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Our first stop was with Pastor Mario and his wife, Dianah, in Livingston. They moved to Zambia from their home in the Philippines 24 years ago. They came as missionaries and have only returned home three times during that period of service. And actually, Zambia is their home now. When they first arrived, they didn’t know anyone here. But now they have countless friends and their 4 children consider themselves Zambians! Over time, the Lord has allowed them to plant a thriving church that now meets on a property not far from one of the main roads of the city. Since their church ministry has reached maturity, they have turned their attention to planting churches in the many rural villages out in the bush

Since we visited in a time of year when camps were not possible, we decided to hold a three day conference on camping. Pastor Mario decided to invite all of his many pastor and youth worker friends from the surrounding area – even some of the remote villages. One young man that we met walked 5 hours to get to the nearest bus station – then rode the bus for another several hours to come to this conference. Another not-so-young pastor biked 3 hours and then took a bus 9 hours. Talk about humbling! The commitment of these men puts us Americans to shame.

We started the first day of training with around 40 in attendance, but throughout the day we kept noticing more new faces – and we kept giving out more CampsAbroad staff training books. We estimate that another 30 or so arrived throughout the day and Pastor Mario said that several more made it in after dark

The training sessions on camping and youth ministry went really well. During our three days of instruction, Tim and Matt both noticed that it was an extremely wide range of educational levels represented in the 70 or so attendees. This did present a challenge during the training as we tried our best to slow down for the sake of some of the village pastors / youth workers from the bush without losing the attention of the more educated men from the city area. So many of these men live in extremely primitive conditions – as in mud hut with a grass roof primitive. The only Bible training they have comes from the outreach of Pastor Mario and his co-workers. Pastor Mario is working to reach out to many villages in the bush currently and has seen quite a few churches planted. In spite of these barriers, we believe the men were encouraged and picked up quite a bit of helpful material – whether or not they hold a camp of their own.

After our time with Pastor Mario, Tim and Rachel made a short trip to visit with Pastor Maron in Kitwe. Fifteen years ago, he was a camper at the first camp, now he is the camp leader. He and his wife, Precious, also met while serving at camp! In the time since CampsAbroad’s last visit, our material has been developed, refined, and augmented. Maron asked for us to provide a refresher training and introduce some new resources and activities. Since we were already in Zambia, it was an honor to do that.

When we arrived Maron took us to church where we met Pastor Banda and heard a practical and theologically rich message. The church is in a community that is thoroughly Christian by profession and of every denomination, yet the gospel is not taught in most churches—leaving a huge need and opportunity.

God has guided Maron into a ministry with orphans, and his camp training from years ago continues to reverberate in his teaching, his life, and his daily conversations. It was a huge encouragement to see how they are continuing after all these years. The lead pastor at the church even has a graphic of some of the training materials (a tree counseling model) painted in his office!

They have been unable to hold camp for the last two years, and we even heard from one teen girl asking when they would have camp again. If things continue as they were when we visited with them, April should be their next camp. They asked repeatedly for us to come help run camp next year. The response was direct: We would love to, but it’s clear you don’t need us.  God is doing great things through camp in Africa. Thank you for your part in upholding this work in prayer.

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