Friday, January 02, 2009

End of Year Newsletter

Here is our end-of-year newsletter that goes out to anyone interested. Regular readers have seen it all before. If you'd like to be on our e-mail list to receive periodic newsletters, send us a message at

Namwianga News
David and Linda Gregersen

Blessings and Challenges

As 2008 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of blessings and challenges. We were blessed by the addition of a wonderful daughter-in-law when our son John married Leah Vickers in June. We faced the challenge of my diagnosis of breast cancer in May and then were blessed abundantly during our extended stay in the U.S. as we had opportunities to enjoy time with friends, family, and our sponsoring congregation at Brentwood Oaks. I was again blessed with no side effects from the radiation treatments (in spite of the dire predictions of my oncologist).

In August just as I was finishing my six-weeks of radiation, David’s father was diagnosed with acute leukemia. We were blessed to be able to spend a few days in Arkansas with David’s parents before heading back to Africa on September 2. When Mr. Gregersen passed away on September 21, we were blessed to be able to return to Searcy and join family and loved ones in remembering a life well lived. It is a tribute to Mr. Gregersen’s legacy of faith that his sons, grandsons, and sons-in-law conducted the funeral service.

There were many challenges and blessings when we returned to Namwianga after five months away. Our friends and co-workers gave us a warm welcome, and then we set to work catching up on all the projects and activities that needed our attention.

Student Teachers

The college students who had been doing their teaching practice during the second term (May – August) returned to campus about the same time as we did. We gathered them together to hear about the blessings and challenges they had faced. Sponsored students are expected to do more than develop their teaching skills during their practice teaching; they are also expected to be active in planting a new congregation or encouraging an existing one. Some were sent to northern Zambia where their first challenge was to learn the Bemba language so that they could communicate with the local people. Other student teachers faced opposition from community members who thought they were Satanists. Most had to overcome logistical problems with housing and transportation. In spite of the difficulties, much good was accomplished. Three new churches were planted, and many more congregations and individuals were strengthened.

One effort involved a coordination of the sponsorship program and the Church Development Program (CDP). The head teacher of the school at Kasukwe is a graduate of George Benson Christian College. She contacted the Church Development Program and asked the leaders to send some teachers to plant a congregation at Kasukwe.

Two weeks before the term began, five of the evangelists who usually go out on bicycles were recruited to go to the village of Kasukwe. For the next two weeks these men went door-to-door making contacts and holding Bible studies. They also invited people to attend an evangelistic meeting. From their efforts, a new congregation began meeting in early May. As planned, the evangelists left just as three student teachers from George Benson Christian College arrived. The students spent the next three months at Kasukwe helping the new church to grow and become firmly established as they also did their student teaching practice. The head teacher of the school had nothing but praise for the student teachers. She reported that they performed well in the classroom, were models in their behavior and lifestyle, and were effective leaders in the congregation.


The school year in Zambia runs from January through early December, and the tradition is to hold graduation ceremonies in November. As in past years, I volunteered to be “Mom for the Day” for any secondary student who had no family members in attendance. This year my “son for the day” made me especially proud when he was given the Bible award in recognition of spiritual leadership. His gift was a bicycle, and he was encouraged to use it in spreading the gospel to surrounding villages. Many other sponsored students received awards for academics, leadership, and athletics.

The college graduation recognizes the students who finished their courses in 2007. The system requires a “gap year” in which the final diploma exams are graded. We were thrilled to see many of our students return to the campus with stories of their teaching experiences and evangelistic work.


Sunday outreaches continue to be a big part of both the secondary and college campus experience. Buses, trucks, and Land Cruisers full of enthusiastic students head off to surrounding villages every Sunday morning. The students preach, teach, and lead singing at the congregations they visit, giving the students valuable experience and giving local congregations fellowship and encouragement.

GBCC students continued the prison ministry that began in January. Regular visits by our students have resulted in over 20 prisoners accepting the Lord in baptism.

The bicycle evangelists keep the good news spreading into the far reaches of the bush. They gathered in September for a three-day training seminar conducted by the Church Development Team. We recently discovered ZamBikes, an aid organization that provides sturdy bicycles at a very reasonable cost. We have purchased several of these so that we can send out some new evangelists and also replace the bicycles that our current bicycle evangelists have worn out as they travel on the rough bush roads to teach and preach.

The Welcome Mat Is Always Out!

Phil Gardner from Peoria, Illinois, came to Zambia in August to help fill in for Don Oldenburg and for us while we were in the United States. He stayed on after we got back in September, and we enjoyed our time with him very much.

Brian and Sondra Davis and their sons Noah and Bryson visited us in September, along with Bart Bruington. The Davises and Bruingtons work with Mumena Mission in Solwezi. Besides having a great time with these good folks, they also did some work here. Brian and Sondra talked to the HIZ students about the life of a missionary family, and Bart offered advice on upcoming construction projects. As always, their visit was too short!

We had an enjoyable week in October with Dr. Dick Bedell of Project C.U.R.E. He stayed with us as he evaluated the needs of the clinic and arranged for a shipment of medical supplies.

We hosted seven Peace Corps Volunteers for Thanksgiving. These young women are near and dear to our hearts, and we loved pampering them during their stay. It doesn’t take much; we just gave them lots of home-cooked American food and access to soft beds, hot baths, and Internet.

Our holidays were brightened with a visit from new friends Jerry and Claudia Templer. The Templers moved to Lusaka in October. Jerry is a retired physician who is helping to train doctors at the University Teaching Hospital. Claudia, the daughter of long-time missionaries J.C. and Joyce Shewmaker, grew up at Namwianga and has connections to many of the families here.

Harding In Zambia

The second Harding In Zambia (HIZ) group arrived on campus September 4. The 21 Harding University students immediately became part of all facets of campus life. They joined sports teams, sang with the GBCC choirs, taught secondary and elementary school classes, worked at the Namwianga clinic, and took care of babies at the orphanage. On Sundays they were often out in the villages for outreaches. David and HIZ leader Shawn Daggett took a group for a weekend outreach in September, and another HIZ group was part of a church planting effort in October.

The HIZ students and their teachers were a great blessing to Namwianga and to us personally. We were sad to see them leave in November, but we are confident that many of them will be back, and all of them will have unforgettable memories of their time in Africa.

We look forward to another year of blessings and challenges in 2009.

The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Ps. 28:8

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