A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Real-Life Childhood Hero Is Dead

“By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

My mother died in 1971, when I was only nine years old. True to our culture, her immediate elder sister, Mrs Grace Banda, came a year later (in 1972) to collect my two sisters and me so that she could raise us up in her home through our turbulent teenage years. I will remain ever grateful and indebted to her for this gesture. She already had eight children and so our arrival meant that she, and her husband, now had eleven mouths to feed—daily!

The first few weeks were very difficult for me because my closest friend had been a foster brother, Musa Phiri, whom my parents had raised since he was in his diapers. He was younger than me by slightly more than a year. Since he was adopted from my dad’s side, my aunt did not feel that she owed him a living as much as she felt about my two sisters and me. So, she left him behind. The last I remembered was him holding his bag in the driveway and weeping his heart out as the car taking us to our new home drove off. It took a few weeks for me to get over that scene emotionally, and it is still etched at the back of my memory.

Upon arriving at our new home on a farm in the outskirts of Ndola, we found four boys (Sabuni Allan, Chibeza Robert, David, and Kamwanga Stephen) and four girls (Mwila Grace, Kabifya Rachel, Mwaba Claire, and Mwape). I cannot quite recall if David and Mwape had second names. The days ahead were soon to become the most memorable days of my childhood. Of all the boys, the one who became my hero was Robert, who preferred to be called “Bob”.

What made Bob stand out?
Partly, Bob stood out because he was the natural leader among us. Allan, the oldest of the four boys, was already working when we got to the farm, and so, although we lived in the same home and occupied the same bedroom (detached from the main house), his round of activities were too far flung for me to identify with. Bob was the second born and was still doing his high school and so he naturally provided leadership for all our childhood pranks.

Bob was also the most gifted among all the four brothers I found in the Banda home. When we went hunting birds in the woods, I normally came back with the emptiest bag and he almost invariably returned with the fullest. He was a top marksman when handling the family pellet gun and I often benefitted from his generous heart. Bob was also very gifted in music. He played the bass guitar, the lead guitar, the rhythm guitar, and the drums, with great prowess. Whenever a new song became popular (by such musicians as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, the Equals, the Witch, the Musi-o-tunya, the Five Revolutions, the Twinkles, etc), he soon taught us how to play the song using dry guitars and homemade drums, and he provided the leading vocals. He also composed his own songs. In the midst of such talent (which the other brothers also had to a large measure) I also learnt to play each of these instruments, though I soon learnt that my gifts lay elsewhere.

Bob was also gifted with the kind of body that would have made today’s glossy magazine editors fall over each other to get him on their front cover. He loved weight lifting and other body building activities. I recall us younger disciples following him in the orchard on the farm as he went before us with bare chest lifting all kinds of iron bars that he kept there, while we remained mesmerized by his muscles and strength. He also loved gymnastics. The acrobatics he performed on a pile of mattresses almost cost me my life when I tried to imitate him. I still suffer from backache from one of those childhood falls.

So, Bob was my real-life childhood hero. I often wished to be like him when I grew up. After my high school days, I left Ndola for Lusaka to do my tertiary education. This also meant that I returned to dad’s home. That is how I parted ways with my childhood hero. Apart from a few glimpses here and there, I was never really to spend any meaningful time with Bob again for at least ten years. By that time, I was in my late twenties, was converted to the evangelical Christian faith, was married, had worked as a mining engineer in the Zambian mines and was now working as a pastor, and I had begun to raise a family of my own.

The day my bubble burst
When Bob walked through my front door, what I saw burst the bubble of my childhood dreams. He had taken to alcohol in a big way and he was paying a dear price for it. He had been laid off from work, been married twice, and was now on separation with his beautiful second wife. Bob could not live without “the brown bottle”. Whereas I can vouch for him that he would not steal or kill to get his hands on beer, I know that he used his fertile mind to come up with schemes by which he got his hands on money, which he quickly turned into alcohol. Stories of his escapades can make the most hilarious primetime movies. Even today, when I tell some of them to my friends, our eyes are wet with tears by the time I end the stories.

Bob standing next to me in my home in November 2004
In African culture, Bob is my elder brother, and so nature dictates that I throw a veil over many of his shortcomings. In fact, for the purpose of this blog post, it is not necessary for me to go beyond this. Suffice it to say that the extended family, including his beautiful daughter, put in the best of efforts to reverse this downward trend in Bob’s life, but it was all to no avail. I recall pouring out my heart to him about how he was my childhood hero and how I once longed to be like him one day, but even that did not work. I once linked any help from me to his attending a gospel preaching church near his home, but even that finally failed. Bob went through one job after another, but that accursed drink always cost him his job.

In due season, Bob’s health also starting failing. On a number of occasions, he was admitted in hospital and the doctors were very clear that unless he was cured of “the bottle” there was precious little they could do for him. Well, the inevitable finally happened last Tuesday. Bob, my childhood hero, collapsed and died. I was too far away to attend his funeral and have been grieving ever since my wife broke the news to me. Of the four boys I found in the Banda home, he was the last one to die. In other words, I am the only one left from that happy band of young men whose voices filled the boys' bedroom with song and laughter in the 1970s. Above all, I am grieving over the ending of a life that I thought would bring great honour to our family and our nation. Alas, that was never to be. Bob is dead.

What can I say to all this?
Two major thoughts fill my heart and mind as I lay my pen—or keyboard—to rest. Firstly, it is to warn those who are coming behind my generation—especially my sons and nephews. Keep clear of that accursed drink. I know there is such a thing as being a social drinker and many have managed to maintain that to their dying day. But why play Russian Roulette with your life, hoping that you will come out a social drinker and not an alcoholic in the end? Let the sad ending of the story of my real-life childhood hero be a scarecrow to keep you sober till death. Bob would not be where he is right now if he had not taken his first drink.

Secondly, I am filled with gratitude to God. I know that in that boys' bedroom I was the least gifted and the most vulnerable (having lost a mom who was the pillar of our nuclear family). Humanly speaking, I ought to have gone first. But by his grace, on Friday March 30, 1979, God transformed my heart and enabled me to make choices that have kept me on the straight and narrow. To him alone be praise, glory, and honour—both now and forevermore. Amen!

Postscript (added on 31st May): Now that my sons and nephews have read this blog, I need to cushion my "accursed drink" statement a little bit (only a little bit), especially for the sake of my Western readers. Be assured that this is not meant to be a doctrinal statement but a very emotional one. It is not meant to join the moral fray on whether social drinking is right or wrong. When you have lost each one of your four brothers—one after another over a period of fifteen years—to crocodiles while socialising along a nearby river, and you are now left alone, to you that river is cursed. Whereas others may tell their sons to be careful when walking near that river and never to be there alone, you will warn yours to keep a mile away from that "cursed river"—especially when you have just buried your last brother who was also your childhood hero!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My recent fascinating visit to Togo

“A child who never travels always praises his mother’s cooking” (An African Proverb).

After that serious last post on time-keeping in Africa, let me share with you something light and  humorous. I have just returned from a YMCA trip to Togo, in West Africa. And my, my, my, what a fascinating visit that was!

We arrived at lunchtime on May 9, 2011, at the Lome airport in Togo. To begin with, there was no notice telling us how much we needed to pay in US dollars for our entry visas. The notice was in local currency and so we relied on the words of the immigration official. He asked for $40 and I gave it to him, hoping he was not cheating me (I later discovered another passenger paid $45, another $60, and another $100). Then, after the official got my money, he insisted my passport was full (I had one empty page left). He kept dropping hints in a very harsh tone, “Your passport is full! You must do something! Your passport is full! Look at this, you must do something!” I acted dumb until, finally, after waiting for almost two hours he gave me my passport with the visa inside. “You see what I have done for you. You needed to do something!” I got my passport but did not do "something"!

A lady who was coming for the same YMCA meeting was less fortunate. She gave the immigration official a $100 note, expecting to get change. When she got her passport back an hour later with the entry visa in it, there was no change. She asked the officer for the change and he totally denied that he got any money from her. “Then how come you have given me a visa without me paying anything for it?” she asked. He then gave her $10 change and insisted she only gave him a $50 note. She knew this was a lost cause and just walked away.

Motorbike "taxis" in full speed
We were finally in Togo. The people were very friendly, though communication was a challenge because Togo is French-speaking. I loved the extensive use of the African chitenge material for their dresses and shirts—and even trousers. Their fresh tropical fruits (mangoes, avocado pears, pineapples, bananas, etc) were just yummy. Apart from the humidity and heat, what struck me the most was the number of motorbikes. There were thousands and thousands of them everywhere. I have never seen so many motorbikes in such a short space of time in my whole life. It was evidently the most common form of transport. They were also used as taxis. I saw one passenger carrying a small bed in between himself and the motorbike driver. On one occasion, we came across a crowd beside the road and, upon enquiring, I was told that it was an accident. I could see traffic police on the scene. My surprise, though, was that I did not see more accidents. The way in which those motorbikes were weaving between cars moving at great speed amazed me.

On the last day, as we were making our way to the airport, I sat in the front seat of a bus without seat belts. I was initially nervous and whispered a quick prayer to God for safety. It must have been in answer to prayer that the bus broke down soon after the journey began and I almost missed my flight. Alas, even the car that came to pick us up later and rushed us to the airport had no functional seat belts either—and I was again in the front seat. This time my one and only prayer was for God to get me to the airport in time for the flight. He heard my prayer. I was the last person to go through the final security checkpoint. In this confusion, I arrived in Zambia without my luggage. Hopefully, I will get it one day!

Our broken down bus with its patient passengers
Another wake up call was my failure to get Internet service. Oh, the things we take for granted! It was an hour’s drive between the place where we had the YMCA meeting and the YMCA secretariat, where I was assured that I could get Internet service. We made that trip and found that the Internet was not working. After going around the city, we soon discovered that there was no Internet in the whole country of Togo the whole day. We even tried a posh five-star hotel along the beach—a favourite for Americans—but the story was the same. So, I returned to the conference centre with nothing to show for my long journey into town.

Thankfully, the following evening we were invited to attend a special dinner at a hotel in town. Upon getting there we discovered that the Internet was available. Having been starved of this essential 21st century commodity, a number of us scrambled to get online like Arabs who had just chanced life-giving water in the middle of a desert. For me, it meant missing my dinner altogether, as there was so much essential mail that needed to be handled. By the grace of God, I managed to give the minimum needed attention to those that needed to be replied—except one. This was my weekly newspaper article. I sent a hurried note to the editor to ask for 24 hours extension to my weekly deadline. The following evening, which was the last evening in Togo, I borrowed a laptop and spent some thirty minutes on a painfully slow connection to send the article. You should have seen the joy on my face when I f-i-n-a-l-l-y read “sent” on the screen. I felt the joy that Sir Isaac Newton must have felt when he discovered the law of gravity!

Motorbikes competing with cars for space on the road
I must end with this West African story. On our last day, just before leaving for the airport, the delegates were sharing their West African travel experiences. One story made me realize that my experience would not make it as headline news. A delegate from Zimbabwe shared how, in 1996, he was flying from Lagos to Kaduna, in Nigeria. Upon checking in, he was told that it was free sitting and that his seat was not guaranteed. So he panicked and quickly asked which flight he was to get on. He was told to go and enquire on the ramp (apron), where there were a number of planes. He rushed there and asked various passengers either coming off a plane or getting onto one. Finally, he was shown a queue on the ramp. When he got there, he found that it comprised his fellow passengers going to Kaduna. On that queue, he soon discovered that if you had little luggage you joined the front end and if you had a lot of luggage you joined the back. Thankfully, he had very little and so he joined the front end.

Our storyteller went on to tell us that he was a little worried when the plane finally came because there appeared to be more people and luggage than the plane could handle. He was mistaken. All the passengers were fitted on board. Most passengers sat with their luggage on their laps. One of them, upon failing to find a seat, asked the airhostess what he should do. He was told to sit with a child (who was occupying a seat) on his laps. When he complained that the child was not his, the air hostess said, “Sir, if you want to fly on this plane, take that child and put him on your laps!” He complied. As if this was not hilarious enough, he ended his story by telling us of yet another passenger who was at the end of the queue because he was carrying a fridge, a stove and a goat. He was sure that this passenger would never make it, but he was wrong again. The fridge and stove were packed at the end of the aisle, with the goat tied to the stove all the way to Kaduna!

What shall I say to all this? “Only in Africa!”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poor Time Keeping at Christian Weddings in Africa

Conducting wedding last weekend by the side of a river
Let’s admit it; we Africans are very bad with timekeeping. I am often amazed at how many people are present for a meeting at the agreed starting time. Out of a congregation of one hundred, it would often be less than ten! If it is a meeting of two people, the one who arrives late even cracks a joke about his late coming instead of being embarrassed about it. There is no effort, even in this cellphone era, to ring the waiting person about any delays. We have even nicknamed this sad reality “African time.”
If that is true generally, it is even worse when it comes to weddings—and brides (and their matrons) are the chief culprits. Guests are kept waiting for many hours before the event commences and no apology is given for the lateness. It is assumed that the guests should understand…after all, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event—our wedding.
This is wrong. We African Christians ought to be "Christians who just happen to be Africans" rather than "Africans who just happen to be Christians." The Christian Faith must change everything about us—including our timekeeping. As Christians, we should emulate the example of God whose timekeeping is perfect. For instance, he said to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:14). Sure enough, at the appointed time—about that time the following year—Sarah had a son!
Similarly, God expects his people to keep their appointments with him. For instance, he told the Isrealites, “Let the people of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time” (Numbers 9:2). And, remember, these people had no watches—hence the use of twilight to tell the time. Yet, God expected them to keep their appointments with him like clockwork, and not to come to the place of worship as if they were strolling off for a beer at a local bar.
Add to this the perfect clockwork he has infused in the movement of the planets in the various solar systems in the universe, and you cannot doubt that time matters to God. Those of us who are Christians should ensure that one of the visible signs of our godliness is the price tag we put on the commodity called time. Punctuality is the way in which we prove this. Only then will others in our culture follow suit.
Therefore, being convinced of this, I made it a rule long ago that the weddings I conduct would end at an agreed time, whether they start late or not. I also tell the couple getting married that, depending on how late they are, certain items will begin to fall out of the program and only they would know since they attended the rehearsal. Their guests would not—unless, of course, the sermon also disappears. I tell them to warn their cameramen so that at the commencement of the wedding they take shots that exclude the pews, which are often quite empty. Then as the pews fill up, they can capture wider shots. That way, when they come to see the pictures of their wedding they will never know that they said their vows to an almost empty church building.
Finally, I tell the couple getting married that if they come late I will not be upset and so there is no need for them to apologize to me as if they have spilt coffee on my suit. (I tell them this because I have been at a wedding or two where the bride or groom has come very late and the officiating minister has visibly lost his temper. One could almost see fumes coming out of his ears!) Hence, when I am conducting a wedding, I take my station in front of the auditorium “at the appointed time”—and wait. If they do not show up by the time the wedding is supposed to end, I dismiss the congregation and go on to attend to my other pastoral duties. As simple as that!
I recall in the early 1990s when I made this resolution, despite my telling the couple getting married that this is what I would do, they still came after the time I said the wedding would end. Well, they found that I had already dismissed the congregation and was just preparing to cycle off (in those days my mode of transport was a bicycle). Out of sheer pity, I made them sign the legal documents in the parking lot.
Since then, in the last twenty years, I have had one or two weddings that have lasted thirty minutes, twenty minutes, or even ten minutes, instead of the normal one hour and fifteen minutes. However, I am glad to state that this has been the exception to the rule. I know that my fellow pastors in Africa will hardly believe me, but almost all the weddings I have conducted for the last twenty years have started and ended on time. In fact, during rehearsals, couples often tell me that their friends have already warned them about this—that they will be sorry if they come late for their wedding.
On one occasion, the couple getting married gave me a time for the start of their wedding that I discovered was an hour later than the time on their invitation cards. When I asked them about it, they said that it was deliberate so that their wedding would start when more people were present. I refused. The Bible is very clear. A Christian’s word must be his bond (see Matt 5:37, 2 Cor 1:17-20). If you tell people you will meet them at a particular time, you must keep that time—even if they come late.
What often happens now is that guests who are unfamiliar with this culture at Kabwata Baptist Church are the ones who come in time for the closing prayer. They are often shocked. “The wedding is already over? We were sure that it would start late like all weddings do; so we took our time to get here. What happened?” Nothing!
So, I have proved that Africans can be good timekeepers. “African time” is a myth. If we can be on time for weddings where we are the worst offenders, we can be on time for anything. With sufficient incentives, one can change the culture. Those of us who are leaders should set a good example. We must be on time for all our appointments—whether with God or man. We must then demand that God’s people follow our example. Let’s face it—sometimes we will be late. However, where it is obvious that we are running late, we must inform the other party (which is not a problem in this cellphone era) and apologize about it. Late coming is no laughing matter!
There have been two occasions when I have bent the rule. The first was last year. I took my position “at the appointed time” and the bridegroom arrived on time. However, the bride was late—very late. I could read the thoughts on the minds of the guests who knew my rule. They knew that this was going to be a very brief wedding—probably ten minutes long. To their surprise, the wedding took the usual length. The reason for bending the rule was because my sermon was on the subject of patience! I needed to teach the bridegroom that he was going to have to learn to be patient with his wife, especially with respect to timekeeping. I did not want to undermine the sermon by an apparent impatience on my part. I explained this to the congregation when I began my sermon, and everyone relaxed and enjoyed the full wedding ceremony.
The bride being brought by her father to the wedding!
The second time was last Saturday. I conducted a wedding that began one and a half hours late. I still conducted it full length. Why? It was because the couple had already forewarned me and the reasons I was given were understandable. To begin with, the wedding was taking place very far away from civilization, somewhere in the bushes of Africa. Almost all the invited guests were going to be making their way there for the first time and so being hard on time was not going to be fair on them. Secondly, the bride was being brought to the wedding in a canoe. And canoes have no speed gauge to enable paddlers determine the speed in order to arrive on time!
Your comments, please?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Our time at the Gospel Coalition Conference 2011

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).

From time to time I get an email like the one I have just received from an ardent reader of my blog. The author wrote, “As an ardent reader of 'A Letter from Kabwata’, I am starved of the updates. I think the last post was April 11th! Looking forward to more inspiring news to stimulate us to pray.” This invariably reminds me that there is a readership out there that I need to update. So, let me share with you about my recent visit to the USA—which also explains my silence because it was a hectic 12 days in which I preached no less than 12 times.
Dr Voddie Baucham with his son Trey and daughter Saphia
Felistas and I arrived in Houston, Texas, on Thursday 7th April for my first preaching engagement. It was a church-based conference at the Grace Family Baptist Church (Pastor Voddie Baucham) on the theme of submission and authority. I took the whole of 1 Peter and in five sermons dealt with submission and authority in the context of (1) the whole Christian life, (2) the political or civic sphere, (3) the employment or economic sphere, (4) the domestic or family sphere, and (5) the church or ecclesiastical sphere.
The Baucham family celebrating Jasmine's birthday
Although it was a great joy to minister to Grace Family Baptist Church, the highlight for Felistas and me was meeting the Baucham family—at last! Voddie, the husband and father, has been to Zambia and to our home on two previous occasions with his son, Trey. He has become endeared not only to our church but also to our family. Those of you who know him will know that, like an Old Testament priest, he carries his family on his breast wherever he goes. Hence, we had looked forward to meeting the family of this man that is so dear to him!
The Baucham boys enjoying a book on cars
From Houston, we flew to the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday 12th April. Felistas and I were honoured with the VIP room on the 28th floor of the Hyatt hotel at the convention centre. It had a scenic view through the main window that made us wish that this were home. The conference, whose theme was “Preaching Christ and the Gospel from the Old Testament,” had seven main preachers handling plenary sessions and over forty other speakers who handled various electives. The main preachers were R Albert Mohler Jr, Tim Keller, Alistair Begg, James MacDonald, Matt Chandler, Mike Bullmore, Don Carson—and yours truly! All the sermons had simultaneous translation into Spanish and Mandarin (Chinese) and are available for downloading on the Gospel Coalition website. The attendance, by my estimation, would have been anywhere above 6,000 people. So, it was a sea of humanity!

I attended a few electives and was thoroughly refreshed by what I heard during a panel discussion/interview on the subject “Training the Next Generation of Pastors and Christian Leaders.” Albert Mohler Jr, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, was on the panel, with Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson and Ligon Duncan. Albert Mohler said again and again that it was not the business of Bible colleges and seminaries to train pastors. Churches must be the ones doing so. Rather, Bible colleges and seminaries are supposed to come alongside churches in order to do what the churches are unable to do—i.e. specialized studies and research. He expressed gladness that a growing number of church pastors were realizing this and were beginning to train the next generation of pastors in their churches—which was the right context. I found this very refreshing, especially because it was coming from the president of a theological seminary!
Keith Getty speaking on writing music for corporate worship
I also attended the workshop on writing corporate worship music. Relax, it was not because I have any dreams of becoming a modern day hymn-writer. I am concerned that our generation of Reformed Christians in Zambia with poetic gifts are not writing hymns for Christian worship. Hence, I wanted to know as much as I could from those who are presently writing some of the most popular hymns finding their way into corporate worship. So, it was good to hear Keith Getty speak about the genesis of “In Christ Alone”, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” etc., and some of the principles to bear in mind when writing music for public worship rather than entertainment or even private devotions.
Don Carson being honoured by his ministerial colleagues
One of the leaders of the Gospel Coalition is Don Carson and, on one of the evenings, his colleagues in ministry honoured him for the work that he has done to enhance the cause of Christ and the gospel. Heartfelt testimonies were read out in his honour, which, no doubt, melted his heart to tears. With humility, he accepted the honour, and prayer was offered for him.

At the ACU booth with Linda Woodward and John LaTour
Apart from the plenary sessions and the electives, there were various Christian institutions (e.g. seminaries and Bible colleges, publishers and Bible software companies, etc) that put up booths to publicise their work and products in the open area leading to the main auditorium. The one nearest my heart was the Africa Christian University (ACU)—for obvious reasons. It was good to see the warm inviting smiles of Linda Woodward and John LaTour at the booth. One trusts that some valuable contacts were made at the conference that would result in ongoing prayer and financial support for this very important project. Having just acquired a MacBook Air, I spent quite some time at the Accordance Bible software stand on the last day getting it downloaded onto my computer. That alone was worth the whole trip to the USA.
The Ndambashas - Allan, Lingawako, Abel, and Victoria
With the Gospel Coalition Conference behind us, Felistas and I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday evening 14th April for my last series of preaching engagements. These meetings took place on the Lord’s Day at Cornerstone Church (Pastor Jim Adams) and at Miller Valley Baptist Church (Pastor Chris J Marley) in Prescott. A few more meetings in the form of breakfast talks and Bible studies were squeezed in before Sunday. One of the highlights of the Arizona visit was the time we spent with Allan and Victoria Ndambasha and their family. We lived and worshipped together in Mufulira, Zambia, in the 1980s. Allan also joined Kabwata Baptist Church for a number of years when he studied at the University of Zambia. The time with them was all too short, but we had to return to our family and flock. Also at their home was another Zambian, Victor Mubili, who had driven 12 hours to come and meet us over the weekend. We flew back to Zambia on Monday 18th April. As we were connecting on Tuesday afternoon in South Africa, we had the rare opportunity to meet two Kabwata Baptist Church love-birds, whose wedding we missed while we were in the USA. It was Graham and Fungai Chingambu returning from their honeymoon!
Graham and Fungai Chinambu returning from honeymoon!
I returned to Zambia challenged afresh with the importance of the gospel of Christ. It is the heart of God’s message to our world. Christianity rises and falls in any generation with that generation’s grasp of the gospel and how zealous the Christians of that generation are in sharing its message. Sadly, in Africa today, it is clear that this is fast becoming the exception to the rule. Churches that once knew and preached the gospel as it is laid out in the New Testament are now preaching nothing more than messages on morality or “deliverance”. This can only spell death for the church’s future. Those of us who still have a firm grasp of this aroma of Christ need to come together as our friends have done in the Gospel Coalition to remind ourselves of this precious truth and to encourage a younger generation to remain true to its life-giving truths—for the glory of God.