We love the opportunity to reflect on the last year and look at the year ahead when we write our annual report for you. Highlights this time include reaching an amazing landmark in 2015; 300 Life Groups! Our Impact Teams have increased by 50% at the start of 2016 thanks to the work done last year. We continue to see God’s amazing provision for the work we are doing and we to be encouraged and amazed by some of the things we see happening. Looking ahead to 2016 we need your help. Take 5 minutes to have a read and see what an important part you can play in God’s Kingdom.
We hope you enjoy reading “Together” as much as we enjoyed writing it and find yourself inspired by the people we work alongside.
If you would like a hard copy, or a few to pass on, email Gill on email@example.com. You can also download a printable version here.
Geoffrey is the pastor of Chipata Family Church. We first met Geoffrey through a mutual friend and we’ve been getting to know him ever since.
Chipata is the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia and it’s a growing town. It lies on the Great East Road, some 360 miles from Lusaka.
A while back we asked Geoffrey to organise a gathering for people who would be interested in getting involved in rural mission. Geoffrey got to work and invited people from lots of different churches and denominations from the town and the surrounding villages. He asked some of his fellow pastors to recommend people they knew from rural areas who had shown a passion for serving their communities. Geoffrey made arrangements for the conference to be held in his church building and for people to be able to stay overnight as it we were going to be meeting for two and a half days.
About ten people who lived in the town of Chipata and twenty people from surrounding villages came. Some travelled almost forty miles to join us. One man had even come over the border from Malawi!
Inviting others to make a difference
Using our “Get Your Hands Dirty” introduction course we challenged everyone who was there to go home and start a Life! Group in their village, providing a place for Christian discipleship and exploration of faith. Having heard how Life! Groups are working in other parts of Zambia, most of the people who were there were keen to try and begin something in their own villages.
People were interested to hear about the things Dignity does and the way we do them. What we were suggesting was quite a different proposition to what other missionaries who have visited the area have done and it caught peoples’ imagination!
And now we wait…
For a Life! Group to be long lasting and effective, it must be established by those living in the area. It needs to be owned and motivated by those who will be a part of it. We have suggested the idea. We have shared some of the skills and resources needed to get things under way. We will be keeping in touch with people who joined us in Chipata and we will see who decides to go for it. Not everyone will and that’s fine. We understand that to commit to running a Life! Group is not right for everybody, but for those who decide to start things in their village, we will follow up. Our Impact Teams will travel out to their areas and provide further training and support. In time, maybe an Impact Team will even be established in the area, formed from people who are just beginning to start Life! Groups now.
How you can make a difference
Please pray for Geoffrey and all those who joined us in Chipata. Starting a Life! Group is not always easy. People can be wary of something new. Please pray for favour for those who have decided to give it a go!
We have an opportunity for 3 volunteers to join us for 2 weeks in November to help plant our work in an area like Chipata. You will also have the opportunity to work with our Impact Teams. People who have joined us before have described it as a life changing experience. Whilst you are helping others to learn you will learn an amazing amount yourself! Full details can be found here or you can contact Jo Kimball on +44 (0) 161 434 8841 / firstname.lastname@example.org
A massive thank you to everyone who came to our Celebration Evening on Friday 15th May. It was amazing to hear you all sharing how you understand Dignity. We were blown away as all the comments you were sharing wove together into one big picture, quite literally, and also figuratively.
Throughout the evening a strong theme of connectivity emerged. Take a moment to explore the drawing above that was created as we talked. As we move forward we want to keep on exploring what it means to be connected. We are part of God’s kingdom. Physical distance does not matter. The prayers we offered on Friday evening, the actions we committed to take and the gifts that we made are directly connected to the work that people like Bernard and Cornelius are helping happen in their communities.
Special thanks go to Stu and Ian of ICE Creates who gave their time and skills to help make the evening happen.
And finally…a big yummy thank you to Big Top Parties for providing such a delicious meal for us all.
We are busy getting on with our plans for 2015 already but let’s pause and take a moment to look back at 2014. 2014 was not without it’s challenges of course, but overall, it was a year of growth. We are hugely encouraged and spurred on to do more!
Here is our Annual Report summing up some of the highlights and headlines. The stories included are just a couple of examples of the types of things happening on a much wider basis across rural Zambia and now spreading in Namibia and Tanzania. We hope they are an encouragement to you.
You can download a printable version of the Annual Report here.
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.
Three times a year we run an EQUIP training session for all our Impact Team members. One is happening right now at Ndubaluba Outdoor Centre. But why are we doing it and what is an EQUIP training session?
Learning through games
At the heart of our work are Impact Teams. These are teams of men and women working hard behind the scenes, supporting and planting Life! Groups. They are made up of 3 or more people working among their own people in a region of rural Africa.
On average, each Impact Team supports 45 Life! Groups made up of about 20 members per group. That means that when we invest our time and effort into an Impact Team of 3 members they are better able to support the leaders of 45 groups. These men and women in turn support an estimated 900 people who attend their Life! Groups.
This year there have been 3 Impact Teams up and running. One of the teams has grown throughout the year and has effectively been working as 2 teams for the last few months. Between the current teams, 179 Life! Groups with an estimated membership of 3,500 people are being supported. In the first few months of 2015 we hope to have 5 teams working across rural Zambia and crossing into Namibia. 5 teams would have the potential to support 225 Life! Groups and 4,500 people!
You can easily imagine the benefits of working closely with the Impact Teams. They will be able to utilise, share and teach what they have learnt with others who will in turn pass on what they learn to many more.
…and having fun while we learn!
What is EQUIP?
We really value each of our Impact Team members. We want to do all we can to equip them to carry out God’s calling on their lives to the best of their abilities. We support them with skills, training, friendship, prayer and both emotional and financial support. The 3 annual EQUIP training sessions are a key building block in our support of the Impact Teams.
Many of the people we work with have not been given the opportunity to access secondary or further education. Few have had the chance to receive Christian discipleship or Bible teaching. Many are making the most of what little they have but struggle to overcome some of the challenges they face because they lack the skills that would help them to forge forward.
Our EQUIP training sessions respond to this reality. From 2015 we will we run 3 EQUIP training sessions every year, each with a different focus: teaching skills, theology or planning and pastoral care. These respond to the challenges we see Impact Team members facing regularly and we hope that we will see the Impact Teams becoming well equipped to overcome the challenges they face and being able to stand firm, rooted deeply in Jesus.
Each EQUIP session last for 3 or 4 days and comprises a mix of teaching through talks, games, Bible study, teamwork exercises, shared experiences and prayer. It is always fantastic to see Impact Team members greeting each other as everyone arrives at EQUIP. Teams are spread across Zambia and the EQUIP sessions provide a forum for them to encourage one another, learn from different experiences and share what is on their hearts for their countrymen and women.
Like what you read?
If you are excited by the work we are doing we invite you to get involved!
You could be a part of helping to deliver an EQUIP training session next year. In March, July/August or November 2015 you could be spending a week with the Impact Team leaders and sharing skills with them as well as learning loads yourself! Details of our short term mission can be found here. We would love to have you with us!
If getting on a plane isn’t your thing, you can help make the EQUIP sessions a reality by supporting them financially. It costs us about £4,650 to run each EQUIP course. You can help cover these costs by making a one-off or regular donation through Give.net or by using our downloadable Support Form.
Based on previous experience, we have shaped an exciting programme of short term missions opportunities for 2015. We invite you to find out more by joining us for our Short Term Mission Evening.
Friday 7th November, 8 – 9.30pm Ivy Church Centre, 97 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, M20 2GP Trip details can be found here Light refreshments will be served. All welcome.
Please note that volunteers on short term trips must be 18 or over unless travelling with their legal guardian.
For those who chose to come on mission with us, to maximise the impact of your time, you will spend 1 week working closely with Impact Teams. They will in turn work with village leaders across rural Zambia and Namibia, passing on what they have learnt. There will also be the opportunity to spend 1 week helping to pioneer our work in a new area and gain hands-on experience and insight into mission in rural areas. Find out more here
We hope that all who take part in our short term mission trips come home equipped to be more effective in mission both overseas and at home.
Here it is! Our latest edition of Out There, packed full of all the current news and exciting things going on in Zambia as well as ways you can be a part of what’s going on! We hope you enjoy reading it…
So it’s not quite like the Apostle Paul on his great missionary journeys of centuries past. It wouldn’t even qualify in the annals of greats such as Livingstone or Studd. However over the next few days I find myself travelling quite a huge distance looking for future signs and opportunities for Dignity’s work.
I’ll be travelling across Namibia and then back home to Zambia. A journey of some 1500 miles. Originally I was just picking up a Nissan Patrol 4×4 in Walvis Bay. Now my trip will involve meeting our contacts and friends in Northern Namibia and Southern Zambia.
It all began last year when we ran what we call our “Get Your Hands Dirty” course in Katima Mulilo. Several church leaders came along to listen for 2 days to a message that basically says we need to get out into the bush and make God’s work happen! Some of those very same people committed themselves to travelling out to meet those in their villages and attempt to start reaching, discipline and forming hubs of community action. We call these Life! groups. We did exactly the same in Southern Zambia!
Now come the crunch time! Has anyone gone? What plans do we make now? Where do we train villagers and when? What is God leading us to do?
As well as driving 1500 miles, dealing with customs and taking in the scenery, I’ll be spending a few days dealing with these questions too!
Please pray for me and those I will meet. Pray that together we will find a way of bringing more of Gods heart, help and community change to the people we have contact with.
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