“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20).
|James Williamson preaching at the retreat|
The missions conference, as usual, was preceded by our missionaries prayer retreat from Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th January. This is a time when I meet with all our church’s missionaries (and our church’s interns) for two full days of devotional exercises and prayer. This year, we were challenged from God’s Word by James Williamson, an American missionary who has come to help us with the training of pastors. He spoke on the terminus of church-planting; namely, the production of self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating churches. The challenge could be sensed as the missionaries discussed and prayed after each sermon. This is our dream—and we trust that, because it is a biblical dream, God will bring it to pass. We want to see more and more self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating churches being planted through our missions enterprise.
|KBC missionaries enjoying a meal at the prayer retreat|
From Thursday 27th to Sunday 30th January, we had the missions conference. The experience is indescribable. You have to be there to really appreciate this. The theme of the conference was, “The challenges and joys of indigenous missions work.” Our two preachers were two of our former missionaries, Pastors Kennedy Sunkutu and Lichawa Thole. What a joy it was to hear these men speak about their years in the trenches as they planted their churches from scratch. They talked about the years of loneliness and discouragements. They also talked about the years of blessings and joy. They preached from Paul’s epistle to the Philippians and appealed to our consciences to take missions work seriously.
|The banner for our just-ended in-house missions conference|
Each day we also had four PowerPoint presentation from different mission stations. It was encouraging to see the progress in attendance, conversions and baptisms, in land acquisitions, in new buildings going up, in new leaders being groomed, etc. A few of the church-plants reported that they were already beginning to plant other churches even before they are weaned.
|KBC missionary, German Banda, thanking the church for his hearing aids|
|Kennedy Sunkutu preaching at the missions conference|
While the missions conference was taking place in the evenings, the missionaries’ wives were also having workshops during the day, conducted by our women’s ministry. These workshops were meant to better equip them to assist their husbands in the arduous work of church planting. Church members also donated clothes and other household goods especially for the more rural missionaries. They needed a truck to help them ferry these goods to the bus station on the day of their departure. Looking at all this, I asked myself, “Why did we not start doing this earlier?” It has really made our missions work a live issue to our church members.
|George Sitali praying for the missionaries on the last day of the conference|
Come to think of it, how did KBC commence these in-house missions conferences? You can be sure it was not due to hearing a voice from heaven. It was as a result of my itinerant preaching ministry. I recall preaching at a missions conference at the Bible Church of Little Rock, in Arkansas, USA. For some reason, it did not click that we could do something like this, though I was impressed by what I saw and heard while I was there. The penny only dropped when I preached at a missions conference at the Brackenhurst Baptist Church in South Africa. I guess because this time it was being done on African soil, it hit me that we could also do this.
|Joseph Masunga bringing fraternal greetings from Kenya|
|KBC missionary to Malawi, Percy Chisenga, and his wife, Betty|
|KBC missionary to St Bonaventure, Oswald Sichula and his family|
|Congregation listening to God's Word during the missions conference|
Whereas it is impossible to measure how much prayer support has increased since our missions conferences started, I can certainly say that our giving towards missions has been going up exponentially. Our annual one-off giving towards certain missions projects has certainly doubled and our members’ monthly giving towards missions has trebled. One can also see the number of church plants growing. We are presently planting about twenty churches, with only half of them being manned by missionaries—and a few more are planned for this year. As a church, we are certainly more active in going into the whole world to “make disciples of all nations.” This could not have happened without the missions conference. I say again, “Why did we not start doing this earlier?”
|Elias Mutale, one of KBC's founding members, bringing greetings from Canada|
As I post this blog, let me thank the churches that invited me to preach at their missions conferences—especially the Bible Church of Little Rock in USA and Brackenhurst Baptist Church in RSA. I do not think we would have known the joy that we presently know if I had not been exposed to their missions conferences. Having experienced it myself now, I think that every church should have a missions conference. Try it and it will completely revolutionize your involvement in missions. It has certainly done so at Kabwata Baptist Church! When you see your church’s commitment to missions grow exponentially, you too will ask, “Why did we not start doing this earlier?”