For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2 v 8-10 (NIV)
Wow! What a year!
As we approach the end of 2014 it’s natural to look back and see where we have come this year. We are delighted that this year has seen 63 new Life! Groups have start, with the number continuing to rise. From January 2 new Impact Team members will officially join us, bringing the total to 14. Some of of the guys and girls who make up the Impact Teams are pictured above.
These numbers are the headlines that show the growth of a movement emerging across rural Zambia and reaching into neighbouring countries.
Panono Panono – A Return to Mpika
Earlier this week Jon & Jude Witt returned to Mpika where we ran our introductory “Get Your Hands Dirty” course in July this year. Jon writes:
“The rain hammered the tin roof of the church in Mpika. The noise was deafening. The first rains of the season had come with a vengeance. Unable to speak over the noise of the rain, we sat there for 45 minutes, looking at the 15 people that had travelled to meet with us. Some of them had cycled for 3 hours, others grabbed a lift with us. They came from some 150km away.
“We’d come to follow up a visit in July when we had travelled with a couple of visitors to introduce the work of Dignity and Life! Groups to the area. We’d explained how the best hope for the village was the villagers themselves working with God. We’d used some of our usual stories, role plays and dramas to hammer home the point. Then we had left it. A crucial part of our work is to leave room for villagers to take the work up for themselves. If they don’t it is never truly theirs.
“After 4 months, 8 Life! Groups have started in widespread and varied locations around Mpika. It’s very early days, but it is so encouraging that so many have taken up the challenge of God’s work for their village. We know that as Life! Groups grow in faith, many people will be helped and assisted by their fellow villagers. Children will be cared for, the elderly given dignity and life will be just that little bit better.
“There’s a saying in Bemba and many other African languages, “panono panono” or “slowly slowly”. It means that even though we progress step by step we will get there in the end. That’s the way Africa works and we “get it!” We don’t swoop in trying to fix all ills that frankly cannot be fixed overnight. We work “panono panono” with the culture and those that live here over months and even years. Like the ocean tide slowly rising, so God will transform the villages here. Dignity currently has nearly 200 groups meeting all over Zambia and surrounding countries. We have teams supporting those groups. The cumulative effect of this work is a slowly rising tide of goodness, love and change.
“Set in that church in Mpika it would be easy to become impatient but Africa has its ways and times that we need to flex with. We spent an afternoon helping those groups understand some of the materials we use. We taught them how to gather people and how to run village groups effectively. We asked them to consider the vulnerable and the needy. The next time we visit, we hope they will be a few steps further forward.
“Whether it be Mpika, Southern Province, into northern Namibia or any of the 5 other regions where our teams work, we will continue to patiently work, teach and encourage. “Slowly slowly” Africa will be changed in the power and love of Jesus name.”
It’s a team effort
We are very aware that the growth we are seeing in Mpika and other areas like it is down to the inspiration and provision of our amazing God and a huge team effort from many people. We would like to take this opportunity to say some really big thank you’s!
First and foremost, a huge thank you to God who has continued to call us alongside people, lay work before us to do and equip us to do it.
Secondly, we would like to thank each and every one of you who has contributed to this movement in some way. Whatever your contribution, it is a valued part of the overall picture.
We invite you to get more involved….
Dignity is a movement of people. Wherever we are from and whatever role we play, we are all committed to sharing the good news of Jesus and to helping alleviate poverty in all its forms.
We would like to invite you to get more involved, or join us for the first time, as we look forward to 2015. Here are some ways you can join the movement no matter where you are in the world!
Prayer is the backbone of all we do. If you would like to start praying for our work you can sign up for our monthly prayer points here.
Our growing work means growing costs. God has been faithful and we have seen his provision throughout 2014. If you would like to make a one off or regular financial gift towards our work for 2015 you can do so at our Give.net page*.
(*We use Give.net from Stewardship to enable secure on-line giving. A small fee is charged by Stewardship for the service they provide through Give.net. Please note that their fees are less than those charged by comparable services, maximising what we receive of your gift. You can find out more here.)
So many “Superstars” have done something to support us this year. Most recently 38 people, including our Impact Team leaders, have taken up the 50:50 Challenge. We have been blown away by the response to this and have seen God bless everyone’s efforts leading to an incredible £17,000 being raised and balancing the books.
By the end of this year we would love to find 12 more volunteers to take up the challenge, rounding the challenge off to 50 volunteers taking on their 50! Will you be one of them? It’s so easy… think of a 50 challenge you could do and sign up on our 50:50 page. Check out the list of 50’s that others have been done if you need some inspiration!
If you want a truly hands-on experience of our work, we are looking for volunteers to join our short term mission trip from 11th – 25th March (including travel). Trips will also take place late July/early August and November.
You will be working alongside our Impact Team members and helping reach out to new areas like Mpika. Check out the details here and do get in touch with us if you would like to explore the possibility.
Our hope is that everyone who takes part in our short term mission trips comes home equipped to be more effective in mission both overseas and at home.