Friday, October 1, 2010

John Musonda—An Outstanding Christian Businessman

“The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18).

I was driving to Kitwe last Friday to preach at the Riverside Faith Baptist Church’s Annual Bible Conference over the weekend when my phone rang. It was Mrs Womba Sakanya, the vice chair of the Norfred House Hotel in Kitwe. She gave me the bad news that John Musonda, the board chairman, had gone to glory that morning. As phone calls began to come in, one after the other, I knew that this was no mistake: Ba John was gone!
The Norfred House Hotel Board, with John Musonda on extreme right
My personal dealings with John Musonda in the recent past were in the context of the Zambia Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). While serving as national president, one of the greatest challenges I faced last year was to replace the board of the Norfred House Hotel in Kitwe. This hotel belongs to the YMCA and financially sustains the operations of the national office. It was going through troubled waters. I asked a friend to recommend some outstanding Christian businessmen and women whom I could appoint to this task, and the very first name he gave me was that of John.
Part of the congregation during the funeral service
The nature of the YMCA is that it is a volunteer organisation and so there are no allowances for serving on this board. This did not discourage John and he threw his weight into the work. I supervised the elections at the very first full board meeting and his fellow board members chose him as board chairman. So, for the last one year, we have worked very closely together to begin the mammoth task of turning the hotel around both in terms of its business and its reputation as a hotel run by a Christian organisation. Those who live in Kitwe will understand what I mean by this.
Mrs Musonda reading the Bible during the funeral service
John Musonda’s funeral service took place last Monday at the Riverside Chapel in Kitwe. As you may well imagine, there were more people outside the church building than inside simply because the crowd was far too large to be accommodated inside. John Musonda was the General Manager of Chloride Zambia. I was rather amused when I discovered who was giving a speech on behalf of the company. It was Mr Ndabambi. About one year ago, I had an early morning flight to South Africa and sat next to him. One of us was having his Quiet Time up in the air—reading his Bible and silently praying. Inevitably, we got talking about spiritual things and discovered that we both knew John.
Mr Ndabambi speaking on behalf of Chloride Zambia holding company
Mr Ndabambi said to me, “I am John’s boss on paper, but in reality he is the more experienced man and so I rely on his counsel very much. He is the most experienced General Manager we have in the region. He joined the company in the 1970s and has risen through the ranks. When the Zambian economy was on the downswing, John managed to keep Chloride Zambia afloat by making very strategic decisions. He is also a very strong Christian. And so whenever I come to Zambia we have some very good times of fellowship together. It is good to have men like that when you visit a foreign country. It safeguards your soul.” He essentially repeated this same testimony at the funeral service. This was a very good testimony, speaking of an outstanding Christian businessman!
The body of John Musonda during the body viewing
I have sprinkled a few photos of the funeral service and burial of John Musonda on this blog. It was a truly God-glorifying event that spoke of a man who lived a life of true godliness both in the home and in business affairs. His wife spoke of him as a loving husband and father who was truly a peacemaker.”He never raised his voice,” she said. The Gideons International also spoke of John as one of their most outstanding members. I have put a slideshow on the side bar for those of you who may want to see a little more of the funeral. Let me end this blog with a short tribute from John Musonda’s fellow elder, Emmanuel Mbambiko, which was read out during the funeral service:
Mrs Musonda during the funeral service surrounded by friends
Our dear brother John came to know the Lord in 1988 through the ministry of Riverside Chapel. Prior to this, he was fairly faithful in bringing his wife to church but he was not yet a believer. However, in 1988, after a road traffic accident, he realised his need of a Saviour and he committed his life to Christ. Brothers Valentine Mwila and Andrew Muwowo clearly remember going to visit him after the accident and his wife saying to them, “He has now given his life to Christ and now he is safe to go. Previously he was not ready.” Yes, he has been safe to go since then and he has now ridden on, on that glory train whose master is the Lord Jesus.
Emmanuel Mbambiko preaching at the funeral service
Since his conversion, John never turned back, but served the Lord that he loved so dearly. He served on the church deaconate for a number of years. On the 25th of September 2005 he joined the church eldership. He remained faithfully serving in this position until he was taken to glory on Friday 24th September 2010.
The laying of wreaths by church leaders and their wives
On the eldership, John was overseeing the following ministries: The Doctrinal Class, the Married Couples’ Ministry, the Men’s Ministry, and the Inter-Church projects. He was also the secretary of the eldership, a duty he carried out so well. We know that with his departure we are now truly crippled in this area.
John Musonda's daughter, Sheila, with relatives by her side
[At this point, Emmanuel went into a little more detail narrating John’s very short illness and hence sudden and surprising home call, after which he ended by saying...]  John, our brother, we bid you farewell and we thank God for the life he allowed you to share with us. Good night, brother. Soon we shall say to each other, 'Good morning'. Farewell, beloved!

John Musonda’s testimony reminds me of a fact of life stated in the book of Proverbs (and quoted above): “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18). Yes, from the day of his conversion, John’s life shone brighter and brighter until God called him to glory. There, in the presence of God, he now shines brighter than the sun!


  1. It is sad to hear of elder Musonda's death. The first time I attended Riverside Chapel he really welcomed us and later on took us for lunch at his home. This way we got to know him and his family better. Him having taken several trips to Kenya really escalated the fellowship. He kept inviting us back and I made sure I attended when ever I got an opportunity. One other thing that struck me during their communion service was the fact that he had memorized that whole section in 1 Cor.11 about the Lord's Supper.
    We thank the Lord for saving him and using him the way he did in our lives. Indeed to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!

  2. This is really sad news. I remember Brother John when I was working as a Buyer at ZCCM and Mopani Copper mines in Mufulira. He was a God fearing person and a Brother to chat with.

    Charles Phiri - UK