July 19, 2016

It’s a curious word, that you might never use if not for Bible-inspired church lingo: edifying. More than the emotional boost from an encouragement, being edified means moral or spiritual improvement. It originally referred to a structure being built and strengthened, and this very picture is used for how the Church grows and matures into the fullness of Christ.

I’ve been in Zambia for 2.5 months now. I recovered steadily from my stomach bug soon after my second expedition (thanks for those prayers!). Since then I’ve been immersed in learning preaching, auto mechanics, wilderness survival, sector management, and now this week: bush cooking, 4×4 truck driving/recovery, and workshop.

The effect is more than encouragement. I’m being edified, and experiencing an importance in the distinction. My confidence progressively grows as I tackle each challenge, and then beyond mere acquisition of skills, I sense the Lord permanently drawing out unexpected facets of who I’m made to be.
In preaching, for example: I’ve grown familiar with public speaking (from taking 3 speech classes in college) and even adapted to speak with little preparation. Still, “little preparation” is very different from “pull a Bible verse at random from this cup, and preach it for a full minute.” Yet this is exactly how our teacher started us off, and it effectively broke any hesitations which held me back. Although by week’s end the time limit increased to 10 minutes and we were allowed to pick and plan our message, simplicity remained in focus– the whole Bible points to Jesus, our lives are a tool to display the same message, and the Holy Spirit in us will inspire our words.

As for auto mechanics, our course only covered the basics, but I was still very pleased by how this demystified the happenings under my car’s hood. Who came up with the revolutionary idea to turn miniature explosions (contained in the engine cylinders) into the pushing of pistons and then the rotation of wheels? In any case, it’s enough to understand key maintenance and how to identify common issues. I’m eager to build on this proficiency later– to properly care for our world’s modern steeds, and pass the knowledge on to others.

With wilderness survival, my class split into groups to research and then present each aspect to overcome nature’s threats. My group took on food (knowing which unexpected things are edible, hunting/trapping for long-term food, and doing your best to stay sanitary). I had my first chance to build a fire, and then to pluck a chicken as we learned how to butcher and cook these feathered friends.

At the end of our presentations, we were sent together into the bush with only the clothes we could wear, a single backpack (thanks T for giving me such a heavy-duty one to contribute!), and 20 essential items. It’s like when you’re asked what you would bring to a stranded island… except we actually did it. Family members, you will be comforted to know that we remained within the electric fence of our property, stayed out there for only one night, and we were provided (in mysterious ways) with some extra help and plentiful dinner. I’d like to better tell the full tale when I return home, but for now, I’ll just say it shattered another mental boundary to realize I can carve out shelter, warmth, and sustenance to withstand our world’s elements.

Sector management is how Overland Mission refers to nurturing a self-sustaining, reproducing discipleship movement in a local area. After short-term teams (like us in Bombwe and Ngwezi!) come into a village to preach, long-term sector missionaries are needed to mentor the new believers and continue that momentum. Their job is actually to work themselves out of a job, by gradually entrusting leadership to indigenous Christians. Technically, I’m still completing this course because I have a final group project– strategizing how I would launch an Overland sector in a country they aren’t yet established in (for my group, the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar). There’s a lot of questions on my mind right now as I try to envision this, but since Jesus commands us to go, promises disciples of every people group, and reminds us of His full authority above any power… I see reason for boldness as we research and formulate what obedience will look like for this particular land and culture.

Finally, since I’m only at the beginning of my latest three classes (cooking, 4×4 trucks, and workshop), I’ll limit my words again, for now. Our initiation to bush cooking was to visit the Maraomba Market in town, to discover and purchase something new to us for making into a dish (we found egg plant; our other teams dared to pick minnows and worms). The 4×4 truck class is another chance to learn about automotives and overcoming extreme terrain. However, it’s the welding and carpentry of our workshop course that I’m most excited about, to try my hand at creative works beyond my comfort zone of a pen or computer (I get to help with constructing the second story support beams of a house and also forming a decorative metal gate).

In all of this, I remember how I never would have expected to take on these activities a year ago. I’m not always 100% certain of everything God is doing inside me or where exactly He’s guiding me… but I know He’s building on how books and video games already awakened my heart in a small way for adventure and artistry, and He’s made clear a call on my life for direct investment in His mission.

You’re a participant; you supported me in prayer and practical support, and both of those contributions keep me aware of the protection and power present with me every moment. Thank you. I’ll see you in the United States soon.

Endless grace and peace,

-Taylor Lewis

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. -Ephesians 4:11-16

Source: Taylor Lewis Zambia