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.”
Chafwilai is on one of our trainee Impact Team members. He’s already got stuck into the role and tells this story of when he travelled to a village 70km away to help with a week of prayer.
There was one lady who was very strong in the things of God, but she was coming from very far in the bush. The reason why she was living so far into the bush was because her husband was a witch and they had been chased out of the village. Even her fellow church members were afraid of him. They explained these things to me. I thought that if there is a man that we are going to visit first while we are here; it is this man we are talking about.
The people around Chafwilai tried to change his mind. They were scared. Chafwilai remained sure that God wanted him to reach out to this man and the next morning, he set out to visit him, taking with him two young men from the local church.
We went to the place where this man lived. It was called Longhead. We found this man together with his wife. When we arrived there, the boys were afraid. They were pulling back behind. They didn’t want to sit close to this man. I went straight to where this man was sitting and I sat down next to him, close enough that we were even rubbing shoulders. I said to him, “I am very happy that I have found you. When your wife comes to church, you don’t come to church. Upon hearing that the church people were coming, you have decided to sit and wait for us. You stayed at home waiting for us and have not gone to do your work. From this, I have come to learn that inside your heart there is something that belongs to God. One thing you should know is that people of your age have died, many of them. One thing you shouldn’t forget is that one day you will also die. If there is a thing that has made God keep you up until this age, it is that God wants you not to accuse him on that day that you never received the Gospel. Your age is more than the age of the father who gave birth to me. For me to come here, I have got words that the Holy Spirit is whispering to me that I should say to you. If you won’t listen to the words I am sharing, you will regret the words I am telling you. What I am telling you is repent and turn to God.”
I spoke to him many words of the same kind. He started crying. After crying, he said to me, “One thing that has saddened me, people here are afraid of me. There are older people who come here to preach, older than you, but there is nobody who has been here and spoken to me up to the point of me crying. The words you have spoken to me have moved me”. This man turned to God.
They prepared food for us with nice dish of relish and they watched us as we ate. After we prayed with them, they escorted us, we greeted each other and I said to him “Daddy, God loves you” and then I went back home.
After a week, the people in that place wrote a letter to me to say the old man had died. I thank God for this matter because he gave me courage to go and preach to this old man.
We are saddened to hear of this man’s death, but we rejoice that God sent Chafwilai to share the Gospel with him. We are encouraged and spurred on by Chafwilai’s obedience to God’s leading and his bravery. Sometimes we all need to be brave and speak out the words we believed God is giving us.
Do you want to support Chafwilai and others like him?
First and foremost, please pray for Chafwilai and all the other Impact Team members. They are at the cutting edge of what we do. They face difficult situations regularly and need to hear God speaking and guiding them. Please pray for them to have ears that hear and hearts that are brave. Visit the Who We Are page to find out more about our team members.
If you would like to practically help with supporting Chafwilai and others like him, you can donate money towards the support of Impact Teams. As a guide, it costs us £127 per month for each Impact Team member we support. We currently have 11 team members and 14 trainee team members like Chafwilai. Amazingly, each team member gives their time. Dignity supports them in a number of ways. Financially, we cover all the costs associated with travelling to different areas (food, transport etc.). We provide regular training and encouragement, again, covering the cost for team members so they are able to partake. We ensure teams meet regularly so they can share their experiences and learn from each other. And last but by no means least, we provide pastoral care and we all pray for one another.
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.
My mouth is filled with God’s praise.
Let everything living bless him,
bless his holy name from now to eternity!
– Psalm 145 v 21 (The Message) –
Just a normal Monday
My day started pretty normally really. A typical Monday morning. I came to work ready to get stuck into my to-do list but when I sat at my desk I suddenly knew I was on the wrong track for the day.
Over the weekend the need to pray has been reinforced to me again and again. As I turned my computer on and thought about where to start with my to-do list, I was also mentally working through all the things that I wanted to bring to God. The worlds of “doing” and “praying” collided. I realised that this morning the best thing I could do was pray.
So I set aside my list of jobs and decided to pray. But in all honesty I just didn’t know where to start. Another list the length of my arm, was waiting for me. Things that are all urgent, all close to my heart and all needing God’s intervention.
Starting with God
To stop myself from reeling off a shopping list to God I decide to start with a psalm, Psalm 145 to be precise.
Psalm 145 speaks of the magnificence of God. The psalmist says he will praise and bless God into eternity and that the generations will stand in awe of God’s works.
God’s character is explored; merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in love, good to all and brimming with grace. His faithfulness is celebrated, his care for those who are suffering and the love that courses through all he does, which is always good.
As I dwelt on this passage and what it teaches us of the God we serve, I was encouraged. From that place of remembering who God is I was then able to bring before him some of the needs of those we work amongst, knowing that God is bigger than all those circumstances and is already working in all those situations.
Will you pray with me?
I felt it was right to seek extra pray to cover a number of things going on right now and throughout the week. So, please join me in praying for the following things.
You have probably heard about the amazing guys and girls who make up our Impact Teams already. You can get to know them a bit here.
A number of them are facing tough personal challenges at the moment. Augustine has recently suffered a family bereavement, Cornelius (pictured) is in between jobs and unsure when he will be back in work. William, someone who has begun shadowing the team in his local area, has been taken sick and is seriously ill.
In many area, the rains have been poor this year threatening the harvests which affects all our teams and the communities they work amongst. Please join me in praying for healing, protection, provision and encouragement for them all. It’s much needed and prayer makes a difference.
In some of the more remote areas we work, traditional and tribal religion are very deep rooted. People are often suspicious of anything new or different. I was recently talking to Bernard (pictured) and he explained how he sees things happening very slowly because of this. He is impatient to see his fellow Zambians discover freedom and hope by coming to Jesus.
Please pray that the truth will shine through when Bernard and other team members speak of Jesus and that doors will be opened for them. Pray that God will direct them to the right people to lead the work forward in different communities.
Jon Witt back in Zambia
After spending a few months in the UK over Christmas, Jon has returned to Zambia for 3 weeks. This is a short trip before the whole family returns in a couple of months.
Jon will be helping the Impact Teams plan for the year ahead and will run a training course for them, the first of our three annual EQUIP courses. The course will focus around the practicalities of teaching, skills that many villagers don’t get a chance to learn elsewhere.
Jon will also be travelling to Chipata in the Eastern Province of Zambia, almost on the border of Malawi. Meeting up with some new contacts there, he will be working to help people see that God has a purpose for them and that they are not forgotten. He will be challenging them to gather together and pray for their communities as a starting point. As ever, we hope that it will mark the start of some Life! Groups and on going discipleship in the area.
We owe you a big thank you! We know lots of you joined us for our week of prayer in February and we are really grateful. We also know many of you will pray for the things we’ve mentioned here.
We believe prayer makes a difference and it is our hope that the week of prayer will have set in place foundations for the rest of the year.
We look forward to being able to share answers to prayer with you throughout the year and praising God together.
“What you have done will be praised from one generation to the next; they will proclaim your mighty acts. They will speak of your glory and majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.” – Psalm 145 v 4-5 (The Good News) –
Thank you for praying with us! It makes a difference to what is happening!
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.
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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