Christmas is knocking again and for us at PIZ that means this year’s students have done their exams, got their results, had graduation and have now gone back home. For Andy it means a slower pace of working as he preps for next year and does some necessary DIY around the house. For the rest of the family it means school until 4 December.  We then plan to then head off for a family holiday for two weeks. Remember, this is basically our summer holiday! 

Looking back 

All dressed up for graduation.

As we near the end of what has been a turbulent year for everyone, it is really helpful to look back and see all that God has done. While it has not been an easy first year of our time in Zambia, we have so much to be thankful for. Despite a three month closure, the PIZ students were able to complete the course. There have been many encouragements within the student body and it is our hope and prayer that the skills that they have learnt here will help them to better handle God’s word. During the students’ graduation, the verses that were quoted a number of times were from 2 Timothy 2:1-6. The students were called to ‘entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.’ (2 Tim 2:2) PIZ Principal, Chris Hawthorne, sent a message from the UK to be read out and in it he said the following: ‘Be long in prayer and plead your Father in heaven to be gracious to you and to all who you serve. He is good. He will be.’ This is a charge that we should all hold to as we are living in uncertain times but it is particularly pertinent to the students heading back to various ministries within Zambia. 

The Zambian Church 

As in every country, there is a lot of flaky theology in Zambia. The strongest presence is that of the so-called ‘Prosperity Gospel’, mixed in with a traditional view of the spirit world and how to operate in that world. This makes church leaders (with titles like ‘Prophet’ and ‘Apostle’ often attached) the holders of physical/material blessing and also spiritual protection. These (typically) men thus become the focus of church life, not Jesus and not his powerful and complete work on the cross. In these settings, the Bible is often used out of context and to back up what the ‘man of God’ says, and people follow, with little understanding of the Bible themselves. This is the world our students go back into.  And this is why PIZ exists.  

Please pray for the 2020 students, that they will be men and women of humility and integrity and that they will stand up and point people to Jesus, not themselves. Pray that they will speak the truths that the Bible teaches and that they will be bold to stand strong against the prevailing tide of false teaching. 

Exams being sat.

PIZ adapting 

We are still learning at PIZ about how best to equip people to handle the Bible faithfully and also to be men and women of integrity. Sadly, this year we had to ask two students to leave because of moral issues. As we reflect on that situation, it has shown us the need for more hands on discipleship. We need to spend time with the students, supporting, challenging and encouraging them to be open about their struggles so that we help them grow in godliness and not just give them skills. Andy is trying to put something together using those who have been doing this already in Nigeria and South Africa. Pray for PIZ as we add this more intentionally into our year-long programme. 

Family 

As a family, we are so thankful for having access to pretty good internet which means that we have been able to join in with our UK church families while they have been worshipping at home. The silver lining to this time of a global standstill of sorts is that we have felt much closer to people that are geographically far away. 

We are so thankful to God and all you prayer-people that Haydn and Daniel have settled back into school. Daniel has settled in relatively quickly and has found a group of lively boys to keep him entertained at school. Haydn has found it a little more difficult to make friends but has shown remarkable resilience and is beginning to make a couple of friends at school.  

Rachel has been faithfully driving the boys to and from school (it means about 90 miles a day!), has been leading the PTA at the boys’ school and also teaching the big story of the Bible in children’s church every Sunday. 

While writing this we are eagerly awaiting the return of the Hawthorne family. Due to family circumstances they had to return to the UK at the end of March but should have returned to Zambia on 2 December. It will be great to have them back on site again and we look forward to the year ahead at PIZ! 

Prayer points 

Thanks for the graduating students of 2020. Please pray that they will remain faithful to God’s word in their teaching. 
Pray for the incoming students, that they are coming to study with the right motives in mind. 
Please pray that our time away as a family refreshes us for the new year. 

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