“Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house” (Nehemiah 3:28-29).
I have just returned from the USA on a mission to make known our major project of starting a Christian university here in Lusaka, Zambia, and to raise prayer and financial support for it through what we are calling, “The 425 Campaign”. It was eleven days spent mostly on the road with the Executive Director of ACU, Dr Ken Turnbull, and his wife Lisa, speaking in different locations every day. Our itinerary covered towns in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. And it ended with a podcast interview for Tim Challies’ famous blog, Informing The Reforming. The Lord sustained us as we travelled. This was in answer to the prayers of God’s people and, we are sure, in fulfilment of the plan that God has for this university.
|Dr Ken and Lisa Turnbull speaking at one of the meetings|
For me, the one place we visited that confirmed our vision was the College of the Ozarks. They have a work study program that enables students to participate in the maintenance and income generating part of the college. This gives students work experience while they are studying and, of course, helps them pay for their studies. It also cuts on the cost of running the college because a lot of the work is being done by the students. We saw students watering the gardens, producing fruit cakes and sending them to clients, preparing flower bouquets, making stained glass products, working on the extension of their gym, etc. They even run a hotel, built right outside their campus! If young people who are studying for white collar jobs can learn to do what is culturally perceived as the lowest form of work (e.g. cleaning toilets), you will be producing servant leaders for society.
|Students at the College of the Ozarks working in the student labour program|
The establishment of a Christian university by the Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia seems to be a logical step when one looks at what the Lord has done among us. David Livingstone brought the Christian gospel into our neck of the woods over 150 years ago. Since then, various mission agencies have come and established the Christian faith across the whole nation so that by the start of the 21st century about 80% of Zambians call themselves Christians. Sadly, judging by the high levels of corruption, HIV and AIDS, crime, etc, the number of real Christians must still be very low.
|Speaking to mission-minded students at another university about ACU|
Three needs have become apparent if the Christian faith is to be strong in Zambia. The first is that of establishing strong churches across the country where biblical preaching is a regular diet. There is no substitute for good solid spiritual meals. The second is that of ensuring that there are evangelistic endeavours that spread the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, challenging even those who profess Christianity to see if they are truly in the faith. People need to get genuinely saved, or else we are pushing them into hell on religious wheelchairs. The third is that of helping those who are truly converted to see how their Christian faith ought to be translated into practice in all spheres of life—in their personal, domestic, community and national life. Christians must always be salt and light.
|Preaching and presenting the vision of ACU at State Street|
It will be readily admitted that, purely as an indigenous family of churches, the Reformed Baptists in Zambia are slowly and strategically covering the country. So far, we have planted churches in all the provincial capitals of Zambia, and almost all the major cities from Livingstone to the Copperbelt and from Lusaka to Chipata. A few more are scattered elsewhere. Every effort is being made through these churches (established in the last twenty years) to give good spiritual meals to God’s people, evangelise their immediate communities, and teach believers how to live out their faith.
|Dr Ken Turnbull speaking to a couple interested in ACU|
Realising the paucity of good educational facilities around us and also knowing how many of our government and privately run schools teach from an non-biblical humanistic framework, our churches have begun to establish Christian schools. So far, a number of our churches have primary schools on their premises. We are already beginning to seriously plan towards running secondary schools as well, so that those children who have passed through our hands and have been helped to see the world through biblical lenses can continue being taught this way right through to the end of their secondary education.
|Eagles Nest School (run by Kabwata Baptist Church) 2010 Grade Seven Class|
Once this is in place, the next stage must be apparent; namely, the need for a college or university that also builds its entire curriculum around the Bible. This is not just for the sake of providing tertiary education in a country where the shortage of such institutions is abysmal, but it is primarily about ensuring that the next generation of young adults goes into God’s world as worshippers, seven days a week. What a difference that will make to our nation!
|The ACU PowerPoint presentation with Chipita Sibale smiling at us!|
It is this need that the establishing of the African Christian University will aim to answer. It will be a top quality university run as a joint venture by Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia. So far, boards have been established both in the USA and in Zambia, and in both countries the African Christian University has been registered. Early next year, we expect Dr Ken and Lisa Turnbull to come to Zambia and spearhead the development work on the ground until the university opens its doors to students in 2012. There will be a lot of work, for which everyone who believes in what we are doing should be much in prayer. Apart from praying, do consider joining the 425 campaign by enlisting as a regular contributor and also by commending it to others. I want to particularly appeal to Zambians at home and abroad to own this project by your prayers and financial giving. Together we can do it!
|The ACU display with Kakonde Simbeye & Temwani Phiri smiling at us!|
We often marvel at how Nehemiah managed to repair the wall around the city of Jerusalem in only 52 days, when previously all attempts had completely failed. The answer lay in his ability to harness the full potential of the people of God to participate in this mammoth project. Hence, we read, “Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.” By each one contributing in this small way, the entire wall was rebuilt in record time. In the same way, if 400 of us can contribute $25 dollars (K125,000) a month, this university will be up and running in no time. That is what the 425 campaign is all about. If we Zambians can reach even just 100 contributors, that will convince our Non-Zambian friends across the oceans that we are serious. So, let us join hands and do it!
Postscript: For details on how to join the 425 campaign, click here.