Normally, at this time of year, I would be in Australia, touching base and updating everyone as well as loading containers. But with current travel restriction, it is basically a challenge not worth taking.
Firstly, I would like to say thank you to everyone for all your support. It has been tough all around and we appreciate the stretch it must be.
Here in Zambia, Covid is still very present as we endure an on going second wave, with friends and even family testing positive. Sadly, we have even experienced loss of life amongst people we know. We still face basic restriction and do our own personal protection, but life goes on, though different. We find ourselves checking every cough, sore throat, headache, and body pain with whole new level of suspicion. So far, our Covid tests are negative.
Ministry is ongoing, our chaplains have had to adjust as ministry teams are not allowed in hospitals. So much more has landed on their shoulders especially as the normal bedside support usually given by family is restricted. It has been huge a workload, but this season has shown that chaplains are essential! God has been with them in a special way.
Caleb Centre for Autism is maturing and expanding as we learn we can tackle more of the needs of our children. We opened in a new location this year as the previous building we were renting was sold. The number of children has also grown, and we have now started skills classes for youths getting ready for future outside of school (sewing/ hair styles/ carpet making and other cottage industries).
We have had some amazing results with some of our non-verbal children now talking, one child who did not walk – is now walking. Others are learning to count, read, cook, wash clothes, bath, clean dishes, sweep, plait hair, make clothing and so much more. We know it is all possible with God.
We have also taken on the rebuilding of a small home for Bana Manase (single mother of three with one autistic child). Her hut/home collapsed during heavy rains. I have taken it beyond just a renovation rescue and brought the men from church into the project to activate and grow a community focus, outside of church programs and church members.
Angie has continued working with women in the community sewing and other business projects. She is actively a part of raising community support to rebuild our roads. They are basically unpassable by vehicles. If fire or ambulance were needed, they could not get through. So far, we have had over 20 tipper loads of gravel delivered and had a day of grader and roller begin, with more to come.
But surely, we are here for a time such as this! We have had to stand in the Gap physically, financially, and spiritually as so many people, and even ministries find themselves unable to do anything. This is the unseen covid fallout, with loss of employment, massive inflation and even loss of life. It has been a blessing to put children into school, into university and trades. The blessings received from the container that came last year, have been able to assist so many in times of need.
To be here, seems right and normal, but you can see that many ministries and NGO have slowed or left. I understand, but their absence is palatable. I must have faith that God gives us the capacity to fill that Gap. I must confess that at times I know I need to step up more but find it easy to pull the “Covid excuse”. To that I am sorry.
What I have seen is for the youth (which makes up 60% of our country) is that they have had more doors close on them, to that I want to step up on one more avenue of ministry. A door has open to work amongst youth in skills development. In this place, in this time, as so much has closed/shut down/ stopped. We still have the Gospel, Discipleship, Mentoring, work experience, and farming.
With one container on its way to South Sudan and the one for Zambia, on the ground in Mackay, we will see that side of the ministry continue. The importance and need for these containers are growing daily. As Australia comes out of the covid shut down the amount of medical equipment will be colossal, as much was bought in readiness for the emergency that did not happen. This equipment will be our blessing now. As much as I/we cannot travel, at least now, freight can. I do look forward to traveling to South Sudan and Kenya in the future when the borders open again.
Once again, thank you for your support. You – the church – are such a s blessing.
In His Grip
Chris, Angela & Immanuel