One of the joys we have serving in Zambia is watching this young United Methodist Conference grow. It's unclear exactly how many congregations there are in the whole country. Ten years ago when we first came to Zambia there were about ten congregations. We’re told there are over 80 congregations now. In Nkana, the district we’re stationed at in the CopperBelt area, we have started 21 new congregations since our founding ministries at the New Life Center began. This is real pioneer work at it’s very best. Sandy and I enjoy being a part of this growth and stand amazed at what God has done. We try to work closely with our pastors and their ongoing ministry growth and personal family concerns. We annually hold a number of special events to help keep our growing church leaders encouraged. These gathering are like the old time revival meetings we had as a kid growing up.
Along with trying to keep our pastors and growing churches encouraged, we the New Life Center staff, have set a goal to try to build two “United Methodist Sister Churches” each year. This is such a great need and it is very important to the future of the United Methodist Church of Zambia. You cannot imagine what it’s like to worship in an old school class room, someone's home, under a tree or anyplace you can fit a group of people that want to gather to worship our Lord and Savior.
We have started fabricating these wonderful little church structures right here at the New Life Center. Then we take them to the new sister church plot site which the congregation has located and purchased. The local congregation also makes all the “burnt brick” and put a lot of "sweat equity" into building these partnering churches. It’s lots of fun for work teams to come and help put theses churches together with the local people as well! A real wonderful cross-cultural experience!
The New Life Center has now built seven UMC sister churches in Zambia. The one question that is often asked is, “What does it cost to build one of these churches?” Because we are now fabricating the structures here at NLC this has helped reduce the cost. Then, depending on the location of the plot site, the cost is now between seven to eight thousand dollars.
We recently erected the first UMC sister church structure this year 2011. This one is outside our district at a village called Kabompo. We held a crusade there two years ago and saw first hand the real need of a church building. They have a wonderful growing congregation of believers. This church building will be an awesome help for leading people to Jesus Christ. Please keep the Kabompo UMC in your prayers over the next few months as they organize themselves and put up the walls and finish the church. They have already started worshipping together in their new sister church just the way it is!
The funds for the Kabompo UMC sister church were given by Heritage UMC in Clearwater, Florida. This is their second sister church. We welcome you to take part in this wonderful ministry as well!
Delbert & Sandy Groves