Lectionary Selection: Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32
Prayers for Zambia:
O, Heavenly Father, we confess that, like the Prodigal Son, we are wanderers. We are always longing for something else. We seek novelty. We want something different, something exciting. Always we want more... more than we have, more than we need, more than our competitors, more than we deserve. You know our deep failings. Forgive us for taking advantage of your grace without real contrition. We know it is your nature to love and forgive and we are like wayward children. In the end, though, we know it is only your love that will satisfy and can restore us to health and life.
So, here we are to ask yet another favor. We ask for our friends, your servants in Zambia. Our lives here are precarious. There is so much sickness and suffering. Many people experience poverty and injustice and are in danger of losing hope, losing their way, falling from your strong arms. Today we beg for you to act on our cold, self-centered, and idolatrous hearts. Unworthy though we are, show us how we can reach out with greater love to the least of our sisters and brothers, your own family here. Show us the way home to the place where you reign and dispense real riches among us.
We ask these mercies in Jesus’ blessed name. AMEN.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Zambia:
“Lost and Found in Zambia”
Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (or, better, the Gracious Father) is immediately relevant to my work teaching in the theology department at the United Church of Zambia University in Kitwe, Zambia. The essential message of the parable is that God rejoices over the homecoming of the lost, the estranged, the repentant. Here we are engaged in trying to prepare future ministers, chaplains, and social workers - all of whom will carry that message into the most distant parts of the nation. You should hear the vibrant up-tempo version of “Amazing Grace” our mostly UCZ student body sings and drums to in morning chapel. It’s very different from the wistful, plodding version I was accustomed to hearing back in the States.
Our university has just recently submitted important documentation to the Zambian Ministry of Education as we seek recertification of the degree programs that were approved when we transitioned into a full-fledged university five years ago. It was a tremendous task for our tiny instructional and administrative staff, and it had to be done by a specified date. I am one of the very few lecturers here with an advanced degree and, although I have never taught such a class (and likely never will), I was asked by our young dean of academics to design and plan an anticipated course in “Research Methods and Methodology.” I considered it an honor to be asked to make this small contribution to the UCZU’s achievement of its goals.
Our dean, though, is intensely aware of our school’s serious needs. He knows I am leaving soon. He worries that academic accreditation will be harder to obtain. He knows we have a great need for funding of soon-to-be-required research work from our senior students as a condition for graduation. Our library needs modernizing. He wishes for some collaborative support from foreign institutions. He knows our faculty needs better financial and professional support. He wants to find new avenues for building relationships with research institutions elsewhere. And, although he is a dedicated pastor of a local UCZ church as well as an administrator at the university, and a husband and a father of young children, he fantasizes about taking a year or two of sabbatical leave to pursue a degree in academic administration himself.
Our mission partner, the United Church of Zambia, a rare African church formed of the organic union of three historic mission churches, is working very hard to find its way forward. The UCZ University has great needs but is blessed with numerous dedicated servants of Christ to help it forge ahead. We ask for your prayers and radical support and ask you to rejoice with us as we welcome brothers and sisters into this ministry of grace.
Prayer and Mission Moment by Robert Breckenridge
More information on Zambia: https://www.globalministries.org/zambia
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in Zambia:
Robert Breckenridge serves with the United Church of Zambia. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS and your special gifts.