There are a few more people attending the conference from the beginning. It was also positive to see that everyone attended the whole conference. I can’t give details and Bible verses, but only an summary of the process over 4 days.
In our revision of the conference in 2010 we looked back at the way they evaluated the community.
The following problems were identified:
Fighting between people
People hold tight to their possessions
They are uncivilized
People are ignorant (without knowledge)
Live in fear
Polygamy is the rule
Bad sexual behavior
Worship of ancestors is strong
This Year they added a few more characteristics of the community:
People are lazy
There is a lot of theft
Telling of lies is a problem
Alcoholism and drug abuse are getting worse.
In our revision we confirmed that that the community is like a tree. The fruit is only the consequence of the way the community thinks. You can not only change the fruit and think it is a different tree. The problems are caused by the roots and the roots represent the way we think. Prov 4:23.
Then we looked again at who God is and what He wants. What fruit He wants in Chiconono. We looked at the fruit of the Spirit. One of the fruits that caused a good discussion was Kindness. It caused a good discussion about leadership style. How you help someone in a kind way and not from above. l
We looked at faith from the life of Abraham. How he received promises for a big nation and then everything he experience told him that it is not possible. He is too old, his wife can’t have children, and 30 years passed without anything. At the end he believed and by faith, God’s plan came to life. We are living in this community with many problems, but we have a vision of a new community. There are many things that make us believe that it is not possible to move from this reality to the reality God intends for us. Many of the participants repeated that this is what they learned. We should not look at our situation, we must look at God, it is possible.
We then went to discover the reasons for these problems, which thoughts have theses consequences. The roots we talked about were the following: Some of these lies we discussed further as practice in how to identify lies, therefore I will share some of these discussions also.
- Men are superior to women:
- Racism and tribalism: In evaluation this lie came back as something learnt.
- Physical work is a curse:
This lie came from not reading the bible wrongly. We saw work as a curse of God because of the sin of Adam and Eve. They will produce their food in sweat. The truth is that God send people to work before the falling in sin they had to look after the garden. Work is to honor God.
- Trust in the spirits of the forefathers
- Fatalism (we were destined to be poor and the least and we can’t change it).
- There are no future and history is going nowhere (just repeating itself)
- Zero sum, that anyone that do better than others, stole power from the others and needs to be pulled down to restore the balance.
Interesting to see that according to the groups evaluation, the following lies became weaker: Work is a curse; Men are superior than women; Racism and Tribalism; Worship of spirits.
Lies that became stronger were evaluated as follows:
Materialism and History is going nowhere
The lies that stays the same is: Zero sum. In general there are a positive change in the thinking of people from the conference in 2010 to 2012. They told us that where there are richer people, the balance is out and then the others talk to the witchdoctors. They then make people to change into snakes that will go into the houses of rich people to steal from them. They also tells about the fact that people out of fear to be out of balance went and bury their money in the past. These days they do not do it so often. The government official visited our meeting and added that if someone have a motorcycle, car or maize mill, that the others suspected them of killing someone. That is the only way to manage these things.
On the topic of worshipping the spirits, one of believes is that the driver is not driving the car, but the spirits is guarding and driving it not to make an accident. If a accident occurs, it is when the spirits get tired.
The other comment was that, you are not allowed to do anything if the spirits do not tell you to do it. If you are preparing your fields, first the spirits must attack you and tells you to do sacrifices for your fields, then you are allowed to do that.
They told us how the different kings (those more important than the chiefs and headmen), there are three of them in the area, had a big meeting to ask the spirits to protect the workers before they started to build the road to Mavago. In the process of building one worker lost his leg and they saw that the spirits did not manage well.
There are places on the road to Chiconono that are sacred and cars may not travel fast there. If you travel fast, that car will make an accident further on. Today they see that some cars now travel fast when they past those places without making accidents.
Work of the churchAfter this understanding of the beliefs in contrast to the intentions of God, we saw that God wants to give us a better life. His kingdom needs to be realized here in Chiconono, because He wants to bless us with a better life. The root of this Life is Jesus Christ.
On this point we asked the members about the functioning of the Church. What is the roll of elders and the answers indicated that elders need to control and lead the members. They even said that they have to focus more on Physical work than spiritual work. They need to control the deacons as well. Here we saw that the physical spiritual divide as well as a leadership model of control in the minds of the church and it gave as a good starting point to compare it with a biblical leadership model.
When we talked about the role of the pastor of evangelist, the members stressed the idea that the pastor should serve the members, visit them, not having favourites, and not work only in the centre. It gave the picture of passive members served by a pastor as a church model.
When we talked lastly about the role of the members they said that they needs to be one. They must listen and learn from the leaders and be obedient to what they hear. Some also say that they need not to wait for the leaders, but use their gifts and teach others.
With this information, Johannes looked at the servant attitude of Jesus as the foundation of everything. He very realistically used the washing of feet as an example. Then demonstrating the leadership model where the leaders are serving the members from behind. Then he used the model of a soccer team playing against the best player in the world, but that player is the only one playing. (Pastor or evangelist). Which team will win?
He then used the story of the good Samaritan to demonstrate who is our neighbour. Who do we need to serve? It came through very clearly that we everyone is our neighbour, especially the ones that are outcasts and even our enemy’s. We talked about many examples.
We discovered again the biggest commandment of Love and how to live it out as service to our neighbours. Members do not wait for a pastor to serve them, but with the pastor we are serving the world. If we do not do that, we are not church! We need to avoid a pastor running around solving problems but leave the people in the community do die in lies.
If neighbour is ill, who is the best person to help him, the president of the country, missionary, or you?
WorldviewWe then used glasses to explain that our basic view of reality and assumptions determine our fruit. Johannes used a few examples like the pastor in Zambia that adhered to the tradition. The community believe that when the husband of a lady die, that she is still under his control. The only way for her to be free is through a ceremony where the brother of the deceased need to sleep with her. So when the brother of the pastor died, he slept with his deceased brother’s wife to “free” her. In the process he got Aids and died of the aids. So the question is what killed the pastor? Was it the Aids, or was it his believes. The group answered that it was his believes.
We then looked at so many places in the Bible where it is mentioned that our transformation depends on the way we think.
Planning removal of old thoughts and planting new thoughtsWe divided in a few groups and each group discussed a lie from the tradition. The thoughts that were discussed were: Work is a curse; Zero sum Materialism and History has no purpose. They still struggle with this new way of thinking but we were surprised at some good results. We did this by answering 5 questions. The group that worked with the lie of work is a curse answered as follows:
How did this lie start?
They said that when people came back from their fields they are tired and negative and accused Adam for the curse of work. This started the negative feeling for physical work.
How does it transmit from generation to generation?
When children see the negative way that parents treat physical workers, they also look for other ways to get their money. Then stealing and manipulation etc starts.
What is the result of this lie?
People stay poor and do not develope.
What is the truth from the Bible?
The Bible talk about work as a way to glorify God.
What can we do to combat this lie?
We ourselves can go work with joy and praising God! This way we demonstrate to our children a good attitude to work and to love work.
This way we handled also the other lies and some of the feedback were:
The community have the attitude that they do not like it when others have good things. It is fueled also by looking at white people. The reaction is that you start bad stories about that person so that his name will be dirty. Or you go to whitchdoktor to get medicine to pull that person down.
When talking about the lie of not considering the future. They explained that the reason why people do not have fruit trees is because they think that they will be dead before the tree bear fruit. Even build a good house because they will not have time to stay in it. Therefore adult people do not want to learn to read and write, because they will die before they can do it. People divorce without thinking about the future of the children. Do not sent them to school. To combat this lie is to teach and then yourself live with a vision. Plant fruit trees.
Exercising love reports:
Our caracter and identity must be to love one another and serve one another. If people talk about the Reformed church in Chiconono they must think of the people that love and serve. If this is our identity, others will also start to be loving our neighbours.
Many of the lies were fueled by the education system that taught that God does not exist.
One young man said that he met his friend that was very troubled. He explained that someone is drugging him to kill him because of the way he lived. So he was on his way to the witchdoctor to find medicine. He then talked to him and convinced him not to that, but trust in the Lord to protect him. (I got the feeling that this was a made up story because of what they know we want to hear.
The laughing man said that there is a long man who shared that he wants to learn about the Word of God, but when he came, there were many people that wanted him to help milling their maize as he have a maize mill. He is sacrificing his time to study to serve people.
There were initiation rites and were dancing through the night. Some people danced the whole night without eating and were so tired that he could not walked. Then he went to buy some bread and gave him to eat. The money he used were money for salt for his own home.
Other person walke through village and have a disire to share the things that he learned from the conference. He sat down with friend and told him what love is and even the next day went back and shared some more. The man now is with us!
Women went to visit a sick person and found that there were no food. So she went and buy some food for the sick family.
Johannes guided them in understanding that to grow as servants and to be witnesses, it takes effort and discipline. Matola did not became a champion sitting down studying books, look how others do it. You need to work hard plan and discipline yourself te became like Crist. Represent God. To sit in church listening , being baptised and giving offerings only of money only, will not make you like Crist. The church should be the place where we train to love and serve.
Matt 28 16-21
We did the going to the world quite well. We did the baptising also quite well. What we lack is to teach people to keep everything that Jesus commanded. We need to grow. This growth is represented by a hand. The palm of the hand is to be rooted in Christ. One finger is to grow to be sons and daugters of the Lord. 2Cor 6:18 About our relationship with God. Our willingness to live in Gods house as our own house. Experience God's love. (Lie said that God is far from us). I will be with you till the end of the earth. Difference between slaves and children. Stressed the fact that God created men and women in the image of God. Need to grow as servants. Matt 20:25-27. His servants with the value that He gives us. Treat people with the value of being His image. Grow also as students. stewards.
Matt 25. We are entrusted with God's creation what is it? Trees; Animals; Fish; Gras; fields; children; water; people; neigbours; Church family; family; enemy; sick people; prisoners; wife and husband; father mother; myself, money; clothes; cellphones; house; life; even time; etc. Everything belongs to God. Did we develope His or did we destroy or bury it. God gives time for Chiconono, we do not know for how long we will have this opportunities. The radio belong to God, the money of the church belong to God. The buildings belong to God, The toilet there outside is falling in, is God's toilet and we are entrusted to take care.
Who is our enemy? Is it Churches or other people? No, Satan is the enemy. The one that say that he is king and you need to fear him. But he is the slain one. He is overcame and we can resist Him with the truth. The truth will make us free.
Bible is very important.
Here we learned about the very important aspect of Christian leadership.
Child of God
Here we start to live not as slaves but as children.
New deeds of love
We went through the process of planning and doing small acts of love in our communities. We left the congregation with this tool to continue with Gods transformational work for Chiconono and vicinity. We could not help but leave there with the feeling that we left family there! Although there are still a lot of challenges, when you start to share a vision and learn to see Gods heart, you leave with hope in the heart.