Review from a new Heartcry American missionary pastoring in sesheke zambia I must confess that our families’ (mine consisting of a wife and three children, and my brother Shannon’s-also a missionary pastor in Sesheke with HeartCry- consisting of a wife and two children) traveled to Lusaka with great hesitation. The drive to Lusaka from Livingstone is
brutal, and navigating around Lusaka is total chaos and confusion for new Zambian residents who are still adapting to driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Our reluctance, however, was soon replaced with the enjoyment of sweet fellowship and fine preaching. Sesheke, Western Province, Zambia
It was a particular delight to introduce my family to so many of the church-planting pastors and their wives. My family had heard these names for a year, and now they were able to join faces with names. My curiosity was satisfied as I listened to fresh reports of what the Lord is doing in each work. For me, it is always exciting to catch a fresh glimpse of the bigger picture of what God is doing across Zambia and southern Africa. In comparison with last year's conference, it was also an honour to attend this conference as a resident co-laborer and not just a distant partner.
There was the added pleasure of making new friends, especially our hosts, Brother Amon Silwimba and his wife Ivon, and their other conference guests at Dream Valley Guest House and Lodge which the Silwimbas own and run. The accommodation was perfectly suited for our families, and our hosts went the extra mile in feeding us and ensuring our comfort. I am amazed at the conference organizing committee's ability to find a home for all the guests. I do offer one humble suggestion. Our wives were especially nervous in coming to the conference, not knowing in advance what our accommodations would be for the week. I'm not sure if it is possible to notify newcomers in advance concerning their housing arrangements, so that they know what to expect. I also realize that this would require better effort from attendees in helping the committee by registering further in advance.
Considering the challenge of hosting the conference at two venues, I think the organization flowed fairly smoothly. I must admit that our experience got off to a rough start. We arrived on Monday evening after an exhausting drive, made our way to the University of Zambia campus, and finally found the chapel - locked and dark. Somehow we did not receive the information that the evening venue was Lusaka Baptist Church. I'm not sure where the breakdown in communication occurred, with the conference or our local church. Sadly, we missed most of the singing and half of Pastor Choolwe Mweetwa's sermon the first night. The rest of the week flowed much more smoothly.
Along with those who organize housing, I share equal amazement with those who organize the meals. Feeding such an army (about 500 people) is quite the logistical challenge. Of course, we Americans are still adapting to Zambian cuisine, but the meals were satisfying. Concerning the meals, I have another observation to offer. As newcomers, the system for meal queues was a bit confusing - pastors' queue, children's queue, etc. I don't know if signs could be posted to identify each meal queue and save bewildered guests the embarrassment of finding themselves in the wrong queue (not that they would be rebuked, of course).
Concerning the singing this year, I was pleasantly surprised by the strong effort to mix old and new hymns, like my favorites "In Christ Alone" and "How Deep the Father's Love." The strength of the preaching, of course, was no surprise. It is always a privilege to sit under the exposition of men like Pastors Conrad Mbewe and Ronald Kalifungwa. It was my impression that the theme this year greatly benefited from an exclusive African treatment. Not only was I personally challenged to bring all of my life under all of Scripture, but I also gained valuable and helpful insights into African culture.
All in all, I praise God for a positive family experience at the conference, and for the privilege of attending the 20th Anniversary. May Christ's kingdom continue coming in triumph to this country and this continent.
That His Name be exalted among the nations,