“God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.” - David Livingstone

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beginning the "Crusade"!

(This was written on April 13, 2015 by Dad.)

Many westerners think of Africa as a “hot” place, from the steaming jungles of the Congo to the scorching heat of the Sarah desert.  However when we flew south from Ethiopia (the Greek word for Ethiopia means to scorch the face), I caught a glimpse of the snow-covered top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, sticking up out of the clouds.  Landing in Lusaka, we found that the southern hemisphere at this time of year is “cool.”  This is the “fall” season down under, and early mornings are chilly.

Yesterday, we began our “crusade” as public evangelism is termed here.  Even though Zambia is the only nation in Africa that has officially declared itself a Christian nation, I wondered last night how a Muslim might feel as the pastor announced the opening of our “2015 Crusade.” 

I arrived on the crusade grounds at about 4:30, to discover an army of church members working on the staging area for our outdoor meeting.  The stage that had been ordered was poorly constructed, and arrived at noon.  The local brethren decided that they would have to use something else, and located a stage from a previous event that was much better built.  However with the meeting just hours away, they were in a real scramble to get everything set up in time. 
The team getting ready.

As the sun set around six, people were already starting to gather, knowing from the activities that there would be an “event” that evening on the “grounds.”  For an hour, they simply waited patiently, watching the set-up as the temperatures dropped.  By 7:00 pm, the construction was basically done, and there was a crowd waiting. 

Dad and his translator preaching
After some music and announcements, it was my turn to speak.  Looking out into the shadows, I could see approximately 500 people gathered.  Near the front were the children, seating on the ground on an old strip of canvas.  Behind them were women and older adults, seated on backless wooden benches.  Beyond were many more youth and adults simply standing because there was no place to sit other than the dirt.  They all listened attentively for the next hour, some shivering in the cold night air.  Some had brought blankets which they wrapped around those near them to stay warm.  Many took notes of the evening’s topic, some even while standing.  I couldn’t help but think how dedicated Africans are.  Few westerners would endure those kinds of conditions to hear the word of God! 

Part way into my announcements at the beginning, our PA and projector shut down.  Thankfully the lights stayed on.  The local song leader stepped in front of the crowd, and led a rousing song while a swarm of brethren worked over the equipment to get the power back on.  My translator and I waited helplessly on the stage.  Within 10 minutes, the PA was “live” again, and the projector was warming up.  We were able to finish the meeting with hardly a glitch.

While preaching, I observed an interesting phenomena that I had only heard about, but never witnessed.  An African man with a long stick kept careful watch on the crowd of kids sitting in the front of the audience.  Whenever one started misbehaving, he was threatened (or poked) with the stick!  Needless to say, we had no problems with the children!  Africans, whatever their religion might be, certainly believe in the old proverb, “spare the rod—spoil the child.”  As the result, for the most part, children here in Africa are well-behaved.

Michael, about two kilometers away at his outdoor site, had a similar attendance with the exception that his projector came late and didn’t work!  My wife and Teresa had a crowd of African children in the church building behind our open field.  The Zambian children generally understand English, so their program was conducted without translation. 

Tonight is the second night of our “2015 crusade” in Lusaka.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support of evangelism in Africa!

Another update - coming soon!

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