Work 4 A Living Training in South Africa

All of the hard work, and now it’s time…

Sylvester, Michael, Bornface, and Brian met daily for weeks to prepare for Work 4 a Living “Train the Trainer” training. The actual training took place in at Siya Sebenza in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Preparing to board the return flight to Lusaka.

Training was quite rigorous; every morning we met with a Work 4 a Living class. They were training for job skills, but we were training to facilitate these same classes. The students arrived from all over the place, financially, geographically, and attitudinally. Aside from our Zambia group, the facilitators were all recent W4AL graduates — their facilitators hand-picked them as future leaders of the program.

Every afternoon, after the students left, we new facilitators learned. We practiced the lessons that the students had learned in the morning, and we prepared for tomorrow’s lessons. For some of the lessons, we had to assume the role of actors.  As good facilitators, we cannot simply tell the information; we must deliver it in such a way as to get the main point across. Doing this requires a lot of concentration and focus!

Sometime midway through the class, we saw a change in the students.

Sylvester training: teaching about compound interest

They arrived (for the most part) quiet, reserved, and hesitant. But by the second week, they were much quicker to answer questions and to engage in discussion. Likewise, the facilitators grew in confidence and in community. We laughed together as we shared (and acted out) the story of a fictional employee who made life difficult for his employer. As new facilitators, we struggled together to most adequately express the main point about the resources we actually have here in Africa. We worked hard on our mathematic skills — Sylvester is pictured practicing explaining compound interest. If we can explain compound interest in a way that others can easily understand, then we are well on our way!

We Trained… What is Next?

The class seemed to fly by, and soon we were bidding farewell to our new friends, students and fellow facilitators. Then we returned home to Lusaka, where the real work begins. We continue to meet with potential employers; the best way to start classes is by advertising jobs. The video below might help you see how we are advertising our program to potential employers.

Soon we will have a permanent site where we will teach. Meanwhile, we continue to practice what we learned in training.

This is where you come in. If you believe in the mission of Work 4 a Living, you can be a part of it! First of all, pray for us. While this program is a jobs program, it is fundamentally a spiritual program. We need prayers.

You can also donate to us through the UMC Global Ministries “Advance” website, where 100% of all donations goes directly to the project.

Please follow us on our new Facebook page.

We are excited about moving from training to implementation!

Preparation for Work 4 a Living: Coram Deo

When we heard about Work 4 a Living, the job skills training program, it met our expectations in all kinds of ways. Developed in South Africa, it was prepared with an African worldview. The program meets the needs of the community we serve. Our facilitators (who we introduced previously) will teach badly needed job skills to assist the locals in finding and keeping employment. But perhaps the greatest aspect of this program is its foundation.

Work 4 a Living is based in Christian discipleship.

The first segment of training involved a course called Coram Deo – the Basics Course.

Somebody is actively impacting culture. We can look at our societies and ask a very simple question: Do we see more and more of the kingdom of God coming into our communities and our nations, or do we see more and more of our societies coming into our churches?

God has ordained his bride, the Church, to work for the blessing and healing of our broken nations. As Christians, we are called to engage—to create culture that aligns with reality as God created it—to witness to the truth. To love our neighbors sacrificially, just as Jesus taught. The Basics Course is powerful, proven training that will equip you to identify practical solutions to the challenges facing your community and nation. Two application-oriented “labs” will help you put the training into practice immediately.

Coram Deo is full of well-based theological reflections and practical application. The studies forced us to examine our own cultural worldviews and the underlying lies therein. Because God really does want us to live out His will here and now, not just in heaven!

If you’ve read this far and you are wanting to know more about Coram Deo, you are in luck! Tara is facilitating a group going through this study over the next three months. The class will encourage you to live every moment of your life before the face of God –- in his presence, under his authority, and for his glory, whether in the sanctuary, in the home, or in the marketplace. You are not too late to join if you hurry. Send her a message on Facebook and she can get you the information to join the online class!


Training for Work 4 a Living

Earlier this year, we visited many places in the United States to share God’s vision for the church and ministry in Lusaka, Zambia. We are now ready to begin our work toward Community Resource Centers! Our first step is training. In October, we will travel to Port Elizabeth, South Africa for Work 4 a Living training.

Meet our appointed leaders for the pilot Work 4 a Living Training:

Michael Katiba

Michael is a leader in the St. Marks (Matero) United Methodist Church in teaching adult and children’s Sunday School, leading Bible studies for youth and adults, and preaching during Sunday worship.

Michael is an extremely motivated young man with a passion for evangelism and discipleship. He gladly serves God and the church in whatever capacity he can.




Sylvester Kabwe

Sylvester is also a leader in the St. Marks (Matero) United Methodist Church. He came to us from Luanshya, where he was the Youth Ministry President. He often translates for Brian’s preaching, he sings in the youth choir, and he helps lead the church (and district) youth.



 Bornface Sibanda

Bornface is another wonderful leader in St. Mark’s (Matero) UMC.  He is looked up to by most of the youth and is an articulate teacher.  He can help any age to understand difficult concepts and he is also able to organize and make sure that programs run smoothly.  His heart is completely devoted to Christ and he is willing to serve and work in any way that the Lord calls him to do.



Blessings Chikwanda

Blessings is an amazing worship leader at St. Marks (Matero) UMC. She brings passion and enthusiasm to worship every week. She is also a hard worker and looks forward to teaching.

Blessings is interested in becoming our English language teacher. She needs further TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. This 120 hour course costs $1295, and we would love to get her started this month so she can begin teaching in January. She will also need a laptop and internet connection.


How Can You Help?

Flight cost: $650 per person

Transportation (beyond flights): $30 per person

Housing cost: $150 per person (covers 2 weeks housing)

Food cost: $175 per person (covers 2 weeks worth of food)

Training cost: FREE

Total: $1005 per person x 4 Zambian trainees = $4020

Vinson Family: 2 trainees + 3 children = $4575

TEFL Training for Blessings: $1295

Our total need for this phase of our project is $9890. Would you or your church be willing to sponsor one trainee for $1005? Or would you be able to sponsor half that cost ($500), or the housing or food cost for one trainee ($150 or $175)? Would you be willing to sponsor Blessings’ TEFL certification course ($1295)?

Your gift will not only impact the ones who are training, but the entire community. You can make a donation through our Advance Project Page at 100% of all donations through the Advance go directly to the program.





Vinsons’ US Visits

A US Visit

As missionaries with United Methodist Global Ministries, we are responsible to visit our supporting churches every three years to raise support. I once heard a missionary refer to these visits as the “dog and pony show.” We hoped that our visit would not just be obligatory visits to an uninterested “audience” who is just there for yet another missionary presentation… and we have not been disappointed.

One of our problems is that no United Methodist Annual Conferences in the United States partner with Zambia. Most Conferences (regional divisions of the UMC) have overseas partnerships, but none include Zambia. To that end, we made visits Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, East Ohio, and West Ohio. East Ohio made us especially welcome during their Annual Conference. They even gave us “stage time” and Brian spoke to the entire gathered Conference. We enjoyed our visits with the Conference Mission representatives. We took the opportunity to introduce ourselves and our mission in Zambia.

Telling the story at East Nelson UMC Bible School

The main focus of our visits has been local churches. We came to Zambia with only a few partner churches, but God has been preparing new partnerships. As we meet with churches, we share what God is doing in Zambia. We also share what we have learned (and are learning) from our Zambian friends. We want our partner churches to partner, not only with us, but also with the Zambian United Methodist Church.

So we make visits to churches, sharing what God is doing. Please join us! For certainly, we all grow through partnership.


A Summary of our First Three Years

Here is a video summary of our first three years serving in Lusaka, Zambia. The password for the video is Zambia .

2017 Itineration – I Can Only Imagine from Brian Vinson on Vimeo.

Saving Zambia… or not…

Saving the children… You’ve seen it before: the pictures of hungry children living in squalor. The stories of poverty and malnutrition. Horrible pictures of ugly situations. And then comes the kicker: for only (insert dollar amount), you can “save” the children. We can easily fall victim to the misconception that we Westerners can “save Africa” with our donations. These children don't need saving.

But the people of Zambia don’t need another savior.

The reality is, Zambia doesn’t need “saving.” The people often need opportunities, but this isn’t “saving” them. Love to Zambia is about empowering Zambian people. So, for example, we will not just teach English classes, but we will also teach locals to teach the course. A perfect example of our approach is the organization Paradigm Shift. This program empowers churches to meet the spiritual and economic needs of the poor in their communities.

They teach business training courses specifically designed in/for a Southern African context. Alongside the business training, they teach Christian discipleship and stewardship. We do not teach these concepts in a vacuum, but rather, with a successful Christian mentor. This mentorship role also provides graduates of the program a place to “give back.”  Through the program, entrepreneurs will be able to obtain small microcredit loans, which restore dignity and worth.

So we are not saving Zambia; we are empowering Zambia.

The difference between “saving” and “empowering” is huge. “Saving” suggests that they are somehow deficient and that we are not. It even suggests that we are better than them. This is not the case. Zambia is a beautiful nation, and the people here are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They are warm and loving and generous. They have struggled with poverty and colonialism, but they have so much to share, not only in Zambia, but around the world

This is why we are so excited about the chance to build resource centers in the compounds of Lusaka. These resource centers will help to restore the dignity of a wonderful people in a beautiful country.

Remember: You can click here and find out more about our Church and Community Resource Centers, including how you can give to the ministry!

Thank you for your interest and for joining us in loving Zambia!

Advancing Hope in Christ’s Name

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  ~Hebrews 10:23

The United Methodist Church in Zambia is a young church, a church with many hopes and dreams. Though we have written before about Zambia’s poverty, that is not what defines the United Methodist Church here. More appropriately, the church might define itself as hopeful.

Our leaders are hopeful that soon we will become a fully functioning, self-sustaining Conference. (Currently we are a provisional conference, under the auspices of the South Congo bishop). We hope that we will one day have the infrastructure to support our pastors and the work of Christ. And we hope to make a difference in our communities.

One hope our members hold is for church buildings. Currently we meet in school classrooms, in a disabilities center, and we have even met in a home. A building represents hope: for evangelism, for stability, for church growth.

But to us, a building represents hope for the community.

We plan to use a building for Sunday worship, for Tuesday youth meetings, for Wednesday prayers and Bible Study, and for choir practice and seminars, but that’s not all.  Our building will be a community resource center, offering entrepreneurship classes, English language courses, Bible study courses, money management courses. We will provide career counseling and computer classes. A building is a place for education, and education offers hope to the community.

We have been waiting patiently for the opportunity to move forward with the plan God has called us to… and now we can!

United Methodist Global MAdvancing Hope in Christ's Nameinistries has approved our proposal to build resource centers in Lusaka, Zambia, through the Advance. You can find some of the specifics here: Building Church and Community Resource Centers

With the approval of our project, now you have the opportunity to partner with us! In a future blog post, I will explain a little more about how the Advance works, but for now, you can find information on how to give on UMC Global Ministries’ Advance Project Webpage. You, too, can give hope to our friends here in Zambia!

Graduation Celebration for Our District Superintendent

Here in Lusaka, Zambia, we have five United Methodist Pastors. Of the five, two are appointed local pastors and do not have formal United Methodist training. One is in the Pastors’ School at Kafakumba Training Center. One is a foreign missionary. And the fifth, our District Superintendent, Rev. Stephen Kaluba, has just finished his Bachelors of Theology Degree at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Lusaka.  He celebrated his graduation last week!

15078680_1782742702003921_3114792555182545139_nIt has been difficult for Rev. Kaluba to finish his degree. He is a true bi-vocational pastor — he is our (virtually unpaid) District Superintendent. In this role, he leads the pastors and directs all of our churches. Most noteworthy is the fact that he has been a faithful seminary student, taking his studies seriously, learning while ministering. And he has a full-time teaching job as well.

Rev. DS Kaluba

Rev. DS Kaluba on his graduation!

For most United Methodist Pastors in Zambia, getting adequate training is extremely difficult.

People from various compounds or towns frequently come to us, asking us to plant a church. However, we are limited and the limiting factor is trained pastors. While the Kafakumba Pastors’ School is our primary source (and has also provided pastors for D.R.Congo, Tanzania, and even Senegal!), our pastors still need support. We must train them and at the same time, build up in our churches the willingness and ability to provide for them. We now have a fantastic (and badly needed) program to help pay pensions to retired pastors (thanks to Kafakumba). Now our retired pastors are earning more than our active pastors! Therefore we plan to help our churches begin to support their pastors.

In the meantime, we celebrate the graduation of our District Superintendent, Rev. Stephen Kaluba, and we look forward to seeing growth of our pastors’ training and support!

Zambia Pastor Retreat

Years and years ago, a delightful, tough woman, Lorraine Enright, had  a vision of holding a pastor retreat for Zambian pastors. When she began dreaming of this retreat, there were few Zambian United Methodist pastors. But she kept praying. Nearly two years ago, Kafakumba Training Center held its first Zambian Pastor Retreat.  Pastors from all over Zambia came together to worship, pray, and fellowship.

During this year’s pastor retreat, John Enright spoke about some of the difficulties he has

Zambia Pastor Retreat

Zambia Pastor Retreat

faced. He told us that many of his endeavors failed. They tried growing bananas and aloe vera, but the crops failed. Their sawmill all-but failed.  But then one of the pastors spoke up.

We are the bananas.

Many (almost all) of our Zambian pastors have been trained right there at Kafakumba. Because the bananas and aloe vera provided income for Kafakumba Training Center, Zambian pastors benefited. For them, no investment,  no matter how small, no matter how sustainable, was a failure.

Though the banana production was a failure in the sense of not being able to sustain itself, it provided for these pastors’ training. However…

Our Zambian pastors cannot support themselves on a pastor’s salary.

If I learned anything from the pastor retreat, it was that Zambian pastors have to make major sacrifices. Most churches are unable to pay their pastors.  Many of our pastors are bi-vocational. Although our annual conference (leadership for the church in Zambia) agreed years ago that pastors must be paid approximately $50 per month, no church has been able to do so. One of our goals is to partner with Kafakumba and local theological schools to help with pastor education. Another is to help struggling churches to raise money to pay their pastors.

We will do this two ways. Our Resource Centers will help empower entrepreneurs — thus increasing the tithes and offerings that the churches receive. We will continue to help churches support their pastors through your gifts. We will continue to work to train both laity and clergy for the theological task in front of them.

Thank you for reading this far.  Look here for continued updates as we should find out within a month if United Methodist Global Ministries accepts our project requests!

In the meantime, the pastor retreat has encouraged and empowered our Zambian pastors and given us strength for the mission!

Zambian Missionaries

Over the past few blogs, I have been recounting what we need here in Lusaka, Zambia. We need Resource Centers. We need Pastor Training. We need Children’s Ministry.  While we serve as missionaries in Lusaka, other areas are saying, “We need missionaries, too!”

Yes, we have plenty of needs here in Lusaka. But please do not take these blogs the wrong way. I am not saying that if we fulfill all expectations that we will somehow “save” Zambia; Jesus already died and rose again to save Zambia, and He doesn’t need us to be Saviors.

The reality is, it can be easy to write deceptively about Africa.  We honestly want you to partner with us and thee easiest way could be to tug at your emotion and your ego… if we paint a sad enough story and lead you to believe that you can somehow “save” Africa, then perhaps you will join us…

The reality is, Zambia is a wonderful place.

Lusaka has fabulous weather. I have a weather app on my phone, and I never, ever use it. Why not? Because I know it will be mild overnight, the sun will shine, the breeze will blow, it will get warm, even hot in the afternoon, and the shade will feel good.

Lusaka has malls and shopping centers just like the West. Some Americans like to joke that Zambia is “Africa Lite” or Africa 101, but that’s misleading. The reality is Africa is not monolithic; it is huge and multicultural. Africa has its rural villages and its thriving cities. We often hear about African poverty, but at the same time, many African nations supply the world with raw materials, such as the copper provided by Zambia’s “Copperbelt” region.

The real wealth of Zambia is its people.

Bible StudyThis isn’t just about how friendly people are to us – the fact that wherever we go, people smile and greet us. It’s not about the hard workers we see everywhere. It’s about heart.

One of our church members, Monica, has been active, not just in the local church, but also in health and wellness ministries in Lusaka. But recently in her travels (to care for and minister to) family members, she was asked for help. The village has no water. Monica has UMCOR training, and she determined that this is what her training is all about.

So with the blessing of our local church, Monica will be traveling to that remote village to assess the situation. We will also see what resources are available to help the village not only get by, but to thrive.

Sometimes people think of missionaries as white, Westerners who go “over there” to minister. Some of us (obviously) fit into that category. But Monica is an example of the truth: that God calls all of his people to be missionaries, to carry his Word to all places. She is just one example of the character we see in the Zambian members of the United Methodist Church!

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