As I return to Zambia, I have spent some time prayerfully reflecting on my recent visit to the USA and thought of sharing some of the thoughts with you. Here they are for what they are worth:
1. My main purpose for going to the USA was to preach at a missions conference. This is one feature of the American church that we here in Zambia should emulate. Missions conferences are powerful tools in the hands of God to remind us as Christians of “the unfinished task” and to challenge us about our personal involvement in it. The more I am invited to preach at such conferences, the more I realize how important such conferences are for the furtherance of the gospel. I am glad that this year we started having such annual conferences at KBC. I tremble with excitement at the thought of what this will mean to the progress of the gospel in Zambia, across Africa and, indeed, in the rest of the world in the years to come. May God use our missions conference to heighten a sense of our obligation towards this all important task!
2. I am often amazed at something that God has put in the American psych, which the rest of the world largely lacks. Perhaps I can call it a love for adventure, or maybe a daringness. In this case, I am thinking about the American church’s use of the internet for the advance of the kingdom. At the missions conference, for instance, it was announced that within an hour after each day’s meeting was over, the messages would be uploaded on the internet for the whole world to be able to listen in. At another church I visited, I was taught and encouraged to use “blogging” as a form of ministry to my own congregation – and beyond. It was a welcome addition to my regular writing ministry. I just need to learn how to best use this new “space”. I think that we terribly under-utilise the internet for the gospel. We need to emulate the American psych and dare, like the Star Trek Enterprise spaceship, to go “where no man has gone before” with the gospel!
3. I visited the USA just prior to yet another presidential election, with the two candidates doing their best to show that they were the best bet for the White House. It was interesting to notice the many “issue based” discussions among Christians. Although there were a few racial overtones, what was particularly evident was that many Christians chose their preferred candidate based on the candidate’s stand concerning important ethical issues (e.g. abortion). I came away from the USA convinced that the nation has found itself choosing between the rock and a hard place. There is no doubt that Christians in the US will be trying to figure out who is a lesser evil to vote for. We must pray for them at such a difficult time as this.
4. The American church is a very generous church. You can’t take that away from them. Sadly, much of their generosity has been abused by the African church. The brethren in the USA asked me again and again how they can help us to the further the cause of Christ – and especially the Reformed Faith – in Zambia. I am convinced that, in the light of this, we need to be even more committed to matters of integrity and accountability. Like Paul, we must do what is right not only in the eyes of God but also in the eyes of men (2 Corinthians 8). I also think that we must continue to urge ourselves to more financial commitment to the work of the gospel. We must never allow a situation where the American dollar is doing all the work in Zambia while the Zambian kwacha is only going towards building our own paneled houses and buying our fancy latest cars. If others want to strengthen our hands in the work of the gospel, let us be seen to be doing the same ourselves!
5. My visit to Long Island reminded me, perhaps too painfully, of 2003 at Kabwata Baptist Church when our own eldership disintegrated. One lady said to me while on Long Island, “Our church had its day of glory. Our pastor had a great ministry, not only here but elsewhere. We heard some of the finest preachers on the planet. He brought them to preach to us. We were growing and bursting at the seams. Then, it was as if the Lord allowed Satan to destroy all that. Perhaps we were guilty of idolizing our pastor too much. Perhaps we had become too comfortable with our success.” What a lesson! We must never take our glory days for granted. Let us continue to pray for God’s grace, especially upon our church leaders. Let us pray that God will watch over their sinful hearts and truly make them and keep them holy and focused upon himself and the work he has given to them. Let us pray that our own days of glory may continue for many more years and even grow beyond our wildest expectation. Let us pray for souls, souls, souls to be truly converted to Christ and built up in their most holy faith. And so, to prayer…!