Running scared

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Don’t worry about any possible copyright infringement; I have it on good authority Roy Orbison will not sue me for using this as a title.

But it does apply to two individuals this week.

For whatever reason – fear of the water, fear of commitment, fear of being ostracized by friends & loved ones – we had 2 men this week come to the river (figuratively), then skedaddle. One was earlier in the week; one was a man Tommy was studying with today.

I get it. Really. I can understand how difficult it would be to be taught something all my life, then be presented with something that makes so much sense. They’ve been burned before by hucksters, and we had to try our best to show we weren’t there for their money. You may recall I mentioned in an earlier post that there have been multiple times when some church or other would come into town like a whirlwind and leave like a mouse, but not until after they had taken all the money they could.

Bible study, man baptizedToday we were expecting to be busy doing studies like crazy. Didn’t happen. Today being Saturday, some would have the day off. Also, we’ve had 4 days of meeting people, inviting them to study, and evening services, so we were hoping some interest would generate from that. Tommy had a study with 2 men today (one of whom “ran scared”), and that was our only study. Although one man left, the other one was baptized, so we were very thankful for that, and praise God for the increase.

But that’s not all…

This evening at services we had 2 more baptisms! In both cases (one man and one woman), they had been to the evening services at least twice this week, but had not taken part in a study with any of us during the day. We were pleased to witness God adding a total of 9 souls to his church this week.

One more encounter I’d like to describe before I close. A 30-ish woman drove up this afternoon in a Mercedes. Anthony went to talk with her, and I was close behind. She had seen the SOF (“sign out front”), and her first question was “which Church of Christ is this?” We didn’t quite know how to answer that, and she started to explain, “I’m from Zimbabwe…”, and Anthony said immediately that it’s the same one. Her husband is a physician, working at the hospital not far from where we were set up. Both of them are members of the church. So that’s 2 more members for this baby congregation! She said she plans to be present for morning worship.

We will meet at 9 AM in the morning for Bible study & worship, then the Chariot will pack up for its move to Zambia. We will be on an 8:35 AM flight Monday morning, so tomorrow’s post will be my last installment for this trip.

Natural childbirth

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We got to witness 5 babies being born today – 3 women and 2 teenage girls who gave their lives to Christ. Tommy studied with 1 of them and Mike studied with the other 4. The 2 girls are twin sisters. We had a short devotional afterward. All 6 of our new baby Christians were present for evening worship tonight. Tommy gave them some words of encouragement and charged them to continue to study the word and participate in the work of the church.

New Converts

Remember, this is a new congregation here in Ondangwa, and they don’t have a meeting place yet. I went with a realtor yesterday to look at 2 properties to buy, and one today to rent. The ones for sale were way out of our price range, but the rental is a possibility. Mike and Anton will go out tomorrow to try to find at least one alternative so we’ll have a choice.

As if there wasn’t enough excitement to fill the day, our van ran out of gas – and the gauge had shown just above the orange caution range. According to the gauge, we had gas. It was just Mike, Anton, and me, so Anton took a taxi to a gas station a couple of km up the road and brought back some gas. Wouldn’t start. I phoned the guy we rented the van from, and he came & picked us up, took us to the Chariot (it was already after 6, and the evening service was scheduled to begin at 6), and came back for us after the service. Not sure whether he’ll spend the next couple of days shuttling us around, or if the van will be fixed, but we’re ready to have a different kind of excitement tomorrow – whatever that may be. Whatever the Lord has in store for us, we’re ready.

32 studies and 6 baptisms in the 4 days of work (Tues-Fri).

10 things we learned in Ondangwa

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I had most of this written yesterday, with the intent to post it ~11 PM (5 PM CDT), but when we got back to the hotel, our wifi was out. Such is life in Namibia.

As is my custom on mission trips, I like to devote one of the posts to some of the things I learned on the trip. These were contributed by members of the team; they are not all mine.

  1. Bye bye family. It’s not exactly widespread practice, but it happens more than you may think: someone obeys the Gospel and the person’s father kicks him or her out of the house. It takes great faith to give your life to Christ if you know beforehand what the consequences will be. Of course this can and does happen in many countries, but it just seems more prevalent in Namibia.
  2. blog_bars_are_abundant_in_namibiaThere is one bar (or "shebeen") for every 12 homes. Ok, I made up that number, but it does seem close to that. While walking through the neighborhoods, we saw a bar around just about every corner and in about every other block. This leads to the corollary…
    1. Alcohol is a huge demon in Namibia. It’s a huge demon that affects families, with the same results as anywhere. Some amazing statistics I found: more than half of Namibian adults consume an average of 10 liters of alcohol a week, Windhoek is the “drinking capital” (69.9% of the adult population). In the southern region the figure is 65.2%, and in the northern regions (including Ondangwa), the figure is a surprisingly low 26%.
  3. blog_good_roads_in_namibiaThe roads here are better than the roads in Malawi. This is huge, especially if you do a lot of driving (which we did last year in Malawi). In fact, the Chariot is parked along a “B” highway (which would be like a U.S. route in America), there is a concrete strip along the edge, to keep the asphalt from chipping away (which is what caused us major problems in Malawi).
  4. Hope you like chicken, because that’s what’s for lunch. We have two real options for lunch. (A third alternative isn’t really an option, and that’s to go to our hotel or a neighboring hotel. It’s not an option because of the time it takes. Joel and I each ordered a sandwich for lunch on Monday at our hotel and it took an hour and a half.) So your two alternatives here in Ondangwa are KFC (chicken) and Hungry Lion (also chicken). Don’t like chicken? Go to Hungry Lion then, because they do have one thing besides chicken: soft-serve "ice cream".
  5. You cannot drive if your car horn is broken. The cars just cough and die. Well, probably not, but as many horns as we hear, it seems that way.
  6. Flashing lights and sirens on emergency vehicles — merely informational. Not necessary to move aside. No one does.
  7. If a man carries water in a jug on his head, it’s a disgrace. Everyone knows that’s a woman’s job. (A Namibian told me that “disgrace” thing; I didn’t make it up.)
  8. blog_camel_thornCamel thorn. These are amazingly large thorns. Bernard is one of the brothers from Windhoek who has relatives here. He told me camels eat these. Differing world views would look at that differently. One might say it’s a product of evolution, and the camel adapted, developing a stronger tongue, mouth, and digestive system to be able to eat these thorns. Another would say that’s how God made the camel, being able to eat what the animal needed to survive. Me, when I see them, I think of Jesus, and how he had these things mashed into his head. There’s no reference above to gauge how long these thorns are, but it’s not unusual to see them in the 1½-2” range.
  9. blog_namibian_boy_with_homemade_slingIf a Namibian kid wants a toy, he’ll make one from whatever he can find. These kids learned the lesson yesterday about David and Goliath, which some of them hadn’t heard before. After the lesson, Diane asked if they thought they could make a sling like David’s. They went and got fan palm leaves, and did it. Impressive – and they worked!
  10. We would have been more effective with more advance preparation in Ondangwa. We knew this already, but two people at services last night told us this. They seemed to be (and may actually have been) upset that they didn’t know about the Chariot earlier in the week. One woman was appalled that we didn’t have an interpreter to interpret the services into Oshiwambo, the local language. This is definitely criticism that we (not just the mission team, but more importantly, GCM) need to take seriously. We believe we’ve planted some good seed here this week, and it will produce fruit after we leave, but what if we would have prepared better?

We had a total of 10 studies yesterday, and the same sized crowd as the night before (~20). So far, Mike preached Tuesday night, I preached Wednesday, and Joel preached last night. AFAIK, Tommy will preach tonight. We’ll see if we can twist his arm. As I close, I wanted to include a picture of Lena, who was baptized Wednesday night: