A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Handling the fall of ministerial colleagues



It has been a long time since I last posted on this blog. As I get closer to my 30-year mark as pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church there are a number of thoughts that are concurrently running through my mind. Many of them are thoughts of gratitude while some are thoughts of regret. One thought that is an odd mixture of both gratitude and regret has been my recollection of ministerial colleagues that have fallen over the years. Almost all of them have been due to sexual scandals, though one or two of them have been related to financial misconduct. Thankfully, they have been few and far between. But each time it has happened I have said with pain in my heart, “There go I, but for the grace of God.”

As I have reflected on this, I have realised afresh that the greatest difficulty each time such news has reached me has always been related to how to handle this news and the people involved henceforth. This has been from a number of fronts. Let me share some of these in this blog post. I will speak in the second person, though I will be speaking about my own experiences over the last 30 years. I will also give the hypothetical name “John” to the fallen ministerial colleague.

Usually, before such bad news reaches the rest of Christendom as an unearthed scandal or as official news of church discipline, the bad news does its rounds within ministerial circles. In the latter case, it is often when church leaders are consulting for the purpose of ensuring that they do what is right and fair in the case before them. It is at that point that the first great difficulty comes in. You stay wide-awake long into the night because of the weight of responsibility suddenly thrust upon your shoulders when you least expected it. Those are the hardest first days and nights.

Difficulty of confidentiality

To begin with, there is the difficulty of confidentiality. Sexual sin is very private. Thus when it is first unearthed it is within a very small circle. Then confidants are informed, and usually it is at that point that information gets to you…and it leaves you devastated and heartbroken. In that state of depression, you must still be a responsive husband to your wife and responsible father to your children. You are expected to carry out your ministry to them and to your church as if nothing has happened. Every so often, someone sees through the mask and asks, “What’s wrong?” To keep confidentiality, you mumble swords like, “Do not worry, it is something to do with work. I will get over it.”

Worse than this is the fact that sometimes this information leaks to those who know that you are close to your fallen ministerial colleague and so they determine that they will get first hand information through you. Instead of saying, “We have heard that John has been found guilty of an adulterous affair,” they instead simply ask, “How is John?” You can see from the stare that this is a loaded question. It is a catch twenty-two situation. To simply say, “He is fine,” and change the subject is to put one’s own integrity on the line. To divulge what you know is to betray confidentiality. It is a poisoned chalice! What to do? What to do?

Handling anger

Then there is the issue of anger towards the devil and the fallen brother because of a sense of betrayal. Ministry work is moral work. You are battling against sin not only in your own heart but also in the hearts of others. You are absorbed with zeal for the glory of God through the extension of his kingdom in a world intoxicated with self-love and sin. That is what ministry is all about. So, when a ministerial colleague is found to have been secretly feeding the very enemy you are seeking to destroy, anger rises within the heart. It is like being in a crucial cup final in a football match and your competitors win the cup because your teammate scored into your goal, and that goal clinched the other team’s victory. The guy may apologise, but the damage done is irreparable.

Handling sympathy

Surprisingly, on the heels of the emotion of anger comes the emotion of sympathy as you realise that your grief-stricken repentant brother has to work through the implications of this on his marriage, his family, and his church. Those who watch from the outside often overlook this. Behind the curtains, there are many casualties when a pastor falls. His wife and older children will have to handle the devastating thoughts of public shame together with him as word begins to do its rounds concerning what has happened. Individuals in the church who are aggrieved or who fail to handle the public shame leave the church and go elsewhere or stop going to church altogether. The biblical prophecy fulfilled in Christ is fulfilled in more ways than one: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31). Sometimes you, as a ministerial colleague, will have to be involved in counselling individuals in the family and the church through this pain. The loss of employment with the church, which often follows this, means there will be need to look for another job to bring in the much-needed income. One ministerial friend of mine committed suicide because he did not want to go through the shame. He left behind a devastated widow with very young children. How can one fail to be filled with emotions of sympathy in the light of this?

Handling personal fear

Then there is the emotion of fear. You know that you too are a fallen creature, with fallen appetites like that of your fallen brother. What will stop you going the same way? Sometimes it is a minister that you have looked up to and whose shoelaces you are unworthy to untie. “Lord, are we safe?” becomes the question. You feel as if you are besieged in battle and have called for reinforcement but the help is taking too long to come. How much longer can you hold out? A boxing or football match is timed and the referee’s whistle is soon blown, but ministry is for life. You begin to ask yourself, “Am I sure I will still be standing when the Lord’s call for me to enter eternity finally comes?” Thankfully, as someone once said, “The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.” That is the only source of confidence when gripped by this fear.

Very closely related to the emotion of fear is the trembling and humbling realisation that your own past weaknesses, failures, and sins could have been the cause of your ministerial fall too, save for the fact that the Lord was pleased to stop you in your tracks. This is the most difficult to handle in the conscience. All sin is sin. Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). You know that in your unguarded moments you have failed God in this area a number of times. The famous “seven deadly sins” are deadly—lust, greed, gluttony, slothfulness, anger, envy and pride. So, what makes John’s sin more heinous than yours? A tender conscience causes you not to be too hard on your fallen brother.

Handling guilt by association

When a ministerial colleague messes up, we all suffer guilt by association in the eyes of those who get to know about this. Even when you do not know what has happened, it is assumed you know and are in a conspiracy of silence due to the fact that you do the same things. That is tough. Even if you knew, were you expected to write on your T-shirt, “Yes, it is true, John has committed this atrocity; I have already heard about it but, believe me, I am totally innocent”? Of course not! Yet, the guilt by association is a scarlet letter on your back that you have to walk with in public for some time, whether you like it or not. You feel unfairly judged but there is nothing you can do about it.

Another form of guilt by association is in the eyes of God. When news gets to you that a ministerial colleague has messed up, one question soon comes to mind: “When did I last pray for him that God may watch over his soul and give him the grace to walk in genuine holiness?” Whereas on some occasions you may find that you have consistently prayed for the brother that has fallen, there are other occasions when you realise that you are guilty of the sin that the prophet Samuel said he was not guilty of before God. Looking the people of Israel in the face in his farewell address, Samuel said, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). Oh, to be able to look fallen ministerial colleagues in the face and say that you never ceased to pray for them!

Handling future relationships

This is perhaps the most difficult. A fallen ministerial colleague remains alive many years after the sordid details have been published abroad. He does not disappear to another planet. You still have to relate with him. You were friends, very dear friends, as you held hands in the trenches and covered each other’s backs in the battle for the crown rights of Christ. Your families integrated as well. John’s kids and your kids literally became one family. Your wives became buddies as they empathized with each other in their supportive roles to their husbands. All this cannot go away overnight because of an act of indiscretion by your colleague. Sadly, you soon discover that relationships can never be the same again. You can never talk with gusto about the fight of faith as you once did. What a loss! What a loss! This is the most difficult of all this.

Conclusion


Well, such has been my lot on a couple of occasions in the 30 years of ministry. As I reflect on this sad reality, all I can say again is, “There go I but for the grace of God.” Do pray for me that I may run my race well to the very end, despite my own weaknesses.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mukhanyo Bible College 2017 Consultation

Last week, I had the rare opportunity to participate in a Bible college consultation hosted by the Mukhanyo Bible College in South Africa (from Tuesday June 20 to Thursday June 22), on the theme of “Christian Ethics for Bible Education in Africa”. This was their 7th year in hosting such a consultation. More than 30 Bible colleges from across Africa met to hear presentations on this subject and discuss how best to apply this to their own colleges. Here is a synopsis of what took place.

Attendance at the Bible college consultation
 The first speaker on the first day was Dr Brian de Vries, the principal of Mukhanyo Bible College. He spoke on “The prophetic witness of theological education”. After a survey of the Old Testament and the New Testament, he gave the example of the Geneva and New England “schools of the prophets”. He then urged us to train preachers who will not be content to pastor their churches but will also be passionate to awaken their communities with the claims of Christ.

Dr Brian de Vries
 The second speaker on this first day was Dr In Whan Kim, the vice chancellor of the Swaziland Christian University. He spoke on “Institutional ethics for Bible colleges in Africa”. I missed the lecture because I went into hiding to polish up my lecture that was to be delivered soon after.

I then spoke on “Lessons for today from mistakes of the past”. I was wearing the cap of chancellor for the African Christian University at this event. I gave 5 mistakes of the past that Bible colleges ought not to repeat. One of them was the tendency of Bible colleges to delink themselves from the life of local churches and their pastors. Often the result of this is that they become too academic and lose touch with the very people they ought to be serving.

"Yours truly"
On the second day, the first speaker was Rev Peter Manzanga, the pastor of Hatfield United Baptist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe, who spoke on “Teaching our students with integrity and propriety”. He argued for the need for lecturers to be role models to students if we are going to see graduates who will also be preachers of integrity and propriety in the world.

Rev Peter Manzanga
The second speaker that day was Prof Dr P J Flip Buys, who was the founding principal of Mukhanyo Bible College. He spoke on, “Mentoring future leaders to confront social problems.” He used statistics to paint a dismal picture of the state of Africa and appealed to Bible colleges to produce “prophets” who will confront the world’s social problems by their preaching and by their example.

Prof Dr P J Flip Buys
The third speaker was Prof. Basilius Kasera, a lecturer at the Namibia Evangelical Theological College in Windhoek, Namibia. He spoke on “A case study: Teaching against injustice and corruption.” The case study he gave was that of William Wilberforce and showed how a heart transformation through the gospel was what turned Wilberforce into a force for ethical change in society. The lesson was: We must never bypass regeneration in trying to build world changers.

Prof Basilius Kasera
On the third day, Dr David Beakley, the dean of academics at Christ Seminary and senior pastor of Christ Baptist Church in Polokwane, South Africa, was the first speaker. He dealt with the topic, “Teaching within divergent church contexts”. He said we were to do this through “ethos, pathos and logos”! As an American pastor in Africa, his illustrations and appreciation of African culture were refreshingly wise.

Dr David Beakley
I was the second speaker on this last day and spoke on “Teaching for interaction in the public sphere”. I emphasised why interacting in the public sphere was vital for the church and for preachers. Then I went on to show that Bible colleges can only produce graduates who interact there if they are trained to appreciate the sufficiency of the Bible for all matters of life and godliness. I also talked about the need for students to be taught to think critically, coherently, and clearly from the Scriptures.

Rev Isaac Maleke giving morning devotions
Prof Dr Koos van Rooy was the last speaker of the entire consultation. He spoke on “How to remain a reforming influence in Africa”. After painting a dire spiritual situation that currently pertains in Africa, he went on to encourage us to teach the Reformed Faith (the doctrines of sovereign grace) from the Scriptures. The truth taught from the Scriptures will win the day! He spent the rest of the time telling us how to do so, e.g. ensuring that our students are regenerate. He also gave us course content that is vital to Bible colleges today. He ended by saying that this meeting was going to be the last public meeting he would speak at for the rest of his life. I was told afterwards that he is about 90 years old!

Prof Dr Koos van Rooy
These morning sessions began with a brief time of devotions and were followed each day with workshops in the afternoons, which were handled by various speakers (including “yours truly”). These workshops included reviewing relevant literature on ethics, the contextualising of ethics, dealing with witchcraft, confronting social evils, mentoring for biblical ethics, dealing with all forms of conflicts, and the influence of the Reformation on theological education.

Nicholas Moore led the singing
The late afternoon was also a great time to listen to short reports from each Bible college present and each report was followed by a brief time of prayer. The colleges were going through different situations. Perhaps the most common thread for many had to do with difficulties in getting accreditation from their government bodies. Clearly, there is need for some kind of concerted effort if this mountain is to be levelled.


Mukhanyo Bible College and its management and faculty should be commended for holding such an event for 7 years in a row. It is a good time for networking and fellowship among like-minded Bible colleges across Africa. It was my first time to attend this event, but hopefully not my last!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

We have lost the sense of God


After my last blog post in which I addressed the issue of believers abandoning going to church on a Sunday in preference for watching a football match, I tossed and turned most of the night. I kept asking myself how believers could do this. I could not understand how even pastors are now joining in this revelry with a clear conscience. I mean, how?

I was sure that the football craze that had engulfed this generation is only a symptom of a greater disease. But what was that disease? That is the question I was wrestling with. By the time the sun rose, I think that I had an answer. The best way to phrase it is by the title of this blog post: We have lost the sense of God. I know that this sounds like an outlandish accusation but that is because we are comparing ourselves with ourselves. Hear me out.

There is an experiential knowledge of God that profoundly changes a person from the inside out. God is known in the soul in such an overwhelming way that it affects a person’s entire perception of life. It is perhaps what the hymn writer meant when he wrote, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” The things of this earth growing strangely dim.

A Christian can never rise higher than his experience of God. God is infinitely profound. As one hymn writer has written, he is an immeasurable sea without a shore, a blazing sun without a sphere. When engulfed in his presence, whom thousand and tens of thousands of angels worship day and night, the soul can only lie in the dust in adoring wonder. This profound knowledge brings eternity to bear on the soul of a believer so that everything in his life is judged from eternity’s perspective. How one spends his time and money, how one enjoys his recreation, how one relates to believers and unbelievers, how one handles his work—all these are subjected to eternity. The great Day of Judgment is never far from mind.

There is, therefore, a godly gravity upon the brow of such a believer. Perhaps it would be better to call it a solemn dignity. You cannot miss it when you are in the presence of such a person. You sense that there is a depth of spiritual experience that is not disturbed by what often excites the worldly mind. It is the difference between the stillness of a deep river and the noisy current of a shallow stream. This cannot be manufactured overnight. It comes from regular close dealings with God. The sense of God leaves an indelible mark upon the soul.

In 1875, Fanny J Crosby wrote these words in her hymn (notice the chorus in italics),

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend
When I kneel in prayer and with Thee my God
I commune as friend with friend

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord
To the cross where Thou hast died
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord
To Thy precious bleeding side

Deep thinking and meditating upon the cross of Christ is what produces spiritual giants. To begin with, you are melted to tears when you have drunk in how your God has quenched your hell by taking your place on the cruel cross. Such love is too overwhelming. You want to give to God everything you have in response. You do not want to hold anything back. There is a peace and a joy that radiates in your soul that the people of this world know nothing of. Theirs is the cracklings of twigs in the fire. You feel sorry for them rather than join in their empty mirth. Your joy defies disease, disaster and death. As John Newton wrote in 1779,

Saviour, since of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.

I am sorry to say that as I mingle with the younger generation today, I cannot help feeling that this culture of deep meditation on God has been largely lost. There is too much noise. Noise from the television, noise from the radio, noise from the internet, noise from the smartphone, noise from the computer, noise from the sports stadium—noise, noise, noise. The injunction of Scripture seems to be largely missing that says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). Our young people always want to be with the bawling crowds and where the music is loudest. The result has been a tragic loss of this weighty sense of the living and majestic God.

Even when it comes to church…there is very little pausing for a moment of silence to prepare the soul to meet with the living God. You have a band that is already playing as people chat. The worship leader starts with jokes to get the atmosphere exciting. The songs are painfully repetitious of next to nothing—“God brought me from here and has taken me there,” over and over again! The preaching is also deliberately calculated to bring people back next week rather than to bring them face to face with the living God. Hence the preacher behaves more like a superstar than a prophet from God. Can such gimmicks surely give us a sense of God?

I recall my own formative days that were spent mostly in the pew than in the pulpit. There were many Sundays when all I wanted was to shut out the world after worship at church and close myself up with the God. Glorious hymns had extolled the immensities of sovereign grace. I had heard God’s voice, especially through the faithful exposition of his word. I had been moved to the very depth of my being. I had seen the heinous ugliness of sin and the magnificent beauty of my Saviour. The powers of the coming age had overwhelmed me. I had been transported, as it were, into the third heavens and back. I felt as if I would burst at the seams if I did not go away from everyone to worship and pour my heart out to God—to the living God. Tell me. Please tell me. How can a person experience this and then shoot off to the stadium and join the rowdy crowd shouting at people chasing a ball? I mean, how?


O for a generation of young people who will once again have the atmosphere of eternity upon their souls. O for a band of young adults who will have a profound sense of God that will make them to cry as Isaiah cried, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” O for authentic biblical Christianity to once again permeate our churches. When God raises up such a generation, we will rest assured that the future of the church militant is in good hands, for the people who know their God will do exploits for him. Until then we should weep in prayer and refuse to be comforted. We have lost the sense of God!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

To go to church or watch football?


This is an almost embarrassing question to ask but I am sure this weekend many Zambian Christians asked themselves this question and even concluded that they would skip church and go to watch football instead—with a clear conscience. It is sad but true.

For those who are regular readers of my blog and live outside Africa I will need to explain. Zambia, like most African countries, is a one–sport nation and it is football (what Americans call “soccer”). It is the main game that is played in villages with balls made from clothing and plastic materials. It is also the main game played in our stadiums with leather balls.

When the Zambian national football team is playing, that becomes the chief talking point for the whole nation. The adrenaline of the entire nation rises. Social media is abuzz with excitement as goals are scored. The goal scorers literally become the heroes of the nation. If the national football team wins a regional or continental cup, the whole nation goes agog. When our entire national football team perished in an airplane accident, the whole nation came to a stand still and mourned. That is how attached Zambia is to football.

Here is the catch. Every so often, the big matches are played on Sunday and Christians miss church in order to watch the games on television or out in stadiums. This is what bothers me. How can Christians fail to see that this is wrong from every conceivable angle?

Desecrating the Lord’s Day

The greatest tragedy is a failure to keep the Lord’s Day. The God whom Christians worship says in the Ten Commandments, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:8–11).

Once upon a time, when Christianity was stronger than it is now and believers were taking their faith seriously, this is how they interpreted this command. I quote from the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly of the 17th century.

Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself.

Q. 59. Which day of the seven has God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.

Q. 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbids the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Nothing can be clearer than that. In the book of Isaiah, God made this promise to his people, “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honourable; if you honour it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13–14).

Sadly, we have lost all this. It is very clear as I read postings by Christians and church pastors on social media that there is not the foggiest sense of guilt that God’s people have desecrated the Lord’s Day. I would not be surprised if some churches cancelled their worship services because of the football match today. What I know for a fact is that many churches end up with skeleton congregations and haphazard preparations for worship when the Zambian national team is playing a major match on the Lord’s Day. Sadly, pastors accept this.

I have never forgotten, one Sunday in the early years of Kabwata Baptist Church when we were still meeting in the Kabwata Community Hall, the Zambian national football team was playing a decisive match at world level. When I got to church, nothing was ready. The building was open but the place had not been swept and the pews had not been arranged. By the time the church service was supposed to start, even the hymnbooks had not yet been brought. We started the service very late. By the time I got into the pulpit to preach, I failed to preach and started crying. I wept because my own church members had voted with their feet. Football was more important than the worship of the living God. How could I simply continue with the sermon that I had prepared to preach? I could not. I could only weep.

A form of idolatry?

Zambian Christians need to ask themselves a heart-searching question: “Could it be that football has become our idol?” An idol is not necessarily a carving made of wood or an object of metal. Whatever competes with God’s place in our hearts is an idol. When we spend a whole week anticipating a football match instead of the worship of God on the Lord’s Day and then when the day comes we abandon the worship of God in order to shout and jump and scream in a stadium (or at home in front of a television set) with the energy that would make the makers of Red Bull feel their product was redundant, is this not a form of idolatry? I opine that we have merely exchanged a carved idol with one that is made of leather and air!

What breaks my heart is when I think of the price that was paid by God to bring us our salvation. As Dottie Rambo sang: “[Jesus] left the splendour of heaven / Knowing his destiny / Was the lonely hill of Golgotha / There to lay down his life for me.” More than that, God moved men and women to leave the comfort of their developed countries in the West to come to our dark continent when it was infested with untreatable malaria and ferocious wild beasts at great cost to their lives and their families so that they could bring us the Christian faith. Many of them never saw their relatives and friends again. Many died in their prime. Now that the baton has been passed on to us, we are willing to abandon the worship of the true God because twenty-two men are kicking a piece of leather across a field for ninety minutes. This is heart breaking. Our pioneer missionaries should be shifting in their graves—to use a well-known expression. Is this what Christ died for? Is this the gratitude we show those who sacrificed their lives? Or, as the apostle Paul would argue, did football die for you? Sadly, it is a well-known sin of the fourth and fifth generation. They take their religious inheritance for granted and will not sacrifice anything for it—not even football on the Lord’s Day.

I know that someone will charge me with being legalistic. I only ask those who want to do this to show me anywhere in history where believers have gone sport-crazy and the cause of Christ has gone from strength to strength. It is the cause of Christ I am concerned about. Is it glorifying to God when a congregation that is normally 100-strong suddenly reduces to half its size when there is a football match in town? Or are we supposed to “look elsewhere” and pretend this did not happen in places where God, our universal Benefactor, is worshipped?

To my fellow pastors

I have much more to say about this but let me end with a word to my fellow pastors. We are the ones who grieve God the most because we ought to know better and we ought to guide God’s people. In the book of Malachi, God was displeased with the priests. He said to them, “A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honour? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favour? says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1:6–8).


If we who are pastors do not stand up and warn our generation that the abandoning of the true worship of God whenever there is a “major” football match being played on the Lord’s Day is sinful, God will hold it against us when he brings judgment upon the church. Sadly, on social media the only denunciation I am hearing from the lips of pastors is against the Senegalese team for its alleged use of witchcraft in the game. Even pastors whose church doctrinal statements categorically speak about keeping the Lord’s Day holy are mute about the sinfulness of the trend that has engulfed us. The silence is a betrayal of Christ! Are we afraid of upsetting our paymasters? God forbid! We must be a prophetic voice in our day even if our message is rejected. God will honour us for our courage on the day he rewards his own. On the other hand, if we are the very ones leading the pack into the stadiums to desecrate the Lord’s Day, what hope will there be for today and tomorrow’s church? None!