Monday, March 30, 2009

Food Distribution in Kezi

The Church in Action

Celebrations at Crossroads Community Church

New Frontiers, A Family of Churches – Together on a Mission – rang true when the New Frontier churches responded to the Zimbabwe food crisis. Their generosity in cash enabled the New Frontier churches in Zimbabwe to purchase and bless communities around the country with maize grain and soya chunks.

Crossroads Community Church was also able to be a blessing to the Kezi community as we were able to bless approximately 450 people with maize grain and soya chunks. The food distribution was to be an evangelistic outreach as we saw this as an opportunity to share God’s word – spiritual relevance and be the church in action by giving food – practical relevance.

Stephen Manhanga and Mxwayisi Dube directing the flow of people

Sunday started with the team getting together early and praying – committing the day to the Lord. As usual, the children were the first to arrive at the Crossroads site followed by many more people. A sense of heaviness could be felt as we were informed that the evening before, a young man of 19 (husband and father) was accidentally and tragically knifed to death by his 17year old friend as they were “messing about” together. We prayed again with everyone for God to break in and He did. The celebration was wonderful.

Alison Fry and Gerald Mangena at the verification station

The food distribution started early as God blessed us with light showers of rain. Everything went smoothly as people moved from one station to the next until they received their maize grain and soya chunks. The presence of God was awesome and the unity evident. A heart of appreciation was in the air as families are now able to have a basic meal for the upcoming months. Praise God!

A lady going home after receiving her maize grain and soya chunks

Psalm 133:1”Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”

By Molly Manhanga

Pearls of 1

Pearls of Wisdom…pt 1

God’s timing is PERFECT and so amazing when He brings people to speak into the lives of individuals and team. Andy and Alison Fry are 2 such people who are serving Ebenezer and Crossroads Community Church for the next 2 weeks. Part of their service is to help build the Ebenezer team, teach spiritual lessons and so on. Andy and Alison come from Alton, Hampshire and are part of K.C 21 family of churches. Andy’s ministry is multifaceted but he is on the senior ministry team. He is also part of a trans-local team. The exciting thing is that church is about forming relationships without being boxed.
Andy and Alison will be doing a series with the Ebenezer team on strengthening relationships and hearing what God is saying. The first in the series is as follows:

Andy and Alison Fry
Andy started by saying HEART and TRANSPARENCY are Key.

The dynamics of relationships are important and so are words that are spoken. A team comprising of people with differing personalities is complex and misunderstanding are due to crop up. Conflict and misunderstandings can be seen in the book of Acts with regards to Barnabas. The exciting thing is that the way it is handled together with the right heart, can be a great source of unity and strength. The issues around us can be a strengthening time and maturing time.

James 3:16 – 18 is foundational – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Romans 12:9 – 19. There is some reality there that things are not always easy. V 18 was highlighted: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

God’s heart is that he is for us, not against us even if people have wrong motives.

James 1:2 – 4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the working of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trials can be painful yet God can produce good fruit through it. Discipline is not pleasant but the fruit of it. It’s something God has to do and only He can work in us. He is making us more like Jesus.

We will be looking at Jesus, our perfect example, Paul, Moses and Joseph. We will look at how God worked in them through their trials and difficulties and brought them through. God is working on our character and changing us.

“Perception is Reality”. This is really useful in a cross-cultural context. Two things stood out:
a) It’s easier to make “objective” assessments/judgments on someone else rather than on oneself and ones perception.
b) We want people to adjust to the way we want them to be like. This is selfish. Adjustments are needed all round.

Andy encouraged us to meditate on “Perception is Reality” for ourselves and for others.

Prayer requests:
God will help us on our journey of being imitators of Christ.
Guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reaching the Men in Kezi

Ministering to the Men in Kezi…..
58 men attended the very first Men’s Breakfast that was organized by Stephen Manhanga – leader of Crossroads Community Church. It was incredible seeing the men worshipping God from the younger men to grey-haired men.

Tapiwa Chizana, an elder of River of Life Christian Church, took the first session and shared a message on Taking Responsibility. He started off by telling the story of Adam and Eve and the temptation in the garden before majoring in on his 4 points:
Taps sharing the word

a) Men are avoiding responsibility in the home and once that happens the blessing is removed. The spiritual condition of the home is the man’s responsibility.
b) Abusing responsibility such as domestic violence in the home. Words can break a wife’s spirit and hinder her from doing what God called her to do. He encouraged the men to believe God’s word and not man’s word – to be men with a difference.
c) Abdicate responsibility. Adam was passive as Eve was tempted, ate the fruit and shared it with him. Passive men allow the women to lead in the home, solve problems in the home etc. Taps encouraged the men to take responsibility and lead the family.
d) Abandon responsibility. He said the men look surprised when there are problems in their families or they look for “greener pastures” saying they will provide their families. That’s abandoning responsibility.

God is looking for men who will transform the community and take responsibility for their lives and their families.
Stephen Manhanga preaching

Stephen Manhanga, leader of Crossroads Community Church, then followed suit on the similar theme on The Role of Men. He highlighted that the men came into this world as children but then they grow up. 1 Corinthians 13:11. Being a male is a matter of birth but being a man is a matter of choice. Stephen encouraged the men to be good role models for their children and to love their wives. Ephesians 5:25 and Ephesians 5:1.

The messages were very timely and sound in scripture. The men enjoyed themselves 3 fold: with the word, with fellowship and with breakfast.
Men praising God
Written by Molly Manhanga

Happy Birthday Thembalezizwe Christian Church

Stephen Manhanga preaching and Mike Ndlovu interpreting

At this time 2 years ago, Thembalezizwe Christian Church was planted in Umguza out of River of Life Christian Church in Bulawayo. Tapiwa Chizana, an elder of River of Life Christian Church oversees Thembalezizwe Christian Church. Mike Ndlovu and Taurai Sithole are the leaders of the church.

From small beginnings, the church has grown and it was wonderful being able to celebrate Thembalezizwe’s 2nd birthday last Sunday. The praise and worship was vibrant and the ladies choir blessed the church with an awesome song. Testimonies of God’s goodness were given as well. What a pleasure hearing people give God glory.

Stephen Manhanga, the leader of Crossroads Community Church shared an exciting word from John 5:1 – 9 about the man at the pool of Bethezda. His exposition was brilliant as his preach came down to the man taking his eyes off his problem and focusing on Jesus. Jesus instructed him to “arise, take up your bed and walk” and the man obeyed. We were encouraged to arise from our difficulties, to master the giants that have mastered us and to walk. Walking speaks of mobility, going places.
All in all, it was a dynamic service. May God continue to bless Thembalezizwe as they impact the Umguza community.
By Molly Manhanga

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reaching the Women in Kezi

What an amazing time we had last Wednesday when 85 women gathered, praised God, watched a drama, shared a meal and listened to God’s Word. The unity and sense of purpose was incredible.

The women waiting for the meeting to start. Praise God!

The drama was based on Family concerns within the community. The young ladies from Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre who did the drama were outstanding. Amidst all the laughter, the realization “hit” home from Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it…..” In as much as the women desire CHANGE within the community, change begins with each of us.

The older women showing the younger women how to cook. Mrs Ndlovu with an apron (Community leader) and a friend take time out from the fire.

I then shared a word entitled Strengthened by Spiritual Growth. The ideas were taken from a book written by Elizabeth George called “A Woman after God’s Heart.” The 5 spiritual growth points were:
1. It begins with Jesus Christ. You and I have 2 options for how we live our life: with Jesus Christ or without him. Its clear-cut – no in-betweens. 1 John 5: 11 – 12.
2. Gaining more knowledge. Jesus is our greatest example. In Luke 2:52 we see that “Jesus increased in wisdom”. We too need to purposefully seek wisdom and knowledge.
3. Stewardship of your body. Eat right and exercise.
4. Becoming like Jesus. Jesus increased not only in wisdom (the mind) and stature (the body), but also in favour with God. Luke 2:52. We need to be like Him and spend time with God.
5. The gift of fellowship. As Jesus grew, he also “increased in favour with man.” How do I improve my relationships with people?

a) Mind your mind: Your actions will reveal your attitude towards people. Proverbs 23:7 ”For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Thoughts that are negative, critical, harmful and jealous not only go against God’s word but they bring out actions that are negative, critical, harmful and jealous.
b) Mind your mouth: “From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What is inside the well will come out in the bucket. Lets be like the Proverbs 31:26 woman who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and her tongue is the law of kindness.”
c) Mind your manners: The number 1 way of pleasing God and approved by man is to be the servant of all. Honour and prefer others. Romans 12:10. Regarding others as more important than yourself gives you the mind and manner of Christ. Philippians 2:4 – 5.

As we are in the business of spiritual growth, we’ll enjoy Jesus and love Him and this overflow will go to our neighbours and into the lives of others.
Prayer request:
We look forward to our next meeting which is on the 15 April.

By Molly Manhanga

Nuggets on Leadership pt 2

Enjoyable, reader friendly and highly recommended
  • Leadership comes down to two things: who you are and how you think. Dr. Myles Munroe
  • Leaders touch the heart before they ask for a hand. John Maxwell
  • Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Winston Churchill
  • The day we take responsibility for our attitudes is the day that we truly grow up. Dr. Myles Munroe
  • Leading well is not about enriching yourself – it’s about empowering others. John Maxwell
  • People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. John Maxwell
  • You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things. Mother Teresa
  • A team doesn’t win the championship if its players are working from different agenda’s……A team needs diversity of skills. John Maxwell
Excellent leadership pointers

How am I applying these nuggets in my life? Attitude, getting things done, passion, stamina, vision, teamwork and so on are all vitally important in leadership but where does HEART come in? Is it really necessary? How does HEART fit into leadership?

Jesus, the ultimate leader of leaders, gave much attention to the heart of leadership. Our entire life is controlled and determined by our heart. What do we actually mean by HEART? Dr David Allen, a leading psychologist, in his book Contemplation, describes heart really well: “It is the decision making centre where all of our choices – good and evil – are decided…………..The heart is both conscious and unconscious…………(It) is also the place of understanding and reasoning.” Our heart motivates us in our attitudes and actions, even though we may not be aware of what is influencing us.

For out of the outflow of the heart the mouth speaks”. All our actions are motivated by the content of our hearts. Have you noticed that our true attitudes and beliefs are often manifested when we are under pressure? We are revealing what is in our hearts.

The heart is the chamber that holds our convictions about all aspects of life. Why do we believe what we believe about ourselves or others? Whatever we put in, will come out when we press the right buttons. “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” The heart is the seat of life and determines the quality of our experience in life. Leaders lead out of their hearts.
You are what you believe. Your thoughts create your beliefs. Your beliefs create your convictions, your convictions create your attitude, your attitude controls your perception, and your perception dictates your behaviour. As leaders then, its important that the source of our thoughts are correct. If not, our thoughts are incorrect and our conclusions and beliefs are defective and contaminated which affects the way we live our lives and treat others.

Discovering Truth is an important pursuit. What you believe is essential to your life because you live out of your heart; you see through your heart; you interpret through your heart; you judge through your heart. We need to correct what we have heard because much of what we have previously heard and accepted as truth has negatively influenced our image of ourselves, our beliefs about our worth, and how we have lived our lives. Where does this TRUTH come from? Truth comes from the creator of TRUTH – Jesus Christ himself. He is TRUTH and his truth needs to saturate our thoughts, which ultimately affects our beliefs and convictions and regulates the nature of our leadership.

HEART is crucial. Whatever is inside will come out one way or the other and reveal our true self.
To conclude then, I'd say that heart in leadership in # 1. Everything else can be worked around it. As Dr Myles Munroe says:"When the leadership attitudes come together in your life, then you will fulfill the definition of a leader: You will have the capacity to influence others through inspiration motivated by a passion, generated by a vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a purpose."

Compiled by Molly Manhanga

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chronological Bible Storying pt 2

At the start of the training camp - Chronological Bible story tellers

It was very exciting when the leaders/key people from the New Frontier rural churches in Zimbabwe got together for 2 days of training on Chronological Bible Storying at River of Life Westgate, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Some of the expectations were:People from the different communities being more receptive to the stories
Help clarify worldviews
Help people understand the Bible better and get the BIG picture
Help us become better storytellers as this is God’s story and we have a heart for people.
We want everyone to see stories being told
Those who haven’t heard stories – hear them and learn.
Mbonisi Malaba - Lead Elder of River of Life christian church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe telling a story at the camp
A recap from the previous Story Telling trainingA story is judged by another story. It helps to explain the meaning of a story clearly. For example – Jesus always used stories as in Mark 4:34. He told stories in parables. Parables is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Another example is Nathan with David. Nathan used a story to confront David’s sin.
Worldviews. A worldview is what you perceive and believe or, simply put, the way I see the world. For example:
One’s behaviour is determined by ones value.
One’s value is determined by ones belief.
One’s belief is determined by ones worldview.
A Worldview is the way I see the world. Worldviews are like the root of our behaviour. What shapes our worldviews are the stories we hear from our childhood. What affects, judges, rules a story is another story. If we want to change behaviour we need to change worldviews.

Some Key Phrases
Worldview – Way I see the world
Oral learners – Learns better by hearing something spoken than by reading.
Oral Bible – Collection of stories given to people with the intention of helping them understand the main picture of the Bible

Kayle Pelettier - Key story writer telling a story

Genesis Gospels Acts Epistles Revelation

Evangelism Track: has 33 stories. Go back to the beginning and redo stories with a few changes i.e. Review Track (Some people become believers)
Acts and Paul’s letters – Church Planting Track
Beginning to the end again – Leadership Track

It was awesome listening to the 30 stories being told at the training camp.
Stories are very powerful.

At the end of the training camp - Chronological Bible story tellers are very excited.

By Molly Manhanga

Chronological Bible Storying pt 1

Stephen Manhanga telling a story at Crossroads Community Church

The launch of Chronological Bible Storying at Crossroads Community Church has been very exciting. Moving away from the conventional preaching slots, stories are now being told from the Bible chronologically and discussions are held after.

In the rural context in Kezi, this is brilliant because most people enjoy telling stories around a fire. How better can it get if the stories are Biblical and people’s hearts and lives can be changed by the power of the word!

Why do Chronological Bible Storying?It is easy to understand and there is an opportunity for discussion and questions.
It’s hard to forget
Lessons to be learnt from the stories
Comparisons and perspectives come out clearly
Hearts and minds are spoken to
Chronological Bible Storying is different
It has a humble and indirect way of speaking to people and cuts through culture.
Captures attention.

The heart of Chronological Bible Storying is to help people understand what God is doing and to see the BIG PICTURE.

Attentive congregation members listening to the story

By Molly Manhanga

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Beginnings of Community Transformation

KEZI women’s event
Community Transformation in the air!
Having lived in the Kezi community since August 2007, I have learnt alot about the culture, the people and the language. Very fascinating indeed! I have also concluded that in order for a community to transform, it will require active participation from everyone within that community.

The first ladies meeting was held for the community at the Crossroads stand and 63 women attended. The purpose of the meeting was to unite the women, share vision, heart, passion and give direction on how we as women can be actively involved in transforming the community.

The response was incredible! The freedom of worship and dance was wonderful. The word shared was on The Worth/Value of Being a Woman and it was received well.

Some pointers were:
1. Woman created by God
2. Woman as daughter of God
3. Woman as wife
4. Woman as mother
5. Woman as homemaker
6. Woman as simply being a woman

The highlight for me was when the women were asked to dream of the community they would like to live in. They were split into 4 groups and the discussion was excellent. A representative from each group stood up and shared 3 most important contributions from that group. The exciting part was that each group shared on how they would like to see Families restored. Families generally are in tatters and it has affected the next generation- the children. BUT, God has a plan for Family and with His help and grace; we’ll see families being restored.

The meeting ended with more jubilation as the women sang and praised God. The unity was almost tangible and the presence of God so, so evident.

Prayer Request
The next Community Ladies Meeting is on the 18th March.
  • Please pray for God to be glorified in the lives of the women as we play our part in seeing the Kezi community transformed.
  • Pray for a continued sense of Oneness of heart, mind, spirit and purpose.

by molly manhanga

Monday, March 9, 2009

What is a beautiful woman?

In continuation from last months short pointers on
Women of Noble Character

What is a beautiful woman?
It all depends on the stance one takes. Famous sayings like: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ or ‘Beauty is skin deep’ come to mind. Looking a little deeper, Anne Ortland in “Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman” highlights that the Bible says that only once – beautiful woman, referring to Sarah (Gen 12:11) and literally they mean a woman of beautiful appearance. Surely that can’t be all? Beautiful appearance! What about women who are crippled, disfigured in some way, blind and so on?

Sarah was certainly some woman, physically, but, she laughed at God’s word in disbelief that she would bear a son and then lied, denying it and she was jealous of her maid Haggar. So, physical beauty can’t be everything.

Proverbs 31 describes an admirable woman; her good qualities seem to be in opposition to physical beauty: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 3:30. In the New Testament, 1 Peter 3:3 – 5 says: “Let not your adornment be external only…….but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

Therefore a beautiful woman can be summed up as one who is disciplined, chaste, discreet, deferring, gracious, controlled, “together”. This kind of woman God considers godly, which means she has qualities and she’s close to his heart. This is “his” kind of woman – his kind of beautiful woman.

More thoughts to follow……
By Molly Manhanga