When the attendees split into the two conferences, I decided to attend the Reformed Family Conference and so that is what this blog is about. Edwin Mpande (shown above), a member of Kabwata Baptist Church, led the meeting. I tell people that he is the most important person in the church because, being the church accountant, he pays my salary!
Choolwe Mwetwa (shown above), the Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Chingola, was the preacher in the first session and he was finalising his series on Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” He dealt with the content of the teaching that makes up much of the training. He was quite comprehensive. He said that parents must teach children honesty, integrity, settling debts, hard work, industry, time economy, budgeting, orderliness, contentment, management of passion, etiquette, prayer, Sabbath observance, family and national history and culture, management of friendships, hygiene, sex, etc. He urged parents to use the Scriptures. He also emphasised the need to be Christ-centred in the training.
Bruce Button (shown below), the Principal of the Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary, was the second preacher in the morning. He too was completing his series based on the same text (Proverbs 22:6). He emphasised the need once again for parents to teach wisdom to their children, as of prime importance. He pointed out a number of ways to do this. Firstly, establish a relationship of relaxed trust with your children, so that they can share their innermost struggles and feelings knowing that they will be helped rather than condemned. Secondly, allow your children to be exposed where they can make choices in a controlled way. Do not be over-protective. Thirdly, allow your child’s own natural response to be evident. [I missed his fourth point]. Fifthly, let this process be repeated over and over again. Sixthly, control the influences that are shaping your children’s thought patterns and affections.
Bruce asked some heart-searching questions: Have we parents left too much to the world’s influence on the minds of our children? Have we been allowing our children to express what is inside them? Have we been guilty of self-righteousness?
During lunch time we took some photos. Due to the large number of people, we took the photos in two groups. The family conference had their own photo taken (shown above) and the school of theology also had their own (shown below). I missed the afternoon session because I had a meeting with one of our missionaries (and his wife), which took the whole afternoon. While we were talking about their challenges in ministry, the conference delegates were listening to reports on inter-church projects.
The meeting in the evening commenced at 18.30 hours. Charles Bota, an elder at Kabwata Baptist Church and chairman of the conference organising committee, went forward as the song leader. Isaac Makashinyi (shown below) shared with the congregation about the African Christian University. He gave a bird’s-eye-view of the history of the ACU. He also gave the ethos and vision of the university, and ended by sharing various prayer requests for the ACU.
Bruce Button (shown below) also went forward to speak about the Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary (SGTS). He gave the history of the seminary up to the present day and also talked about the vision of the seminary. He talked about the method presently being used for the studies. Bruce also spoke about the Copperbelt Ministerial College (CMC), although he is not directly involved in the college. He ended with some prayer needs for both the SGTS and the CMC.
Victor Kanyense, the Pastor of Mount Makulu Baptist Church, then went forward to interview Pastor Walid Bitar from Lebanon about outreach work among the Muslims (see photo below). He shared with us how he moved from Lebanon and found himself in the USA. God brought him to conversion and got him back to Lebanon. He also explained how he got involved in Muslim evangelism in Lebanon. He ended by pleading for prayer for more missionaries in Lebanon.
Charles Bota (shown below) then read Psalm 29:1-2. Isaac Makashinyi then led the whole meeting in prayer for the ACU, SGTS, CMC, and brother Walid’s work in Lebanon. Then we sang together “Jesus paid it all”. Chikondi Phiri, an elder at Lusaka Baptist Church, told the meeting about the passing on to glory of Muntanga Mwasambili, the wife of Reece Mwasambili who was presently out of the country. Mr John Mthetwa’s mother also passed away today. Chikondi prayed for the mourning families and also for me as I got ready to deliver God’s Word.
I preached from Ephesians 6:1-3 on the obedience of children. I dealt with three issues. The first was the simple fact that children are commanded to obey parents. The second was the first incentive for doing so, i.e. that this is only right. And then the third was the second incentive for doing so, i.e. that God promises long life to those children who obey their parents.
At the end of the meeting, a few statistics of the conference were given. There were 64 churches represented at the conference. An average of about 400 individuals attended the two conferences during the day and an average of about 1,000 attended the combined meetings in the evenings.
Victor Kanyense gave the closing remarks. He quoted “He has brought us this far by his grace”. He then thanked all our preachers, all those who travelled long distances to come to the conference, the caterers, the medical team, the Lusaka Baptist Church workers, the ushering teams, the donors (in cash and accommodation), the hosting churches, the musicians, and the organising team. Charles Bota ended by reading 1 Cor 15:58. That is how the 21st Zambian Reformed Conferences came to an end.
We now go home to put into practice what we have learned about the Christian family. Many of us have serious adjustments we need to make in order to lead more God-glorifying lives in our homes. Pray for us, that God will give us the grace of repentance and faith in order to do just that. Amen!