Trina and I recently finished a leadership meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe that we have participated in for the last twelve years. It never ceases to amaze us just how different our experience is every time we visit this conference and this year was no exception. There were a number of leaders normally in attendance who were committed elsewhere. On top of this, we had a funeral for a family member of a local leader in Harare that pulled a number of the local men away from the meetings.
A funeral in Zimbabwe is a significant cultural event. The mourners arrive at the home of the deceased on the day the death occurs to begin the grieving process. You are expected to show up at the home each day until it is announced when the official funeral will take place. This can last for a long time and in our case took four days to complete.
In spite of the distractions, we were still able to serve fifty leaders with teaching, fellowship and personal prayer ministry. The emphasis of the conference was on the subject of Sons of God taken primarily from Romans 8. You can see, Suffering Gloriously, to check out some of the topics covered in the teaching.
The smaller numbers turned out to be a great blessing as we were able to spend more individual time with those who participated. The fellowship is described as an annual highlight for just about everyone involved because we shoulder most of the ministry load. Most who attend, preach and minister constantly, and have very little opportunity to sit, listen and be encouraged by others.
One of the highlights in this conference was the opportunity to work more closely with David Banza and Japhet Muturikwa (Japhet is the shorter individual and David is the tall one being prayed for in the picture). David has been in pastoral and other ministry since 1997 and in the last three years the Lord has pressed him toward serving the Lord in a full time capacity. Japhet is a pastor with a strong serving gift and a growing burden to reach out to street children. Their increasing maturity was obvious in the conference setting and in the reports of their dealings with the Body of Christ in general. To see these men and others like them growing in their respective callings is the reason we are missionaries in Africa.
Lastly, I want to encourage everyone to make sure that their decisions are not influenced by the spirit of fear (see 2 Timothy 1:7). The media and a number of people in South Africa were unduly concerned with the situation in Zimbabwe leading up to our departure. Had we allowed their alarm to control our actions, we would have certainly missed out on an opportunity to serve the Lord in the strengthening of His Church. Not only was everything fine, but our hosts were shocked at the distortion from reality when we relayed other’s concerns to them.
It feels like every trip we make reminds us much more that we are completely dependent on the Grace of Jesus. Please continue to lift our mission up to the Lord in prayer.