My youngest brother Bob Pemberton sent this letter to his supporters two days before he went to be with the Lord. He did not know his time on this earth was coming to an end but like all good servants of God he followed the commission of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9-10 “… and did not become weary in doing good”, rather, was ready to continue to “do good to all people.” This letter was Bob being God’s servant till the day he was called home. May his example encourage us to be found doing good each day till Jesus comes!
Member of the Board of Directors, Hippo Valley Christian Mission, and Bob’s Oldest Brother.
When Nancy and I returned to Chiredzi for an extended period, we both felt that the word “bittersweet” would be the best word to describe our feelings. On the one hand we were not accompanied by our children. Stephanie, (22), and Mark,(19) who are enrolled at KCU and the separation was not going to be easy. On the other hand not only would we be reunited with our brothers and sisters in Christ but also were going to be living next door to Nathan and Tessa Lawson, (son-in-law and eldest daughter) along with our two Zimbabwean born grand children, Isabelle,(3) and Noah (22 months) with twin boys on the way, (now arrived). OK, so it was more sweet than bitter!
Now that we have been back for four months I can definitely say that although we miss Steph and Mark tremendously, so far our time here has been Sweet with a capitol “S”! After all, what could be sweeter than returning to the town you grew up in, where your children were born and raised, to work along side your brothers and sisters in the Lord and be a preaching elder in your home church, where you served as minister for over 20 years and where your son-in-law and daughter are currently ministering!
On the family side the two newest additions to the Lawson clan, Samuel and Jonah, made a six week early appearance on the scene, September 15. They were born identical weight, length and looks. To tell them apart Tessa dresses them, one in green and the other blue. Then, just in case, she drew a little fish on the bottom of Jonah’s foot. Babies and Mom are doing fine. So is Nathan. Raising this young family and being a Minister and our Managing Director’s special assistant, is an almost overwhelming task. I am constantly amazed at Nathan and Tessa,s ability to not only cope but serve effectively. Of course it is a joy for Nancy and I to be able to assist and fill in the gaps wherever necessary. In fact it’s downright sweet.
On the work side the sweet part is that my co-workers are family too. When we came to Zimbabwe Zebedee Togarepi was a family man with six children serving as a minister in our area. When Nancy started teaching Bible Knowledge at one of our high schools Zebedee was the Chaplain of the school and together they did amazing things with the youth. In fact many of our preachers and leaders today were former students Now, Zebedee is our Managing Director and a brother in every sense of the word except blood related.
We have been wonderfully busy these past few months. From fill in preaching to hosting a short term mission team to attending and participating in weddings, funerals and special event church services. Then there have been the meetings. Meetings with the preachers, with staff, with the Ministry of Education, with Headmaster(s), teachers, parents, doctors and church committees. Mostly these were with Zebedee.
To be honest meetings, especially schools related meetings, have never been my favorite thing. In Zimbabwe meetings are often long, very officious and in the past extremely adversarial. So, you will understand that I was less than thrilled when Zebedee asked me to accompany him for a meeting at one of our schools. Especially when he named the school and it was one of those I used to dread going to. A fiercely independent school, openly distrustful of the Board. We were going to officially announce the promotion of their Headmaster of 20 years to our largest High School, located in Masvingo. The Head, a strong member of the Church of Christ, had transformed the school from a rural school with a very poor record educationally and a very weak church to one with one of the highest pass rates in the area that attracted very well qualified teachers and is known for it’s witness for Christ in the community.
However, the spirit and the atmosphere were like no other school meetings I had ever attended. It was amazing. We basically had three meetings in a row to give them all what boiled down to bad news for them. First with the older students, then with the SDC, (PTA) and finally with the parents. In every instance, much to my delight, mutual co-operation was pledged and the priority of loyalty to Christ and his Church commited to. This was all capped by a party thrown in honor of the departing Head that, in addition to a great meal was nothing short of a full blown worship service led by the Head himself.
Lots of high points for me that day. Like when the Chairman of the PTA introduced me as the Responsible Authority and Zebedee reminded him that the RA was the Mashoko Christian Schools Board of which he was Chairman and me a member. My personal favorite was when the Headmaster made mention of the Revival Nathan and his team of youth from the Chiredzi Church of Christ, assisted by our Chaplain of Schools, (a former student of Nancy’s) had held in which 68 young people had accepted Christ.
Personal family and spiritual family coming together to glorify Christ without my presence. “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50. Thank you for your partnership. Whatever generation you represent you have been and continue to be, an essential member of the family that made this possible.