Pakistan #5 - Bathed in Prayer

by Rob Weingartner

Our final day in Pakistan (Wednesday) was a day of encouragement and rich experiences for Richard and me. We are deeply grateful for the hospitality and help that the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan Moderator, Rev. Dr. Majid Abel and his wife, Hina, provided to us during our entire stay.

Our first visit was to the new offices of the Presbyterian Education Board which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the denationalization of primary and secondary schools. The church’s educational ministry had been very strong up until the time that the schools were nationalized. When the opportunity to build and run schools returned to the church, PEB stepped up to provide strong leadership. Currently, PEB educates about 6,000 children in 12 high schools and six village primary schools. PEB seeks to serve “the poorest of the poor,” and they serve both Muslim and Christian students. PEB also directs a number of Women’s Empowerment Projects.

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Pakistan #4 - Gujranwala Theological Seminary

by Richard Paddon and Rob Weingartner

Tonight is our last full night in Lahore. We depart 3:35 am Thursday and, of course, must be at the airport two hours earlier! Each night since arriving at 2 am Wednesday, September 13, we have been overnight guests at Church House adjacent to the Naulakha Church where Rob preached. Half of the first floor is the home of Pastor Majid and his wife Hani and separate from the rest of the house. We have enjoyed simple breakfasts prepared in the house kitchen and served in the adjacent dining room. The living room beyond is available for informal gatherings of pastors or other meetings. The adjacent photo shows the two people, Nargis and Asid, who have looked after us with love and care throughout our stay.

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Pakistan #3 - Worship and Forman Christian College

by Rob Weingartner

What joyful worship both Richard and I experienced on Sunday morning. Standing before a couple of hundred Pakistani believers singing psalms by heart from the heart about God’s heart – accompanied by harmonium and finger drums - is a bit like standing in the ocean and having wave after wave knock you off your feet. But these were waves of blessing, and they strengthened us rather than shook us.

Richard preached at St. Andrew’s Church. His texts were Luke 5:17-26, Psalm 103:1-5 and Psalm 107:17-22. I preached on Philippians 1:1-6 and John 17:21 at the Naulakha Church. What a privilege! We know that the sermons were likely better, and at least clearer, thanks to the help of our translators. And the Pakistani practice of removing one’s shoes before entering the chancel properly framed the task for those leading God’s people in worship.

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Pakistan #2 - Memorial Christian Hospital

by Richard Paddon

Today, Saturday in Lahore, is our fourth full day here; this morning we were driven from there to Sialkot, now a thriving city and a long-time center for the production of surgical instruments. A web search will give you the backstory of that from 1905. We were there to see Memorial Christian Hospital, established 1886 by Maria White, M.D., a young American sent by the United Presbyterian Church of North America. She was the first of scores of medical missionaries called by the Lord to provide prenatal, maternal and pediatric health care. Evangelistic and medical mission by U.S.A. Presbyterians was later established in several more cities. A small dispensary for women and children, constructed in Sialkot on land deeded by a Muslim gentleman, soon grew to a 55-bed hospital.

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Pakistan #1 - Lahore

by Rob Weingartner

Arriving at our temporary home in Lahore, Pakistan, at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, we departed at 5:30 a.m. for the Christian Hospital at Taxila. Rev. Richard Paddon, my traveling companion and a retired pastor and school chaplain, quickly discovered that this trip would not be for the faint of heart. Our two days here have been long and intense. Our host for this time is the Rev. Dr. Majid Abel, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and pastor of the Naukala Church whose guest quarters we are occupying.

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Brazil #4 - In Relationship with God and with One Another

by Rev. Jerry Deck, for the team

I have just returned from my first trip to Brazil, where I was able to see what God was doing through his people in that remarkable country. The church I serve as pastor, Zionsville Presbyterian Church, has partnered with the church in Brazil for several years. We have helped to plant churches, invested in care for pastors through the SARA Retreat Ministry for Pastors project, and more recently helped to launch Great Banquet (a long weekend retreat that has shaped ZPC for more than two decades). What became clearer to me during my week in Brazil was how, not surprisingly, the power of this partnership is found in the relationships that have been formed between ZPC and the Brazilian church. It was a great reminder to me that at the root of who we are, as image-bearers of God, are a people who were created to be in relationship with God AND with one another.

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Zambia #11 - Prayer and Worship

by Ebralie Mwizerwa, for the team

We woke up today to a beautiful sunny Sunday. Staying on a campus that trains church leaders here in Southern Africa means that you enjoy participating in a variety of conversations with students. This morning before breakfast, the bell rang calling students to a sunrise service. Justo Mwale University does not hold a worship service on campus but encourages students and campus residents to have a morning prayer time. Later one of the students, Naomi Daka, explained to me that the bell was to remind the students that it is time to gather. They actually rotate gathering in homes of fellow students for fellowship. But each student also goes to a particular congregation to worship after that short prayer. Some groups gather in the evening and others in the morning.

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Zambia #10 - Bill and Bette Bryant Crisis Nursery

by Ted Wright, for the team

Saturday dawned a little bit earlier; the sun keeps moving toward the south. Sue met a worker near the Booth Center kitchen who had remembered her from 2005: “Weren’t you here before?”

Turns out, Purity belonged to a posse of teenage girls who used to come and play Uno. Now 23, she has a child of her own. Another from the group connects with Sue via Facebook.

Shortly after breakfast, Naomi Daka appeared to complete an interview that Ebralie had requested. Rev. Daka serves as coordinator for her fellow Presbyterian students at Justo Mwale University. Energetic, devout, unmistakably authoritative… she has a bright future in my opinion.

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Zambia #9 - CCAP Church-based Community Schools

by Ted Wright, for the team

My day began at 05:30 with prayer and sermon prep. This time of year, it’s the nicest hour. Local people rise early, so I am hardly alone.

Our day began at 7:30 with worship in the Justo Mwale University chapel. The guest pastor spoke about Christian identity as being expressed through love. I appreciated his insight on the disciple Peter, often characterized as impulsive. Using African cultural keys, he showed that Peter actually had wonderful intentions, but tried to love Jesus in misguided ways. Aren’t we ourselves quite capable of the same?

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Zambia #8 - Justo Mwale University

by Sue Wright, for the team

It was a clear, beautiful day with a comforting breeze. We woke to a symphony of birds… and the kitchen staff preparing breakfast. The Booth Center where we are staying consists of ten rooms: five on each side of a courtyard. The kitchen is at one end and a conference room at the other. Its main purpose is for training lay evangelists who come from for 3-week stints. This is a significant Outreach project in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Evangelists work under pastoral direction to plant and/or sustain “prayer houses:” new worshipping communities.

We spent the whole day on the campus of Justo Mwale University: “a leading Christian University in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Originally founded to train pastors for rapidly-growing denominations, JMU has recently expanded with advanced, specialized, and online degrees.

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Zambia #7: Reformed Church in Zambia and St. Marks Church

by Jennifer Ellis, for the team

Dear Outreach friends, 

A lovely breakfast this morning and chat with an American missionary living in Siavonga was followed by a short drive to the Reformed Church in Zambia, hosted by Obusa (Reverend) Charles Ngoma and his congregation. Rev. Ngoma is a 2013 scholarship graduate of Justo Mwale University, a seminary of the Reformed Tradition located in Lusaka. This congregation has been his first assignment as a new pastor, along with his wife Memory and their two year old son Zyteca (which means “Possible” in Shona).

The church was inducted as a congregation in 2004, and now stands at 160 members. In our meeting the church leadership expressed to us that it has been very difficult to evangelize when the people of Siavonga have such great physical needs. Church members live on very little personal income and although over half are contributors, offerings usually bring in less than 200 kwacha (20 dollars) a month. But their hopes and dreams for growth include construction of a guesthouse to host visitors, and the start of a microloan program to help those less fortunate than themselves.

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Zambia #6: Namumu Orphanage Center

by Frank Dimmock, for the team

Dear Outreach friends,

Greetings from Zambia. We have spent today visiting the Namumu Orphanage Center (NOC) near the district town of Siavonga. The area lies along the shore of Lake Kariba and forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. People in the district have relied mainly on the fishing and tourism industries for economic support. Unemployment here is very high and the times are challenging for them.

The Outreach Foundation has been partnering with the Namumu Orphanage Center since the early 2000s to support vulnerable and orphaned children with residential care and education. There are currently 23 children (13 girls and 10 boys) from grade five through secondary school.

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