I know I’m not actually in Zambia at the moment, but just wanted to keep you all updated with what’s going on! Thanks for reading, Tim.
Please find attached the latest update from my time in the UK and future plans.
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, Tim.
Yesterday I went to Chingola to pick up some books that had been sent out for our library here at Kaniki Bible University. Having access to good quality books is a major challenge and so a year ago we started compiling a wish list of books for each of the courses we teach here. With the help of many sponsors, and the excellent co-ordination of John Miles in Birmingham, we have now received a massive boost to our library.
A huge thank you to people who have given books and finances to enable this project to take place, and we do hope to do this again in the future, to keep the library current and growing!
In other news, we recently held a small baptism service at the college. 4 of the students came forward to be baptised, which was a really great celebration together.
11 years ago, I was putting the finishing touches to my final year dissertation at Moorlands College and getting ready to graduate (has it really been so long?!) At that time, I had no idea I’d eventually end up teaching theology in Zambia. Moorlands has always (rightly in my opinion) emphasised the practical nature of studying theology, and so my degree from there was in applied theology.
We had to do many reflective exercises, examining our practice in light of Scripture and vice versa. To be honest, at the time I didn’t always understand why we needed to do some of that, and yet now I find myself telling my students some of the very same things! All theology takes place in context, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and so I try to encourage our students of the necessity of reflective practice.
Anyway, in the spirit of reflective practice, Moorlands recently asked me to write about some of my experiences here in Zambia for their blog, so I’ve tried to reflect a bit on prosperity here in Zambia and some of the challenges we’re facing. If you’re interested, you can read it here: www.moorlands.ac.uk/opinion/beyond-africa
The last couple of months have involved quite a bit of travelling around.
I was really grateful to be asked to conduct the wedding for my friends George and Molly in Bournemouth, and it was such a great day! Being back in the Europe, I took the opportunity to visit as many places as I could fit in, including a trip to Slovakia to visit family and friends there.
Coming back to Zambia, I’m quite excited for all that’s in store for us here at Kaniki Bible College and wider too. This term I’m also teaching at the Evangelical University once a week and I’ll also be heading back to my old college, Fiwale Hill for a week’s intensive teaching in October.
I’ll give more information and details soon but I just wanted to let you know about some new opportunities here. As the work here grows and develops, there are some great roles for people who may want to come to Zambia to give a year or more to some really worthwhile projects. Kapumpe and Arise are both connected to the Bible College right here at Kaniki.
Please do share this flyer with anyone you know who may be interested to find out more!
I’m very thankful to have a car here in Zambia. We cover some big miles driving around the bush and public transport here is not particularly reliable and sometimes unsafe. Whilst my car has by and large been really great, it is 18 years old and recently I have had some trouble with it.
A couple of weeks ago I was driving in Kitwe and suddenly the car ground to a halt. I got out to take a look and the front wheel had err… come off? I’m not sure quite how to describe it – see the photos!
Needless to say, I was convinced I would need a tow truck to get back home, there was grease oozing out all over the place and it looked to me like a pretty major repair job would be needed. In Zambia, there’s no such thing as the AA. So what happens if you break down? You just sort of make a plan!
In this case, my plan was to phone a friend and ask him for advice. He didn’t really have any, except to agree that I was stuck! While I was still on the phone with him, some guys stopped on the road to come and chat (a white man broken down attracts quite a bit of attention). One of the guys seemed to think that his brother, who was a mechanic would be able to fix my car for a small fee. That may sound like an answer to prayer, but the sceptic in me was suspicious – when a white guy breaks down, suddenly everybody is a mechanic and can “fix” it… for a fee!
Anyway, having consulted my friend (who actually is a mechanic), we agreed that it was worth a try. To cut a long story short, within two hours I was back on the road, driving VERY gingerly back home, where the car was properly taken apart and fixed.
Now, the car is back on the road and in some ways, better than it’s ever been!
Breaking down is one of my fears here, and it has happened a few times, but it has always worked out OK in the end. Things like this continue to test, and ultimately strengthen my faith in a heavenly Father who watches over me.
As I was preparing to move to Zambia and not knowing really what to expect, one of the songs that spoke to me was ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ (the updated Hillsong version). On my first week in Zambia, feeling very much out of place, the cell group I went to decided to sing that very same song (the original version)! God’s hand has been evident in so many ways, and my testimony would very much be of God’s faithfulness as I have sought to follow him.
This term I’ve been studying through the book of Genesis with the students here at Fiwale Bible College. On Monday this week, we were considering the story of Noah and the flood. The way the text is written by Moses shows us that the key idea of the story is Gen 8:1, ‘But God remembered Noah.’ The highlight therefore, is not just that Noah was delivered from the flood, but that in the midst of the trial, God did not forget Noah’s situation. Later, we see God reaffirming the covenant with Noah with the sign of the rainbow, which is a reminder that even in the context of judgment, there is grace and mercy.
After the class, one of the students ran after me to ask if I’d seen the rainbow the previous day. This last Sunday was significant for Zambia as the president had called for a national day of prayer, repentance and fasting. On that day, thousands of people in Zambia saw a unique circular rainbow around the sun.
Zambia is going through some significant trials, many of which are probably man-made. But even so, God’s mercy and grace are ever present, he has not forgotten Zambia.
You may remember that part of the work we’re involved in here in Zambia is supporting orphans and vulnerable children. So many kids struggle to get to school as their parents have died young. Since I moved to Fiwale Bible College, the work with OVC has continued well from the base in Mpongwe, where Ann has been visiting many of the districts with the OVC team. Here is the latest newsletter from the OVC programme, available to download. Please do share it around with anyone you think may be interested.
There is also a short video about the project you can watch here:
Some of you may have seen a BCC documentary a couple of years ago, set in Zambia and presented by Kate Humble. They were watching animals struggling to find water in the driest part of the year, as they look forward to the rainy season in Oct / Nov. That documentary series was set in South Luangwa National Park and I had the opportunity to visit their last weekend. Steve, Ann and I went to visit Andy & Kate (from Somerset) and have a short break together – I think we all felt like we needed it!
It was a long drive but well worth it as I crossed a long awaited moment off my bucket list – to see a leopard in the wild! We also saw lions, giraffes and plenty of hippos and elephants. In fact, the first night I hardly slept as there were elephants grazing right outside my tent. You can see in the photos below just how dry it is at the moment and how low the river level is. I think we’re all looking forward to the rains to freshen things up a bit.
The arrival of the rains will also hopefully improve our electricity situation a bit. Most of Zambia’s power comes from hydro-electric power stations at Lake Kariba in the South and on the Zambezi River. Low water levels this year (and possibly other factors) have meant electricity production is down and so we’re currently facing power cuts of 8+ hours every day. It also seems likely that within a few weeks there’ll be no power at all. This is pretty frustrating for me but for essential services like hospitals it is devastating. The knock-on effects are huge: Our economy depends on mining and farming, both of which are badly impacted and so the currency here is losing value fast. We are also seeing increasing deforestation as people are relying more on wood burning and charcoal.
Please pray with us for really good rains!
He prepares rain for the earth. Ps 147:8