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A letter from Dustin and Sherri Ellington in Zambia

August 6, 2010

Dear Friends,

A cake with the Zambian flag and writing in green letters on white icing.

Zambia cake at Covenant-First.

Very soon — August 12 — our family will take off on two overnight flights that will eventually land us in Lusaka, Zambia. We are excited about this call to a new context of ministry. We recently received a letter of welcome from a professor at the college where I will serve.  (Thoughtful friends in Cincinnati suggested the idea to him.)  It touched our hearts and we thought we’d share most of it with you. Afterward, you’ll find some photos, and a few prayer requests that we’d appreciate your keeping in mind.

Hi Dustin, Sherri, Clayton, and Christopher,

Greetings from Justo Mwale Theological University College in Lusaka, Zambia, the place that you will call home in the coming years. On behalf of the students and the staff it is my privilege to welcome you to our community.

Maybe it’s best to start briefly by introducing the college to you. Justo Mwale Theological University College — an impressive name for what is really a small theological seminary. Originally the college was the training facility for ministers in the Reformed Church in Zambia, and it’s named after the first Zambian to be ordained in that church, Rev. Justo Mwale. We train future ministers on different levels: we offer certificate courses, a diploma program, a Bachelor of Theology degree and, since the start of this year, a Master of Theology degree. It was this achievement, the new master’s program, that caused the Zambian Ministry of Education to reward us with elevation to the status of University College — hence the impressive name. It is also in this program that you will do most of your teaching.

An empty church sanctuary with an American and Zambian flag hanging; an arched window behind shines light into the room.

Zambian flag in Covenant-First sanctuary.

Now what is it about the college that makes it such a beautiful place? Well, I could start to talk about the weather: I don’t know about where you are in America, but Lusaka, Zambia, is a place where the sun (almost) always shines. Or I could tell you about the beautiful environment: the campus is a lovely, quiet place right on the eastern edge of Lusaka, a city full of lush green vegetation — a wonderful place, especially if you like snakes! And Zambia is nicknamed the real Africa for good reason: the countryside is breathtakingly beautiful. You will notice this when you start running with the students. Or I could mention the students and lecturers that together make up the college community: a warm, hospitable and gracious group of people that will welcome you with open arms and will make you feel right at home in their midst. Or I could start bragging about the college as an institution: How well organized it is, how well developed its educational programs, and how for that reason it has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the entire Southern African region. And all of these things are true, and all of them are good enough reasons to come to Zambia. And yet it’s not really what I mean.

So what is it that makes this place so special? Maybe the best way to get to the heart of the matter is by describing it as prayer. These past five years that I’ve been part of the college community have taught me a thing or two about a life of prayer. A life that is open and attentive to all the gracious gifts that God daily bestows upon us, and in the midst of poverty and illness I assume you will quickly learn to redefine what these blessings really are. A life where joys and sorrows can be shared in a fellowship in God’s name and in God’s presence, a fellowship that embraces all aspects of life. A life that takes the shape of worship, in which all activities are directed toward the glorification of God, like when joining students and colleagues in studying Scripture and listening to the Spirit to discern God’s call for us. A life in a community at prayer. That’s what has made these past years so special to me. And of course it helps that the sun always shines.

This is the place that you will call "home" in the years to come. I pray that the college community will be a blessing to the four of you, and that you will be a blessing to the community. May the Lord shine his face upon you as you prepare for your new ministry in Zambia.

Yours in Christ’s service,

Henk van den Bosch

A group of men, women and children under a terrace together, posed for a photo.

Second-year students 2010 and their families.

I’m sorry to say that Henk and his family have just departed Zambia for the Netherlands, so we will not be serving together. However, via email, we’ve also begun to get to know Zambian members of the faculty and a South African, and they’ve all given us a heartwarming welcome.

As we prepare to leave, we’d appreciate prayer along the following lines:

  1. That our family would be strengthened to tolerate the pressures and anxieties that come with an overseas move.
  2. That we’d get off to a solid start in our relationships with new friends, colleagues, and students at the college and that our boys will make friends and get off to a good start at Lusaka Int’l Community School.
  3. That we’d safely learn to drive on the left side of the street and find a used car that will be safe and dependable for Zambian roads.
  4. That we’ll be keen listeners and observers in this new place and that our understanding of the culture will increase at a solid pace.

We are so grateful to all of you who have prayed for us over the years as we ministered in Egypt and as we left there in a time of difficulty. It feels like our recuperation and period of discernment in Louisville have been just what they needed to be — thanks also to the care and prayers of many. If you are interested in learning how to support our ministry financially, just ask, and we will send information about that. We are thankful for the difference you make in this journey we’re on!

Grace and peace,

Dustin and Sherri Ellington

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