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Seeds of Promise

A Letter from Charles and Melissa Johnson, serving in Zambia

October 2018

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As the end of 2018 draws near, we look back at the past year and look ahead to the future. At our home church, Northwood Presbyterian in San Antonio, one of our annual Christmas traditions is Potpourri, a potluck dinner with fellowship, music and fun, which is held on the Sunday evening before Christmas Day. One definition of potpourri is “an interesting mixture of things,” and we will apply that definition to this newsletter.

We are very excited to be traveling to the U.S. in December to attend our son Brien’s graduation from the University of Alabama — Roll Tide! (Yes — that’s really hard for Aggies to say!) Like many of us, Brien got off to a rocky start in college, but he’s come on strong over the past couple of years, and we’re very proud of him. We want to thank those of you who have accompanied us on this part of our journey, especially a very kind and supportive dean of students. We’ll be together with Brien and our daughter Meagan’s family for Christmas (son-in-law Eric, and grandkids Lucy and Max). After Christmas, Brien will return with us to Zambia. This will be his first trip to Africa, and he’ll spend a couple of weeks with us meeting our friends, seeing this incredible country and learning about what God is doing here in Zambia.

Over the past year, we’ve both experienced successes and challenges in our work, which is to be expected. At Chasefu Theological College, we welcomed four new first-year students in January, and saw eight third-year students complete their studies. Chasefu Model Farm experienced a good maize harvest, despite hail damage to the crop. Over eighty 50 kg bags of maize were harvested, providing an ample supply of food for the seminary students in the coming year, while also allowing some maize to be sold.

The mission of the Chasefu Agricultural Income Generating Activity (AIGA) is to generate revenue to help support the seminary. This has proven to be challenging, as the technology currently being used is the same as that of a subsistence farmer. Thanks to funds included in the Richard Shaull Grant awarded by Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, an animal-drawn planter, several fertilizer applicators and a hand planter were purchased and will be available for use in the coming season. It is hoped this equipment will provide more consistency in planting (seed spacing and depth) and the proper application of fertilizer. Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future, funds will be available to purchase a tractor and other implements for use at the farm.

Construction has begun on the new agricultural storage facility at Chasefu AIGA. When completed, it will provide storage for tools and equipment, farm inputs, and harvested crops. It will also generate revenue by providing storage to others for a fee. At the present time, 10,500 eight-inch concrete blocks are being molded by hand. These blocks will be used in the foundation and walls of the facility.

Recently, Melissa has been busy training four women, Stella, Cecilia, Miriam and Eunice, in a women’s feminine hygiene and reproductive health program. The department is partnering with Days for Girls International, and they have just completed the training (which includes business, marketing and sewing) necessary to become the first Days for Girls Enterprise in Zambia. Through this partnership, they have already received their first order for washable reusable feminine hygiene products from a school for the disabled in northern Zambia. They have already begun teaching the women’s health curriculum at Christian women’s gatherings and Christian youth gatherings and will soon be providing training to teachers in the CCAP Synod of Zambia (CCAP/Z) schools. In addition to providing a sustainable program that will hopefully generate enough profit to provide a small income for Stella, Miriam, Cecilia and Eunice, the department hopes to be able to provide free feminine hygiene kits to girls in the CCAP/Z schools. In order to do this, the CCAP/Z Health Department is working with churches, individuals and groups in the U.S. to obtain kits or financial support that will allow us to be able to distribute free hygiene kits to school girls in our area. This has been such a learning process for Melissa. The culture surrounding women’s issues here in Zambia is challenging, but little by little the Health Department is trying to reduce stigma and empower women and girls to have a better, more healthy life through education.

Melissa and Mr. Willima are also very busy with several other programs. They have been working with both of the CCAP/Z clinics in Egichikeni and Ndaiwala to reduce malaria through community education as well as completing construction of the mother care shelter at the Egichikeni Rural Health Center, completing the solar electrification project at the mother care shelter in Ndaiwala, and preparing to begin construction of a new clinic in the Phalaza community.

Each and every one of these agriculture- and health- related projects are being implemented through the partnership between CCAP/Z and PC(USA) World Mission through generous gifts and the support of PC(USA) congregations. Thank you for walking alongside us on this journey. Your prayers support us each and every day. Both your financial and prayer support are vital.

We are very fortunate that so many of you have been providing both prayer and financial support to our ministry. These gifts allow us to be able to do the work we’ve been called to here in Zambia. As the year draws to a close, and during this season of stewardship, we hope that our ministry will continue, or begin, to be a part of your budget. Please consider partnering with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Zambia by supporting our ministry through financial support and prayers.

In 2019, we look forward to seeing you during our return to the U.S. for interpretation assignment. Although the dates aren’t yet confirmed, our tentative plans have us arriving stateside in mid-June and returning to Zambia in late October after we participate in the Zambia-Zimbabwe-Mozambique Mission Network Conference to be held in Austin, Texas. We will begin contacting churches to schedule visits beginning in December, but if you or your church are interested in hosting us, please contact us as soon as possible before our available dates are filled.

Thank you again for all you do to support us through love, prayers and financial gifts. Without your support, we couldn’t be here walking alongside our Zambian brothers and sisters being a part of the work that God is doing in Zambia. Taonga chomene — thank you very much!

Melissa and Charles

Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal
Director

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!


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