New Life Center Zambia - A ministry of the United Methodist Church

Kanyama Rain Festival 2016

Time flies by when you’re about your Father’s business. So much has happened in the last few months, but I want to focus on just one wonderful area of ministry. It has been a few years since I’ve been able to attend the Rain Festival. This is held in an area called Kanyama. Chief Kanyama is a wonderful man of God and is following in the footsteps of his father before him. The Rain Festival is an annual event. It has been taking place for centuries. Just within the last two generations this festival of thanksgiving for the rains has turned from a focus on the unknown god of the rains to a focus on the God of all creations that created the rain and makes their crops grow. The good news is that this God not only gives us rain, but has given us eternal life through Christ Jesus, His only Son. The festival was once a very pagan ceremony. It was a time of bringing offerings from your crops and piling them by a tree in an attempt to say thank you to the god that makes the rains. It was a time of bragging, that led to decision, of excessive celebratory drinking, and many days of promiscuity. No one understood how God truly had blessed them. They were just following in a pattern that had been there for many centuries before. These festivals take place in most of the tribal chiefdoms throughout Zambia. Many of them are still following the old ways. As Chief Kanyama, and his father before him, have cried out to God for understanding and blessings it’s been nothing short of a miracle to see all that God has done. All of the gardens have had, what they call, “bumper crops”. One hectare of land that once would produce maybe 25 baskets of maize are now producing over 200 baskets. Cattle are healthier and producing way more offspring and milk than ever seen before. Churches are growing throughout that area and the understanding of God is becoming the main focus of each family. Education of the children is far surpassing what is common in these village settings. God truly has shown favor.

One of the things I love to see is the celebration of bringing the offerings. This is one of the highlights of the festival. It’s saying to God, thank you for all you have done for us. This is our first fruits given to you out of love. These offerings many years ago would be left to rot and be eaten by dogs and rats and then just spoiled. Now these offerings are taken to hospitals, orphans, jails, and used to help the disabled. Nothing is kept by Chief Kanyama. Everything is used to be a blessing to others. One gives with great joy because they know it’s going to help others. This year YOUR gift from the New Life Center supporters was nine PET Zambia wheelchairs for the disabled.

For the last few years my dear friend and evangelist, Rev. Blake Lorenz, has been asked to come and speak at the festival. The festival is like a crusade where we see people give their lives to Christ. Many ask God to fill their lives with the Holy Spirit. There are prayers for healings, healing of the body, healing of the mind, healing to be set free from the strong bondage of the African culture that still lives today. To watch God’s hand at work brings goosebumps to my body, tears to my eyes, and an enjoyment unspeakable. Our evangelism team this year was Rev. Blake Lorenz, Ken Sucking, Delbert & Sandy Groves, Emily Padilla, Andrea Burns, Rev. Grayson Mwahila, Rev. Kenneth Kalichi and Evangelist Shadrick Shibati. What a privilege it was to be in ministry with these men and women of God. To watch them minister and share their faith. To watch them look into the eyes of the Kanyama people with love and hope and prayer. To see Christ take control over peoples lives. To see them cry out to Jesus for help and salvation. To watch people in a dark corner of Africa recognize they can do nothing without Christ. Without Christ is only to exist. With Christ is to have a life filled with hope and purpose. Oh how I wished the whole world would understand the simple truth. To deny Christ in your life truly is the kiss of death. To believe and receive the risen Savior as Lord in your life brings true clarity, hope, purpose, and eternal life.

There are many other things I would love to share with you, but I’m not going to do it now. I only want to say that God is beginning a new work in our lives here in Zambia. We see the church growing and expanding. God is leading us in new areas and I’m looking forward to sharing more of that with you in the near future.

We would ask you to pray for us, Delbert & Sandy, as we travel back to the United States for a few weeks. We will be spending some time with our family over the holidays. We will be speaking at a few churches in our area. We will also be working on purchasing supplies that will be sent over to Africa. We will then travel back to Zambia the first part of the next year. Please know YOU are truly and deeply appreciated and loved by us, and many more here at the New Life Center, for your continued prayers, involvement and support.

Delbert & Sandy

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