Oh no! A cancelled ticket. Just as Bruce Campbell and I got to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in October, we read a text that the airline had cancelled Bruce’s ticket to Mbeya for the next day! It was not clear why. But, the next morning at the Precision Airways counter, we easily purchased a replacement ticket ‒ for one of the MANY empty seats on the flight. What was that about?
We arrived to the balmy sunshine of the beautiful, mountain-ringed Mbeya valley and bear-hugs by our conference hosts, Pastors Myala and Mbidu. We found a singing crowd of men – and women! The pastors’ wives and women church leaders came. We informed them that all of the messages, exercises and materials were for the men. But maybe they could share the teachings with their sons and with their young men in the church and community?
Our teachings focused on a man’s position, priorities and practices, and we tried several “man lessons” to reinforce them. For example, a pastor stripped a banana tree branch in 5 seconds, but despite cheering from the crowd, gave up on putting it back together. The lesson showed
how quickly a careless or harsh word can “extinguish” a man’s wife’s or child’s joy, and re-lighting it can be difficult, if not impossible. A water-pistol lesson illustrated how a lone man of valor’s fire can easily be quenched when he doesn’t stand with other men.
Bruce’s message on “The Core of a Man of Valor” spelled out what a real man is, and a tea-in-water illustration of Galatians 2:20 drew boisterous affirmation. Brad’s “Why Men Don’t Go to Church” drew both incredulity and clear agreement. Before the end of the second day, three bishops and an itinerant Bible trainer said that they will be teaching the MOV materials in their Bible School and pastor’s training programs – YES!
As Bruce and I prepared, I encouraged him to speak expansively on marriage and family, more than in previous MOV conferences… and then we saw the husbands and wives talking over the materials during the breaks. Did this turn into an MOV Marriage Conference? Maybe so!
Back in Dar es Salaam, Bruce and I parted – him for home and me to meet Mark Seager in Zambia and begin the second 4-day event.
Back-to-Back Four-Day Conferences Require Stamina.
After a great reunion with our host John Chellah in Ndola, Zambia, Mark and I walked into an auditorium of 120 enthusiastic men (only men this time!) The men were from 43 churches in six cities.
We sang the Zambia National Anthem for their Independence Day, and taught on a man’s priorities: marriage, family, work, church, and money. After the second session on “Why Men?”, a pastor asked for prayer about the lack of men in his church. They also called a special session with Pastor Chellah to discuss their traditional marriage customs vs. biblical truth. They challenged Chellah to begin doing men’s conferences each year – YES!
As in Tanzania, the sessions were supplemented with discussion groups and active breakouts. We challenged the men to stand together to face the battles of life, and we led a brainstorming session on how to draw men to their churches. Mark sealed the conference by charging the men to leave a godly legacy.