

In 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, what I think of as the introduction to Paul’s letter, there was one thing jumping out at me over and over again. Every verse. Several times in some verses. It’s so obvious it seems simplistic, but it jumps off the page when you read it. Paul’s emphasis, in each of the nine verses of the introduction, is Jesus Christ.

The amount of references in this short passage is staggering. What is Paul trying to say with all these mentions? I think this is at least one example of the solution being in the introduction.

Paul is saying to the church at Corinth that there is one answer to all of the problems that they are having. One answer for division in the church. One answer for prideful immorality. One answer for abuse of the public worship. One answer for abuse of gifts and self-aggrandizement. One answer for lack of love.

Whatever the problem, one answer. Jesus Christ.

Emergency Room Evangelism

Today I heard what I think is a good illustration of the need for apologetics in Christianity.

A hospital emergency room is a place of great haste and activity. Many lives are being saved there, but the people working in that emergency room would not have the resources to do their job if it were not for countless man-hours of study and research that form the ground of their work.

Similarly, in areas where the gospel is being preached, but not in its fullness, the overall effectiveness is greatly hampered. To paraphrase the speaker, in a world of blogs, texts, Facebook, youtube, etc., the greater issue for an individual may not be whether he or she has heard about Jesus, but rather why they should put their faith and trust in Jesus rather than any number of competitors. When people “evangelize” without sharing bedrock truths of the actual, verifiable, historical Jesus – his birth, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection – it’s like operating an emergency room with no medical research behind it.

The implication is, folks may get temporarily patched up, but they will not be equipped to live healthy lives.

Listen to the program; I found it pretty insightful.

Update From Sunset – March 18, 2010

Well, another term has floated by…

This term was draining in many ways – in particular Bridget and I both got a little sick for a while – but as always God has brought us through. We both finished up with good grades (this term I have the slight edge in our friendly competition with each other), and in good spirits as well.

We are on Spring Break this week, and taking full advantage of it. We are getting caught up on a few projects around the house, and making preparations for the next school term, and for summer.

The fourth and final term for the year starts next week. I’m excited about it, as there will be several classes in which the instructor will be new to us. It’s always good to see different styles in teaching and communication. This term we’ll be studying 1 Corinthians, Philippians and 1/2 Thessalonians (1 class), the letters of John (1 class), Church History and Doctrine, and Biblical Theology of Missions.

We’re also looking ahead to summer. We are planning to take a short-term missions trip to Zambia during our first month off, and hopefully we’ll have family visiting during the second month. I also should be preaching a bit for the Austin Street church in Levelland, Texas.

We’ve been up to a few other things as well. A couple of weeks ago we participated in a pre-marital counseling training course, designed to equip us for counseling couples. Excellent material! Although we probably shot ourselves in the foot by doing that the week before final exams… exhausted!

We also had the good pleasure to visit the Texas and Clements church in Odessa, where Devon and Almira DeShields, fellow Bermudians and Sunset grads are doing a fantastic work. Funny thing… when we went to Odessa, which isn’t that far from Lubbock, the high for the day was 94 degrees. When we came back to Lubbock that night, the forecast was for rain the next day. We woke up to hail, and by the end of the day it was snowing!!! West Texas weather…

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We’ve got a lot going on in the next few months.

Be blessed,
Donnie and Bridget