Posts tagged Dustin and Sherri Ellington
Dustin and Sherri Ellington - May 2019 Update

Dear friends,

I’d like to share a conversation with a student from Mozambique, José Bazima. Ever since meeting him, I had been encouraged by José’s thoughtful comments in class and in the Bible study group I facilitate, but I knew I wanted to ask him more questions when he shared a simple song in chapel that really touched my faith. My experience with African Christians has been rich, and their powerful motivation to be of one heart and mind in service to their communities really challenges me. But it seems that only now and then have I heard personal expressions about Jesus, such as loving and serving him who, in the apostle Paul’s words, “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). That’s something I want for my students as they prepare to be pastors, so their relationship with Jesus Christ inspires and sustains their life of service. Let me share with you some of my conversation with José.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - February 2019 Update

Dear friends,

Do you live your life as though you will be here forever? We recently attended the funeral service of a dear colleague and friend who died at the age of 51. The homily, given by another dear colleague, Dr. D.T. Banda, reminded us and the many other Christians and pastors in attendance of a key message: We shouldn’t conduct ministry as though we have forever. Only God is forever. We are subject to time.

Our whole community has been reminded of this truth in a shocking way learning of the death of Rev. Gerald Phiri, pastor in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian and assistant coordinator of the Booth Center, a program of Justo Mwale University devoted to training “evangelists” (volunteer lay ministers) for ministry and to training ministers, whether volunteer or full-time, in how to sustain their ministries through side work in agriculture, tailoring, electricity, and other fields.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - September 2018 Update

Dear friends and supporters,

Sherri and I have served eight years in Zambia, a country that is officially over 95% Christian yet where 100 years ago there were hardly any Christians at all. Most of this growth has happened in the last 50 or so years.

The church here is dealing with second and third generation issues. On one hand, there’s been amazing numerical success, there are churches and Christian institutions everywhere, and even the constitution declares Zambia to be a Christian nation. But on the other hand, when everyone is supposed to be Christian and righteous and when prestige and power belong to those who control Christian institutions, there’s a challenge to stay supple before God and one another for the sake of ongoing deeper conversion.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - June 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Zambia. I (Dustin) find it enlightening to listen to my students talk openly about their experience with the church. I think you would, too. Recently, I sat with three students and asked three big questions of each. This time, I wrote down their answers to share. Perhaps their words will touch your hearts and give you insight into the church in this part of the world.

1. When you think of your church in your home country, what encourages you and leads you to thank God?
Naomi Daka (second-year student from Zambia): The zeal that people have to worship God really makes me thank God. People have zeal for Sundays. There are a variety of motives, but it’s still encouraging to see. People really want to be part of church. Something additional is the inclusiveness … [towards] female ministers; this really makes me thank God for my church.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - November 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Zambia. Being on a Southern Hemisphere schedule, we at Justo Mwale University are rapidly approaching the end of the school year. Eighteen of our students are finishing the main program, the Bachelor of Theology. At least fifteen have congregations awaiting their arrival as pastors. I’ve had the chance to talk with four outstanding students about their hopes and fears as they move on, and I’d like to share their words with you.  

Two of the four students I talked with have not previously pastored a congregation and are eager to start. Watanga Ngoma is the youngest graduate in his class. He says, “I am excited that I will be serving as an ordained minister at a congregation... I am happy that I will be in full-time service to the Lord, a thing which is upon my heart and which has been my desire. This brings joy to me that I will be able to contribute more to the church and body of Christ.” 

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

A church that supports our ministry recently sent us interview questions focused on prayer and God’s presence. I (Dustin) responded and thought I’d share the results with you. The questions are based on a book by Walter Brueggemann called Praying the Psalms. He says that Christians pray for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, and he mentions three ways of knowing how to pray for others. One way is to attend to what’s happening in our own lives and surroundings, since we share a “common lot” with all people.

As you read my answers, Sherri and I would also invite you to consider: How might you answer the questions below for your own life, and for the unique place where God has placed you?

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - July 2017 Update

Dear friends,

One of the parts of my work which I (Dustin) feel most strongly about is mentoring master’s students and fourth-year bachelor’s students as they carry out research and writing projects. The young African church has many serious matters to think through, and all of my students are sorting through challenges facing their churches as they do their academic work. Let me share a little about my current research students and the significance of their areas of focus.  

Rev. Bannet Muwowo is a Zambian Presbyterian pastor writing a master’s thesis that seeks to describe what the process of mature biblical interpretation should be like and what it should accomplish in Zambia today. Rev. Muwowo believes people’s poverty tends to take control of what they are able to see in the Bible; poverty drives interpretation. People may think, for instance, that whenever the Bible uses the word “blessing,” it is talking about material well-being. Rev. Muwowo suspects that 

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Justo Mwale University - December 2016 Update

Dear friends,

From time to time we have conversations in ministry that help us to see afresh why we are here in Zambia, and also make us grateful for supporters who make our ministry possible. One of my students recently asked to talk with me in my office. I was a little surprised when he arrived and said he actually wanted to discuss what salvation means. He’s soon to graduate and be ordained, and my experience in America and in Egypt was that pastors and future pastors tend to know fairly well what they think about salvation. But this student was really wrestling with the topic, on account of what he had gone through in his various practical ministry experiences. 

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington (PCUSA) - May 2016 Update

Dear friends, 

Once again it is graduation time and, as is now the norm at Justo Mwale University, our sparkling new graduates have already been serving as pastors since November or December. This year I (Sherri) took it upon myself to ask some of them what the biggest surprise has been in their first few months of pastoral work. In their answers I found insight to the challenges they face; I also found tidbits of challenge and inspiration for me as an American Christian. Read on, and let our recent graduates challenge you, as well...

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Justo Mwale University - December 2015 Update

Dear friends and partners,

Greetings from Lusaka, Zambia. It is always a joy to hear from former students who are thriving in pastoral ministry. I invite you to read this recent email interaction I had with one such pastor now serving in Malawi. The subject line reads, “Extension of my ministry area.”

Jankens: I just wanted to inform you that my ministry area has been extended to eight congregations from five, with 1,600 members as the minimum number of congregants. 

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington (PCUSA) - October 2015 Update

Greetings from Zambia. This lovely country where we live has been going through perhaps its most difficult time since we’ve been here. Lusaka, the capital city and our home, has gone without electricity for a minimum of eight hours/day since June – and it looks like this will continue. For power Zambia relies upon a large hydroelectric dam on the largest man-made lake in the world (Lake Kariba), but last year's rainy season was too light. Almost all of the remaining water in Lake Kariba has been used, leaving little to pass through the dam.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington (PCUSA) - June 2015 Update

Dear Friends,

On May 9 we had our first graduation ceremony under our institution’s new name, Justo Mwale University. The school has transitioned from Justo Mwale Theological College to what Zambia’s government calls a “university college” to a full university. We are now a (small) university. Our main work is still to prepare people to become pastors in countries throughout Southern Africa. 

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington (PCUSA) - April 2014 Update

Dear Friends,

If sleeping on the ground outdoors in the cold, or with mosquitoes biting in the heat, will help him preach good news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed, our student Mphatso Matemba (pictured here) is willing to do it. On one level, I think any follower of Christ would be. But how often do we actually do so – put ourselves in places where we must make physical sacrifices on behalf of others?

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington (PCUSA) - November 2013 Update

Dear Friends,

George, one of seven students from Malawi currently at Justo Mwale Theological University College, is finishing his studies this year. He has written his 50+ page senior thesis, and I (Sherri) have had the privilege of editing the English for him. I finished working through it last night, then opened up the Bible this morning and was struck by the similarity between what Matthew and Jesus describe in Matthew 9:36-38 and the situation George describes in Malawi.   

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - April 2013 Update

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Zambia. I realize people appreciate stories of what God has done, and we do like to share those! But my experience is that the most significant stories I’m involved in are just beginning. My calling is to equip and prepare others for ministry. I teach students, I preach to them, I befriend them, and sometimes I have to correct them. I also do a lot of listening, whether in class discussions, as seminarians preach, informally between classes, or sitting with them in my office. I teach, but I also try to offer a pastoral presence in students’ lives, to take part in what God is doing to mold and shape them for future ministry.

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