We have a dream. As Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia grow, a number of our churches have sensed a pull—we believe it is a divine pull—to start a university in Lusaka. God seems to have brought just the right team together in order to realise this dream. Leading this team is Dr Ken Turnbull, an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at the University of Arkansas. The rest of the team can be seen here. To see the architectural drawings of this university campus, click here. Ken recently sent me a write up concerning the vision of this university and I attach it below. I thought of sharing it with you on this blog. Let me warn you, it is not easy reading. What else did you expect from a Professor of Chemistry (even when he is standing with his family smiling at you)?!
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History clearly tracks the medieval birth of higher education based on a relationship through Christ to God as the only route to truth and real knowledge followed by the eventual victorious grip of Satan's strongholds to displace God's foundation for knowing truth with man's Fallen intellect and reason. For example, the oldest university in America, Harvard College (University) was founded by the Puritans, it's first President being Henry Dunster (1640), a Puritan turned Baptist. The motto of the college was "Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae" ("Truth for Christ and the Church"-1692). Of course, only "Veritas" remains in Harvard's motto today - truth, but with no absolutes for its basis. Western higher education institutes, sadly even the majority of Christian institutes, succumb to the world's standards at the expense of upholding the full truth and knowledge in God's Word through the power of the Gospel. Such abominations support the belief that God is shifting the glory of His church from the West to Africa and the East (see Mark Knoll's book for example).
Working with the nearly 40-strong Reformed Baptist churches of Zambia (RBCZ, such as Kabwata Baptist Church), whom God has been maturing for over 20 years as His torch-bearer on the African continent, we believe ACU can reform education to its original base, centred on Christ—the only foundation upon which truth and knowledge can be understood and utilized for man's benefit. ACU seeks not only to reform education on Christ, but we trust God to develop a uniquely indigenous, whole-life transforming, mentor-based education that will direct the unregenerate to Christ the Saviour, mature them in a Bible-authoritative passion and equip them with biblical discernment to grow in the knowledge of God through a breadth of academic disciplines and technical vocational training. Such graduates can serve the church and uniquely exhibit God's love through benevolent deeds as servants in all professions and trades, exalting Christ's Name throughout African society and transform the continent with global impact.
The secular humanist in the West has exalted the standard of knowledge to exclude the Creator based upon the power of human reason and intellect with faith in completely unsubstantiated, evolutionary fantasies, preferring to constrain knowledge and creativity within the prison of "irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim 6:20). It is clearly seen that the standards of Western higher education have shaped the foundations of African higher education, even in reforming the African worldview.
However, now, through the RBCZ the time has come to see God raising up His scepter to call out His people who will glorify His Name across Africa. Jesus told Nicodemus, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life (Jon 3:14-15)." We believe the time and place for developing ACU has been ordained to counteract the secular humanist, postmodern influence growing in Africa. We trust God's work will be accomplished in His time to demonstrate the superiority of an indigenous African, Christ-exalting education for developing professional and technical servants who can combat corruption, develop innovative solutions to Africa's poverty-burdened plight and lead as servants applying God's knowledge through the Gospel rather than continuing to spiral down the degrading path following Western, humanist aid and direction.
Initial preparatory courses taught in small mentoring groups, in the process of preparing students for university entrance exams in reading, writing and mathematics, teach through the "creation-fall-redemption-consummation in Christ" cycle, laying a complete foundation for a full understanding of man's hopelessness in sin to death and free gift of faith in Christ to salvation for re-creation and eternal life in Christ.
Based on Hebrews 5:13-14, ACU's goal is to bring those regenerated in Christ back through the full exposure to God's Word, followed by further developing their theological understanding and biblical worldview, with a constant view towards developing their ability to rightly handle the Word to discern the depraved from the divine. This is practiced through studying a full range of cultural, worldview, classical, historical and contemporary reading and studies across academic disciplines as opportunities to exercise the tools of biblical discernment, while fully developing grammar, logic, and rhetoric trivium.
ACU is developed on the concept that theory without application only effects the intellect (resulting in pride), not the heart (leading to humility in Christ). Therefore, the campus is to become as self-sufficient as possible through integration of practical works, or "intelligent labor," where students are being discipled, applying the principles of God's Word and the things being covered in coursework through work-study opportunities in developing outreach opportunities, church-assisted ministries, industry, research projects, social and governing organisations and a self-sustaining campus environment while learning various trades, industrial arts, ministry and technical skills. Advancing into specific disciplines for BSc/BA degrees or specific trades for certification continue to emphasise biblical discernment in the field of specialisation through a mentor-based approach utilising both on-site and off-site (including international) mentors (PhD's in their field or master craftsmen in their trade). Mentor-directed, self-implemented studies, built on the trivium foundations, culminate in students completing a thesis as an interdisciplinary team formulated to specifically addressing an inherent need or problem in Africa with a workable approach or development. Beyond awarding of BSc/BA degrees and trade certification, further assistance can be offered through ACU's mediation to help turn the best thesis proposals into reality with business, governmental or church assistance as appropriate.
The overall goal is preparing African students to apply their Christian faith as servants to their families, churches and communities, uniquely displaying the Gospel through addressing Africa's deepest needs with innovative, benevolent, God-glorifying solutions in response to God's creation and redemption mandate.
May God continue to bless our service to Him,
Dr Ken Turnbull
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Are you still there? If you are and you want to read more about the African Christian University, please visit the university’s website here. The website under “partners” also deals with how you can support this mammoth project financially. At this stage, we primarily ask for your prayers that this “dream” will soon be realised to the benefit of many on the African soil. Join us in seeing this dream reach fruition. Amen!