4th March 2020
Life is busy in London, and I always leave it to the last minute to fill up my car with fuel. When I can no longer put off a trip to the petrol station, I try to get it done as quickly (and cheaply) as possible, so that I can get on with my day. Yesterday our household bill for gas and electricity came through and I saw that we are using even more than last year – time for a family conference, I think!
Deb and I are twelve days into a three-week trip to southern Africa. Our time in Zambia, and now Zimbabwe, has reminded me how fortunate we are to live in London. To switch on a light and have power, turn on a tap for clean water, and fill our cars with petrol whenever needed, are things most of us in the UK take for granted. In Zambia, power was intermittent. When our friend Joseph Mwila was speaking at his church on Sunday, he barely skipped a beat when the power went off and his microphone died. He simply raised his voice and carried on speaking. Within a couple of minutes, the lawn mower growl of the church generator started up, and power was restored. In Harare, the petrol stations had had no fuel for ten days. When planning our two-day trip to Bulawayo last week, it took careful forward planning and hours of queueing at the pumps to secure enough fuel for two cars. Water is also scarce, and many households must rely on having tanks of it delivered to their homes.
Life here is a challenge. But despite the numerous frustrations of day-to-day living, the church is thriving and God’s Kingdom is advancing! On Friday night, we spent an evening with the River of Life elders and wives and reflected on the amazing growth they have seen since going multi-site in 2015. River of Life is one of the fastest growing churches I know in the wider Newfrontiers family and it was a joy to preach there on Sunday.
While in Bulawayo, we visited Ebenezer agricultural college where we met with Renée Cunningham and her brother and sister-in-law, Pete and Di. Their vision to equip people with business and farming skills, whilst also discipling them in their walk with Jesus, is inspirational. It was brilliant to see the huge progress they have made at Ebenezer since we were last there in 2018. The £60,000 King’s has invested in Ebenezer is being used to build much needed staff accommodation, among other things, and is making a very real difference to the excellent work they are doing. We also paid a visit to one of their outgrowers – an Ebenezer graduate we had met last time – who, in addition to her three chicken houses, is now building a new house for her family. Her life has been turned around by the support and training of Ebenezer and the market outlets provided by Pete and Di Cunningham’s business. This is God’s Kingdom in action – making disciples, lifting families out of poverty, and transforming communities!
Deb and I end this trip with some time in Cape Town, where we will be spending some time with leaders from Jubilee Church and Common Ground. We love being in southern Africa and are always encouraged by the resilient, joy-filled faith of the believers we know here. But we will return home next week with a renewed sense of gratitude that we live in a country where petrol is easily available and power is in constant supply.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.