BLOG UPDATE 2015 We have been very slack about our blog updates in 2015. Humble apologies!! No excuses intended, but we have had a very active year, with lots of travelling and family things going on. We are really grateful for all God's blessing, provision and empowerment through a host of different aspects of ministry and travel and connections that we have encountered in 2015. Our travels took us thousands of kilometres across Zambia, over dusty and tarred roads, which mostly seemed the same to us. Potholes have become our daily portion and in spite of lots of practice trying to avoid them, we still fall into them frequently! From remote villages in the far Northwest Province, to the farming heartland of Mkushi, and further south to Lusaka, we have “seen it all!!” Our grateful thanks to God for a reliable vehicle! Without good transport there is no chance we could cover the work and distances we do. We always recognise the covering and protection of an army of angels sent to guide and protect us from some of the most horrific accidents and dangers on the roads that we have witnessed or heard of. Terrible and dangerous roads!!!! We can only cover some of the “highlights” for us in 2015, otherwise our update would cover pages. Our “adventures” of ministry for God and to His church have always been a humbling delight as we “count our blessings” at frequent times through the year. It is only for God and His people, we are called to serve; and we acknowledge His amazing grace in all we do. NEW RELATIONSHIPS In April we were invited to speak at a conference in Itimpi / Garneton, Kitwe, at New Life Centre with the United Methodist Churches. What a wonderful time that was. We connected with a whole group of special people from Zambia and USA who had a burden to do much the same as we are already doing in Zambia. Delbert and Sandy Groves, who for many years have run the centre, are among the kindest and most generous people we know. This has become like a second home to us. We have been invited back to the same conference this coming April 2016 and we know it will be another Holy Spirit encounter. Pastor Blake Lorenz, who is from USA but loves Zambia, and travels there frequently, has become a very good friend of ours. We have done some significant things in ministry together this year. We look forward to continuing with this important relationship. We will be working together in 2016 with him in training evangelists and messengers among the United Methodist churches, especially in the Northwest and Copperbelt Provinces. Another church group kindly invited us to minister in the area called Mkushi. This is a predominantly farming area, with many commercial farmers, big farms and different nationalities. There are more than ten churches working together in that area and some of the leadership of the larger churches have asked that we help and encourage them as they grow. We plan to do as much as we can to make ourselves available to them for this important work. GODS PROVISION. During the past year we have been blessed with many answered prayers. For four years we have been asking God to provide a base in Zambia from which to work and travel from. Many options have come by us and each one just didn't seem suitable, until a business man in Zambia kindly offered us a three bedroom house in a town called Solwezi. Those who know Solwezi, will probably regard us with sympathy and question God's provision. However, the house is not in the busy town centre, a dust bowl of snarled up traffic and masses of people, but in a much more peaceful place in comparison. It suits us very well because it is geographically central in terms of our travels, and is useful logistically due to the good airport and development of shops and businesses. There are more than 20 churches in the immediate area and scope for expansion and increase too. Now we are able to receive visitors and Claire doesn't cook outside any more. Never a popular option!! We were also able to purchase a Toyota Prado for our transport needs. This too was a result of God's amazing provision for our needs. We are so very grateful. We help support and facilitate finances for a charity in the same town that reaches out to vulnerable women and their children. This charity is headed by a wonderful couple called Howard and Maggie, and it is a privilege indeed to assist them in the work God has called them to. We have joined with other donors in the UK to assist them with equipment and machinery to set up small businesses for the ladies they help and reach out to. This charity is still in its infancy, so we trust it will expand significantly this year. We are very blessed to be assisting in Hillwood Childrens Home, an orphanage founded by Ken's great grandmother over 100 years ago. Situated in the extreme Northwest of the country the home houses some 50 children and is a great benefit to the local community. FAVOUR AND INFLUENCE WITH CHIEFS One of the most interesting developments we thank God for is an increase of relationship and influence with some of the chiefs in whose areas or “kingdoms” we travel and work. We have met and befriended several chiefs, all different in their spiritual outlook, but all welcoming and appreciative of what we are doing in their areas. One in particular, Chief Kanyama, whose kingdom is near the border of our northern neighbour, Congo, is a particularly influential Chief and a sincere christian. It is in his kingdom and at his capital that he holds the annual “Harvest Thanksgiving Festival.” (This is mentioned earlier in our blog.) We visited and attended this festival again in October 2015 and once again witnessed the most awesome sights of worship and sacrifice, as many hundreds of local men and women came to thank God with their offerings of food and livestock. This has to be the most amazing sight anyone could possibly expect in remote areas and among very poor people. Rev. Blake Lorenz, the methodist pastor we mentioned earlier, was there with us. After the ceremony, Chief Kanyama and his counsellors called us to the Chiefs palace. He told us that he was donating 500 acres to the work of God in the area near his capital. You can imagine our surprise! Pastor Blake was overwhelmed as the chief described his vision for the land, as it was just what Blake wanted to do in that area already. CONFERENCES As usual we have spent much of our time travelling from one group of churches to another, holding conferences, seminars and individual church meetings. This is the core of our ministry, and the most exciting, as we see the mighty hand of God working among the people of Zambia. Sadly many christians are quite negative about the church in Zambia, because they see the problems and failures. However, it is more than a blessing to see how the churches increase in size and number every where we go. And even though we see weak spots among church leaders, the majority of churches earnestly seek to follow and obey God as they positively influence their communities by spreading and teaching the message of the love of God. The youth in many of the churches have a great vision for “increase” as they frequently see God moving among them in power and authority, changing beliefs and lifestyles, and challenging customs and traditions which have impeded them for so long. In August one of the church groups we have worked mostly with, Christian Community Church, held a youth conference in Solwezi attended by no less than 5,000 people from all over Zambia. What a testimony to the amazing influence and work of the Holy Spirit among the youth of Zambia. Watch out Zambia!!! God's people are on the move!!! We firmly believe that 2016 will more than ever show the love and faithfulness of God as we go about serving the body of Christ in Zambia. Our excitement is mounting every day as we plan for the things that God is showing us to do. We are confident that many great things will happen, and that people will see that the promised return of Jesus Christ is imminent. Our message will be to fix our eyes heavenward on Jesus, in eager expectancy for the coming of our Lord and King. Our walk as Christians must be challenged frequently as we examine ourselves and our motives. Our love for one another will be put to the test unless we allow the love of God Himself to flow out through us individually. Forgiveness and respect are paramount. We thank God for you as you have faithfully prayed for and supported us, in this exciting and rewarding work during the year. May 2016 be a pivotal year for you as you live the life of Jesus in the world. Remember, He has promised never to leave or forsake you. Go for it!! You are a winner!!