Choshen Farm didn’t start out planning to be a camp and conference center. It’s one of the ministries that we sort of fell into, or better said, one of the ministries that God unfolded for us over time.
Back in 2009, we built a few bunk houses to help out some of the orphans in our circle who had no place to go. And as we started doing more theological training outside of our immediate area, we found the bunk houses useful and started dreaming about building more. Soon, as our modest seminars grew into full blown conferences, we intentionally grew our facilities accommodate our programs.
As we grew, we drew attention from area churches who were also holding retreats and conferences, but were restricted to using school classrooms during break times, sleeping on the floor and spilling out the door for lack of space.
Pastors started asking us if they could use our farm for their leadership meetings and we were glad to serve them in that way. And then the average group size got bigger and bigger. And then area pastors started approaching us more frequently and we realized the huge need in the body of Christ for a PLACE. A place to meet and pray, in peace and harmony, without paying exorbitant prices to meet in crummy classrooms.
And so we started to build. Toilets and showers and more bunk houses and most recently a dormitory. We built a beautiful lecture hall and started adding additional activities and landscaping to demarcate the farm from the conference facility. Overnight we were seeing groups of 100, 250, 400, 650 attending week long retreats and conferences, each group trusting us with their care.
Initially, the learning curve was steep. Do you know how much mealie meal you need to feed 100 people? We do! We quickly figured out just how much of everything we needed to pull of a successful conference for a sizeable group.
For 100 people, attending for one week, we go through roughly…
10 bags of charcoal
25 kg of salt
100 liters of cooking oil
1,000 cookie packets
25 kg of beef
1000 tilapia fish
200 kg mealie meal
10 tubs of peanut butter
20 loaves of bread…
… and we have eight people on our event staff making sure that the chairs are dusted and taps aren’t left on and there is toilet paper in the bathrooms and everyone is happy.
If our context were different - if we were in the United States, we’d probably be partnering with a catering company and using a hired facility or even an event management company. Running a program in the Zambian bush requires that we rely on local resources and product availability, and tap into the man (and woman) power of our neighbors. Our events may not be polished or magazine worthy, but somehow, that doesn’t seem to be the point here. The fellowship and community found at Choshen Farm is what stands out to all who join us.
We ask for the churches to contribute something to our costs, but the marjory of each conference’s expenses are absorbed by Choshen as a part of our service and in response to our mission to “Build the local church.” Serving 100 people for one week usually costs us around $2,000. Hosting roughly a dozen such groups each year, camps, conferences and theological training requires a hefty budget. We see it as an investment in God’s people.
And as a result, the churches of Luapula are growing deeper in their knowledge and love of the Lord.
So sometimes its a little chaotic. Sometimes we wish we could just order in pizzas for everyone. Sometimes we wish we had a thousand more beds and an industrial kitchen and an air conditioned auditorium. But we ALWAYS know that God is good, and taking good care of us and all of his people. These conferences are just ONE way that He is building HIS church and our hearts are encouraged by the Spirit’s move.