Tim began his talk by telling us that the Wessex Synod has a special relationship with the UCZ, i.e. the United Church of Zambia, which is a mixture of Presbyterians and Methodists. This link was brought about through the vision of Rev. Derek Wales and the Rev. Murage Chilekura, and it initially started as a women's exchange. In fact our Community Minister Pat Oliver was also involved with the original link in 2000. Pat also took part in a reciprocal visit to Chilenje, Zambia, in November 2002. Since then the Synod has developed the link with the Lusaka South Presbytery of the UCZ. From this link has developed a Synod/ Presbyterian Youth exchange in 2009.

In September 2011 an invitation was extended by the previous minister, Rev. Agnes Mulenga, for the Chandler's Ford congregation, led by Tim, to
visit Bethel congregation in Chilanga, a link partnership. Tim informed us that the UCZ is one of the major national denominations, and that Zambia is approximately 80% Christian. The Bethel congregation membership consists of 400 persons (a small church by UCZ standards as city churches can have memberships exceeding 4000! We were told that some ministers have to cover up to ten churches, indeed, sometimes more! Uniformed organisations play a large role, and the Men's Christian Fellowship wear special red coats, the women wear differently fashioned red coats along with white head gear. Tim mentioned the Zambian people, who mainly come across as friendly, warm and generous. But there is a great deal of poverty, and thus a huge gap between the poor and the rich. We were then shown a map pinpointing where Zambia lies: a land-locked country, surrounded by eight other countries. It gained its
independence in 1965, having formerly been known as Northern Rhodesia.

We were made aware of our good fortune, by living in the UK, when Tim told us of some of the unpleasant things that the people have to live with: there is still a huge amount of corruption there, children still die from malaria, and there is no running water. These are just some of the problems that this nation still suffers.

Finally, Tim referred to the length of church services in Zambia. Just imagine and compare our generally hour long service with their services, which can last anything up to five hours. Thank you, Tim, for giving up your time, and giving us such a clear insight into the lives of the Zambian people.

John Noyce