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Unexpected events in Kamchanga

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Margaret and Gervas, husband and wife and members of the Central Impact Team, paid an initial visit to Kamchanga. The people they met there told them that it is a very, very difficult area to live with many people being alcoholics and with witchcraft being practised widely. Margaret and Gervas offered to come and run a Dignity School of Rural Evangelism explaining that they had would share ideas that could help their community. The people accepted the offer and a date was set for the School of Rural Evangelism.

Crying in the night

The time for the training came and the team returned to Kamchanga and set up their tents which would be home for the next few days. During the night they heard people crying and wailing in the village. Early in the morning someone came to inform them that a young man had died in the community and the funeral would start today.

Many people were involved in the funeral preparations so would not be able to attend the training event but a few people began to gather as planned. Margaret was concerned by the fact someone had died and wanted to know what they could do to help as they were in some way part of the community now at this sad time. Together, they decided that they should wait and see how the day took shape rather than rushing to start the training. They decided to all pay a visit to the family of the young man who had died to support them in any way they could.

Margaret says, “When we went there, people were a bit confused and disorganised. They didn’t know what was going on. The young man had been attacked in the night and was killed. Two of the suspects were already apprehended. We spent some time with the family members and they seemed and appeared so confused. They didn’t know what they were going to do about that funeral. We felt that we should comfort and encourage the mourners together with those who had come for the training so we started singing some songs. We prayed with them and then we left.”

After that, the team decided to postpone the training to allow everyone to be free to join the funeral. The told those who had come for the training to contact them once they were ready to set another date.

An open door to return

Over the coming weeks, the team was surprised. People they had not met before starting calling them and reminding them about the training in Kamchanga, asking us to come back soon. Dates were set and the team returned as promised. Margaret explains, “When we went back for the training the next time, we were so surprised. Compared with the environment we were told it used to be and the response we found there, we were shocked! It didn’t match. People were so happy, so encouraged. Afterwards we just continued to receive phone calls inviting us to return to continue with more training. I think what really touched them was that we had shared with them in that funeral situation they were going through. Later on we went and shared the gospel and that made us in good contact with them and then they really learned that we are not meant to be cruel with each other, but rather to love one another and move together as a community. The example the team gave and did, and talking about what God did, it helped people to see and to change.”

Gervas adds that, “One other thing that really encouraged the people was that we we discussed with them that even those that were involved in committing the murder are people who are from within our homes, in fact some of them are our own children. If we can show them a way of love and teach them the ways of God, the Lord at his own time will be able to meet them and even change them. Pray for them. And then love will begin to emerge in our communities and people will be able to appreciate one another. So in a way, it may seem that what we are doing might seem nothing or nonsense to some, but I mean it is so important. It is building our communities, its bringing a change in our communities, simple as it may appear. We are showing people a different way by being different ourselves. We are encouraging people to go a different way.”

Two other encouragements

Two other encouraging things happened. Firstly, the person who coordinated the team’s visits to Kamchanga was a young man who had met Margaret and Gervas when they came to his village. He wanted to love and care for the community of Kamchanga where he knew a number of people so he asked Margaret and Gervas if they would run a training event there if volunteered to make the practical arrangements. Secondly, the teams normally buy the food needed for training events and take it with them. This is no small job as they are often feeding up to 30 people. Having prayed about it they had decided that they would not buy the food to carry with them as normal, rather they would buy the food from within the community. Although this is always more complicated they felt it was the right thing to do this time and, in the long run, it meant no money, time or food was wasted.

Pressing on in Tanzania

Back in 2014 we went invited to Tanzania by a pastor we had met. He had expressed an interest in the work of Dignity and invited us to share our ideas and methods with local leaders there. He gathered a group of local leaders and we made the journey. We ran our School of Rural Evangelism which gives an introduction to why we do what we do and explains how each person can take the idea and plant it in their community.

We normally follow up these training events within a few months. We struggled to do this with the group in Tanzania because they were geographically far away and we were reliant on a handful of people who could translate between English and Swahili. We heard very little from the people who had attended the training and we were unable to follow up our work there.

This did not sit well us though. We felt that we must try again to reach out to those we had met. So, in 2015 we visited again. The trip wasn’t easy – we had to do a bit of detective work to reconnect with people and find people who would help us with the language differences.

The first 3 days were spent in a town that felt like a very hard place. Despite us trying to reconnect with people, we had been sent to an entirely new group of people who had only been called at the very last minute and could only stay for short periods as they had other things planned. Jo says, “I clearly remember thinking at the time, ‘Why have we come here?’

Tanzania Group

However, on our way back to the city we stopped for a day in Simambwe. We met with Frank who lived there. Frank had been at the original training and explained that he had started a few Life Groups but as he hadn’t heard any more from us and wasn’t sure how to grow the groups they had fizzled out. We apologised for our lack of follow up and Frank graciously accepted. He invited us to share the idea with the group of people he had gathered from local churches (pictured). Jo remembers feeling like a weight had been lifted, as if God was saying, ‘This is why you came.’ ”

Skip forward a year to 2016 and we invited Frank to come to Zambia to join an EQUIP training camp. We were unsure what progress Frank would have made. He remains geographically far away from any other Life Groups or Impact Teams so has limited support. We had also only been able to get messages to him through a friend of his who spoke English and lived some distance away from Frank.

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Frank (pictured on the left) made the 900km journey and joined us at EQUIP. He brought with him Little (pictured on the right). Little has been helping plant and encourage Life Groups and also speaks English so came to help Frank with translation. Together they’ve planted 15 Life Groups and are starting a movement in their village. We were so encouraged to hear what they have been doing and continue to do. They were encouraged to meet others at EQUIP who are doing what they are doing! Now they are connected to Impact Team leaders who have a wealth of experience in planting Life Groups and overcoming the challenges often faced. The Impact Team leaders will keep in touch with Frank and Little and we look forward to hearing the next chapter in their story.

Looking for experience?

Are you looking to gain experience of working in the charity sector or international missions? If so, read on…

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An introduction to Dignity

Dignity exists to equip people to transform their community and tackle poverty through the love of Jesus, particularly those who are on the outskirts of society and existing support. Our field of work is predominantly sub-Saharan Africa (Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania). We have also begun working with refugees in Manchester. Find out more by reading about what we do. You can also get to know who we are.

The opportunity

Volunteering one day a week in our Manchester, UK office you will be able to put to use your natural skills, honing and improving them through practice. You will work closely with our UK Operations Director and Administrator gaining valuable experience of the following areas of work within the charity sector:

• Communications & Publicity
• Fundraising
• Events management
• Supporter care and engagement
• Web design and management
• Administration & Accounting
• Intercessory support
• The opportunity to join a short term overseas mission trip (self-funded)

As a small team we can offer a unique opportunity for you to be involved in lots of different aspects of our work, shaping the tasks you focus on to suit your abilities and desired experience.

Length of internship

We can offer internships of between 2 and 12 months. Internships are voluntary positions.

What we are looking for in an intern

Interns should be quick to learn, creative and keen to share their ideas. You will work as part of a team but will be required to self-lead on certain aspects of work. You will need to be responsible and thorough in your approach to tasks. We believe in being brave enough to ask the stupid question, they show an inquisitive mind, and we do not fear making mistakes, they are part of the learning process. Interns should enter fully into Dignity team life, including morning prayers, and evening prayer meetings. We ask all team members to act as ambassadors for Dignity in their churches, workplaces and other relationships.

Genuine Occupational Requirement

A Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR) will apply under the Equality Act 2010. As an intern at Dignity you will be required to meet the spiritual needs of Charity members, service users or visitors.

To Apply

Contact Jo Kimball on 1016 434 8841 / jo@dignityonline.org.uk with you CV and a 250 word statement explaining why you wish to take on an internship.

Download this information

Bringing unity

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Augustine recently shared with us the change he has seen in his local communities where Life Groups are happening.

“One very important thing we are seeing in Dignity is the uniting of our churches, unlike it used to be in the past. In the past we were just working separately as individual churches and had nothing to do with each other.

“Now in those villages where Life Groups have been planted we are seeing churches uniting and working together. Even people that don’t go to churches are joining Life Groups and they are committing their lives to the Lord. They are changing, some have given up drinking beer, others have started to treat their spouses better, others are beginning to take responsibility for their families. Life Groups have really helped to improve the livelihoods in our communities and the behavioural patterns.”

It started with onions…!

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One Monday morning Royd woke up to find that someone had stolen the onions that he had been growing outside his house. In his own words, this is what happened next…

“I prayed with my wife and then she went to the nearby market to see if she could find our onions there. It didn’t take long. She discovered that some children were selling our onions of behalf of a man who brought them to market that morning. About an hour later we received a phone call from the authorities to say they had arrested the thief. He had admitted what he had done and signed the paperwork required of him.

“As we thought about it, we decided we didn’t want him to be imprisoned so we went to speak to the authorities. While we were there we saw the man. He began pleading with us and told us about himself. His name was Martin and he had been in prison before. He said he has been living a bad life and nothing has changed in his life. now, once again, he’s about to go to prison. I explained to him the decision my wife and I had already made and then said to him, “Ok what we are going to do is this. You live in the Namandwa area and we’ve got Life Groups there. I want you to be part of those Life Groups”.

“Something in Martin’s situation really touched my heart. Before I had moved to Mansa I was part of the prison fellowship. I used to be a friend and a “brother” to inmates in the prison and as Martin told me his story I began to consider him as a friend and brother.

“When I used to be part of the prison fellowship we never had enough discipleship material to use with the inmates. I thought, “There is discipleship material in my hands*. Why should I not start a Life Group in the prisons and be doing something with the inmates”. I am going to see if I can start Life Groups in prisons near me. As I reflected on this I wondered if God had allowed Martin to steal my onions so that I may be reminded that I used to be a friend of this type of community. I had been neglecting them. If we can start something with those people, maybe it will even help when they get out and they go back to their places where they came from. This is something that is really upon my heart; if I see Martin grow I will be working with him there. I’m asking for you prayers.”

Rose’s welcome & a lift from John

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Esther and Bernard (pictured) travelled to a village near Serenje to run a Dignity training event. When they arrived, nobody was there to meet them. Rose* came to introduce herself and welcomed them into her home. She was a member of the church where the training was to be held.

Rose attended the training and after a while came to speak to Esther. She said, “I don’t normally welcome visitors. My husband John* was very surprised that I welcomed you into our house. It was very strange and surprising, even to me. Maybe it’s because of the teachings that you have come with.” She went on to explain that having heard the teams teaching about unity she felt challenged to reach out to her cousin from who she had been estranged for 2 years. Following encouragement from Esther, Rose decided to take action. She stood up at the front of the church to tell her story and said that her heart was being softened. As she spoke a lady stood up in the room and introduced herself as Rose’s cousin. Esther explains, “I became concerned as I hadn’t realised the cousin was there and I didn’t know what she was about to say. But the cousin said that the Lord has spoken into her life and that she wanted to put things right. We were all surprised. We never expected that to happen. We also stood up and
we danced to the Lord. Everyone rejoiced!”

When it was time to leave, John offered the team a lift back to the town. Bernard was surprised. On their first visit John had been very standoffish and distant. As they were in the car John said, “God has come and helped my family to reconcile through this training. I am humbled.” He then began to share his own story confessing that he mistreats his wife Rose. He said that he sends her to work in the fields like a slave and doesn’t help her. If she makes any mistakes he beats her. John said, “From this point onwards I’m promising to change, I need God to help me.” Bernard and Esther prayed with him and have promised to return soon to encourage the family as they begin to heal the wounds that have been so entrenched.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Together

Woohoo! It’s time for our next edition of Together. We love putting it together as we get to listen to lots of stories and share them with you. We always find it really encouraging to reflect in this way and see what God is doing. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed compiling it.

You’re about to read about Deeper, a campaign we’re embarking upon this year and next. It’s all about asking our Life Groups to share what they do and encourage someone else to do it as well. We’d love you to do the same and join the Deeper campaign by simply sharing our work with someone you know. Why not forward them a link to this page right now? Together we can make it happen.

If you would like a hard copy, or a few to pass on, email Gill on admin@dignityonline.org.uk. You can also download or read a printable version here.

Make a difference – pray!

Thank you for your continued prayer. Please keep on praying – we value your prayers so much… Here’s out latest update.

Why not print it out and stick it on your fridge or next to your mirror so you remember to pray regularly?

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A mile (or more) in their shoes

By now you probably know that we work in rural areas. This is our calling. Experience tells us that more resources and training are invested into city churches than rural churches. So, off we go, to the places it’s harder to reach where different strategies are needed as people are more spread out and resources are much thinner on the ground.

One of the intrinsic challenges of working in rural areas is the remote nature of many of the communities we work with. Here’s some snapshots Bernard has shared over the last few months to give you a better picture of what it really means to work in the rural areas.

But our Impact Team members aren’t the only ones. People often travel a long way from their home to join one of our training events. This gentleman heard a team was coming to run a training event in his neighbouring community and cycled 38km on dirt tracks to join them. What a legend!

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Starting in Mulaushi

As ever, the Central Impact Team have been reaching out to new areas to share the idea of Life Groups and invite people to start one in their place.

Recently they were in Mulashi meeting with people from the different churches in the community. Bernard said “This is one of the times in my life that gives me peace, joy and happiness; when I see people from different church denominations come together and learning.”

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