Wallingford Christian Assembly

Zambia News - Return to UK (Spring 2018)

I am writing this blog posting as I sit on the plane from Dubai heading back to UK after 3 months in Zambia (apologies for the delay in uploading it).  I have just read the Choice Gleanings calendar for the day (24 April), and have been challenged by the two verses quoted – John 15 v 5b, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing’ and Philippians 4 v 13, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’.  The contrast is stark.  In my own strength I am nothing and can do nothing; in Him alone is the strength for His service.  All activity attempted in our own strength is absolute failure; the Lord is not in it and it cannot bring glory to Him.  Therefore I must review my motives and my service in this light, and seek to honour and obey Him in everything.

The rains have finally finished for the year.  They have been particularly heavy and even though they have stopped, the river has continued to rise, covering the flood plains alongside it for several miles.  Tree tops can be seen emerging through the water.  We have not yet started to build an ark at Chit, however.  The rains have been replaced with cloudless blue sky with warm sunshine during the day, but already nights are starting to cool. By July (when DV I hope to return) I will be glad of the duvet on the bed.  The aerial picture below was taken from the little plane just as I was leaving Chit yesterday.

It is difficult to decide which is river and which is flood…


Jonny Dalton (see photo below - with a young friend from the ward) left for home (via Livingstone and Victoria Falls) just after Easter and was replaced by another medical student, Oli Penfold from Bicester.  It was good to have them at Chit; they joined in all aspects of the work, both hospital and assembly.  Before Jonny left, he was able to join Murray and Grace Poidevin in a weekend of Gospel outreach down river.  Joel Poidevin, Murray’s younger son, collected him by boat.  When Jonny returned, he and I went to Loloma for a couple of days.  I was able to support the paediatric work at the hospital and to hold a large neurodisability.  Several children have now benefitted from Chunc chairs, ex-demonstration models, kindly sent out from the manufacturers in the UK via Medical Missionary News.  They are the ’Rolls Royce’ of specialist supportive seating and it is so good to see them freely available for children who need them in Zambia.  Jonny ministered the Word of God in the Loloma assembly on the Wednesday afternoon and we both visited the nursery school set up several years ago on the mission station site by Thelma Hunter (N Ireland).  Around 30 children attend each of two classes each morning and enjoy play opportunities as well as Bible-based teaching.  They all seemed to enjoy our visit and treated us to some of their special singing.  


Jonny enjoyed the medical experience at Chit; it should stand him in good stead for starting work in N Ireland in August. His ministry was appreciated in the assemblies too.  Over Easter he and David McAdam (along with another brother from Chit) ministered the Word at a conference in a little assembly beyond Zambezi, close to the Dipalata road.  He had an authentic experience with the local believers, speaking by interpretation (which requires a bit of adjustment) and eating nshima and relish provided by the sisters for lunch.


(Above left: Oli preaching in the English Gospel meeting at Chit, right: with Mishek at camp; note the crowd of onlookers)

Oli too has had a good time at Chit. He has benefitted from the experience in theatre and has had the opportunity to practise some procedures.  He, like Jonny, was a good help in the assembly.  He and I were able to join Murray and Grace Poidevin in a long weekend of Gospel outreach out in the bush at a place called Mpidi, about two hours by car from Chit (the time taken does not correlate with distance, but rather with the quality of the road).  While there is no assembly testimony there, there is a rural health centre for straightforward maternity cases and simple out-patient treatment.  Both Naomi and Joel Poidevin were with us, as well as Mishek, a believer in fellowship  in Lukulu, but originally from Mpidi and with family members still living there.  I took my vehicle, partly in case I headed back to Chit earlier than the others (in the event, I did not) and partly for the experience of driving on the bush roads.  It was helpful to be driving in convoy with Murray, and also to have Joel in the passenger seat with me.  We had to negotiate sand, ruts, floods, mud, high grass….  I was very thankful for the 4 wheel drive.  We set up camp when we arrived, and started a camp fire for cooking.  We enjoye simple Zambian food like the locals (many of whom appeared to watch the activities of the ‘chindelis’) . The Poidevins are old hands at this; erecting a tent is simple with their instructions and everything one might need seems to be stored in the vehicle they have kitted out.  There were three Gospel meetings each day spanning 3 days with an additional meeting on the first night. Both Murray and Grace are fluent in Luvale with a detailed knowledge of the language gained over 30 years of living with the people. Murray teaches and explains the Gospel with opportunity for questions at the end of the message. It was an unforgettable experience to sit in the open air under the trees and a the good crowd of local people gathered under the sound of the Gospel.  Many would have ‘church’ associations, but would not be saved, hoping to earn God’s favour and a place in heaven by good works, keeping the law etc etc.  Sects are active and attract many followers, so it was not surprising to hear questions concerning the role of law-keeping and the sabbath.  In between the meetings we managed some relaxation  - including a trip on the Kabompo river in a dugout canoe which is propelled in a manner not dissimilar from a punt. Oli is trying out his hand in the picture on the right below.  The picture on the left shows Murray and Grace Poidevin ready for the meeting.


March/April brought visits from Peter and Cathy Norris (Peter is in optometrist and during his visits offers first rate eye tests, as well as providing glasses as necessary from his large bank of donations), and Tim and Mary McDougall from Canada, along with another friend from their assembly. Tim worked hard on JR’s new house which is nearing completion -when she finally moves in, she will probably be my nearest neighbour on the mission.  Mary and Melinda were busy running the feeding programme at the hospital, providing support for Lucy, the local lady who oversees it for the rest of the time.  Lucy and helpers run a little play-group for the children from the ward; they love to attend, to sing the choruses and to join in activities such as colouring, simple crafts and games.  Malnutrition is still a significant issue for child health; although we do not see the acute presentations as in the past, we still see children with ‘kwashiokor’ – literally this means the child who is pushed off the breast for the new baby.  This definition is all too accurate in some cases.  In other familes, the issue is inadequate nutrition, whether from lack of supply or lack of parental education about appropriate diet.   

Just before I left Chit, Howard and Pauline Barnes from the Wirral, UK also visited for several days.  Pauline was interested to see some of the ‘difficult feet’ that present to us from time to time and was also able to see some of the old leprosy patients in ‘colony.’  Most have foot deformities from the nerve damage caused by the disease which leads to absence of pain sensation.  

Rodney and Margaret Strahan from Melbourne, Australia, are now at Chit for their annual visit, so the radiology side of the medical work is having a boost.  Hopefully, Rodney will be able to get the internet link for X-rays working once again so that we can benefit from his helpful reports – it has been ‘down’ for several months.  They are staying in ‘my’ house and I am glad that it is being occupied in my absence.  

While visitors continue, the core team at Chit is looking somewhat depleted over the summer. Keith and Gayle Bailey are back in Canada until September, as are Shawn and Rhonda Markle and their two daughters.  Kait and Joey Speichinger are still away, though should be back shortly.  McAdams head to N Ireland next month DV, ostensibly until the end of the year, though David will be back for a couple of months later in the summer.  We will also be losing Dr Mwansa, our excellent Zambian doctor, later in the summer as she moves into research and public health.  Please pray about her replacement, that the Lord will overrule and we gain a competent doctor who is a believer.  

It has been a joy to continue regular weekly Bible studies with Christine, my house worker.  We have lunch together each Thursday and follow on with the Bible study.  We have been looking at some basic Bible doctrines - salvation, justification, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification.  It has been good for me to prepare these sessions and I trust that they have been profitable to Christine too.  DV I will continue with them when I return.  Tiffany Poidevin and I will also continue the Friday afternoon meeting on the children’s ward, and a local sister and myself will continue with the ladies’ work on a Thursday evening.  I would value prayer for spiritual freshness in preparing the material for these sessions, that the Gospel message will be clear and the Lord Jesus Christ honoured.  As the Baileys are away, I will also be responsible for the Bible study in the girls’ dorm on a Friday night. I have been thinking about looking at some of the women of Scripture and the lessons we can learn from them.  I hope to prepare some of this while I am at home as there will be many claims on my time when I return.

My return flights are booked for the end of June DV.  This will mean that I am in Lusaka for the annual conference at the assembly on Gt East Road, so I can encourage my friend Carol ex-Chit, now a nursing student in Lusaka, to attend and to profit from the wholesome ministry.   Around 1000 believers from Lusaka and further afield gather in a large marquee in the grounds of the Gospel Hall, and you can imagine how daunting it would be to attend alone, not knowing a single soul.  I would like to encourage Carol to attend the Gt East Road assembly meetings more regularly so that she would benefit from the teaching, but her nursing school and accommodation are some distance away and there is a vernacular assembly which is nearer and more convenient. Please pray for her spiritual progress.

A further task when I return is to get Edi to the school at Mambilima in time for the start of the new term in August.  He will need to get to Kitwe, on the Copper Belt, in order to connect with the dedicated transport which the Wukwashi wa Nzambi group provide.  I also hope to be able to spend time at both Chavuma and Loloma for clinics.  There are many plans – all if the Lord will. I would value your prayers for His guidance and help, for, returning to the thoughts expressed in the first paragraph, ’Our sufficiency is of God’ – and of Him alone. (2 Corinthians 3 v 5).