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.
There’s something funny with Cornelius’s email account. Every now and then a batch that he’s sent over a period of time all arrive in one go. This means that I was greeted the other morning by a whole heap of encouragements. We’ve seen the photos on facebook before, but now we get to hear the stories as well! I wanted to share them with you, so watch this space, I’ll be posting them bit by bit. Here’s the first…
“These photos were taken during our first training at the village called Shikamushile in Samfya district. It was well attended and the out pouring of the Spirit of God was experienced by the people who came, it was like never before. One man said that he can never stop coming along for such teaching. That was a suprise to all of us who came. He was very serious and emphatic. He had travelled a long distance, he was from a far village about 20 kilometres away. He was invited by Pilius just after he lost his wife.”
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
This is the question we asked on Friday at our Celebration Evening. The answers were many and varied. Time and again, themes of connectivity, planting of seeds, working together and being part of a family came up.
In preparation for Friday evening we had asked Bernard and Cornelius, two of our Impact Team members, what they think Dignity is like.
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.
As we plant our work in more and more areas of rural Zambia and neighbouring countries, we find ourselves working amongst people who speak many different languages.
In our recent planning and prayer meetings a strong theme has been emerging. We are being reminded that God will use the “voiceless” or the “faceless” to fulfil his purposes. These are the people we can so easily overlook if we are not careful.
What does this mean for Dignity? It’s easy for us to seek out the more educated without even meaning to. Those who have had the opportunity to complete their schooling are often those who speak English the best and are the easiest for us to communicate with. But what if the people God is calling in a village are the least educated? What if they don’t speak English? We cannot disregard them because it is a little harder for us to work with them.
In response to this, providing both the Bible and training materials in local languages is becoming a growing part of our work. After six months hard work, we’ve recently delivered the first Lunda copies of Rooted in Jesus to our Mwinlunga Impact Team. This week we’ve also been able to purchase a large number of local language Bibles for distribution. An amazing couple of weeks!
The delight on people’s faces when they receive materials written in their own language shows that something much deeper than the giving of a book is taking place. They understand that we are putting our trust in them. We are saying, “You are the ones we believe God is going to use.”
Is this something you are passionate about? Don’t miss the opportunity to be involved.
You could volunteer to proof read the English copy of training materials we write.
You could volunteer to help with the translation of materials into Zambian & Namibian languages.
Contact Jo Kimball: +44 (0) 161 434 8841 / email@example.com
You can help cover the cost of translating materials into local languages.
On average it costs us £250 to translate each of the training materials we use into a different language.
You can donate towards our work here: www.give.net
[content_box] Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”
1 Corinthians 1 v 26 – 31
The Mwinilunga Impact Team receive Rooted in Jesus in Lunda
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5 v 16-18 (NIV)
A Week of Prayer
Our normal work takes a break at this time of year. It’s the rainy season and people need to tend their fields. So, we roll with it. We allow a natural break, a bit of down time.
We use this time to reflect on where we have been and what has happened. We look at where we are going and we lay plans for the coming year.
As part of this, we are having a week of prayer. We believe prayer works. We would love you to join us in praying for our work. If you feel God is speaking into our work, please do contact us and share it with us.
[three_fourth_last]Praise & Thanks!
2014 was an amazing year for Dignity. We saw God doing great things and we want to give Him the glory. We saw 2 brothers reunited after 25 years of division. We witnessed a reformed alcoholic returning to rebuild his marriage. People learnt and passed on new skills in conservation farming, helping families and Life! Groups support themselves and their communities better. All these are real and physical signs of growing spiritual freedom and transformation taking place. Praise God!
64 new Life! Groups began in 2014 bringing the total to 180. That means 3,600 people growing in faith and working to bring Jesus’s hope and love to their villages. Pray for the group leaders to have courage and wisdom and for group members to bring God’s transformation to their villages in very real ways, challenging poverty on all levels; spiritual, emotional and physical.
Supporting existing Life! Groups and helping start new groups are 14 Impact Team members. These men and women travel across their provinces working as missionaries to their own people. They are at the front line of Dignity’s work. Pray for discernment as they meet many people and encouragement as they face different challenges.
Dignity is a movement of people. Wherever we are from, we are all committed to sharing the good news of Jesus and helping to alleviate poverty in all its forms. The movement is growing. More and more people are standing together under the umbrella of Dignity. Please pray for God to raise up his people as Life! Group leaders, Impact Team members, co-ordinators, administrators and volunteers. Together, we can make a difference.
[three_fourth_last]Protection “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
As we push forward we face the very real resistance of spiritual forces of evil. Please pray for protection at every level. For the faith of each and every person. For the marriages and relationships of all involved. For those travelling long distances.
This is the time of year we set plans. Impact Teams will arrange to visit existing Life! Groups and begin to make plans for training new areas. The Zambian and UK leadership teams will look at the overall picture and set strategies. The UK support team will arrange short term trips. On all levels we need to trust God and dream big! Pray for courage alongside wisdom. Pray against distractions. Pray for God’s inspiration to run deeply in all we do.
[three_fourth_last]The Holy Spirit to move in power
Ultimately, without God, our work would fail. Our hope for long term transformation and life changing freedom rest firmly with God. Please pray that throughout 2015 we will see the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives bringing wholeness and healing. Pray that whole communities will see the glory of God and turn to Him. There is an openness to spirituality in those we work amongst. Pray that people will find that Jesus is the answer, not any other powers that are at work.
The story of our involvement with Siavonga in the Southern Province of Zambia is a little different to many of the areas we work in. We have been working with a small, faithful group of people there for over 2 years. It has proved hard for them to plant Life! Groups in the area, perhaps due to the fact that drought often affects the land meaning people move vast distances to find good land leading to a transient population and lower than average levels of education.
Since we first began working in Siavonga a handful of Life! Groups have begun but have struggled to become well established, eventually coming to an end. However, one group has really taken route and has been running for 2 years with a good number of members. On recent visits, the Impact Team have come across, and challenged, 2 aspects of life for those living in and around Siavonga.
Firstly, the place of women in the community. The Impact Team noticed that women were treated very lowly in the community and that the work of the Life! Group was being held only by the men. The Impact Team spent time explaining that God desired women to be involved in His work as well as men. Through discussions and exploration, the villagers seemed to accept this. We are encouraged to see that some women have now committed themselves to making sure the work of the Life! Group is strong in their area. We hope that this will begin to change the way women are viewed in the wider community.
Secondly, the power of witchcraft. Many people in this area live in great fear of witchcraft. For example, a man recently had a car crash while driving drunk, killing himself and his passenger. The event itself was tragic but the knock on effects have been devastating. Many people believed the man died there because the area was cursed and therefore they simply left the area as quickly as possible. They took with them what they could but left their homes and many possessions behind in fear of staying longer. The ripple effect of this will be huge as families try to rebuild their lives from scratch in new areas.
Fear of witchcraft is a very real phenomenon in this area and our Impact Team worked with the Life! Group to try and help them stand in opposition to this fear. There is not a Life! Group in the village where the tragic accident happened, but we pray that in time, God will raise up His people in the villages across Siavonga to break the stronghold of witchcraft and bring lasting hope and freedom in Him in it’s place.
Do you want to play a part in this story and others like it? It costs us about £150 a month to support each Impact Team member including expenses, training and pastoral care. There are now 14 Impact Team members working across Zambia helping villagers like those in Siavonga bring the hope of Jesus to their communities. If you want to be a part of this story and others like it you can make a one-off or regular donation through our stewardship page by clicking 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.
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