Dear Supporting Partners,
Happy New Year, prayer partners and supporters! A new year has begun, and with it a new set of challenges and also ministry opportunities. The month of December found us preparing for the Christmas holiday. The Christmas and New Year period is a very exciting time for people here in Zambia, and they love the opportunity to celebrate. An interesting tradition here is that in order to celebrate, a Zambian will have chicken for dinner. In order to show the wealth or prosperity of the family celebrating, they will try to have chicken with every major meal starting from Christmas Eve to New Years Eve. Just in that period of time, millions of chickens died in the celebrations, which was a joke among many of my Zambian friends here. The sad part is that, although this cultural tradition of eating chickens may seem innocent, it actually is far deeper rooted in the jealousy-driven part of the culture. In order to make themselves look better than their neighbor, they will buy and eat more chickens than their budget can handle, and in the weeks after Christmas many Zambians can’t afford the bills to follow. In order to make oneself look good, they will bring about their own demise financially. So much of our training goes beyond the basic Bible doctrines to even practical living. This jealousy, though, also caused a large increase in crime in the city, and just in our neighborhood many homes were broken into. Thankfully, with our dogs, most thieves tend to leave our house alone. They caught some thieves in our area, but released them because it was Christmas and they wanted to have mercy. Church attendance for Christmas is also a big deal, so on Christmas Sunday I had the privilege of preaching a gospel message to a full church reminding everyone the reason for the season.
Before Christmas, I was able to travel with my family to a church in the Copperbelt that is being pastored by a Zambian friend of mine. He and I met and worked together for the first time in 2014 on my first missions trip, and it was exciting to see him in his work there and how God is moving in their hearts and lives. Please pray for these brothers and sisters in Christ as they continue to grow. We love to see indigenous Zambian works that are replicating themselves as this what the future of missions in Zambia needs. Over New Years, we went to Southern Province and spent some time ministering with some missionary friends. We were able to go to Victoria Falls for the first time, which was an awesome experience, and then went out into the “bush,” basically a very rural area about two hours from any major town. We spent time worshipping with the fellow believers on New Years Eve night, and then I was able to preach New Years Morning at one of the churches there which was a great blessing. We were able to be a part of a couple Bible studies in various villages, as well as doing some exploring of possible new outreach areas. The more I preach, travel, and minister in this country, the more I see a need everywhere I go. As Christ said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35 The issue isn’t the harvest; the issue is the laborers. We are humbled that God has allowed us to be a part of His plan here.
January has also brought us some challenges in Zambia. The major power supply for the country is a hydroelectric dam that has struggled over the past years to provide enough power for the nation. Not only that, but Zambia entered into power supply contracts that dictate that Zambia must supply power to neighboring nations before themselves, which has complicated matters. Because of this, at the beginning of January we went into a load shedding schedule which was 12 hours off of power per dat. They then adjusted it to two 6 hour blocks off and two 6 hour blocks on, which is constantly changing. It was very frustrating knowing when we would have power and when we wouldn’t. They have now been able to scale back to 8 hours of load shedding per day which is much better with two 4 blocks of power off. They are trying to find a new way of providing energy. We thankfully purchased a generator, and have replaced our main form of cooking to propane to alleviate some of this. Fuel here is very expensive, so we try to run the generator as minimally as possible; but when you have weeks like the past two where power suddenly is gone for over 24 hours straight, a generator is a must. We are seriously considering changing to solar to alleviate, if not completely remove, our need for Zambian power supply.
The past month has been a balance of living with the constant change and starting the new ministries. The other challenge we are facing here is the growth of Islam. I have been looking for a place to rent for a Bible study, and have been repeatedly ignored or turned down because almost all of the buildings in this area are owned by Muslims and they don’t want them used for that. This was something totally unexpected by me and has made it difficult. They also control many jobs here and dictate the days worked by their employees, even refusing to give them Sundays off to go to church. Please pray for us in wisdom as to how best to proceed through these areas.
A new ministry God has opened up is my invitation to preach and teach in the government schools. This is very difficult, but God opened a door and so far it has been successful. Please pray that God continues to bless with this, and that we will use the time wisely that we have been given. We don’t know how long this door will remain open, but are thankful for the opportunity. We thank the Lord for our safety in travels as well as protection at home. Please pray that God gives wisdom for the future and what the next steps should be. Thank you for your support, gifts, and prayers. They mean so much to us.
Sincerely - Caleb, Abby, Rosalie, and Oliver Robinson