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Missionary Story Series: Lee Peterson, A Missionary to Zambia, Africa

Introduction

Missionaries exists all over the world from 10/40 window to right in our backyard. Missionaries’ duty is the preach the Gospel and make disciples.[1] The great commission is a command that all believers must do or we will be breaking the Jesus’s words in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15. The Missionaries, who are led to be missionaries, are led by the Holy Spirit and have the power of the Holy Spirit.[2] Everyone is Missionaries, but in different ways. Pastors train up Missionaries to send the missionaries across the globe. One missionary stands out to me and I decided to interview him. His name is Lee Peterson. He is a retired missionary that used to be a missionary in East and South Africa. Lee Peterson is currently a Pastor in Minnesota.

The ‘Malaria’ Danger of Going to East and South Africa

Zambia is in East Africa. The Climate of Zambia is hot, dry, and can occasionally get monsoons. One of the most deadly, dangerous, and common disease that faces the missionaries and inhabitants that go to Zambia. Africa is Malaria. Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre (Z.N.M.E.C) states, “More than 16 Million people are at risk of malaria in Zambia. It is estimated that in 2015, there was over 5 million malaria cases.”[3] 31.25% of the population of Zambia has experienced Malaria which means 5 out of 16 inhabitants of Zambia has gotten Malaria cases. This is not counting all the travelers that have the potential of getting malaria.

This is not only a Zambia problem, but also a global problem that plagues the world today. Z.N.M.E.C states, “Today some 40 percent of the world’s population is at risk of Malaria and the vast majority live in the world’s poorest countries. The disease is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world and each year causes more than: 300 million acute illnesses and one million death.”[4]

One million death are mostly children under the age of five in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa. Z.N.M.E.C states, “Ninety percent of these deaths occur among children under the age five in sub-Saharan Africa; malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds. Those who survive an episode of severe malaria may suffer from a range of physical and mental disabilities.”[5] What are the Churches and Organizations doing to solve this epidemic that plagues the world today?

Some travelers are more prone to get Malaria due to their immunity being very low since they had little to no Malaria. Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre states, “Malaria caused by P. Falciparum may result in death within hours or a few days of infection especially those with low immunity such as children, pregnant women, people with AIDS (not necessarily HIV carriers), and travelers from areas with little or no malaria. Malaria can also result in miscarriage in pregnant women, low birth-weight infants, developmental disabilities, and other complications.”[6]

The Plasmodium falciparum strain of Malaria that is carried by Mosquitoes is a multidrug resistant disease. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports,

“Recent successes in Malaria control have depended on the use of highly efficacious artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) for first-line treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium Falciparum malaria. Adequate clinical and parasitological cure by ACTs relies on the rapid reduction in parasite biomass by the potent, short acting artemisinin component and the subsequent elimination of residual parasites by the longer-acting partner drug.”[7]

The report continues to say how they had successes in the ACTs drugs. American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene continues,

“The two most common used ACTs worldwide are artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-adjusted efficacy for both combinations remains high in most regions. However, there have been some reports of decreasing AL cure rates in Africa and Asia and reports of high levels of treatment failures of ASAQ.”[8]

The Partner drug of the ACTs drugs are paramount to the success rates in Zambia and other nations that have a high infection rate of Malaria. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports,

“Resistance to ACT partner drugs has historically manifested before that of Artemisinins, whose short half-lives result in the exposure of residual parasites to sub-therapeutic levels of the partner drug alone. Response to the partner drug is therefore a key component of overall ACT efficacy.”[9]

So, there can be medical prevention to the Plasmodium Falciparum Malaria with the ACTs and the partner drug.

However, the ultimate weapon in the arsenal of the missionaries and combating the deadly strain of Malaria is by prayer. Prayer can heal people from Malaria and help them gain the strength to persevere through their trying times.

The Circumstances that led to Petersons to go to Zambia

After Lee Peterson married his wife at the age of 20 and after they graduated from Northland Baptist Bible College. His Wife was a Missions major which required her to do an internship on the mission field. With much prayer and counsel, they went to Zambia, Africa for two months. When they returned to the states, they began to pray for God’s guidance concerning Zambia. A year later they were asked if they could come back and help the ministers in Zambia. God clearly gave the assurance that this was his desire for them.

The Missions Agency they Serve at

The Petersons served with the Independent Faith Missions (IFM). The Independent Faith Missions (IFM) “primarily is considered a Baptist board; although, they do accept those from Bible churches.”[10] IFM is a small board that has roughly 28 missionary families. They are in 21 countries. IFM targets the 10/40 window, Jewish and Muslims ministries: less than 2% evangelized, and the 14/40 window. Wherever the missionaries feel called to go is what the IFM targets. IFM does church planting, training of nationals, medical, and orphanages. The IFM trains people through one on one discipleship and has Bible institute/colleges for further training. The Petersons try to send out a ministry report every couple of months. The Home Office of IFM believes that the sending churches are responsible their own missionaries. If a problem arises on the mission field and cannot be resolved amongst those present, the mission board gets involved as well as home pastors. They do not have exit strategy.

Lee Peterson’s Ministry in Zambia, East Africa

At the Age of 20 after attending Northland Baptist Bible College, Lee Peterson and Janelle decided that God was calling them to minister in Zambia, East Africa. For 18 years, he ministered at Central Africa Baptist University in Zambia, and church planted in Sedgefield, South Africa. Central Africa Baptist University is located in the Riverside Extension of Kitwe, Zambia. Central Africa Baptist University was founded in 1993 by Neil Whitwam and Philip Hunt. According to Reaching Africa Organization, by the grace of God, “Central Africa Baptist University has been able to share in the success of our students over the last 14 years. Their stories serve as evidence to what God is using this ministry to accomplish in reaching Africa.”[11] Lee Peterson is caused some students to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. While in Zambia, East Africa, Lee Peterson had the Plasmodium Falciparum strain of Malaria in Zambia. This disease led him to go the Hospital and was fighting for his life. This strain of Malaria targeted some of his organs. Due to the support of all His sending Churches through prayer, He overcame the deadly strain of malaria. He, however, did not return to Zambia, East Africa, due to Doctor’s instruction. So, Lee Peterson and his family moved to South Africa to minister there. Prayer was the ultimate reason why Lee Peterson had victory over Malaria battle and made the tough choice of leaving Zambia, East Africa and moving to Sedgefield, South Africa.

Lee’s Peterson Ministry in South Africa

Due to Lee Peterson’s weak immune system that was caused by the Plasmodium Falciparum strain of Malaria, His Family moved to South Africa to be a church planter in Sedgefield, South Africa.

The Beliefs of Lee Peterson

Lee Peterson believes that God directly calls individuals to become missionaries or pastors. Peterson stated, in the personal missionary interview questionnaire,

“Although all believers are called to minister in the context of which they live, I believe that the Lord does specifically call and direct men and women into full time ministry as a vocation. This is demonstrated by both Testaments in the Scriptures and is implied in 1 Timothy 3 passage dealing with the passage concerning Pastors.”[12]

This is interesting. I personally do not believe in calling but that a call is referring to guiding and directing us in the way we should go to glorify God in everything we do.

Lee Peterson also believes that Sign gifts have ended. Peterson stated,

“I personally don’t believe that the gifts of tongues are for today’s churches. Without getting into the debate concerning 1 Corinthians 12-14 and what “perfect” is in 1 Corinthians 13, the Early church by the 2nd Century clearly believed that gifts were no longer as common as in the days of the Apostles. With the completion of the Cannon, I believe that the main practice of the church is the declaration and teaching of the Word. Our mission board would take the stance that the signed gifts have ceased.”[13]

This is an interesting response. I also personally believe that signed gifts have ceased among believers, but it could be a way to minister to unbelievers also. These are some of the beliefs of Lee Peterson and how it impacts him on the mission field.

Missionary Applicants for the IFM

IFM has from time to time missionary applicants. The Education requirement for missionaries is the following. The Mission board goes on the recommendation of the home churches and the personal interviews of the candidates. The Orientation for new missionaries is a 1 week gathering for training. IFM does accept nationals to be missionaries, but they are primarily Americans. On the policy of divorce people, it depends on the work that the individual is seeking to do. The Applicants also get to choose the country where they want to serve.

Missionary Benefits

Each missionary applicant raises their own support, and the mission board has categories of “where the money goes” and keeps track of their finances. They, referring to the missionary applicants, do not need to have 100% of their minimum support to go to the field. 10% of their support goes to the administrative personnel, which is about average. The Petersons term on the missionary field is 3 years due to visas. The Petersons normally furlough 6 months to a year which is about average. It takes about 6 months to gather all the funds for the Petersons to get the funds necessary to return to the Kitwe, Zambia, Africa and Sedgefield, South Africa. If they had any emergencies, IFM would do everything in their power to get them out of the country if necessary.

Conclusion

In this interview with Lee Peterson, we learned that missionaries can encounter dangerous diseases on the mission field. We also learned in this interview, the stance of IFM on Biblical policies and missionary applicant policies. We also learned how IFM works. Therefore, we learned what Lee Peterson does in Africa and how the IFM people back him up.

Bibliography

Lee Peterson. 2020. Personal Communication. Date Accessed November 10, 2020.

Meera Venkatesan et. al. 2014. “Polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum Chloroquine Resistance Transporter and Multidrug Resistance 1 Genes: Parasite Risk factors that affect treatment outcomes for P. falciparum Malaria after Artemether-Lumefantrine and Artesunate-Amodiaquine.” The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 91, 4. Date Accessed November 10, 2020. URL: http://www.ajtmh.org/docserver/fulltext/14761645/91/4/833.pdf?expires=1605021337&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=D5052D0911EE56CC3EF44918D77A302A. retrieved from Google Scholar. para 1.

Reaching Africa. 2020. “Student Success Stories.” Reaching Africa. Date Accessed November 10, 2020. URL: https://www.cabcusa.com/student-success-stories.

Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre. 2020. “Malaria Overview.” Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre. Date accessed November 10,2020. URL: https://www.nmec.org.zm/malaria-overivew. Para. 4.

[1] Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15

[2] Acts 1:8

[3] Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre. 2020. “Malaria Overview.” Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre. Date accessed November 10,2020. URL: https://www.nmec.org.zm/malaria-overivew. Para. 4.

[4] Ibid., para 4.

[5] Ibid., para 5.

[6] Ibid., Para 6.

[7] Meera Venkatesan et. al. 2014. “Polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum Chloroquine Resistance Transporter and Multidrug Resistance 1 Genes: Parasite Risk factors that affect treatment outcomes for P. falciparum Malaria after Artemether-Lumefantrine and Artesunate-Amodiaquine.” The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 91, 4. Date Accessed November 10, 2020. URL: http://www.ajtmh.org/docserver/fulltext/14761645/91/4/833.pdf?expires=1605021337&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=D5052D0911EE56CC3EF44918D77A302A. retrieved from Google Scholar. para 1.

[8] Ibid., para 1.

[9] Ibid., para 1.

[10] Lee Peterson. 2020. Personal Communication. Date accessed November 10, 2020.

[11] Reaching Africa. 2020. “Student Success Stories.” Reaching Africa. Date Accessed November 10, 2020. URL: https://www.cabcusa.com/student-success-stories.

[12] Lee Peterson. 2020. Personal Communication. Date Accessed November 10, 2020.

[13] Ibid., Personal Communication.

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