Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A prayer meeting and an MOU

I (Zach) knew that we needed to be praying with our partners more often.  So far, since returning to Nigeria, I had only been to the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (NBTT) Wednesday prayer meeting once, and I hadn't even made it to the Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) Tuesday prayer meeting even once.  We had pinned "Start praying with CAPRO" on our teams "to do" bulletin board for nearly two months, but for one reason or another we hadn't been able to go.

Finally, we all were praying at the same tables.  Grace Ajaegbu, a surveyor, and I had entered a small three wheeled public transport vehicle (known as a keke-NAPEP) for the forty-minute trip skirting around town and now we were in the same circle as the CAPRO research team. These men and women are Nigerians who have joyfully given up successful careers to follow a calling to reach the unreached. Trusting God to supply all their needs, they pour themselves out, researching where the Gospel is most needed, evaluating ongoing mission, and training new missionaries how to do the same.

We sang, we thanked God for specific answers to prayer, and we began to lift up the needs of the CAPRO research team.  For about three years we have been trying to work and pray with CAPRO's research team, so that we both can help each other do our work better.  It was encouraging to lift these brothers and sisters and their work up to God, knowing with confidence that he will bring it to completion.  I was also surprised to hear about basic things in their ministry I hadn't know about, and their vision to work in an area where we had done a survey.  We should pray together more often?

"Why don't we make plans for how we can work together right now?"  Robert Simon, the CAPRO research team leader was about to take a new role, and he wanted to ensure that he left a sure footing for the transition in leadership. Grace and I had planned a meeting about three hours after the prayers started, but I knew this discussion would be important.  I phoned back to reschedule the meeting, and we stayed on.

Over the next hour we discussed how we might work together and Robert Simon drafted a memorandum of understanding that included how we might pray together, share information, and help in each other's training events.   Join us in praying that these plans become reality!

You can read about CAPRO at their website: CAPRO and CAPRO Nigeria.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Good Hair Day

I (Christy) bought 3 packages of hair, and enjoyed the ambiance of the Mary’s “saloon” where the number of chattering laughing women fluctuated over the 2-day work of art. Mary is almost 4 feet tall, and has a big smile that anyone would be caught off guard by. The best part of the day were the cultural lessons I received about men’s attitudes according to women, the situation downtown on Fridays (The Muslim holy day), opinions on Muslim activities from a certain Christian perspective, their thoughts on white people, the banter between single women and married men, the assurance of salvation, sexual relationships outside of marriage, forgiveness, and gossip on a host of people I don’t know from their community. It was the “Barbershop” talk Nigerian style, and I was invigorated by it, though my bum was quite tired after sitting for 8 hours. However, the hair is done, and it has brought me many sweet compliments from Nigerians and expatriates alike…it also saves me a lot of time toting water, heating it, and then washing my hair! Yeah!
I’ve never been to a thanksgiving like this one! Trees were arranged in the front of the sanctuary “bearing fruit” that had been bought at the market and was sold at the proper time. Pastor William gave a sermon on the Christian life being one of thankfulness, and then we danced up with our groups. Zach: Men, Missionary, Plateau people, and Adamawa people. Christy: Women, missionary, Plateau people. When the missionaries danced up, there were only 3 of us, so Christy lead in “We are Walking In the Light of God” since our mother tongue is English. However, she did the traditional “Bee Booty” dance, as she calls the dance originated in the South, that she’s only seen here in Nigeria and makes her laugh. It brought hoots and hollers from those from that region. What fun to celebrate this thanksgiving with our brothers and sisters in Christ, dressed in their traditional dressings, singing in their mother tongues, and thanking God for the greatness of his love and blessings as they danced up the aisle with a goat or chicken, a wheelbarrow of rice, a crate of eggs, cassava on their heads, oil in their hands, or any other gift they were giving to God to say “Thank you”. We have so much to thank God for this year! Marriage, Christy moving to Nigeria and how God is sustaining her, the many joys that comes with marriage, and the struggles too. God is so abundantly good!

Monday, November 12, 2012

We attended our first wedding since we've been married! Zach was asked to be the "Reception Chairman," a position which was discovered along the way. He opened the reception with a Hausa greeting and welcome, was stated an "international observer" for the cutting of the cake, and asked to open the gift giving portion of the event. We danced with the traditional dancers, sat in honored seats under the shade, and participated when asked to dance with the bride and groom. What fun to build memories and experienced together! Prayerfully we will have many such opportunities to share in the joy of others in our new life together.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh WITH!

[This post was taken from one of the last ZachNotes prayer letters, before Christy and I got married.]
Helping a group at an orphanage think together.
It is so hard to “hear” the silence of individuals who are not participating.

I suppose one should not be surprised to be constantly required to participate during a workshop about Participatory Methods.  Here we were, in table groups again, discussing the attitudes common among the “poor” and those among the “non-poor”.  Rachel suggested the first “non-poor” attitude, “deluded”.
“Well, then, I must be deluded,” I quipped.
“After all, isn’t being poor in Spirit the heart of the Sermon on the Mount?” Rachel asked. “We are all poor and desperately need God.”
“But non-poor means someone who doesn’t think they are poor,” I said. “I have all the riches I need.  I don’t have to worry about what I eat each day, and I have an abundance of joy and hope and all those things in Jesus.  I’m not poor.”
We started writing down more attitudes of people who are “poor” and “non-poor”.  Soon all the tables were sharing their ideas and posting them on the white-board.  For the “poor” we listed “envy”, “inferiority complex”, “victim”, “dependency”, and items like that. For the “non-poor”, we listed “independent”, “arrogant”, “confident”, and among other attitudes.
“Now,” the facilitator said, “think about your context.  What are ways you have seen these attitudes in your own experience?”
My eyes fell on the word “independent.”  I realized that for many of our surveys, we go with the attitude “We just want to help you; if you are not interested, we can just leave you.”  I started to ponder how we could correct this I-don’t-need-you attitude.  God, how can we work more together with the people want to serve?
I looked up at the wall, where the facilitator was pointing at a poster with the words “Do WITH not FOR or TO.”  It had been there all along, but suddenly I realized how arrogant doing something FOR someone could become.  It expressed a long-growing feeling that we need better connections with the communities we serve—or should I say “work with”?
I can’t do without these communities.

You Is Not You Without Me

 "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, ...