Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Worldview Shift

Zambia has known of Christianity since David Livingstone's time; so why would a Chief ask us to come and teach his people about Christ? As I was taught by my missionary uncle, Wayne Davis, and the church in Southern India, knowing about Christianity doesn't change a worldview from pagan concepts of reality to understanding reality as the Kingdom of God. This requires a worldview shift. Much of Christianized Africa has a thin veneer of Christianity (words and ceremonies) coating an old animistic worldview. Gailyn Van Rheenan - one of our missions mentors - defines this worldview as: "the belief that personal spiritual beings and impersonal spiritual forces have power over human affairs and, consequently, that human beings must discover what beings and forces are influencing them in order to determine future action and, frequently, to manipulate their power." As ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, we must teach the Spirit revealed view of reality. One point of common ground that gives us a starting point is the Chieftaincy, itself. As the people are used to relating to His Royal Highness, Chief Mumena, many of the concepts of Kingdom are already inherently understood within the Kaonde tribe's culture.

"And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."
Acts 19:8 KJV

Shifting some grinding gears,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below:

1) Their Royal Highnesses Chief and Mrs. Mumena

2) Animism symbols still very much present

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Identification

Identification is always an important missionary exercise. It is the bonding with a new way of life and the demonstrating of an appreciation for the host culture by doing things their way. As we have relocated to our bush site in the Mumena Chieftaincy, this process has begun in earnest. Some are more adept at it than others. Missionary children are especially good at it. Of course our primary example is our Savior:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Philippians 2:5-8 KJV

Trying to identify,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: Noah identifying with the local cuisine (corn mush with dried fish) in the local manner of eating (with his right hand) at the local restaurant (a mango tree).


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Why should we believe you?

As we sat around the camp fire of our first outreach seminar, the Kaonde tribesmen who were attending asked an important question, "Why should we believe you? Every group of missionaries and every church that begins a work here asks us to believe them too. What makes you worth listening to...? The next night, after the Chief of the Mumena chieftaincy greeted his people at the seminar, he took me aside and asked essentially the same question. He said, "I need you to come by the palace this week. I need to know what you teach." How do I answer this question in a way that makes any difference? As I considered the popular ecumenical religious climate of Zambia, I realized that the "lowest common denominator" system of unity has been accepted on a broad scale. Here, that translates to: as long as Jesus is proclaimed as the Son of God, what you teach can vary widely. This results in a relativity of truth that can rob people of the ability to grow spiritually. For these tribesman, they were even questioning whether listening to any further teaching would be a worthwhile endeavor. Good question!

Considering the Biblical principle of restoration, I decided to offer the challenge of "the highest ideal" versus the "lowest common denominator". "Let's search together for the highest ideal so that we can grow together to the glory of God!" "What we teach does matter!" "Truth isn't relative, it is revealed in the Word by the Holy Spirit!" "Listening to us versus anyone else isn't the point; but if we can help you hear the Savior for yourselves, perhaps our presence can be of value to you!

"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:31-32 KJV

Waiting for their reaction,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: One man from the village of Kayonge who responded with an invitation to come and teach among his people. We hope to start next week.


Sunday, August 6, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Distraction

As the wall of flame of the brush fire approached, some of our summer campaigners who were teaching with me in the Maheba Refugee camp asked if we should evacuate. Trying to put a brave face on things, I said, "We run when the Africans run." Secretly, I pulled aside one of the local church leaders and asked if we were all going to burn to death. He laughed and said, "The fire will go around us." I looked in concern to an elder from Illinois (Phil Gardner) who was teaching an outdoor class; he kept glancing at the fire, blowing ash off of his Bible, and continuing to teach faithfully while his students gazed at the flames as if in a trance. The local church leader must have sensed a degree of doubt in my composure as he added, "You may have missed it for the bush, but we burned a fire break in a circle around the camp." As the gusts of heated air blew around us, sure enough the fire passed by on either side of us. I was thanking the local church leader for his foresight when he concluded, "Yes, we didn't want this fire to be a distraction to you."

"But Martha was distracted... the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.'"
Luke 10:40-42 NIV


Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: the bush fire as taken by Jason Davis

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Preaching Dress Codes

What the preacher wears in the Democratic Republic of Congo is very important to the Congolese. After all, everyone tries to have a new pair of shoes, a haircut, and a cell phone (though with no talk time) even as food & the necessities of life are scarce for most. I try to oblige expectations when I am visiting some place, but every once in a while, God chooses to challenge certain cultural hang-ups much to my chagrin.

I remember, while visiting my aunt and uncle in their mission work in India, accidentally packing my suitcase without removing my suit of clothes for the next day. My uncle departed with the luggage at 5a.m. on a Sunday morning while I awoke at 7a.m. to preach at a local congregation. Given the exotic nature of Indian clothing, I received a number of compliments from the brethren that morning on my red lined pajamas with the big white buttons.

I had no such luck in justifying my wardrobe while preaching at the Taba congregation in Lubumbashi, D.R.C. While in route to preach, my shirt sleeve was caught in the door of a departing taxi resulting in my new "tank-top" look for preaching attire. The congregation was shocked and appalled.

"But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out"
Acts 14:14 ASV

At least I'm in good company.

Making fashion statements in Africa,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: Lazare & Agnes Wandalika, dear servants of the church in Lubumbashi (properly attired)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: An Angel at the Border

The brothers in Lubumbashi, D.R.C. had warned me of the seedy elements infesting the Kasumbalesa border crossing between Zambian and Congo. I was still caught off guard by the tempest in which I found myself being hussled and jived in every conceivable manner. After having contributed substantially to the local economy and finally finding myself on the Congo side of the border, I deeply connected to Paul's feelings as he faced Corinth. As no one from the church was there to meet me (with 100 kilometers to go to Lubumbashi) and as the local loiterers were beginning to perceive me as a target, I thought to myself, "I'd better blend." Then remembering my lineage, I realized that THAT just wasn't happening. Suddenly a lady - whose face looked strangely familiar - appeared out of the crowd calling my name and pointing to a vacant seat in a taxi. Overjoyed with a way of escape, I assumed that she was from the church in Lubumbashi and was sent to help me. So I jumped in the taxi, and off we went. A kilometer or so down the road, I thanked her for coming to pick me up. She replied, "I didn't come to pick you up. I had just arrived from South Africa to visit family in Congo and saw you needing help at the border. You may not remember me, but I was one of your Bible students among the Congolese refugees in Cape Town." "Oh," I replied, "Help me with your name again?" She replied in her French accent, "Angel."

"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
Hebrews 1:14 KJV

Fairly "unawares",
Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: all too common African taxi experience

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Swaggart, Nelson, & Iglesias

Travel in Africa can be quite the faith challenge. Christianity is often used as a superstitious veneer to ward off evil much in the vein of traditional religion. As I traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to encourage some of our young churches there, my bus rolled out of Solwezi, Zambia at 6 a.m. to the deafening honky-tonk beat of Jimmy Swaggart's "Holy Spirit Dancing Feet" while one of the bus workers preached a lesson and prayed violently for our safe travels.

With no suspicion of spiritual incongruity, our bus driver then took us to the sublime heights of Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias singing "All the Girls I've Loved Before". Our musical rapture then degenerated into some rap lyrics that shouldn't be repeated this side of Gahenna. Had I been an ungrounded searcher for truth, I would have given serious consideration to Islam at this point.

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus"
Colossians 3:17 KJV

As another bus I took broke down for several hours and a third was run off of the road into the bush, I was moved to tearful thankfulness for the Christians, churches, and foundations who sacrifice to supply missionaries with vehicles (and cd players)!

God Bless You,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: Sunrise departure from Solwezi

Friday, February 17, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: Strategy Formation

The beginnings of a new work are notoriously slow especially in Africa. A whirlwind of activity getting there is followed by a lull not unlike the wait after planting a field. Not being the most patient person in the world, I have found solace from one of our former Missions mentors, Gailyn Van Rheenan. In a recent series of reports he has e-mailed detailing he and his wife's new ministry in church planting within the U.S., Gailyn makes the point that strategy should flow from theological reflection. In busy ministry, time for theological reflection can often be sidelined for "getting the job done" in our production-geared culture. Sondra and I are trying to take advantage of this quite time here in Solwezi to seek the will of God as it relates to our strategy formation for this new mission. Where do we start? What are the definitions? How do we present ourselves? What systems do we put in place, and how are those systems going to operate? What policies of ministry will address the needs before us while avoiding the known pit-falls of past strategies? What is our "end-game"?
As we go through this process, we hope to share these insights (and certainly mistakes) with you through our journal. We would appreciate your prayers as we reflect and depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
Ecclesiastes 7:8 KJV

Traveling in the slow lane for now,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: Reflecting theologically with some of the Congolese.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Davis Missionary Journey: What Timing!

October 2004
"What's your 'show stoppers'?" asked our missions chairman at Hillcrest church of Christ, our overseeing congregation, as they worked to determine where God was calling them (and thus where they would be sending us next). "Plumbing and teammates" replied Sondra.

March 2005
Research shows that plumbing exists in all 5 of the possible sites for a new mission point... still no teammates.

April 22, 2005, 4:30p.m.
E-mail from Hillcrest: elders have decided on the Zambian Mumena project along the Congo and Angolan borders... still no teammates.

April 22, 2005, 8:12p.m.
E-mail from Cedar Hill church of Christ: had read of the new team formation in Doyle Kee's "French World Missions" periodical; interested in supporting one or two families for a new church planting team mission.

March 2005
Don and Rita Boyd - Sondra's parents, our former teammates in Cape Town, and experienced Zambian missionaries - agree to join the team for a 5 year period... plumbing and teammates!

"Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?"
Job 39:1-2 NIV

Thankful for God's timing,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Pictured below: Don and Rita Boyd, who just arrived safely to join the team in Zambia.