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Dwight & Carol Thomas

Carol & Dwight Thomas have an ongoing ministry with the Zambian Brethren In Christ Church and with Sikalongo Bible Institute in Sikalongo, Zambia. For over a decade, they have volunteered 2-3 months each year in partnership with the BIC Church in Zambia. Most of their work has focused on pastoral training, educational enhancement, and self-support projects. The Thomases are deeply committed to maintaining genuine collaborative relationships with Zambian partners rather than perpetuating external "donor-driven" efforts. Consequently, they rely primarily on consultation with Zambian leadership to guide and maintain their efforts.

The Zambian Brethren in Christ Church is embarking on an ambitious endeavor to establish a Christian university in the southern province of Zambia. They have asked Dwight and Carol Thomas to help facilitate the process. During May and June 2015, the Thomases conducted the first stage of this process, and are now returning to work with the church on the next step. While there, they will also attend SBI graduation and help teach courses. Pray that God will guide the Zambian church as they continue to explore the potential for establishing a university and face the many challenges ahead of them. Pray that God will lead the Thomases as they partner with Zambian believers to strengthen their educational ministries, both at SBI and elsewhere across the denomination.

Sikalongo Bible Institute
For many years, Sikalongo Bible Institute (SBI) has provided training for most Zambian BIC pastors. More than 90% of pastors currently serving in the church received their initial training at SBI. The Thomases support SBI in a variety of ways. The school averages 9-12 students and one lecturer. In order to free Rev. Nseemani (the principal and primary lecturer) to accomplish other administrative duties, Thomases teach two months of courses each year. SBI also has financial needs ranging from capital improvements to educational resourcing which cannot be fully met by student tuition or the Zambian church. Financial help from American supporters has supplemented SBI's financial needs of approximately $30,000 per year, which covers staff salaries, operational expenses, and food allowances for students and their families.

Various other projects in Zambia
Carol and Dwight are involved with a number of other projects in Zambia. These projects aim to enhance local endeavors in a self-sustaining way. Most were initiated by Zambian leaders and all of them continue to operate through collaboration and consultation with Zambian workers.

Pastor's GCE Program (General Certification of Education Program)
The Pastor's GCE Program arose from a desire and need among BIC pastors to secure a secondary school certificate of graduation. Due to lack of money, many highly gifted and intelligent Zambian church leaders could not continue their education beyond grade 9. It is extremely difficult to obtain a secondary certificate while serving as a pastor at a local congregation. Time demands are high and many local congregations pay their pastors so little that they can barely pay the school fees to send their children to primary school. GCE exam fees and study materials are simply beyond the reach of most BIC pastors. The GCE program aims to address this dilemma by providing pastors with study books (lent to them one year at a time) and exam fees (registration and sitting fees). A number of participants are already well along the way toward achieving their grade 12 certificates.

Sewing Program
Zambian pastors often struggle to provide financially for their families. In collaboration with Rev. Charles Nseemani and SBI, a sewing program was initiated for the wives of pastors enabling their families to obtain additional income. While families are at Sikalongo, wives are tutored in sewing and tailoring by a local trained seamstress. The program provides each woman with a sewing machine and sewing supplies during their time at Sikalongo. Providing they demonstrate adequate skill, each woman is given the machine on which they learned when they leave the school. The program also provides an initial repair kit to keep their machines operational until they generate enough income to maintain it themselves. The program has proven beneficial to those involved. Mrs. Kopakopa has been tailoring for her neighbors for nearly five years and has developed her own sewing enterprise, despite being in a fairly remote rural location. Mrs. Munsanje provided income for her family by sewing uniforms for local school children.

Educational Enhancement Efforts
During the last decade the Thomases have engaged in a variety of educational enhancement efforts. Having built up local relationships with educators during the past decade, they hold several educational workshops each year. These are generally held at local schools in order to make it available to all of the teachers in the school and avoid transportation costs for educators. Workshops deal with issues of relevance for Zambian educators (e.g., how to employ sound educational strategies despite the lack of educational resources). With the assistance of MCC shipping, the Thomases collected and distributed several thousand books to four local primary schools. These books became the foundation of libraries in those schools which previously had no libraries at all. Working with local head teachers, Carol Thomas has led workshops at each school to discuss possible ways educators might use these books as part of their curriculum. In all of these areas, the Thomases intentionally work side by side with local educators to provide educational equipping that is culturally-appropriate and locally beneficial.

Research Projects
Each year, both Carol and Dwight engage in research collaborations with Zambians, focusing on Zambian cultural, educational, musical, and religious heritage. The purpose of these efforts is to preserve and support local culture and history and to encourage Zambians to draw on their heritage in healthy ways rather than allowing external cultural forces from the West to dominate and displace beautiful and meaningful local elements. With help from local people, Dwight has collected local biographies, recorded local music, and documented local events. Carol has continued her doctoral research efforts with qualitative studies of Zambian education and its implications for schools and educators.

Ways To Help

The Thomases would be happy to talk with you or talk to your fellowship group or Sunday school class. If you would like more information, please contact the them by email:
* Carol
* Dwight

If you would like to support any of these efforts, your help is greatly appreciated. The Thomases provide their own support for all their personal expenses (travel, accommodations, etc.) while in Zambia. They receive no financial support or salary from the Zambian or American churches for their ministry work, but they count on support from others to help fund the collaborative projects described above. In order to facilitate this process, they formed a charitable non-profit foundation to channel funds to agencies in Zambia. You can give directly to Thomas International Foundation by writing a check and sending it to:

c/o Carol Thomas
Thomas International Foundation
435 N. Spruce St.
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

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