Introducing Hannington Sibanda – Our November Man of the Month

Our November Man of the Month, Hannington Sibanda, is married to one wife and they have 4 children. Hannington describes himself as a very passionate and intense person, who gives his all. He enjoys working with people and spending time with his family. He is also a sports fanatic and loves hockey, soccer and basketball.

 

nov-m-o-m-4We interviewed Hannington about this month’s theme of men as warriors.

In your opinion what makes a man a Real Man?

A Real Man loves and protects as well as serves those around him. He puts his family first and looks for the best for them. He takes responsibility for himself and others and is a team player. He is open about his feelings and his fears.

What are the biggest things men are challenged by?

Pride, power, pennies, petticoats. Another big one is that question: who am I and how do I provide for my family?

What are you most challenged by?

I work in an environment where I steward people and resources so I need to have to have integrity and that’s always a huge challenge. To do it constantly from a heart to love and service is impossible apart from God helping me.

Do you think it is ok for a Christian man to engage in violence?

I do not endorse violence and prefer to find other ways to try and resolve whatever situation it is. I believe that sometimes there are situations when you will have to fight; for instance if an intruder broke in and people’s lives were in danger, it may come to that. Otherwise, the bible exhorts us to turn the other cheek because we know God is our defender and at the same time tells us to defend the weak and vulnerable and stand on their behalf.

What role can men play in ending intimate partner violence?

Men need to speak up on various platforms. The conversation should be focused on honouring, serving and protecting all women.

How can men resolve conflicts in their marriages?nov-m-o-m-2

First by understanding that “it takes two to tango” and therefore owning our part in the conflict as well. This also means apologizing for any hurt I have caused. If your desire is to love and protect your wife, you will be intentional about managing your temper. This also means you need to know your triggers. Things may escalate for me when I feel taken for granted. In those instances it is important to take the weapon away from the enemy. I do that by reminding myself or allowing God to remind me of His unconditional love for me and my identity in him.

 

How does the “tough guy” culture affect a man’s ability to be vulnerable?

The culture says we mustn’t show our vulnerabilities because it makes us weak and easy to take advantage of, but as men we need to remember we have Jesus’ example. He chose to look weak by dying on the cross for us but he was never weak. By submitting to God we show that we trust Him and that we know we have someone much stronger than us who looks out for us and has everything in His control.

What is the benefit of being open and vulnerable?

Sharing your feelings with your family lets them in to your space – your mind and heart. It adds tremendous value to the relationship to your marriage and family. It is good for my kids to see me show that I am sad, but also see that in spite of that I am still the father and husband that the family needs. I am still bringing stability, security and love from a place of trusting in and honouring God. It also shows everyone in the family that I am not superman and that we all need each other and add value to each other by bringing who we are and what we have to the table.

november-m-o-m

How do you teach your children how to be strong warriors in their own right?

I model it and I explain my thoughts and feelings as well as the reasoning behind my actions. We also go through material that can support and help us.

How would you protect your kids against bullying?

I would start with the basic things; teaching him how to physically defend himself, and teach him his right to say no to being treated badly. I would also tell him I got respect when I stood up for myself against a bully.

How would you support your children through a bad relationship?

It is easier with boys I think. With boys you can lighten the mood a bit and hold the space for him to express themselves whilst affirming them. With girls it’s different as it’s more about listening and being a shoulder to cry on. Either way they need to know that I am their biggest fan and that when they are wrong I will point it out but will never abandon or leave them. All the while I am learning to understand and treat girls and women better as they are different from me, a male.

How can wives support their husbands to be warriors of Christ?

Encourage, encourage, encourage!! If wives honour their husbands it translates to appreciation. Men’s egos are often fragile and so men need for someone to believe, value and appreciate them and all they do. Without a Godly and supportive wife it is difficult to achieve much.

Is there any advice you want to give men who are looking to get married?

Seek to be the man your wife would desire; a man of patience, gentleness and a man who serves God. Learn to be a man who values women for their intrinsic value and not as possessions or tools for sex. The bible tells us to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as our sisters – the underlying message being that as men we should respect, love, honour, protect and provide with our words and actions.

Our September Man of the Month: Tapiwa Chizana

This month we interviewed Tapiwa Chizana and asked him to talk to us about stewardship.

Q:   What does stewardship mean to you?

A: It means being faithful with what God has given me and being fruitful and productive with it. This speaks to resources, as well as talents. I usually draw on the parable of the talents. A good steward produces more from what he or she has been given. Stewardship is more than just keeping things safe. While it includes safeguarding and increasing ones gifts, stewardship is also about remembering that ultimately your resources do not belong to you. They belong to God. Everything belongs to God, so we must handle all things in a way that pleases Him, putting His way first, and not our own.

tsc

Q: What are the implications of not being a good steward?

A: One the consequences of poor stewardship is that we may lose that which God would have entrusted to us. We also lose out on experiencing the fulfilment that comes from serving God and experiencing his pleasure. You may also lose the respect of those within your family, or amongst good friends and in the community. Being a bad steward can have a negative effect on those around you, as well as result in financial loss. Companies and organisations can be destroyed when those leading the organisations are not good stewards. Whole families can be destroyed as well.

Q : How do you steward your time?

A: I prioritise, putting God first then my family before all else. Then I prioritise with respect to work, the church, social responsibility and social life.

Q: How do you steward your family?

A: I try to spend time with my family. I pray with them and for them. I live my life being mindful of them individually, guiding each of them. I protect them as best as I can against all things that may be harmful, physically or spiritually. I am mindful of their use of time as well, for example we like the kids to spend more time playing outside and being creative rather than watching television.

Q: What are the main challenges faced when trying to be a good steward?

A: One of the main challenges is actually accepting that indeed we do have gifts and talents unique to us. It is human nature to look at what someone else has or is doing rather than being yourself and being content to serve God with the gifts he has entrusted you. I overcome this challenge by going back God and reaffirming my identity in him.

Q : Do you think paying taxes and insurance are important things to consider in stewardship?

A: I believe we do need to pay taxes as that is God’s instruction to us. I also believe there is great wisdom in paying insurance, however, we need to do it prayerfully. You can either get insurance from a place of responsibility or you can get insurance from a place of fear. I don’t advise paying exhorbitant amounts to insurance as that undermines the reality that ultimately God is our provider and he takes care of us, come what may.

Q: Can you be a good steward when you are unemployed?

A: Yes definitely. Even when you don’t have money, you have other things you are required to steward. For example, what becomes key for a man in that situation is how he chooses to steward his time. I would advise such a person to ask the Lord what they should do with the time he has given them. Perhaps they could volunteer their services at a non-profit organisation.

Q: What are the key lessons you have learnt in your journey in stewardship?

A: God is faithful and we shouldn’t be in a hurry to amass wealth. Stewardship requires patience. Sometimes we make mistakes and sin by trying to hurry things along or by trying to arrive too quickly. In so doing we don’t take due care.

pastor-tapiwa-and-florah-chizana

Q: How can wives help men be good stewards?

A: Wives can help by being genuine partners and praying lots. They can also help by using their own God given talents to contribute to the growth of the family. They can lovingly hold their husbands accountable.

Q: How do you teach your kids stewardship?

A: It begins with explaining the value of things: material and spiritual. We impress upon them the need to take care of their possessions. We let them experience reasonable consequences of not taking care of their things.

Q: What advice would you give young men who are getting married?

A: Treat your wife as an equal partner. Help her to be all that God has made her to be.

Freedom: All this month’s videos

Here are all this month’s videos around our theme of freedom in one place.

Remember what you are:

7 Steps to Freedom in Christ:

The Spoken Word: Jesus is:

August Man of the Month: David Cunningham on Finding True Freedom

This month we had the pleasure of interviewing David Cunningham, co-founder of Family Impact. We asked David to introduce himself and then to speak about the very relevant and challenging topic of finding true freedom.

IMG_1926

I was born and raised in Scotland.  I grew up in a good but non-Christian family. I found the Lord at university. After university I moved to Zimbabwe as a teacher. In Bulawayo I met my late wife, Janet. We have 4 children and 8 grandchildren. We were married for 44 years. During our marriage we worked with Scripture Union in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa and then for 10 years pioneering the Aid for AIDS project with Scripture Union Africa.  In 2000, we went on to be the founders of Family Impact with Tom and Hellen Malande from Kenya. Today, I am a Trustee with Family Impact Africa and Petra school, as well as an elder at New Creation Church.

What have been some of the key experiences in your life which have influenced your idea of what a man is called to be in the home?

Growing up, you learn a lot more or less unconsciously. My dad was a good example; he provided for us, cared for us and was there for us. I just assumed that men should be like him.

When I became a Christian I was struck by Ephesians 5 which says that a husband should love his wife just as Christ loved the church.  That was a tremendous challenge to me about what God calls a man to be in the home and it helped us in our married life.

Janet grew up in a Christian family that was very traditional in its approach to the roles of men and women. As a result, she was held back from fulfilling her potential as a leader and speaker. Ephesians 5 helped me to see my responsibility to free her to be all she could be. Supporting her in her freedom helped us both, in that it helped us build a partnership. Our different strengths complemented each other’s weaknesses. We helped each other to fulfil our potential.

What is freedom?

breaking-free_

Many of us think that freedom is the right to do whatever you want but I look at this way; a driver of a car is free to drive his or her car as long as he or she follows the rules of the road. When we don’t follow the rules of the road we will quickly have an accident or get ourselves arrested.  That is not freedom!  We are also free when we use the car the way the maker of the car intended for it to be driven. The car won’t work if we put water in the petrol tank.  Similarly, we are only able to live freely as long as we are functioning the way God our maker made us. We can find freedom and fulfilment in that. Freedom is a big word in the bible. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). When we understand the truth about ourselves, we can be free to live as God intended us to be.  That does not mean that we are all the same. God is creative and loves variety; each one of us is unique.

Can a man find freedom in marriage or is he called to give up freedom?

I would say both. There are some things one may have done as a single person that need to change when we marry.  Those are the things to give up. It may be perceived as a loss of freedom but there is a greater blessing to be found. You see God said, ‘it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.’  God made men and women to help each other. We can discover wonderful new freedom in our relationship together.

Take sexual freedom as an example.  There is a lot of talk today about free sex with the idea that the best sex is found outside marriage.  Is that true? An interesting survey was done some years ago by a university in USA to discover which group of people was enjoying sex most.  The result of the survey was that married couples were enjoying their sex life more than any other group.  That shocked many people but it really should not surprise us because that was God’s plan from the beginning.  Freedom comes from living as God intends.

What in your opinion are the biggest challenges to finding freedom as a man?

There is a lot in the world that feeds us the wrong idea about freedom. The message is that it is all about me and that freedom is found in seeking my personal pleasure today. The problem with that is that I am basically self-centred and I am not alone in the world. There was a debate in Britain around the question “What is wrong with the world?”  As a contribution to the debate, G.K. Chesterton, a Christian author, wrote a famous letter which simply said “What is wrong with the world? I am.  Yours sincerely G.K. Chesterton.”

I suggest that the biggest challenge to finding freedom is not in our circumstances but in ourselves.

Would you say it is possible to find freedom in Christ if so how does one go about it?

It is not only possible it is God’s will for us. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1).  1 Peter 2:16 teaches us that we need to be responsible in our freedom as it says, “Live as free men but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.”  To find freedom we need to give up the pretense that we are independent and depend on Christ. When we stop self-centred living then we can be free in Christ.

Can you say you have found freedom in Christ; if yes what has been the biggest struggle for you on this journey?

Yes, I believe I have found real freedom in Christ, yet it is not complete and is still a journey. I am reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12; “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on.” It is a daily spiritual battle where you constantly ask yourself the question “Am I going to put myself above everything or put Christ above everything?” The answer I aim at is “for me to live is Christ” not “for me to live is David”.

 

What concerns do you think men have when it comes to freedom?

Men are concerned that they don’t measure up to the misconception of what a real man is. Some may feel a real man is a man who is this superhero type; always strong, always capable, an extrovert. Truly a real man can very well be an ordinary man.  God made us all and honestly we are all very different. Men may think that in answering this call to freedom they must now become something completely foreign to their true identity. This makes men insecure.

What advice can be given to men and women entering marriage especially in relation to the issue of freedom in marriage?

God said to Cain, ‘Sin’s desire is for you, but you must master it.’ (Genesis 4:7).  That speaks of spiritual battle.  Exactly the same form of words comes in God’s word to the woman which speaks of a battle in relationships, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16).  Both wife and husband want to call the shots.  One of the results of the Fall is that there is a power struggle in human relationships which is especially ugly between husband and wife.

Men and women entering marriage need to understand that marriage and family is a prime site for spiritual battle.  Praise God that in Christ our marriage can now reflect the beauty of God’s plan before sin spoilt the world.  In Christ we have the victory and there is a striking contrast between the relationship conflict of Genesis 3 and the Spirit filled marriage of Ephesians 5.  There the teaching about marriage relationships is introduced by the words, ‘Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ (Ephesians 5:21).  A person who is full of the Spirit cannot be at the same time full of himself or herself.  A Spirit filled person will gladly fit in with others and will not be always demanding their own way.  Marriage partners should focus on loving one another not changing one another.  There is much more to say about marriage from Ephesians 5 but I believe this is a fundamental start.  In the fullness of God’s Spirit there is glorious freedom in marriage.

We need to remember that we do live in a fallen world and be mindful of the words God spoke at the fall reflecting the conflict which men and women will struggle with. It is important to realise that in Ephesians 5, which talks about how men and women ought to love each other, it doesn’t mention our rights, but rather our responsibility. We find our freedom through doing our part. If partners are not focused on changing one another but loving each other, they are most likely to see the change they are looking for. This is why submission is so important. Christ loves the church so much he gave himself up for it. That is submission. When we submit to each other we create freedom in marriage.

The Ephesians 5 Man – videos

In case you missed them on Facebook, here are 4 videos designed to inspire and challenge you to live up to Ephesians 5:

Mancave: Why do men and women compete?

july

Why do men and women compete so viciously? Wouldn’t it be simpler if men were Ephesians 5 men and women were Proverbs 31 women? What are these qualities? Are they too simplistic? Is the bible to old fashioned for a world with feminist movements, independent women and the rise of gender equality? Reflect and why not discuss in your men’s group?

Can a man teach his wife to drive?

Some argue that a man can love his wife as Christ loved the church and a woman can submit to her husband in any context except when a man is teaching his wife to drive!!! This article has an interesting take on the matter.

Parenting Tips: Teaching your kids to be honest

These great tips for teaching your kids to be honest are drawn from this article.

Reward the Truth.

Reward honesty with loads of praise and hugs. It will build self-confidence and reinforce the positive behavior. Plus, a child can never get too much love.

The Art of “Spin.”

The brutal truth should not always be spoken. We have all heard the saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” One need not lie and say Aunt Becky is skinny when asked how she looks. Just don’t say anything. Or find something else about Aunt Becky that is positive. “That sure is a colorful shirt.” Spin. People make a lot of money doing it. Spin works two ways, but when done for good, it’s a wonderful tool to learn.

The Hard Truth.

Correct morals and purity of spirit always trump protecting the feelings of someone who is doing wrong. Wrong is always wrong. For instance, your son’s best friend is cheating on tests and your son is fully aware. He has a duty to go to his friend and advise him to stop.

july parenting image

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree.

As is always the case, you are the role model.

Do Not Lead the Witness.

Though it’s tempting to test them, try to avoid asking questions that give your child a chance to not be honest.

Truth or Consequences.

We all sin. Even children do. They will eventually lie to you and you will eventually catch them. It’s important that there be consequences for their actions.

Correct Mistakes.

Catching your child being dishonest is a good time to break out your teacher hat. Help him correct the mistake.

Your Word is Gold.

The most important character trait a person can possess is keeping and following through on promises made.

What’s Yours is Yours.

Possessions can create all sorts of problems. The best policy is to teach a child early on that what they have belongs to them. What other people have belongs to that person.

Look for Honest Friends.

Show me your friends and I will show you your future. If your child’s friends lie and cheat, so will they.

Enjoy Your Marriage reaches Mozambique!

The Community of Fusion believes that people don’t do their best at work if they’ve got problems at home.  That is why Timoteo Bila and Ibrahimo Hamido, the HR staff, integrate family building sessions into their regular work training programmes.  The Community of Fusion is a Christian grouping of companies and enterprises serving the people of Nampula, Northern Mozambique and especially reaching out to the many small-scale farmers in the name of Jesus.

In 2014, Timoteo and Ibrahimo with their wives Sara and Carmenica visited Family Impact in Zimbabwe to see how our materials and programmes could help them in their family ministry.  The couples went on an Enjoy Your Marriage weekend at Shalom Campsite and enjoyed the experience.  They are passionate about building strong families and marriages.  As well as including family in training and development at work, they now run regular Enjoy Your Marriage weekends for the staff and their community.  Their goal is to enable 125 married couples to come on a weekend in 2016.

 

Timoteo & Sara

Timoteo & Sara

Ibrahimo & Carmenica

Ibrahimo & Carmenica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When David Cunningham visited Mozambique in June, he was able to attend the third Enjoy Your Marriage weekend for this year and was very impressed. The seminar was run over a Friday and Saturday and everything was excellent – romantic atmosphere, well-presented talks, time for the couples on their own, quality meals and refreshments.  It is not surprising that those who attended thoroughly enjoyed it all.  Two more weekends are planned this year. It is exciting and encouraging for Family Impact to provide materials and training to organisations who are then able to use these to strengthen families and marriages in their staff and communities.

 

Here are some encouraging testimonies from couples who attended the June Enjoy Your Marriage weekend:

 

DiasDias, working at Novos Horizontes: “We had a lot of misunderstandings in our marriage and we learnt a lot about COMMUNICATION. We discuss new ideas now and make our decisions together. From my last salary we went out and bought building material together, we have never done something like that before. We are enjoying making choices together!”

 

 

 

Agostino

 

Agostinho, working at Mozambique Fresh Eggs: “I did not know WORDS had such an impact! I have realized I can use affirming words to build up my wife and family!”

 

Introducing our July Man of the Month: Dion Green!

This month we are reflecting with Dion Green, husband and father of two, on the Ephesians 5 Man: Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. Enjoy and be challenged by what he has to say.

_D3O5719

Q: What does being a Real Man mean to you?

A: I think a good picture of a real man is that of Adam before the fall.  Adam was created in the image of God, which means we must reflect God in all we do; he was given dominion, which is authority (protection) and purpose, which was to work the land such that it brought forth a yield (provision). He was also given the ability to make decisions, and with this came the responsibility to either obey or disobey God’s instruction. Finally, God said it was not good for man to be alone, he is made to live in community, accountable to others, not as a lone ranger.  Simply put: in reflecting God, a Real Man, through radical obedience and accountability, becomes a provider and protector of his community in every sense, spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Q: What does Christ’s call to love your wife as he loves the church mean to you personally?

A: It means matching Christ’s model. In obedience and absolute submission to God, Christ was able to give up all his rights for the church, therefore as a husband, in obedience and submission to God, I should be willing to give up my rights and comforts to serve my wife and family. This is hard when applying it to two imperfect people, however loving my wife this way is the most profound picture of Christ’s love for us, that I can model to my children and the world.

Q: Do you think the call to love your wives as Christ loved the church is burdensome?

A: When you first hear it, it can sound daunting and burdensome but when you get to know Christ you begin to realise that it is not Christ saying “you need to do this and you are on your own”, he is saying “I have done it and I want to show you how to do it”. Christ dies for the church. We can take it literally that if it came to that sacrifice, men are called to die for their wives. However, every man needs to remember Christ holds both a man and his wife in his hands and will protect them. We need to surrender ourselves and our families to him.

Q: How does a man support his wife in the matter of submission, as wives are called to submit to their husbands?

A: Straight after the wives are called to submit to their husbands, the husbands are instructed to love their wives.  Men can support their wives by loving them into submission, even when they are not particularly loveable! Love is a choice not a feeling, if it were a feeling, we would never be able to be consistent. In tough times I choose to love my wife, even if I do not like what she has just done. This helps to keep perspective that the person is always more important than what they may have just done. Christ wasn’t willing to tolerate our sin but he loved us in spite of it. The husband in the home has the final say but he needs to make sure his wife feels heard and his children see him taking her thoughts into account. A husband who loves his wife must be humble enough to go with her suggestion if she has the better viewpoint on the matter. Earning power should not decide who wears “the pants”, there is no role reversal. Even if a man earns less that his wife God still calls her to submit to him, and for him to love her.

_D3O5960

Q: How do you apply the Ephesian 5 call to your lives as a couple?

A: Over time my wife and I are discovering what we are each good at and how to support each other in these. God’s plan was for man and woman to complement each other, and this looks different for each couple. Men do need affirmation. If your wife understands that you have her and your family’s best interest at heart she will affirm you although she doesn’t get your decision yet. This is a journey my wife and I are still on. No couple gets this right from the get go.

Q: How can you teach your children the essence of what men and women are called to do.

A: By spending quality time with them and including them. There is a real blessing to be found in including your children in big decisions. Also by example. They need to see their mother and I working together. We have bible time as a family where they have the opportunity to lead as well. They need to know that they are loved and heard. They get to give and receive spiritually. I am very sensitive to what God says to children and through them, after all we are called to be like children.

Q: What advice would you give to a young man about to get married

A: Do it God’s way. You may not see the blessing in that at the start but as time goes on you will definitely see it. It is never too late to repent and do it God’s way. God will honour you. Radical obedience is what God requires of us all, you will not be able to figure out marriage on your own, so best figure out how to obey God now, so that when things do not make sense you can simply do what He tells you to do! Do not go into marriage with an exit plan, when you are joined before God, you are like two sheets of metal before the master welder, where the two become one, and a perfect weld cannot be broken, it will always break somewhere else, causing much hurt to one or both of you, this is why God hates divorce.