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!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Amy Winehouse and John Stott

“Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8).

Two UK deaths this week have been famous—the death of Amy Winehouse and that of John Stott. But what a contrast! Although both of them rose to fame through the use of their voices—one as a singer and the other as a preacher—one died young (at the age of 27) and the other died old and “full of years” (at the age of 90). They both experienced a meteoric rise to fame, but one soon came down like a comet while the other remained up there like a satellite. The death of Amy was tragic due to the destructive effect of sin on her life, but the death of John Stott is one that leaves all of us full of praise to God for a life whose fruitfulness will continue to be felt all over the world long after we have been gathered with our fathers.

If you have never heard of John Stott, then happy belated welcome to planet earth! Here was a life that was truly dedicated to the work of the gospel. I had never met him in person, but I met him through his books and through those he personally impacted. In this blog post I want to share a little about some of John Stott’s books and and what they have meant to me over the years.

The impact of his books
Emmanuel Chisola is a member of Kabwata Baptist Church. I had just preached a sermon on our church’s 25th anniversary in which I spoke in passing about the place of the State in God’s providence. He was elated because this was something he had just read in John Stott’s book, Basic Christianity. So, he shared with me what he was reading and how it was revolutionising his life. On and on he went, sharing with me some of the truths he was finding so refreshing to his soul. He had just discovered “John Stott” the way in which I had discovered him thirty years earlier. Of the 50 titles that came from his pen, let me mention 10 or so of them that impacted me.

1. The Preachers Portrait has always been a pocket guide for me. It deals with some big word pictures of who a preacher is—a steward, a herald, a witness, a father, and a servant. We all need to remember this in an age where the most famous preachers are a far cry from this biblical picture. This little book is worth reading once a year by preachers of the gospel.

2. Our Guilty Silence is a little book on why we are hindered in sharing the gospel and why we should overcome those hindrances. These are: Either we have no compelling incentive even to try to speak, or we do not know what to say, or we are not convinced that it is our job, or we do not believe we shall do any good, because we have forgotten the source of power. The book prepared me as I left university to go and work in the Zambian copper mines. I was determined to share the gospel at whatever cost.

3. Your Mind Matters helped me to love the Lord my God with my mind. Stott wrote against a spirit of anti-intellectualism that was gaining ground among Christians. “Knowledge puffs up,” became a cant phrase and hence the use of the mind was seen as anti-spiritual. Stott shows in this book that we need both knowledge and zeal. I trust that over the years I have not lost sight of this and have tried to live by the principles I learnt from this book.

4. The Baptism and Fullness of the Holy Spirit is a small book that deals with what it really means to be baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit today. It inoculated me against the charismatic movement with its emphasis on ecstasy and tongues in my university days. As ever, Stott was concerned to show what the Bible taught and not simply to support a side in the debate. He put the book of Acts under the torch light of the epistles. I found that helpful.

5. The Lausanne Covenant: An Exposition and Commentary. Will I ever forget the impact that reading this had on my life? It must have been towards the end of my university studies when I stumbled across the Lausanne Covenant. I recall using it to illustrate how Evangelical Christians took evangelism so seriously and, therefore, challenged my fellow Evangelical students that we should be zealous for evangelism if we are to be true to that name.

6. Issues Facing Christians Today was an encyclopaedia for me across the 1980s and the 1990s. I never read it from cover to cover, but often went to it when dealing with some of the vexing issues in my ministry, especially when I had a seminar to handle that dealt with the same topic. I always came away thankful that I had it on my shelf. It has since grown legs.

7. The Cross of Christ. J I Packer referred to this book as John Stott’s masterpiece. It is his magnus opus, and rightly so because the cross is at the very heart of our religion. A friend of mine, Dr Yotham Phiri, read this book over and over again, and thus caused me to put my teeth into it. I did not regret it. Of course, I have often wished that he had gone so far as to speak more clearly of particular redemption. However, what he wrote, he wrote very well.

8. Why I am a Christian. How can I ever forget the book that led to my dad’s conversion? How much of it dad actually read I am not sure. However, I bought it for him when one day I saw him enter the Christian bookstore before he was even converted. So, I thought he needed to be challenged about Christianity from a man with a brilliant mind. It was not long after that when dad began to walk with Christ. So, I owe a great debt to this book.

9. Christian Counter-Culture. This book is basically a series of expositions based on the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. Together with Lloyd-Jones book, these were the two that made my day when I was preaching through this passage at KBC. Other The Bible Speaks Today commentaries by John Stott have also been worthy references on my bookshelf. I think here of the ones he wrote on Acts, Romans, and Ephesians. Stott was a clear Bible commentator.

10. Let me end with The Birds Our Teachers. I love bird watching. I know that it is not a very African trait. However, when a UK friend learnt of this love of mine, he gave me Stott’s book. I was excited to learn that he was a bird lover. I devoured it from cover to cover in almost a single sitting. Since then, when I am asked about my bird watching hobby, I tell people that I am simply obeying the Lord. It was he who said, “Look at the birds” (Matt. 6:26). This book shows some biblical lessons we can learn from the habits of birds.

Well, good old Uncle John has gone to his rest. What shall we say in conclusion? Someone has said, “Buy everything that this author has written.” You may not agree with everything he has said, but will still be the better for it. It will certainly be infinitely more profitable to your soul than all the songs put together that Amy Winehouse has sung!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Come and see what the children can do!

"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more" (Matthew 25:14-16).

By now some of you would have guessed that I love photography--and your guess is correct. Hence, every time there is "something" happening, I love to rush there with my camera and take some photos. I am not yet a pro but I think that with a little more practice I may soon get there.

Last Friday, our church school (Eagles Nest Primary School), had an entrepreneurship exhibition. The children were challenged to make something with their hands--whatever they were talented to do--and bring it to school. Out of those that were made the best were then polished up a little more for this final exhibition. Parents were encouraged to come, see, and buy, in order to encourage the children. The school teachers wanted to show the children that if they worked hard with their hands it would pay.

Below are some photos of the event with a few words to explain what each photo is all about. If some of the products look too good to be produced by primary school kids, I also thought so. So, you are in good company. For now, here is a rare "light reading" to give you some idea of what kids in Africa are doing.

Chelsea Football Club logo made out of beads

Presidential Affairs Minister, Hon Ronald Mukuma, who was the guest speaker

The exhibition banner that was hanging on the stage curtains

Some pupils with decorated flower vases and a house model

Framed "picture" made of banana leaves and grass showing typical village life

Mrs Honester Kumwenda--the school headteacher
A model of a house that will remain a dream for many Zambians

Our two late presidents drawn with a black pen and framed--excellent!

Parents looking at exhibitions while kids pray that their items will be bought

I was asked to preach to the parents and the children during the event

The children singing "How deep the Father's love for us"

"The stoning of Stephen" made out of very small seeds and framed

A "car" made out of an empty plastic container and empty cans

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whom should we vote for in this year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections?

Rupiah Bwezani Banda
Our national Presidential and Parliamentary elections are upon us once again. They come round every five years. It is very evident from almost all the adverts that we are seeing that the political players are jostling one another in order to get our attention and our votes. Each side is breaking the rules when the ref looks the other way to score as many goals as possible. Hence, no doubt, the most important question on the minds of each Zambian that is eligible to vote, and has registered as a voter is, “Whom should I vote for in this year’s elections?”

Michael Chilufya Sata
At presidential level, the hottest race is certainly between the incumbent president, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and the opposition leader, Michael Chilufya Sata, of the Patriotic Front (PF). The press, church leaders, former presidents, and chiefs are all being sucked in to say that they are supporting one or the other of these two candidates. Mercenaries are obviously taking advantage of this and raking in some quick cash by promising to campaign for particular presidential and parliamentary candidates. This is Africa!

As pastors, we do not think that it is our responsibility to give you a specific name in answer to the question, “Whom should we vote for?” (although some religious leaders have already done so). However, we will be failing in our duty if we do not give you basic guiding principles. So, I asked my fellow editors of Reformation Zambia to send me their thoughts on this. Below are the very first answers that have been sent to me. I will keep adding to this list as the others respond. I hope that you will find these answers helpful in at least removing the cobwebs from your minds and enabling you to think more clearly on this vital subject.

Finally, before you read the wise counsel below, it needs to be stated that you will most likely not find a candidate the perfectly suits the descriptions below. The idea is not for you to choose the ideal candidate but the better—dare I say, the best among the worst? Whether you vote or not, we will have a president by the end of the year. So, cast your vote for the person who best approximates the picture painted below, even if he is “the best among the worst”.

* * * * * * *

Isaac Makashinyi: As we gear ourselves for the elections this year, we are being bombarded by numerous political messages by those who wish to convince us why they are better candidates than others. In these political messages, most candidates scarcely spend time pointing us to their own personal virtues. Instead, they channel their energies towards depreciating and discrediting the other candidates. As those who wish to be objective, God-fearing and pray for greater maturity in our politics, we must raise the standard high for all those canvassing for our votes, and refuse to buy into their political chicanery.

Look for integrity in their lives. They cannot be perfect, just like anyone of us are not, but they should not compromise on the core values that build trust, respect and the confidence of the electorate in all areas of life. Look for a selfless, servant heart. Do they care enough for the people they wish to serve and are they willing to pour their lives into improving our lot as Zambians? Power breeds pride, and proud leaders are a liability to the nation and often manipulate people and laws to perpetuate their hold on political office, so look for humility in those who must ascend to public office. Look for intellectual capacity, clear-headedness and articulate vision for the country; look for a respect for the laws and institutions of government, and an ability to unite and galvanise all Zambians to a better tomorrow.

* * * * * * *

Kabwe Kabwe: Voting is all about making choices, sad to say that some people decide on a candidate when they are in the booth and not before the day of elections. The question on who to vote for in this year’s elections, reminds me of the vital question, “How would Jesus vote if He was among us?  Ram Gidoomal a Christian British businessman stood for Mayor of London in 2000 and failed to go through, he then wrote a reflective book entitled ‘How would Jesus vote?’ Let me paraphrase some of Gidoomal’s reflections on what to look for in our national leaders in this year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Basically, there are six areas in which we should probe our candidates:
1. How committed are they with issues of social justice, i.e. the injustice and inequality in our society.
2. Issues of respect for human life. Do they respect the sanctity of life and the rest of God’s creation?
3. Are they committed to peace building? How do they handle conflict?
4. Issues of compassion. Are they broken by the levels of poverty and underdevelopment of our communities? Is there any discontentment in them when they see the dehumanizing results of structural sins of selfishness in society?
5. Issues of stewardship. Can we entrust and trust them with the country’s resources and are they accountable?
6. Do they exhibit any professional capacity to bring about empowerment to free people and the nation from archaic living conditions?

All politicians make promises. However, it is important before we consider the promise that we look at the person making the promises. We need to know as much about that candidate as we can and then look at the policy being promised. Can s/he translate it into action?

* * * * * * * *

Victor Kanyense: Let me answer the question by restating four biblical principles that assist me process such issues. I will just state the first two, but settle on the next two. The first two are what we will need to be doing: praying and participating. The next two are what we will need to be looking for: performance and proficiency. “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” Ah, that is talking about elders in the church. Are you suggesting we vote only those who would qualify to be elders in our churches? Now, that would really be an achievement in managing political office. 

However, I simply wish to borrow one sphere of an ecclesiastical officer’s qualifications and apply it to our discourse. It is really what Paul says after making that statement that is of interest: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” This question follows immediately, providing the rationale for the foregoing statement. One’s proven track record, demonstrating performance and proficiency in domestic management, provides insight to what to expect once elected. What you see, is what you get!

* * * * * * *

Kennedy Sunkutu: I have heard people say, "We need a change. It’s too much of this MMD government. Let’s try others this time." I suspect, if my guess is correct, what such people are saying is, “Let’s have change without any serious considerations as to who it is that we are voting in, as long as we have different people this time around.” I disagree! It’s not enough just to have change. If we do vote, we need to give a serious thought as to whom we vote for.

To my mind, a basic qualification for any leader, especially those who are to occupy public office, is that it must be a person who, over the years has been able to manage himself/herself. Leadership begins at an individual level. It must be somebody who has learnt to discipline and conquer self. Self-discipline is key to any person that occupies public office. We cannot afford to entrust public resources—taxpayers’ money—to the signature of one who has never shown any level of self-sacrifice.

A person whose track record shows no self discipline in their life is not qualified to lead. So, dear friends, do not vote for a person who at work just waits for the next workshop, and won’t even allow their juniors to attend such workshops for obvious reasons. Do not vote for a man who sees every woman (or a woman who sees every man) as a potential bedmate. Do not vote for a person who will not readily obey those in authority or those above them. Do not vote for a person with a record of being lazy and very disorganised at work or even at home.

Rather, vote for someone with a track record of genuine hard work, and who is ready to sacrifice for the sake and good of others. Furthermore, vote for someone who is ready to take on tasks that others are avoiding, or hidden tasks that will not even come to the attention of the public. That is the person who is ready to lead.

How well, then, do you know that person you want to vote for? It’s not too late to begin to find out now!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reaching out to prostitutes in the streets of Lusaka

“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach” (Luke 15:1, NLT).

It all began from a series of sermons I took in 2006 on the theme “Biblical Motives for Evangelism”. Towards the end of the year, I preached a sermon in which I argued that one of the biblical motives for evangelism was God’s sovereign election. We must be persuaded that in the midst of every grouping of people God has his elect people whom he intends to save. In order to drive the point home, I stated that some of God’s elect are presently prostitutes in the streets of Lusaka. God expects us to reach out to them with the blessed gospel of his grace. I mentioned that in order to reach them we needed to go out of our comfort zone, just as a fisherman goes to the river to catch fish.

That week, God touched one of the women in the church—Prisca Phiri. She asked her husband to drive her in the middle of the night to a spot where she usually saw prostitutes lined up to be picked up by men. Upon getting there, her husband remained in the car while she started speaking to these women. She was shocked to discover that most of them were not opposed to hearing the gospel from her. They patiently listened and asked very personal and practical questions about true repentance and faith.

Prostitution is rife in Zambia and is a major cause of AIDS
However, convincing them to leave their trade that evening was next to impossible. These women asked, “If we stop what we are presently doing, how shall we feed our children at home? We have no other source of income—absolutely none!” Not wanting to promise what she could not deliver, Prisca emphasised that if they gave their lives to Christ, God would be their Father in heaven and would hear their cry for provisions. To many, that sounded like “a pie in the sky”. However, that first evening she managed to convince one of them to go back home and she even drove her there with a promise that she would return to help her spiritually and materially the next day.

Outreach to the prostitutes begins in earnest
The next day, Prisca came to my office and recounted her experience the previous evening. With eyes full of tears, she said, “Pastor, my heart went out to those women that I always just pass by. They are truly needy. We need to do something for them.” I urged her to share her experience with the church and especially with the women’s ministry in the church. Thankfully, the women’s ministry took this challenge up—hook, line and sinker. That was how the church’s outreach to street* girls was born in 2006.

The strategy our ladies used was that of meeting with the prostitutes at night and seeking to persuade them to be taken back home, with a view that the next day they would get a home visit from the church. Once any of them accepted to do so, they would be taken back to their home. The ladies would begin conducting evangelistic Bible studies in their homes and also invite them to church on Sunday. The women, strangely enough, would also invite their neighbours to come and hear the gospel in their homes.

A recently converted "street girl" helping by the bedside of my sick sister
As God would have it, some of these street girls began coming to church. They would normally sit together and so they became easily identifiable. A few women in the church began to fear for the “safety” of their husbands and, consequently, of their marriages. Thankfully, these fears were soon set aside as one by one these women started yielding their lives to Christ, being baptised, and joining the church.

“Jesus would be in my sitting room!”
My wife, Felistas, joined this ministry to street girls soon after its commencement and it immediately changed the chemistry of our Sunday afternoons. Due to the fact that the manse is on the church compound, it was convenient for the street girls who started coming to church to spend their afternoons together in our home for discipleship lessons. To give them maximum freedom, after joining them for lunch, I would hide myself away but would hear their conversations as the newly converted ones shared the gospel with others who were not yet converted. They often shared their testimonies as a way to encourage their friends who thought that Jesus could not forgive such a dark past. On a few occasions, upon eavesdropping on the conversation among them, I would send a text message to the elders saying, “I know where Jesus would be this afternoon if he was physically present on earth. He would be in my sitting room! See Luke 15:1.”

SMB, a former "street girl", now working as a traffic controller
 I recall one day in 2007 hearing one of them ask my wife during one of those Sunday afternoon sessions if she could pray right there and then for God to pardon her. No sooner had she started praying than she broke down and started wailing like an African woman who had lost her only child. She pleaded with the Lord to save her and indeed he did so. Later that year I baptised her and welcomed her into the membership of the church. She is presently a very committed church member and has been instrumental in bringing others to the church to hear the gospel. She also participates in the evening street outreach because she wants her friends to also experience Christ’s salvation. Felistas recently told me of a street girl who recently professed faith in Christ because she said if Christ could change her friend’s heart then there was hope for her as well.

My greatest joy (apart from eavesdropping on those Christ-exalting conversations in our lounge) has been to see some of these street girls come forward to testify of Christ’s saving grace through the waters of baptism. It is truly overwhelming to imagine that in the midst of those in our communities who drink of sin as if it was water there are those upon whom God set his affections before time began. It is even more wonderful to behold them as they seek to live for God’s glory in the church among the saints of God.

SMB joyfully helping school children cross the road safely
Finding them legitimate forms of income
The greatest challenge that our ladies ministry has had to wrestle with is how to help these women who were getting converted to find another means of livelihood. Merely giving them money was unsustainable. Giving them loans to start small scale businesses looked plausible, but it soon became apparent that to do business you needed to have business acumen, and they did not have that. They tried to conduct workshops for them, thinking that it was a problem of lack of knowledge, but that did not work. So, many of them have been kept on short term jobs while more long term opportunities are being awaited. Pray with them that God would open doors for legitimate forms of employment.

[* Before these ladies became part of our church, we easily called them “prostitutes”. However, now that a number of them are regularly present in our worship services, this term has proved very difficult to use in order not to be offensive to them. We are also unwilling to adopt the worldly phrase “sex workers” because sex is not work! So, we have settled for the phrase “street girls” until we can find a term that is more suitable.]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abigail Zulu—The Rare Jewel—Remembered

“As by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Abigail's tombstone prior to the unveiling
Last year at this time I wrote a blog post entitled, “Abigail Zulu (1958-2010)—A Rare Jewel Indeed”. Last Saturday, I attended a simple but God-glorifying memorial event in honour of this same lady. It primarily involved the unveiling of her tombstone and a meal for all invited guests. At the grave site, Mr Kapanji brought God’s Word to us from 1 Corinthians 15, that powerful passage on the Christian’s blessed hope. The truth that all die in Adam and all are made alive in Christ was expounded in all its clarity. We were reminded of Horatio Gates Spafford’s circumstances when he penned that beautiful hymn that has endeared itself to Christendom,

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well, with my soul”

Mr Kapanji preaching the Word of God
We then heard a number of tributes given by friends (Esther Mbao, Anne Themba read by her daughter, Joyce Hibajene, and Jennipher Kapanji), and by Abigail's husband and children. The friends recalled Abigail’s love for her God and her family, her clear understanding of Christian doctrine, and her jovial personality. Her daughter, Tamara, who was not present, (among other things) recalled her mother’s early morning visits into her bedroom to say her farewell each morning before leaving for work. Her mother often laid her hand on her forehead, offered a quick prayer to God, and then kissed her.

Below are the tributes given by Abigail’s husband, Levi, and by her eldest son, Isaac, who were both present for the occasion.

Levi Zulu with their son, Isaac, after the unveiling of the tombstone
* * * * * *

Dear Lord:

It was this time last year that you passed through your garden and picked up one of your choice roses by the foothill of a small village outside Mansa. That rose was:

1. A loving wife. I had enjoyed 28 years of happiness with a friend who made me laugh and shared my aspirations in spiritual work and service to God’s people. She was truly a good wife who made me very glad. She was a pillar of support in family matters and came to the assistance of one and all without distinction. She was a wonderful person to know as a wife.

Jennipher Kapanji, Anne Themba's daughter, Joyce Hibajene, Esther Mbao reading tributes
2. A loving mother. She was tenacious in her support to our children and always reminded me of a Tigress in protection of her brood. She nursed the boys single-handedly whenever my work took me away from home in the earlier parts of my career. She loved her children dearly and would pray long into the night for each individual one. She would pass notes of encouragement to each one of them at any of their times of need. She would spend long hours on the phone to them encouraging them with interjections of “Umvela? Umvela?” ("Are you listening? Are you sure you're listening?")

3. A business partner. At work, she shielded me from situations that would have worn me down. She would detect anxiety in me over certain situations and would come down the steps of my office with her usual cheerful greeting of ,“ Yes, ba Daddy,” and would go on to steady my nerves about the particular situation. The office would hear her characteristic laugh as she would joke with the Gardener and Director alike.

4. A spiritual partner. She was a true partner in gospel preaching and in the work of the Lord from the humble labours at Mufulira’s Pax Hall Assembly, through to Lilanda Gospel Hall, on to Katete, Lilanda again, then Gaborone, Selebi Phikwe and Lilanda. She made our home fellowships very easy by readily opening our home to one and sundry and to Assembly gatherings.

5. A loving Daughter. She had constant concern for parents from both our sides and would often meet needs that I was not even aware of. She was a loving and caring daughter.

There are many attributes that I could go on to describe with respect to the friend that she was, the neighbour that she was, the Auntie that she was and the spiritual mother that she was to many but time would fail me.

Levi Zulu laying a wreath on his late wife Abigail's tombstone
That, dear Lord, is the rose that you picked that Friday morning of 9th July 2010. You afforded me the opportunity to hear her laugh just two hours before you called her away. I know that I will see her in a soon coming day because of the hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

* * * * * *

Isaac wrote:

Mum was always loving and caring. She would never stop giving advice. How I remember how she would spend long hours in my room even after the family had prayed together to close the night. She would come into my room and continue long into the night sharing the word of God and giving me advice about life.

She had such a concern for us as her children and would be affected by each of our situations. We knew that she was praying for us. On one occasion when she was with me in Perth, this is what she wrote on 20th November 2009:

Levi standing with friends from their university days 30 years ago
“Hi Sonny,

As you will be facing your last exam for the semester, listen to this...2 Corinthians 12 vs 9. God says here that “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God is great and He gives grace to do, manage and to bear up in all life’s circumstances. He alone is strong above ALL, the God of grace and full of compassion; our dependable God who is from everlasting to everlasting; God who loves you so dearly and tenderly. May He cause you to excel and be successful in this exam and cause your life to shine for Him. Always give thanks to Him for all things. Loving Mum.”

Such was Mum’s constant concern and care for me and my brother, sister and cousins. May her soul rest in eternal peace.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Sunday at Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:1-2).

Due to the very serious illness of my younger sister, Irene, I cancelled my recent preaching trip to the USA and Brazil so that I could be around for her. That meant that I now had three free Sundays in a row. I decided to use them to visit our church-plants around Lusaka. Yesterday, I went to Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church, situated in a fairly well to do area with 5 acre plots of land. I was greatly encouraged by what I found there.

The banner outside the school premises with the church details
The Background
Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church started as an outreach work to the boys at the Old MacDonald’s Farm. Don and Christine MacDonald came to Zambia in 2001 and bought their farm in 2006 in their quest to foster street boys. Don is an accountant working in business, while Christine is a gynaecologist. For more on them and their children’s home, visit their website (www.omfzambia.com/index.html). As a church, we came alongside them by having church services on their farm. Every Sunday, a number of our members would drive there and conduct these services in their home. In due season, one of our deacons, Kasango Kayombo (who is also doing ministerial training), took up leadership of these Sunday services and became the regular preacher there.

With time, Don and Christine suggested that we seriously consider starting a church so that the people in the neighbourhood could also benefit from the sound preaching of God’s Word. We took long to take up this challenge though the services continued in their home. A blanket visitation was done in the area by a number of our church members, which resulted in a few more people beginning to attend the services.

Emmanuel Mkandawire leading the worship service
It soon became evident that the services needed to be held in a more “neutral” place so that people did not feel that they were simply going to someone’s home for church. Thus a serious search commenced and at the end of 2010 we were offered the use of a classroom at the Lusaka East School for the services. Thus on March 6, we finally officially launched the Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church. We encouraged our members who live in Ibex Hill and in the surrounding residential areas (from Kabulonga, all the way to Avondale) to have their morning services there.  From the very beginning, the attendance was too big for the classroom; hence a white tent is now used for the meetings. The regular attendance has since grown to about 100 children and adults.

Part of the congregation at Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church
Today’s Experience
Emmanuel Mkandawire led the worship service. It was good to notice the combination of English and Nyanja hymns, to cater for the wide breadth of people in attendance. Although the average person in attendance is conversant in English, there are a number of farm workers who also attend the services—hence the need for two languages. Even the preacher interspersed his preaching with Bemba.

"Pastor" Kasango Kayombo preaching the everlasting gospel
Finally, we came to the high point in the service—the preaching of God’s Word. “Pastor” Kasango Kayombo was preaching on the Parable of the Lost Coin from Luke 15. He told us that Jesus told this parable as one of three parables in answer to the murmurings of Israel’s religious leaders that he was fraternising with sinners. The heart of Jesus’ answer was that this was his actual mission. Kasango went on to show us in which sense we were all sinners. We were sinners by nature and we were wilful sinners. He then showed us the way in which Jesus welcomes sinners. He stepped out of heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary, obeyed the full law of God on our behalf, and paid the price of our sin by his death on the cross. All that was in the introduction and was just a recap of ground already covered in previous sermons!

In this sermon, “Pastor” Kayombo showed how Jesus welcomes sinners through the gospel of light. Jesus is referred to as the light of the world and this light comes to us today through the preaching of the gospel. He showed how we all resist this light upon first being exposed to it, but in due season the Holy Spirit prevails over our stubborn wills. He emphasised the fact that the coming of missionaries, preachers, and even personal evangelists to share the gospel with us is a direct work of Christ in his quest to bring us to himself. Our right response to all this must be heartfelt repentance and faith in him who has loved us so much despite our sin.

Kasango greeting the congregation at the end of the worship service
We closed the service by singing the hymn, “Jesus, my Lord, to Thee I cry,” which is a very fitting gospel hymn. It was a glorious service. I was particularly glad that the gospel was preached with all the affections of the Saviour fully displayed.

Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church has just begun. The MacDonalds have offered to subdivide their farm so that part of it could belong to the church. All we need now are funds to put up the church building. I suspect that the Lord has also already given us a pastor for the church, but since I am not a prophet we must leave matters there for now. I pray that over the coming years, Ibex Hill Reformed Baptist Church will grow and continue to shed forth the light of the gospel for the salvation of sinners in Ibex Hill and in the regions beyond. Amen!