“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Last Sunday (13th February 2011), Chipita Sibale was ordained as a pastor at Kabwata Baptist Church. It was a most joyful and tearful Sunday. I guess the tears were tears of joy! This brings the eldership at KBC to seven men, with two of us being full-time. I thought of dedicating this post to this event, together with putting the extra photos on the slide show next to the blog for a few days. Pardon the ego-elevating reference to me and my ministry. Be assured that I disagree with him completely (smile!). But that is what Chipita—oops, Pastor Sibale—thinks and hiding it from you will not change anything!
|The young Chipita Sibale with our daughter, Mwape, in 2005|
When and how did you first sense God’s call to the ministry?
I sensed the call to the ministry way back in the year 2000. This was three years after I got saved. After my conversion I had this burning desire to serve God and share the gospel with friends. I even got myself a nickname in my neighbourhood as “Pastor”. I spoke to different people who advise me to first do other studies when I finish school and if I still felt that God was calling me then I could go into the ministry.
This sense of call grew even more when Trinity Baptist Church in Kitwe called their first pastor (Isaac Makashinyi). In my eyes he was a young man with a brilliant mind wasting his time as a preacher of God’s Word when he could be a director or a boss in some big firm. This made me realize that preaching was more than just a career.
I finished school in 2002 and moved to Lusaka for tertiary education. I studied accounts and worked for three different firms (Geraldine’s, Shingalani Logistics Company, and Mental Health User Network of Zambia). It was my last work place that caused me to really and seriously think of the ministry. At Mental Health I worked with people, helping them start businesses and also writing business proposals for them. I realised as never before that men need more than financial help.
This thought was sealed during our second in-house missions conference at KBC when Pastor Philip Hunt preached on “What is your philosophy of ministry?” This message kept ringing in my mind until my 25th birthday celebrations when I challenged myself to move on. There will never come a more perfect time to serve God than now. That was how I finally quit my job to go into full time ministry.
|Chipita with one of the elders, George Sitali, during the Show outreach|
What are some of the major means that God has used to prepare you for the work of ministry before you became an intern at KBC?
The preparation started back in Kitwe. I was surrounded by good Christians (Pastor Kayombo, Kasango Kayombo, Joseph Phiri, Macarthur Mudenda, etc). These men helped me in my spiritual growth and, from time to time, gave me an opportunity to share God’s Word at youth meetings. Kasango Kayombo would often go with me for outreach at a nearby college (ZIBSIP). We later started some outreach work at Kitwe Teachers Training College and at Kitwe Central Hospital School of Nursing. I continued with the outreach work and even started a Bible study with some of the students, in conjunction with Kitwe Chapel. I was also involved in organising the Copperbelt Annual Reformed Baptist Youth Conference (CARBYC, now called NARBYC). I was the youngest committee member. All these events shaped me in my evangelism and organisational skills.
When I moved to Lusaka I thought that, since KBC was a big church, I would relax and just do background work. I arrived in Lusaka just in time for the 2003 youth camp and I was immediately given the responsibility of helping to put campers in groups. Soon after that I was asked to join the fellowship department of the Junior Youth Ministry even before I joined membership!
After attending KBC for some time I began helping with ushering on Sundays since I used to come to church early and later was appointed Chief Usher. I soon became the chairman of Junior Youth Ministry. I must admit that during my time I had a good committee (Mwindula, Masiliso, Sepiso, Anne, and Henry). It was during this time that the Intermediate Youth Ministry was born because the ministry grew and the elders thought it wise to divide the ministry further. I have also been actively involved in the Show Outreach Ministry, which reaches out to the Annual Agricultural and Commercial Show every year in August.
So, it has been these activities in the church that have really been used of God to prepare me for the work of ministry.
|Chipita saying his ordination vows, led by one of the elders, John Kumwenda|
You have finished one and half years of internship at KBC. In which ways did you find this helpful in preparing you for the pastoral ministry?
The internship at KBC has been very helpful. Firstly, working closely with Pastor Mbewe has been helpful and a great challenge. When I came on internship I was the only intern and so I was involved in all the thirteen ministries in the church. KBC also has a number of mission stations and I was often sent to go and preach there and to even help with their outreach programs.
Pastor Mbewe also conducts monthly sermon preparation meetings with a number of church members who are involved in preaching at the many preaching points of the church and elsewhere. I found these to be very helpful. When it was my turn to prepare the sermon I would do so and go through it with him. This personalised help was very beneficial in making me see where I needed to improve. Pastor Mbewe also took time to share with me his experience as a pastor. During this period I have had an opportunity to look at his life as a pastor, a husband, and a father. My conclusion is that he is the same person everywhere. And, as you know, Pastor Mbewe is a very organised man. So, I have had to learn to work with a daily program and in the order of importance.
|Chipita being prayed for with the laying on of the hands of the elders|
The issue of your age has come up a few times when people have discussed your joining the eldership. How are you handling that?
The issue of age is still a challenge and will be for some time to come. The way am handling it is, firstly, by knowing that the work at hand is God’s work and the Bible is the standard. If, for any reason, I don’t conducted myself in a manner worthy of my calling, the Bible will be used as the standard against me. The authority given me is not because of my age but because of my office, and God demands that the office I am in should be respected both by myself in the way I conduct myself and by the rest of the church in the way they relate to me. Of course, I will respect the members who are older than me because of their age and, I trust, they will respect me because of my office.
The sermon preached during my ordination was very instructive. It spelt out the need for me to set an example in my life and conduct. This is what will make me win the respect and the favour of the members of the church.
Pray that I may grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray that I may be a man after God’s own heart.
Pray that I may love my wife as Christ loved the church.
Pray for me for wisdom, grace, and love, as I related with others.
Pray that I may be equal to the task, that I may settle quickly in the work, and do my work well.
Pray that as I work with the other elders we will work well together as a team.
Pray that God will own my labours and enable me to bring forth much fruit.
Pray that God will have a tight rein on my youthfulness so that it may not hinder my work.
Pray that God will be with me in the work.