Sunday, 29 December 2013

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was lying down on my bed trying to figure out what went wrong and what next. I was at the end of my first year for the third time in three years at my second University studying the same program, Architecture. I told myself “If you don’t make it through this time your are going to have to do something you don’t like for the rest of your life, like accounts or something businessy”. To say the least it was not one of the highest points of my life.


So there I was seated approximately 5655km away from home in a four man room at my University, the only other person in the room was one Mizyao Nyirongo, a fellow Zambian, and it occurred to me that while I was there tormented on the inside he was in his own world oblivious to what was going on with me. Not that I was crying out for help or anything but the thought that hit me was that I might try to explain my issues to someone  around but the true burden of it all would only be carried by me. In the words of some cynical guy I know, “Don’t tell people your problems, half of them don’t know what to say and the other half don’t care”. I tend to have such conversations in my head by the way, it’s quite chaotic up there.
As you may imagine such lines of thinking are really depressing and it was really getting to me. So I turned on my computer, I was reading a book at the time, possibly one of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, turned on the browser and started listening to music that did not help my mood, I was listening to Keane which is not a good idea if you are potentially depressed. I kept sinking and sinking in this despair, it was a lonely place. Suddenly in my mind’s eye a light begun to shine at the end of the tunnel, I remembered that I am never truly alone, God is with me. It’s quite weird talking about it but the thought was followed by a realization of all that had happened alongside all the downs. I begun to realize that there were blessings associated with my situation and I begun to count. I had friends and family who were somewhere far away but believed in me even though I did not believe in myself.  I had a God who was looking after me even though I deserved none of his grace. I was in a University that allowed me levels of practice in my field of study that I had been longing for my entire time back home. I was somehow placed in a room with two really decent blokes and a potentially troublesome guy who never spent a single moment in the room, kind of bad for me to be happy about the last part but I was on a roll. It was a good feeling, I turned off the Keane music immediately.


So there I was and it dawned on me that I was given a chance, not just a second but a third. I was given an opportunity and I was to make the most of it. Yeah, I did not know whether I would pass or fail at the end of the semester but who knows for sure so my part was to work hard and do me best. Yeah I had failed before but now was my chance to pass, the past is the past and its purpose is only for reflecting and not dwelling. Yeah, I was in a foreign country and there was no one on the entire island who I had known a month prior to arrival and yet I had somehow found myself in a room with decent guys, I had found myself at a decent bible believing and preaching church in a Muslim country. It was not half bad, not bad at all.
This time last year I was in my room on my bed unsure of the way forward but I was ready to trust God with my future because he did a real standup job getting me to where I was. This time last year I made the decision to do my best in all that I was given and make God and those who believed in me proud. And though at times I have dropped the ball, I will pick myself up each time, dust meself and keep moving forward. This time last year I was ready to take the blind leap not just into the New Year but into the rest of my life and this time this year I find myself on another cliff a little further ahead of the one I was on last year and I’m ready to jump, again

Things are looking pretty good from here

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Awesome Fact with the Terrible Derivative

There are a lot of things that have shocked me in my twenty odd years on planet earth, there are a number still that have appalled me and yet the number that have done both are not so many. The topic of this “speech” is one of the few. It is something that is religious in nature so if you are not religious, I highly recommend you keep on reading and if you are religious I highly recommend you keep on reading. Basically just keep on reading. Back to topic, this awesome fact is one that has been taken to unreasonable extremes by the Charismatic denomination. A lot of you are familiar with it, it goes kind of like this: Some man or woman starts speaking about some topic that no one knows, a lot of the time not even the person who is speaking then they get to a point were in order to justify wanting the unreasonable, unrealistic and often things that would do them no good they talk about how their father, God, is the richest there ever was and will be and how he will give them stuff because they are his children. I do not doubt there is truth in the statement, however I would like to point out the folly in an unnecessarily large amount of thinking on that.

God is the father of all Christians, not Christians by religion but those who are Christians by faith, that is those who have come to understand that they are sinful and that their only hope of any sensible life both in this life and the one after is to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who came to die on the cross for their sins and is now in heaven interceding on their behalf. That is the core of the Christian faith and if you notice we, as humans, are only involved at one level and that is the believing and putting our faith part, for those who zoned out. My point is that the Christian life is God centered and not man centered and this is seen even in the core of it. Now back to him being our Father, it has to be noted that he was not always our father for we are sinful and he cannot stand sin. So something had to be done in order to bring us who were utterly sinful and filthy to him who is holy and precious. When it was done we were then adopted. Now to look at from the point of view of the adopted, which we all should. Why would the king of glory and he who has it all even want us/you/me as his children/child? Its borderline ridiculous. Having been in a family that has had a number of people brought in I know that it takes a while to settle and a frequent question that is asked is “will I ever be loved as much as the true children?” or even “what am I really doing here, I don’t belong” Such questions come because of a realization of unworthiness and yet there we are in the position of favor. One question that comes up in the mind of the ungrateful and the foolish is “how can I milk this of all its got?” and statements like “now that this man is my father I can get anything that I want”. I do know that some of those thoughts come up every once in a while and it is expected but the main thought should not be that of milking the rich man of all his got but an appreciation that though I come from the lowest of the low he still calls me child.
Where God found us is a lot worse than this. Try this to the power infinity, that's still not close enough

The reason why I am appalled by such a reaction to the awesome fact is that not only does it lead a number of people down the wrong route in terms of their thinking pattern, which has the potential to damage a lifetime of service, but it leads to a man centered view of Christianity which is the downfall of so great a thing. The moment we make ourselves the center of our relationship with God we damage and taint it. Everything that has man at its center is dying, everything. If we always think of life as a what can I get from this all or how does this benefit me, or God will give me this much money or this many friends or whatever it is that you most desire apart from him you use God as the means to an end and not the end in himself which is one of the biggest insults you can ever throw at him. You tell him that Yes, you are my father, and yes, you picked me up when I was nothing and deserved nothing but I want you to get me this and that because you can do it and that will make me happy. How selfish of you to displease he who gave so much for you. And there you are talking about how you want a big car and you deserve it because God is your father. Or how you deserve to be the top of your class because God is your father or how you deserve a certain job and will get it because God is your father. You selfish, ungrateful child. I bet if you heard a child talking like that you would smack him/her so hard they would have their facial structure changed, I think I would.
Such thinking is folly and folly is the biggest characteristic of a what?? You guessed right

I have said a lot and at times have digressed but I will end with this. We spend so much time looking at what will get from God when God does not promise us everything first he promises us himself and says he is enough, why can’t we take that? I am not saying do not reach to be the best and have the best but what I am saying is all that is secondary because the time will come when tittle and riches will be no more and all that will remain is you naked before a holy God, then What? Where will your life’s ambitions that were aside from him be? If we look through the bible at a number of people who God used in a mighty way, there are more who did great things for him  who relied and saw in him all that they wanted and needed than those who served him and where painfully rich or popular. There are more petitions of the “more of you God” than the “more of the stuff you can give me God” in the entire bible. Lastly I will say this, God is not his stuff, God is God. The sooner you learn that the better and if you want to learn that to its fullest or get as close as you possible can here are two ways for you to do it. One pick your bible up from wherever you leave it when you are busy doing unnecessary things and read it, you won’t believe how much it can speak. Secondly and equally as important talk to God in prayer, who else better to tell you how awesome he is than God himself. And if you don’t know how to pray look at the first point, you will find great tips on how to get started there.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Anger Is Not The Answer, Its Not Even The Question

In my younger days I was known to have quite the fiery temper, I’m still quite young but you get the picture. My temper would rise faster than steam from a kettle of recently boiled water and my anger would last for quite a while. My older brother, Mwindula, had this trick where he would call me red eyes whenever I was angry and run around just out of arms reach. I would be so exhausted after all the running that I would sleep it off. Not sure if that was his idea but it worked nonetheless.  A day or two ago I had a confrontation that had me really angry and I remember thinking I have not felt this worked up in a very long time. This is not an ode to my temper or a eulogy to it, it is a God please help me deal with it and others can listen in on my thoughts.
Before I would get angry for all sorts of reasons, most of them I don’t remember completely but for those I do I remember they were petty and I am now ashamed of them. That is one trait associated with anger, we are usually ashamed of our actions the following day. If not for the reason we got angry then for our actions because of the anger. The incident that sparked me writing this had me raising my fists for the first time in a long time, I am not proud of myself for the actions of that night and I think when most people who are easily angered look back, they feel some form of shame for either the reason or result of the anger.
Anger makes us destroy things we will need later, sometimes even sooner
The feeling after it is not so good both because you have all this excess energy and have nowhere to take it. Your adrenaline levels are up and they don’t go down in a heartbeat. This state is usually the state that has a lot of us make a number of mistakes we later on regret. These include but are not limited to saying things we should not and should never say and doing things we should not do. It has us make decisions which satisfy us now and yet in the long run are really damaging. A number of people are currently occupying prisons because of a failure to handle this part of their anger. Now I am no expert at handling it, never have been but I am hoping if I can keep me anger in check I will not have to be but I do know this decisions made at this time are usually rash and stupid. So there you are with all this excess energy. What do you? How do you spend it? My father, a smart man, once told me this, granted it is hard to apply but it is solid advice, “energy is energy”, not a direct quote by the way, me memory doesn’t work like that. Anyway he talked about how energy provided by the excess adrenaline rush of anger can be just as productive as all other energy boosts. A number of the greatest pieces of art, whether in painting, poetry, written word, architecture, arts and crafts, you name it, were fueled by a passionate energy such as anger or love. Energy is energy.
Anger is a fire and fire burns. The object that suffers more from the effect of the fire is not the big lump of wood that you want to set alight but the match itself. The match tends to be consumed before the log catches fire and usually a number of matches not just the one. In short holding on to the anger consumes you more than you know it consumes the other. I did say more than you “know” it consumes the other, in short you do not know it is effecting or even affecting the other person. Whether it is or not is not relevant because you holding onto the anger is consuming you and that is not a good thing. Letting go is not easy but it is in your best interest to do so.
Lastly letting go is technically impossible in the same way that we do not just release energy into the air, we work it into something. Think of your anger as actual energy, the energy will not just leave you but has to be put into something or given to someone. Firstly putting it into something. I like to think of it as you having this huge piece of limestone in front of you, with all the energy you have you can produce a beautiful piece that will bring you endless delight in years to come or you can create monstrosity that will injure you countless times in the making and countless times after that. I cant break it down any more than that, sorry. Secondly given to someone. This one is less obvious but is definitely the better choice. You cannot give people energy, its just not possible, not even in Harry Potter, but you can give it to God. There is not scientific explanation for it but he is the only one who can take the pain and hurt that you feel. How he does it beats me but he does a brilliant job of it, trust me it works. All you have to do is surrender, admit you don’t have the answers and look to him for them. The result will shock even you. Me describing the experience will not do it justice. It’s something so phenomenal you have to try it to see the beauty, go ahead try it. Go on…
Seriously, try it sometime. It works

Monday, 9 December 2013

How to say thank you? I cant so I will say Happy Birthday

Mama's boy
Over the years there have been a number of people to whom I would like to express gratitude but very few people, to be precise only one, can be ranked alongside my mother. I am the way I am today as a product of a lot of peoples input but the majority of the good is because of the woman known to the world as Felistas Mbewe but I call her Mum. You must be wondering why all this here and why now, well I’m glad you asked.
1st December was her birthday and as much as I had plans to create the perfect gift possible by a son who is over a thousand miles away I could not because the university decided to have my midterms at the same time, I don’t think they like me much over here. Studying architecture you tend to have more sleepless nights than the people studying business and to say the least I did not enjoy my sleep during that period. I wanted to touch up a picture of my mum in Photoshop, something like my previous work for that is somewhere on Facebook but I had no time. Since I could not use a picture to tell a thousand words I chose the next best thing, a thousand words.
By the grace of God, I was first introduced to Felistas Mbewe on the 14th of October 1991 and though I wanted to laugh and smile, the doctor had to slap me to get me to cry and breathe, I still think I did not need the slap. She cradled me till I fell asleep for the first time, I slept like a baby, granted I was a baby but that’s beside the point. My father was also there, still is, but he will get his five minutes another time, this is about Mum.
Since then I have learnt a lot from my mother, sometimes through positive reinforcement and other times she just had to beat the lesson into me, I thank her for both. But the single greatest thing she ever did for me since birthing me is that she is the one who triggered the most significant change in my life. She had the words that through the power of the Holy Spirit led me to a personal knowledge of God. I thank her for that even more than I thank her for the first birth. 
 The rest will get their moment later, for now, Mum and I

I have always been able to talk to her about anything and everything, granted almost everyone likes to say that but for me it was and is true. She has set me back on the right path more times than I care to admit. She has seen me fall and has not given up on me. Yes, yes it could be said that its her job but I subscribe to the pattern of thought that parenting is a dying art, and yet my parents show me that there even though the world of parenting is dark there is light. It gives hope.
There is so much that I would like to say but in all honesty it would mean more to her than it would to you, so I will end my rant on my awesome mother with this. Those who have met her walk around seeing her as Felistas Mbewe and know that he is truly a great woman, not just for who she was but who she is. I’m telling you that you don’t know the half of it and though we don’t always see eye to eye and I let her down on occasions I want you to know that it is one of my main aims in life to make her proud. There is a certain privilege in knowing her as Felistas Mbewe but the greatest privilege is mine and my siblings, we get to call her Mum
It's a couple days late butt I'll still say it. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!

Monday, 25 November 2013

It Almost Killed Me!

There's actually a reason for all this Coca Cola, you'll see

Lessons learned the hard way are a dime a dozen, and we never see them coming, never! The lesson I learned is that everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. I know the words, I have known them for years but for some reason I get the feeling this is one lesson I will be learning till my dying day, such is life. But I have delayed telling the story long enough so let me jump right in to it.
Those who know me know that I love me some coca cola. It’s my regular expense. I actually think I have spent more money on coca cola than I have on any single item combined in my life, saying that out loud sounds quite sad, good thing its written not said. Anyway, the past month or so I have been on a fast food eating spree, this was supposed to boost my productivity. I have been putting in a couple of extra hours of work, three to four nights a week, that means I would usually sleep around 3, 4 or 5am, four nights a week. There’s this place that sells Dürüms for 6TL just outside my dormitory, that’s not that bad a price, plus there is a place where you can buy pizza for 12TL and the best news, in hindsight not so good, was that there was a promotion in Lemar, which is the grocery shop on campus, they were handing out two coca cola’s for 6.50TL. Bottom line this was a great time to immerse myself in to all kinds of late night work. Oh yeah and my favourite cup noodles were back in stock at Lemar so to say the least I was a very happy guy.
So the late night “shifts” begun. At the beginning they were an outstanding success. I would work, till 5am and sleep on the couch in the room and be in class at 9am. The couch was literally a steal and practically a gift from God, I blog from the couch, I nap from the couch, I watch football from the couch and I read from the couch. It’s a love story. I would put in a nap late afternoon to evening to get some sleep back. Back to the picture, A friend of mine, Oscar, was also into these “shifts” so we would work till 2 30am, him in his room me in mine, head out to either grab a Dürüm or a pizza, if it was pizza we would do a 6TL split and eat the food for 30 minutes, washed down with a coke, there has never been a point during the whole semester when he and I have not had a coca cola bottle in either of our fridges. In hindsight that has not helped matters. Anyway the first couple of days it was a success as I said, I did my school work, had time for writing, video editing and I would do extracurricular reading. It was the best of times.
A little glimpse into what a discount does to the cheap mind [not my fridge though]
Then my body started to give up. It started with me losing concentration in classes and getting very tired very early. I decided to go a couple of days without the “shift” to get my system back to normal but that didn’t work. I found myself increasingly worn out with no drive to do any work whatsoever. Even my hobbies became tedious. I was not interested in anything. Not food, not school, not even coca cola, granted I was still drinking quite a lot of that. School work suffered quite a lot for a week and a half. I received my slap that brought me back to reality when I got my first ever terrible result during my time here. It felt like I was naked in the cold. I realized then that something had to change but what was it? I needed the “shift” to get back to winning form, but how do I make the system work? Yesterday I was with a friend of mine who is into all things fitness, I will say this again for emphasis, all things fitness, its borderline ridiculous how motivated he is about such stuff. It hit me suddenly that my eating habits were the problem, lord knows where the thought came from, we were not even talking about anything to do with that. I had not been eating at the right times, sometimes not even eating at all. I ran the idea past Trevor, that’s the fitness guy, and it seemed to make sense to him.
After a bit of a pocket reshuffle I managed to get the funds together to get me some fruit and water, I don’t drink that much water, my logic is that there is water in coke but that’s beside the point. I even went for a jog, granted now I feel like a truck ran me over but yeah.. I went for a jog. The point of all of this is that, in a university setup you are your own man. The decisions are yours and the consequences are yours and a lot of people see this in one aspect, that being the decisions are theirs. So they turn away from the system and life that they had known at home and try to be this new person, but the new person is not always better. They like me see things in terms of short term goals and think that will sustain in the long run when in fact short term thinking will rarely get you through the month.
Short term thinking is potentially catastrophic
Everything is permissible, you can decided to abandon school and cling to life or decided to cling to school with reckless abandon. But not everything is beneficial, the way that you choose has its effects on you in the long run and so it is best to look at the effects when weighing a decision. You just might find yourself in a position where all seems doom, gloom and bleak and might think the world is at an end when in actual fact the problem was the decision you made to live the life you live. Life is a product of balance and priority. The system I advise is put God first and balance out the rest.
Note: This is not me saying I’m staying away from coca cola, but I will cut down on it. 5l a week from now on :D

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Heart Behind The Troublesome Roommate

A couple of days ago I released my first ever short film, if you have not seen it its okay because reading this will give you the full picture though might not be as interesting. Basically the idea is two guys living together on campus and one is living in a less than desirable way and it is affecting his roommate in a bad way. I just want it to be known that a troublesome roommate can be a person who is overly clean in an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) kind of way or it can be in a filthy way. It can be in an argumentative way or even in an overly meek way. Bottom line is there are many ways of being a troublesome roommate. 
Now it is so easy to think the troublesome roommate is the other guy, after all the only way to see ourselves is through a mirror or another person’s observations. The problem is that when we look through a mirror we tend to focus on our good points, its always a “boy do I look good” situation rather than a “Will me using this much deodorant cause an issue with the guy in my room has the flu or a sensitive nose”. We are naturally selfish not just because of indwelling sin but because, even physically we are always looking at other people, its literally in our makeup. But we do need to come to a realization that our actions affect other people in the same way that their actions affect us, its not just about, he hurt me or she hurt me, its also about I hurt them.

Now I have had my fair share of troublesome roommates, mainly because I have been at two universities over a period of four years and only had one roommate who has been in the same room as me for over a year. Now not all my roommates have been bad and apart from maybe one notable exception, who was dreadful, they have been manageable. One thing that hit me during one of these stints with a troublesome roommate is that, maybe there’s something about me that is causing all this. Now I do know that there is personal human responsibility in all this but maybe I had a part to play in all of it. Maybe the things I thought were fine were not fine. Maybe he had trouble telling me what he thought was out of line the same way I at times had trouble telling him. I say at times because I am painfully vocal if given the time of day, and there are quite a lot of hours of day I’ll tell you that.
So maybe it was the times when I was playing my sermons out loud, not too loud but loud enough for them, my roommates, to hear. My intention was good but maybe they did not see things my way. Or maybe it was the times I would play my music really loud, because I had the speakers or the louder laptop. Maybe it was the way my friends would show up in the room and make noise every once in a while. Or maybe it was the fact that I did not verbally tell him when something was wrong in the room but showed it in my body language. My point is a lot of things can and do contribute to roommate relations and we must not so headstrong on the fact that the blame is all theirs. Put yourself in their shoes and maybe they will put themselves in yours.
But the biggest question is “How do you solve the problem?” That is a difficult one because even though Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey will have done shows or done something in their advice columns about this there is not clear cut answer or method. It is trial and error thing. However there are principles that must be followed. These are, firstly, you should be able to talk about the issues that arise with your roommate and not let the tension build up. It is easier to move a single brick than it is to break down a wall. Secondly, you must make the conscious decision to be the bigger man/woman, that means when one party loses the temper you should not. You should be able to reason and take hits for things that you might not be guilty over. Bring yourself low because unless you are planning on courting that person pride is never a good idea, and even then it should be used sparingly. Thirdly and most importantly, because it should be done at all times, look at yourself and try not to do things that would put your roommate in a compromising position. Put yourself in his or her shoes, no one likes to be belittled or made to look like the “black sheep” so don’t make them feel that way in the same way you would not like to feel that way.
My last words would be to past, present and future roommates. I have learnt a lot from the past, from both the good and the bad. And though in all likelihood I was not the best of roommates, I hope you can forgive the shortcomings of mine. The short film is my dedication to you guys, especially the current ones [Faith, Evans and Mpendulo], we look forward to good times ahead. Honorable mention to John “Bode” and Kezala “The Man” Jere

Thursday, 7 November 2013

God you just dont understand

I have been wondering for a while when to pull one of my old things from the archives and post it. After weeks of thinking I realized I would never make up my mind so I will post it and see what happens. I wrote this in April 2010, it was quite the time... It was quite the time

God you don’t just understand Peter walked outside his house, tears falling from his face. He looks up and shouts “God! Why me? Are you even up there? I just can't take this anymore.” Peter picks up a rock and throws it as far as he can. He kicks up dirt, he screams and he cries some more. After some time he falls to the ground feeling hopeless and helpless. He looks up and there is a man seated on the lawn of his house. The only way to describe the man is lovely. The very sight of him caused Peter to momentarily forget about his problems.

The man gestures for Peter to sit beside him. “What is wrong?” he asks Peter. “You called for me now tell me, what is on your mind?” “I am angry,” Peter said, “I hate everyone but I hate myself even more. I try to control my temper but it is like some wild beast that I cannot tame or control. I lose my temper in front of my friends and family. I cause sorrow to those that surround me. Today I said things to my mother that I regret but I am so angry that I do not want to say sorry. I hate the way I am, I hate that I hurt those around me but it always seems to happen. I do not even know if you understand what I am talking about.‟ “I do Peter, I do. You say you have tried to tame or control your temper right?” “Right.” “How?” “Every time I feel like I will lose my temper I stay away from people. Or I listen to music. Sometimes I even watch a fighting movie, it helps me release my anger. But of late none of these are working.”

“Why haven’t you asked God to help you?” “I don’t want to bring God any more filth. He has to deal with my sinning against him all the time in spite of me being a Christian; I just don’t want to bring him any more garbage. I am tired of being like Cain who brings him garbage, I want to be like Abel who brings him the best of his flock.” “Don’t you understand that you are a fallen creature Peter? No matter what an apple tree does it will always give apples, some good and some bad but you will not see grapes coming from an apple tree.” “Yeah, I do understand that but I just wanted to give him something that will make him proud of me. I wanted God to be able to say to me either on Judgment day or after I die, well done good and faithful servant.‟” “God adopted you as his son. He leaves the ninety nine and comes to help you out as it were. He is already proud of you and nothing you do will make him any less proud to call you son. Yes, he will punish you when you go wrong but he punishes you in love.” “But does that not mean I can keep these feelings of anger inside me and God will still be proud of me?” “Come on Peter, you know better than that. You know that God requires certain things of you. One of which is that you should do away with the deeds of the old man after you become a Christian.”

“What about all the things that were done to me. Does God not know about that? The wrong was done towards me and yet you and everyone seem to look at it as though it is me with the big problem. I have been going through all these problems and have not caved in to the temptation to lose my temper. Then this once when I reached my limit and everyone is making it look as if it is all my fault. What about all the things the other guy did?” “In the Bible Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest. Jesus answered with two instead of one. The First being that you should do love God with all your being and the second being that you should love your neighbour as you love yourself. These are not easy to follow because the flesh cries out only one word me‟. In situations such as yours, you know what to do but the flesh, your sinful nature is kicking and screaming wanting to be appeased. It does not want to let go of the hate but God wants you to let go of the hate.”

“This is all just talk for you, you do not understand what I am going through.” “Peter, it is I who cried father forgive them for they know not what they do. It is I who died to save not only the descendants of the men who persecuted me but for the men themselves. It is I who was nailed naked to a cross. It is I who had a crown of thorns shoved onto my head rather than my crown of splendour, all for the people who hang me on a cross. I know what you are going through and even more. Peter let go of your anger, it is not helping you.” Peter breaks down once more as it dawns on him who he is talking to “I tried but I can't, I know what is right but I have been bruised and scarred. I can't just let it go.” “Peter I died so you could die to self. You know what is right so do it. God will not listen to you unless you reconcile with the person who has wronged you.

The bible is clear when it refers to being angry and murder as the same thing, God says if you keep this anger in your heart you are in danger of hell. Are you so stubborn as to hold on to your anger even if it means losing your relationship with God in the process? The choice at the end of the day is yours Peter. The Bible is there to guide you, use it well because it is the only way you will understand the mind of God.” With that the mysterious man walked away into the night. Just like Peter the decision is yours to make.

Mwansa Ndemi Mbewe 11th April 2010

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Work Of God in Cyprus.. What you must know

Interview with Pastor and Mrs. Swanson

The Swanson Family (Mrs. Daphne Swanson and Pastor Andrew Swanson second row first and second from the left)
Mwansa: Firstly a brief background on yourself, family and basically how you came to Cyprus?
Pastor Andrew Swanson: I was in the Air Force and I was posted to, I had just become a believer, and I was posted at Akrotiri which is down at the bottom of the island. And I worked with Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots and I started to go and get involved in the local church in Limassol which was a kind of brethren assembly mostly and they were very keen to reach out to the Greeks and there were quite a few Armenia’s who were working there as well, so right from the word go I felt the Turkish were quite marginalized and I believed that ultimately God might one day bring me back to work among them. And in fact originally my thought was I would come out of the Air Force, I was on a five year contract, I’d go to bible college and I’d come straight out once that happened. Well it didn’t work that way at all, and it was a good thing it didn’t. Well at the end of my first year, very unusually, I was asked to do a student pastorate up in Darlington, because normally they would not do student pastorates for third year students and I was a second year student. Anyway, this third year student who was going to do it was called to a church so I was sent in his place and, I mean spiritually I fell in love with the church and the church fell in love with me. So a year later, when I went into my third year and got married and my wife was teaching in a school near to where the college was but while, at the wedding in fact, one of the, we had a number of people from Darlington down for the wedding and one of the deacons came up to us and said “You will be getting in the course a call to the church, in which we would like you to come once you’ve finished college”. I was not at all surprised, just thrilled. So we went there at the end of my third year and almost my ordination coincided with James’ arrival (that is their son, now also a Pastor of the church). And we were very happy in Darlington for thirteen years with the church, we loved the church and the church loved us but by about eight years into my thirteen years, we were beginning to realize that God did not want us back here and I went to turkey for a while, well more like three weeks, just to see what the situation was like. And among other things I got Hepatitis as a result and so the church were very hesitant about me going out but they said, maybe Cyprus would be better and that’s what we wanted anyway. And we came out on a fact finding, at least I went out with the same guy again, and we came over for a week and during that time we found out that it was possible for us to come out here and we went back to the church. We asked the church to pray, we were perfectly prepared to take the church’s decision and in fact I think it was three abstentions, all the rest were saying we don’t want you to go but we feel you should go. And so we went out sent by the church.
Mrs. Daphne Swanson: That was in 1985
Pastor Andrew Swanson: Yes. And the Church has been absolutely brilliant. Everything we could wish for, I mean the church could not completely support us but they were in charge of our support and other churches joined in. And that’s how it begun
Mrs. Daphne Swanson: But at that time, the scene in Cyprus was, there was basically just the one Anglican Church serving the small community and nothing else at all. So we met as just the six, the four children and ourselves, every Sunday. Later on various other people joined us. Once or twice there were people who were turned out of Turkey. They came over to Cyprus and were here for a couple of months or years but none of them were able to be here long term. Some were actually thrown out because they were doing evangelistic work, others were not getting their residence permit renewed so they had to leave. But in Gods providence we stayed
Pastor Andrew: And then we had another couple come join us from a church in Lancaster and they were absolutely brilliant. They were slightly older than us, he’d taken early retirement and he was, they both were, lovely. He had to return because of a health problem, a heart problem in fact, and we could never understand that and it really affected the church greatly because we were really beginning to go somewhere at that time in terms of the Turkish part, well it was all Turkish. That was a huge loss, and now we have James and Rachel.
Mwansa: What challenges have you faced in your twenty eight odd years in Cyprus?
Pastor Andrew Swanson: I think for a long time the thing that I just could not comprehend was why I couldn’t get Turkish because I really did work hard. It was blood toil and sweat and little bit more blood as well. This one time I was so frustrated, I had this pencil in my hand and I slammed it on the table. It wasn’t my blood it was her blood. And really up until five years ago I could not comprehend why everyone else in the family, I mean, my eldest daughter, she went to Cambridge, and she did Turkish as her main subject and Ottoman Turkish. Daniel is more or less, well he was, I would say bilingual and Joanne was nearly there as well and I was the only one who couldn’t. And that would get to me at times because the Turks are not very…
Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Tactful
Pastor Andrew Swanson: Yes, Tactful. They would keep on saying “Why is it, everyone can speak such good Turkish and you can’t? Are you lazy?” Anyway, that was probably one of them. And then, I think, when we decided to go more public and find a place and that really was a challenge. We began to think we are never going to get a place. We couldn’t afford it and there really were very few people in all honesty who would even consider that.
Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Even five years ago Turkish Cypriots were afraid to rent property to someone who wanted to use it for Christian worship. Now that has changed hugely in the five years which is largely because of all the African students who are here and they are just getting more used to the idea but five years ago, it was so difficult. The first property was interesting, we saw something advertised in the newspaper. Almost didn’t bother to telephone because they said it’s a good area of town because it’s bound to be too expensive. Phoned and discovered it was a reasonable price. So I went with one of the Turkish ladies because we weren’t very optimistic so Andrew didn’t even come. And we saw this very nice property. Anyway we said to the landlady, we want it for Christian worship and she said “Oh… it’s no problem, I have lived in America, I’m used to these things, it’s fine.” And then we said “It’s a very nice building but we’d need to knock walls down” assuming the land lady was not going to think kindly towards that. Then she said “No problem as long as you give it back to me in the same way that I gave it to you.” And so it was just so obvious that God was knocking down walls.
Pastor Swanson preaching in the former building

Pastor Andrew Swanson: And although it was a small, much smaller place. It was home, it was lovely. We loved that place. I found it quite hard to leave.

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Talking of challenges, I think one of the biggest challenges is that the Turkish Cypriots themselves are almost completely irreligious and they are very content to be irreligious. So they don’t practice Islam, they have a vague idea of God and they have a vague idea of prayer. But they do seem to be a people without a felt spiritual need apart from all the new age stuff, like candles and angels and healing hands and all kinds of stuff like that but they don’t seem to have any desire for being close to God or knowing God or a sense of sin. They’re just quite content to being irreligious really. So that is a challenge that we are still wanting God to deal with, in convincing them of sin.

Mwansa: What has encouraged you about the work in Cyprus, I’m sure quite a bit must have gone wrong but what are the things that have made you say yes, this is why we are here.

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: I think, I don’t know anything about mining diamonds, but I imagine if you’re mining for diamonds in a really hard field, there is a lot of hard work. Then you come across one diamond and it makes everything worthwhile. So the very few Turkish people who have come to Christ, and these are mainland Turks as opposed to Cypriots, the very few who have come to Christ, it’s been worth the effort, even just for the few. The diamonds for whom Christ had died, coming to him. That’s my take.

Pastor Andrew Swanson: And I think also, we have been tremendously encouraged since we have all these African students, now a huge lot of the Nigerians, I would say, are just nominal but among them we have come across some really fine believers and we’ve also seen a number of catholic Nigerians being converted which has thrilled us really. It’s almost sort of come out in ways that we didn’t know. At a prayer meeting, James was asking and a student spoke of her conversion and we didn’t even know..

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Yeah, she was just about to go back, she’d graduated and James asked the two or three who were graduating “What have you learnt while you have been in Cyprus?” and basically she said well I’ve come to a knowledge of Jesus as my savior, not in those words, but that is what she was saying

Pastor Andrew Swanson: And we still here from her every time to time. I think as well, that my take on Nigeria, My son in law actually goes to Nigeria sometimes to help, he does pastoral training and he says the same. There’s nothing hardly of a reformed nature at all, it’s very thin on the ground, quite superficial and if we can be a means of sending people back, not just with their degrees but if they can go back with degrees and they go back, gripped with the glory of God and a knowledge of the sovereignty of God, that would be a tremendous thing. And we’ve seen that with some of them. And I mean, I think we’ve got to the point where it’s almost, we almost have to put the brakes on with church membership because, I mean, we obviously want, we are very happy to have everyone who is a believer and who is willing to put up with the way we run things but it’s certainly much more than we ever envisioned before.

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Another thing that I find encouraging and still amazing is that, One hundred and fifty people, most of whom are used to a very different style of worship and now there are places offering different styles of worship, in Lefkoşa. They come to our very traditional service where basically what is on offer is the preaching of the gospel and Christian love and one hundred and fifty people more or less come every Sunday. So may God bless them.

Pastor Andrew Swanson: I’m so thrilled with the actual building we have got because we did a lot of praying and deliberating and you begin to wonder, in fact the church that James is involved in, to us they were just moving very, very slowly and we were thinking “why don’t you do something”, in fact we did send them a letter. Anyway it’s all come to pass. I don’t think you really thought it would be as lovely as this?

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: No I think, seeing it finished, we did not envisage just how suitable and ideal it was going to be.

Mwansa: The next question is similar but gives a different angle. What would you say you thank God for, what are the praise Items?

Pastor Andrew Swanson: I think, I have to say first and foremost I have to thank God for my family, they have absolutely been with us and you can imagine how difficult our work here would have been if our children were rebellious or they weren’t happy. I would say the same thing has happened with James and his children, which I think is a tremendous blessing.

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Another along those lines, I thank God that his raised up our son as a preacher. You know there are people who are in the pulpit but not necessarily really gifted as preachers and you see that this is not from him it’s just a gift that is from the Lord that he is able to expound Gods word in a way that gets across to people which is a huge reason for thanksgiving.

Pastor Andrew Swanson: And having a church behind us and not just a church but churches and people praying. Because we would go to churches and they would ask us about people we’ve forgotten about. They are still praying about all the details of our prayer letters and that is just tremendous. I think the one thing I felt from the word go is that I had to take to time to make sure that people knew the situation and our letters were very honest. We did not say things were very good when they weren’t and I think that has certainly helped with the support.

Mwansa: And lastly what would you like the people out there to pray for

Pastor Andrew Swanson: Well I think the huge need is to see the Lord touch the Turkish Cypriots. I mean I still see that as what God sent us for originally, it hasn’t worked that way and probably we personally might not see it but I think my son will and I think one of the interesting things about James is the fact that he has to tent make. He’s meeting a strata of the Turkish society that we never met, that is the middle class.

Mrs. Daphne Swanson: Middle stroke upper-class really

Pastor Andrew Swanson: Upper-class yeah. And I think as well with being involved in the bank he comes across all kinds of people and the ideal to me is a church that is made up of all the strata of society so while we have been up to this point in time, especially with the Turkish side have been predominantly poor and we thank God that the poor have the gospel preached to them. But we would like to see some rich, some learned come to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mwansa: Thank you for your time and your contribution.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

It’s Your Country’s Independence Day, So What!

This question has been weighing on my mind since my first rebellious thoughts started springing. For those who are over thinking my thought process, this is a very valid question. Reason being, what has the celebration got to do with me? How much does it affect me? What is expected of me on such a day or because of such an event? What is relevant for me to know in order to appreciate this day? In my experience which is not as much as that of a fifty year old man but is decent in itself, most young people see October 24th, Zambia’s day of Independence, as a day to get off school. Apart from that no real relevance. As I came to realize this kind of thinking is not on just wrong but is potentially destructive.
Firstly, what has the Independence Day mean to me? We may not realize or appreciate it but out freedom was fought for. Blood, sweat and tears were thrown into the freedoms we take for granted. The least we can do is remember and acknowledge the contribution of the many who fought for this and I don’t just mean the ones who made it into power post-independence, there are many more. If it means you picking up a book that you last used five years ago then so be it. And that’s just the least. No other day affords you the opportunity to really look at your country for what it is, what it can be and what it should be. Thanks to the internet there are all kinds of fora through which you can get such information but on that day there are links everywhere, television shows nothing else, radios says nothing else and those who are strongly remember can speak of nothing else. Independence Day has a lot to do with you.

we walk away, ignoring what must be pondered
Secondly, how does it affect you and me? This is a day that affords you the opportunity to see the best of your country, this does not happen all the time and at all hours of the day but I will take a stab in the dark and say for most of it. It allows you to see the spirit that makes your country and though sociologists world over say we are losing our cultural personality, Independence Day will show you that this is not the case all the time. You will be able to see that your country is not just the people but also the land. It will make you look on the person next to you as your brother or sister, things might change the following day but if you can keep that feeling going we will see a much better country. It will make you want the best for not only yourself but for the people around you. I mean why should you live in plenty when those around you are suffering. Why would you let those around you live lives that are destroying the place and land that you love, with idle use and/or littering, when it is in your power to talk to them and help them see reason. Independence Day gives us the opportunity to see the people as a unit not isolated individuals.
Thirdly, what is expected of you? On such a day it is very important to ask yourself this question. If you were to go on living like normal then the day would not be a national holiday or better yet the most important national holiday. This is the day to consider what it means for you to be whatever nationality you are. Zambians have a different nationality from Zimbabweans even though we have no physical boundary dividing our lands and were once one nation. This question will allow us to continue to develop our own identity and not get too sucked into the global village phenomena. The global village phenomena strictly speaking is a couple of dominant cultures getting impressed on us. Cultures do evolve but the core values must be maintained because that is who we are. Being at an international university has taught me that people are different, sometimes you can tell which country a person is from by the way the carry themselves, act and dress. Even before the person says a word and that is the power of culture that is what must be maintained. And it comes as a result of asking that question.
cultural diversity is great, appreciate others but don't lose yours

Fourthly, what is relevant for me to know? It is necessary that culture is built on knowledge. Without knowledge prejudice and enmity reign, and very few things are sadder than prejudice and enmity among countrymen. It is necessary to know what was fought against for Independence, who did the fighting, what turned the tide that brought about the movement, etc. All this knowledge will result in us seeing that the people who achieved what we now look on with indifference were people just like you and me, people from all walks of life, people from all the tribes and languages no just the one. It makes us realize that no one is inferior and that in that moment the nation was one. Such a view will inspire us to see such a thing again.
The reason why all this is important is that it beats the alternative. The alternative is a nation in a state of moral decay, a nation where the youth show little or no respect to the adults, a nation full of the head strong and the ignorant, a nation of those who only seek their own good ignoring all outside of their doorstep. Am I the only one who sees that I am describing the state of things, if not now then not long from now. This is something to fear rather than something to shrug off. Moral decay is not over there, it’s here and it’s here and we need to fight it. This fight is similar to fight for independence because just like in that fight we need each other. Unfortunately the answer to the problem is not one that I have or is in a book, it is a working answer, different from one group to the next. What I do know is that there is an answer, we just need the diligence to find it.
It maybe three days late but I will say it anyway. Happy Independence Day. This is my tribute…

Monday, 14 October 2013

Could Have Been A Birthday Post

I read the book instead of moving
I was really tempted to do a birthday post, really tempted. Tempted to write about my thoughts and feelings over the turn of the year for me but I’ll pass on that. I have decided to pass on that because of a more pending issue. An issue that I figure has greater importance than my turn of the year. A week or so ago a friend of mine dropped a book on my table and asked me to read it. I blatantly denied the suggestion like I always would to anything he would suggest unless it involved food or coke, I love food and coke by the way. I really love coca cola. Anyway, I figure he expected the reaction so he left the book and went about his business. For the next couple of days he would ask me almost every day like clockwork if I had read the book yet. I felt like lying but I was decent enough to tell him the truth and say no. He was like the woman who wanted justice and I was the unjust judge, except I was more reasonable, I think…

Yesterday I figured I should start reading the book so I could get him off my back. So carried the book with me to church, not to read it in church, my days of doing that are long over. The bus ride to church is forty minutes to and twenty minutes back. So I carried it, somehow or other my roommate and I were almost late to catch the bus. So what started off as a light jog turned into a race and I got my Usain Bolt on and won. I arrived in the bus and started reading. The book blew me away. Easy to follow and rich with biblical truths that cut right to the heart. The name of the book is “Your Own Jesus” by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns. I started it and as we reached the church stop I was already twenty pages into the book and I didn’t feel it. Somehow, by God’s grace I managed to concentrate in church. On the bus back from church I opened it again and thirty pages passed by between then and the time I sat down for lunch. Now yes I am a fast reader but I give the book the vast majority of the credit. It is baby simple but rich. Basically I tore through the book, except for the evening service and dinner I was right in there and by 11pm I was done.

I actually didn't read the cover till now

The book left me in a place of awe over my relationship with God. Over where it was, where it could be and where it should be. I was ready to kneel in awe and worship of the God I serve. By now you want to know what the book was about I can imagine so I will do my level best to say enough but not too much so you can try to track it down yourself and dig in. it is a devotional book, relying a lot on personal reflection as you go through it. It starts by explaining the slow fade, and yes he regularly uses tittles of his songs. It actually makes you understand the heart behind the pen and the message of them. It speaks of how the gradual change in one direction, that is one straying from God, naturally should mean there is a slow and hard return. It is not something that happens in the blink of an eye and requires diligence. He also speaks over how it is that God frees us of our sin as far as the east is from the west. This does not mean that we have no remaining sin but how that once he forgives us it is once and for all. We tend to reflect our human understanding and logic on God, in that we expect God to get fed up of forgiving because even the most loving parent would get tired at some point. God is not like this, human logic does not apply to him. He throws your sin away as far as the east is from the west. He says, one of the reasons God does not use north and south is because if you went north on earth at some point you will find yourself in the south but you can never go so far east that you end up in the west, it just keeps on going and personally I find that great.

The last lesson I leave you with is how that a lot of people expect a prayer to fix all your problems and you will return to the relationship you had with God before your one or many sins that took you away from him. It takes a lot of work and prayer. Personal effort. We would never grow in grace if God simply pulled us out of our problems. Our experiences make us who we are and make us better instruments for his use so we should work hard to return to our relationship with God but accept that all that happens to us is with his power and plan and is for our good.

 Expect to sweat and fall, the road is hard

All in all I highly recommend the book, not that I’m a guru on which books to read, but if the book falls on your head on a cloudy day. Don’t panic, pick it up and read it. Also, that nagging guy who you know just might bring you a diamond once every blue moon

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Two Horrible Days and the "Why" Question

Two Horrible Days and the “Why” Question

The past two days have not been the highest points in my life. That’s is actually putting it mildly, it was another test in the "trust God or dive head first into the crashing waves" scenario. I’m not yet through it but I think I have chosen the former.

It all started with my plan for the semester. I do a bit of creative writing that turns itself into poetry, scripts and random thoughts. So I decided to focus all that and use the gifts that I have been given in whatever avenue I could find. The first plan was to shoot a short film every weekend or two, so I pulled out an idea I had been toying around with for the past two months, turned it into a mini script, found me some actors and a camera man to boot. I figured that would be my only big project, apart from school work of course, for the next two weeks when I got wind of the Zambian independence celebration and another idea hit me. It hit me during lunch and I was so psyched I completely abandoned lunch to put my idea in recorded form so I wouldn’t lose it. I don’t write things down that much, it requires a mind that is able to stick to one chain of thought for a decent period of time, my mind is not like that, so I record my thoughts then write it down after listening to it and weeding out the wheat from the weeds as it were. Anyway I went to the organizers and they were more than happy for me to jump on board.

I jumped head first into it and got the people I needed to help out, those I could not reach I asked people to reach and I figured we would be all set by the day and time of the shoot. A few things to note, all the people involved were volunteers, which is a problem of its own but I will get to that later. Secondly the time until the shoot was a little under 48 hours. The first hit of bad news came when I called one of the actors in project one, strictly speaking one of the two actors and, and he was going through a couple of issues of his own and so we had to cancel rehearsal. From previous experience I have learnt if you miss the rehearsal before the day of the shoot just cancel the shoot. It’s not worth the disappointment. So I cancelled project one, it was not easy, I was really ready for that one and was really looking forward to putting in a decent shift. So I began to focus on project two, and in order to vent the pent up tension. I did my level best, even worked on flash cards and not just the pen on workbook flash cards, I put in a shift.

Enter problem number two. The camera man showed up on time but without the memory card, after a couple of minutes that felt like and hour we found a memory card only to come back and find out that the camera was flat and would not turn on. Let me mention now that this is not the rant of an angry man and you will see this at the end, for those who think it a rant, skip to the final paragraph. Anyway, we somehow managed to find us a camera and went on location. Apart from those who moved with me everyone else was late. So we made calls and heard stories ranging from I’m on my way to I’m coming down the stairs right now. This is actually quite comical in hindsight. So the first group arrive and I figure we can start with just them, there were supposed to be four groups by the way. So we start, this was almost 20 minutes passed the time we should have started and the sun was no longer were I needed it to be so we made adjustments and soldiered on. A lot of drama happened along the way but I will skip that. We managed to get something on tape, but it was not enough and this was only with the first group, the second, third and fourth had not yet fully arrived. Only the occasional one in most cases none. We even pulled a passer-by or two off the street just to try something but before we could get into position, camera two went flat. And I mean flat, deader than a door nail flat..

We cancelled the shoot and are trying to organize another. As I went back to my room I figured I had enough material to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. I could sugar coat this, in actual fact I cant.. There was no rabbit pulling that day. And everyone seemed satisfied and jolly except me which for those of you who have felt disappointment tends to happen nine out of ten times. I was in a slump till I fell asleep. And the sleep was not all that restful, I'll tell you that.

The new morning brought with it time to go over my recorded ideas, the footage from the previous day and conversations with people who had the capability to encourage. To say the least, his blessings really are new every morning. Out of all that I came out with this… Why was I doing all that I was doing? Was it some form of self-gratification? Was it a chance for me to do something and have people look at it and praise me? Or was it to produce something that would please my father in heaven, the people who asked me to do it, the target audience and myself, in that order. The latter seemed like a more convenient answer. The reality was it was not MY video shoot that did not happen it was THE video shoot that did not happen. I was making something personal that was not even about me. If I kept my eyes on the goal which was to produce something that pleases the four parties mentioned above in their specific order, I would have been able to pick myself up and walk on with my chin up despite the state of my clothes. Unfortunately this is a very hard lesson to learn and it is likely I might have this problem again, hopefully this will help me out then. The good news is the horrible two days are over, who knows what will happen next..