Ending the year in Zambia

Daryl and Julia Jones made a missionary visit to Zambia in November 2019 to visit Chris and Helen Hawthorne and their family at Proclamation Institute Zambia, and to take part in the end of year conference.

It was a typical November day as we got on the coach for Heathrow. The watery sun was setting and it was 4˚C. Nearly twenty-four hours later, having changed planes in Addis Ababa, we arrived in Ndola, Zambia. It’s hot, it’s dusty, it’s not like the UK in November! We walk from the plane across the scorching tarmac to the queue to obtain an entry visa. The majority are Chinese men coming to work on the many construction projects. Here is a sign of globalisation and the impact of China, especially in construction across the world.

We leave immigration and are met by Helen Hawthorne for the journey to Proclamation Institute Zambia. This is where the Hawthorne family have been living and ministering for the past year. The journey is varied: some good dual carriageways, some less good where the vehicle had to negotiate neglected road surfaces, and then some that would definitely please off-roading enthusiasts. At this point it didn’t matter that you should drive on the left, with the only route passable winding between the enormous craters.

Two hours after leaving the airport we approach the PIZ site. We are welcomed by two of the four guards who cheerfully work day and night shifts to guard the site and open the large white metal entry gate.

On our first evening we join the college community in a farewell meal for the Vice-Principal Tryson, and his wife, Florence. The respect and love for this couple is clear to see. The meal is delicious, though because of the frequent power-cuts, it had to be cooked on small calor gas burners. We eat by the light of rechargeable lamps. Then the students sing! They love the hymns and sing these in parts, African style: no need for instruments, the sound is so full – we certainly knew we’d arrived in Africa!

Every day of our stay there were significant power cuts lasting from ten to eighteen hours during the daytime. The lack of electricity also affects water pumped from a borehole, so if there is no power then there is no water. This affects cooking, washing and above all else toilets. Our presence in the house with another guest, Nat Schluter, adds to the challenges for the Hawthorne family.

Term had ended the previous week and Chris was busy marking exams prior to the graduation. Helen continued to meet up with women students whom she’s been supporting. The whole family have become very much a part of the college and community, which also includes domestic and farm staff. It was also evident that they had a large responsibility for the upcoming conference and graduation. It’s said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ so while in town with Helen for the women’s Bible study, she received a message from Chris asking her to buy a ‘very fluffy teddy’! On ringing him we discovered that he wanted to make a wind-protecting sleeve for the microphone, as the conference was to be held in an open-sided marquee.

Thursday dawned sunny, again over 30˚C, and the conference was about to begin. Local Christians joined those on site, some travelling hours to get there. There was a real sense of expectation of blessing. It was lovely to hear God’s praises being sung as they walked from the buses. The gathering included a good number of local pastors and others in leadership in local churches, as well as some who’d travelled from the UK and South Africa.

Each day started with worship as one of the PIZ graduates, Pastor Moses, led us with a small team. No instruments required, they simply used the instrument of their own voices together to lead us in rich sung worship.

The first teaching session was by Phil Hunt. Originally from the US, Phil has pastored a local church for nearly thirty years as well as founding the Central African Bible College. He is clearly well-respected by the local community, and not afraid to address issues that impact expository ministry in the Zambian culture and thinking.

Nat Schluter from Johannesburg Bible College was tasked with giving a Bible overview over the three days. He looked first from Genesis to Revelation at ‘The Kingdom of God: God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule and blessing’, great truths to rejoice in. On the second day his theme was ‘The presence of God’, and on the final day ‘The word of God’, each time helping to give an understanding of these themes through all scripture and leaving us looking forward to the perfected kingdom to come.

The domestic staff catered well in the refreshment breaks, producing a great cooked meal at lunchtime – quite a challenge as there was again no electricity during the conference. Both food preservation and cooking was a challenge they rose to. These times were wonderful opportunities to get to know those attending, to hear of the challenges and blessings they were experiencing.

Chris took a couple of afternoon sessions on handling the Bible, looking at Malachi and Titus, his focus being that ‘All of God’s word is always God’s word for all of God’s people, all the time’. God’s word must be honoured by being rightly handled so that only what accords with sound doctrine is taught.

Daryl then had the task of putting such principles into practice as he taught on ‘The life of Joseph’, recognising God’s sovereignty for salvation, the need for holiness in the life of a leader, and seeing Jesus in the Joseph narrative – to the surprise of some, particularly in the life of the changed Judah.

The very last session of the conference was the graduation of the twenty students who had completed the course this year. This began joyously, as the students danced in to music and cheering. Many family and friends had gathered for this time and it was clear to see the pride they shared. One father, and then also a mother, unable to contain their joy, rushed forward to greet their graduate!

A senior Zambian pastor, Rev Joe Simfukwe, brought the address challenging the students to always and only rely on God’s word, that it is God’s word that will bring change in people’s lives, and that shepherds of God’s people must be those who listen to the Great Shepherd. The day ended with a photograph of all those who had graduated.

For us, it was a privilege to be there, to see the vital work that Chris and Helen are involved in and to gain some understanding of the sheer physical effort it is to maintain life and ministry in this challenging environment.

Daryl and Julia Jones

Ending the year in Zambia
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