Tom and Michelle Sanchez left the States in January 2018 for Zambia to help the leadership of that country hoping to be able to raise the remainder of their financial support while they were overseas before they moved on to Bujumbura, Burundi. What you have below is an update from Tom and Michelle about their ministries and what they have accomplished in the months since they arrived in Kabwe. The picture above is of Tom at an Operation Mobilization sports training camp serving as the camp doctor.
Hi Team Burundi Partners,
Even as we write our greeting above, we are reminded that our time in Kabwe, Zambia, is short, and we are still looking forward to ministering in Bujumbura, Burundi. As we’re writing this, we’re headed to the airport to go back to the US to get ready for Samara and Phil’s wedding in the Portland, OR, area! We’d like to share with you some of the work we’ve been involved in over the last few months.
We’ve been called on to help with pastoral ministry at Grace Church in downtown Kabwe where we’ve mentored and counseled Zambian church members and fellow missionaries, many of whom are in their first terms of mission experience. These young families are facing the challenges of raising their children while adapting to life and work in this part of Africa and they view us as veterans of mission life. We believe God has directed us in this opportunity to come alongside them to support and encourage these young families to serve Him in a foreign land.
Imagine a church where each week there is a different preacher, moderator, and one of five different worship teams who may be involved in leading the service. Now throw in the fact that you have about a dozen or so potential preachers and on the worship teams there are short-termers who help out for less than a year and like anywhere, people need to make trades and guest speakers show up that weren’t planned for. We also have the same problem we had in the US of hymns vs. modern choruses, and we can’t forget to add in a Bemba language song or two.
We prayed about where to start reorganizing the services and the Lord supplied a missionary who was an experienced worship leader and was prepared to tackle the job of combining several of the worship teams to reduce the groups from five to three. The larger worship team worked together for the first time during the Good Friday service. We may now have a team that can withstand the necessary comings and goings of its members. We believe the Lord is preparing the way for David and Hailey, the two GBC worship arts students, to have an impact while they are here in June and July.
The Good Friday service is something we put together and once a month we hold a “tea” at our home after the service so that members have a chance to fellowship before breaking up and heading for home. Some of the members are farmers who live relatively isolated lives during the week, so they need a time to get to know and stay in touch with other members. The tea is an important occasion for black Zambians to mingle with the mostly white African farmers and missionaries. We’ve been in dialogue with a potential new missionary family with pastoral experience who may be willing to take on overseeing this unique church after we leave.
Michelle has begun to work with Operation Mobilization and mentors Zambian elementary school teachers on the outskirts of Kabwe. The teachers are considered missionaries, and Michelle is assisting them to write their first-ever newsletters to their home churches. Seeking support and writing a newsletter is a new concept for the 17 teachers at the school. Michelle is hopeful that by coming alongside them she will help them get over the initial hump of sharing the ministry side of their work and giving examples of both struggles and successes.
We have obtained our work permits and driver’s licenses! It sometimes takes up to six months to procure both. We praise the Lord that this tedious, yet necessary step has been taken care of. Tom had to wait for his work visa/permit to come through in order to get placed at Kabwe General Hospital where he’ll volunteer part time in the outpatient department and nursing school. The nursing school’s academic year just ended and a new one should start in the next few months, so it is an opportune time to find where Tom can contribute to the education of Zambian nurses.
Please pray for unity during these times of transition. Bringing change is always difficult as people see the problems of where they are yet become fearful of what change might bring. May the Lord help us mobilize the early-adopters!
Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers and support! We are so grateful for each of you for holding us up in prayer!
Blessings and Love,
Tom & Michelle
P.S. Please see GMI’s Executive Director Jeremy Clark’s message below.
Having arrived in Zambia in mid-January, Tom and Michelle hit the ground running meeting with and discipling church leaders, thoroughly assessing our ministries and ministry partners, and encouraging local believers.Though they have been there for only two months, it feels like they have been there for years providing invaluable leadership on this field.
Looking ahead, here is the plan.Towards the end of this year, GMI would like for Tom and Michelle to move to Burundi to open GMI’s fourth new field in the past five years without having to return to the States to raise additional monthly support. To date they have half of the $4,619 in monthly support they need. Based on their currently monthly funding, they have enough funds to continue serving in Zambia for the better part of this year. However, they do not have enough to transition to Burundi without having to come back to the U.S. to raise additional funds.
To keep this effective, veteran missionary couple on the field, would consider increasing your monthly support if you are already giving or starting now to support the Sanchezes? You can give online to support Tom and Michelle’s ministry through GMI by clicking HERE.
Pressing towards the goal,
GMI Executive Director