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!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our 2012 Missions Conference—What A glorious Time It Was!

“The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3).

Straight from our missionaries’ prayer retreat (which I reported on in the last two blog posts), we began our in-house missions conference—and what a conference it was! It ran from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th January 2012. Whereas we had begun our missionaries’ prayer retreats many years ago, this was only our fifth missions conference. We are glad to note that it has not yet fallen into the category of “one of those things,” which members do not really bother about.

Our conference banner by the road side, with a drunken man sleeping on the grass
(living proof that our missions work starts right at our doorstep!)
I would like to urge Zambian and African evangelical churches to include missions conferences in their annual calendars. As I wrote in my blog this time last year, I wish we had started this earlier. It has really put our involvement in missions work in top gear. This is not a marketing gimmick. I can safely say that our missions involvement would probably be less than 10% of what it presently is if it was not for our in-house missions conference.

Our missionaries answering questions from the congregation
Our missions conference has three goals. The first is to increase prayer for missions. This is done as our missionaries give presentations on how their work has been in the last one year and what they are hoping for in the year to come. The second is to increase workers for missions. At every missions conference, we send out pleas in the congregation for more church members to answer the call to missions. The third goal is to increase finances for missions. We urge members to pledge a one-off amount during the conference and a monthly amount for the rest of the year. The exponential growth has been particularly observable in the area of finances.

A member of the church asking a question after one of the presentations
In order to ensure an increase in prayer support, as I have already said, the missionaries prepare PowerPoint presentations and share them with the members. KBC presently has eleven missionaries and ten other mission stations without missionaries. So, it was not possible for all of them to show us what they were doing during these few days. However, from the few whose presentations we saw, it was so encouraging to see the people in the mission stations and the work taking place there. Some situations were more challenging than others. Yet all mission stations called for more intense prayer support. It was nice to notice that the presentations improve every succeeding year.

Three ladies in the church singing "People Need The Lord" to the congregation
This year our preacher was Ronald Kalifungwa, pastor of Lusaka Baptist Church. The theme was “The Role of Ordinary Church Members in Missions”. On the first day (Thursday), Ronald urged our members to make KBC a true spiritual home for missionaries. On the second day (Friday), he preached on the importance of each member contributing financially and in practical ways to the work of missions. On the third day (Saturday), he preached to us about ensuring that prayers are ever rising to God on behalf of the work of missions. And finally, on the fourth day (Sunday), he preached on the various imperatives that go with the preaching ministry. This was an ordination address because we were ordaining yet another missionary.

Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa preaching during the conference
Sunday, the last day of the conference, was particularly special because of two reasons. The first was the ordination of Kasango Kayombo as a missionary. He is presently one of our deacons and has already been very active in a church plant that we commenced officially at the start of last year. The more he laboured there the more his sense of call was confirmed, both in his own heart and in those who witnessed his labours. Hence, when last November he came to the elders asking that he be set apart as a missionary, both the elders and the congregation gave him an overwhelming endorsement. Sunday was the culmination of the whole process. It felt like the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1-4), only they sent two of their elders. What a joy it was to see yet another soldier being sent out to the battlefront to fight for the salvation of souls and the crown rights of Christ!

Part of the congregation inside the auditorium on Sunday morning
The second reason why Sunday was special was because that is when we take the offering and pledges for the work of missions for the next year. We then have lunch together before we announce the figures to the congregation. We call this, “The grand announcement.” I will admit that, as a pastor, this is usually my most anxious moment. I will also admit that so far I have felt totally rebuked afterwards for my lack of faith in God and in God’s people. This year was no exception. The church gave twice the amount that we targeted for the one-off amount and the monthly pledge went up by 36%. Whereas the one-off amount is as good as banked (and distributed to various projects in the mission field), pray for our members to remain faithful in fulfilling their monthly pledge to the work of missions so that our missionaries can be well supplied.

Part of the congregation had to sit outside for lack of space
As yet another missionary conference comes to an end, I do not pat KBC on the back because I know that there is much, much more that we can do. However, when I look at the little that we have been able to do thus far, and then look at the potential that lies untapped in our conservative evangelical churches in Zambia, and in Africa as a whole, I wish that all our churches had such conferences. We need to give the work of missions a more visible place in our church calendars. Pastors must campaign for the work of missions. Missiologists will tell you that Africa has the potential to become the next greatest force for world missions. Oh, that we may wake up this sleeping giant!

The ordination of Kasango Kayombo as KBC's latest missionary pastor

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Faithfulness Is Important—But It Is Not Enough

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Our missionaries’ prayer retreat ended today. One of the issues that we dealt with is a perennial one—“How should a preacher handle his lack of converts?” One answer that I often hear and have never quite agreed with is, “God has never called us to be successful but to be faithful. So, what matters is your faithfulness.” In one sense the answer is correct, but in another it is defective. Let me explain.

One of the most appropriate biblical texts that shows the importance of faithfulness in a preacher is 1 Corinthians 4:2, where the apostle Paul says, “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” In the light of this, anyone who sacrifices faithfulness to God in order to have numbers in his church is not a true servant of God.

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
(painting by Michelangelo in 1512)
Not faithfulness but love
However, my argument is that the chief virtue in Christianity is not faithfulness but love. Love is the queen of all graces. Paul wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Faithfulness is an expression of love. In this context, faithfulness must be seen as the way a servant loves his master. This is seen in all vertical relationships. A wife expresses her love to her husband by submitting to him. Children express their love for their parents by obeying them. Slaves, servants, and employees express their love for their masters and employers by being faithful to them. Hence, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, Paul says that men ought to regard preachers as servants of Christ and preachers must express their love to him by being faithful.

However, when a preacher is wrestling with his spiritual barrenness, what bothers him is not so much the expression of his love for his Master but the expression of his love for sinners for whom Christ died. Granted, in seeking “numbers” one may be tempted to use gimmicks in order to get “decisions for Christ”. Yet, the men I was with this week are well decided as to faithfulness to their Master. They love him too much to resort to underhanded ways.

An artist's depiction of Hannah praying for a baby
Faithfulness alone cannot satisfy
So that is not the question. And it is not fair to make them forget about their longing to see souls saved by assuring them that at least their faithfulness to God is still in tact. That is like trying to comfort Hannah in her barrenness by pointing to her relationship with her husband, Elkanah. He tried that method when he said, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8). Well, we know that for Hannah that was not the issue. She desperately wanted a child!

In the same way, the barren preacher is wrestling with how to come to terms with his barrenness in the light of his love for souls. He will not be satisfied with the fact of his faithfulness to God. He wants to see the eyes of the spiritually blind opened. He wants to “turn men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith” in Christ (Acts 26:18). He is not trying to do this out of a sense of duty. The love of God for the lost pulsates in his soul.

Think about this: No medical doctor worthy of his calling would content himself with faithfully discharging his duty to his employers if none of his patients are recovering. I have met with a few Christian doctors in Africa who are really distraught because of a lack of medicines and basic medical equipment, resulting in many of their patients dying from diseases that under normal circumstances they can cure. They are faithful but that does not satisfy them. They want to save lives. Now, if that is true of those who save bodies from death, how much more should it be true of preachers who save souls from an eternal damnation?

A resident doctor examining a patient in Africa
Biblical examples of barren preachers
So, we are back to the first question: How should a preacher handle his lack of converts? His love for God has continued to express itself in faithfulness to God. But how should his love for souls express itself in the light of his spiritual barrenness? I want to suggest that the answer lies in simply looking at biblical examples of barren preachers. How did they handle this? They certainly did not content themselves with merely being faithful. No, love for souls caused them to cry to God for fruit. They wept, they groaned, they pleaded with God for souls.

In the Old Testament, we have an example of a “barren prophet”. His name is Jeremiah. He had preached repentance among the Israelites but instead of heeding his warnings they persecuted him. In the end, God’s judgement fell upon them. Jeremiah did not content himself with faithfulness to his God. No, Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Listen to him: “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1). A love for souls makes a strong man weep.

In the New Testament, we have yet another example of a “barren preacher”. His name was Paul. Whereas he had an abundant harvest among the Gentiles, Paul was ever burdened about his apparent lack of fruit among his fellow Jews. In Romans 9, Paul explains the hardness of the Jews towards the gospel as being due to God’s purpose in election. Yet, as he begins this chapter, he exhibits deep and tender affections towards his kinsmen. Paul speaks with intensity when he testifies, “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Romans 9:1-4). Paul was faithful to God, but that was not enough. He yearned for the salvation of the Jews.

Whereas it would not be quite right to refer to Jesus as a barren preacher, yet we know that he was despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3). How did he handle that? Did he simply content himself with his faithfulness to the Father and his knowledge that only elect sinners will ever get saved, and thus shrug off the rejection of sinners that he suffered? Well, the Bible gives us a peep into the soul of the Saviour as on one occasion he looked at the city of Jerusalem as he was descending into it. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42). The love of the Saviour for lost sinners compelled him to weep.

The wailing wall in Jerusalem, the city over which Jesus wept
And so pray and plead for souls
What are we learning from these men “of like passion as we are”, and from others who have had to wrestle with barrenness? It is that true love for souls cannot be satisfied with faithfulness to God. It is a tragedy in Reformed circles when men insulate themselves from this brokenness of soul by the doctrine of election or by a claim to “faithfulness to God”.  Where do we find this in the Bible? Nowhere! Rather, like barren Rachel crying to Jacob, we should constantly plead with God, saying, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1).

In seasons of barrenness, we should plead with our congregations to pray for us. We should have seasons of prayer and fasting, humbling ourselves before God and asking that he would allow our eyes to see some of the fruit of the travail of our souls and be satisfied. In pastors’ fraternals we should confess to one another about the sadness in our souls because of the lack of fruit in terms of souls being saved. This should issue in tearful prayers for fruit. That is how love ought to respond to barrenness. Faithfulness is important—but it is not enough!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Kabwata Baptist Church Annual Missions Week Is Here!

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2).

Yesterday, all our missionaries trooped back to base for our annual in-house missions week. I remain most grateful that every year, since we started this special missions week, we have 100% attendance by these men. Some of them are able to come with their wives, but others are not able to due to family demands—especially those with younger children who are still in school.

Raphael Banda, one of our missionaries, presenting on ensuring biblical church membership
The first event in the missions week is the missionaries prayer retreat. This began last night. We are hidden away at a lodge, reviewing the previous year and strategizing for the year ahead. Last night, it was a time of fellowship as we shared testimonies from the previous year and prayed for one another. This morning presentations have begun. This will go on up to tomorrow evening.

On Thursday, our missions conference begins. Ronald Kalifungwa, the pastor of Lusaka Baptist Church, will be our main preacher. He will be handling the theme, “The Role of Ordinary Church Members in the Work of Missions.” These meetings will go on up to Sunday morning, ending with an ordination service. We will be sending out our latest church-planting missionary (Kasango Kayombo), who is presently one of our church deacons.

The missionaries having fellowship on the first evening of the prayer retreat
Pray for us, as we go through this week. The work of missions is so important that we would hate to see our members and missionaries going through this week as “just one of those things”.  This is where God’s heart is. He gave his Son for the salvation of the world! We long to see our members going beyond Africa’s major cities. We want to reach Africa’s rural areas, where cults and ethnic religions are really flourishing. We want to get to the world’s citadels of Islam and Hinduism. We want to be used of God to reach the Jews in the Middle East and the atheistic communists in the Far East. These places desperately need to hear the world’s best news. May God make us relevant to the unfinished task!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bible Colleges Worth Attending in Zambia--The Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia

[I begin this blog by welcoming my 100th “follower”, Nathaniel Penland. I keep my eyes on the counter, and so was waiting with bated breath for 100 to appear. As I said before, it is good to know that there are 100 people out there who have joined the club of ardent followers. Thanks!

This week’s Bible College Worth Attending in Zambia is the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia, located right here in Lusaka. It was one of the very first efforts by Baptists in Zambia to provide residential theological training and clocks 45 years this year. I will allow the Academic Dean, Dr John McPherson, to take us by the hand through this introductory blog.]

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2, NIV).

From a central campus and eighteen local training centers in the southern African country of Zambia the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia (BTSZ) provides contextualized theological training to God-called and gospel-committed leaders to reach people for Christ and gather them into reproducing congregations. We are here to prepare godly leaders for a worldwide church.

The Seminary campus is located on a 22 acre tract of land in the south-eastern section of Lusaka, Zambia, along Twin Palm Road. This rapidly growing residential area provides opportunity for community-based ministry. In addition students have the opportunity to ministry in numerous local training centers spread throughout the country. Zambia has proven to be a highly responsive place for gospel preaching and church planting and development.

Student doing an assignment in the seminary library
The Baptist Theological Seminary opened its first classes in January 1967, with a student body of five men and four women. The first classes were held at the Baptist Building on the Great East Road near downtown Lusaka.

By 1968, some residences for student housing had been constructed on the 22 acre campus on Twin Palm Road in southeast Lusaka. Classes were then shifted to the campus with men and women meeting separately for classes in two of the student houses. This arrangement continued until the main educational building (classrooms, offices, temporary library, kitchen, etc.) was completed.

A separate library building was completed in 1988, and presently holds 15,000 volumes and Internet facilities, followed in 1994 by a 350 seat Chapel. Finally, a conference center, including lodging and meeting facilities, was completed in 2005.

The Seminary is presently at Candidate Status, the final step before full accreditation, with the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA). BTSZ is governed by a Board of Governors appointed by the Baptist Fellowship of Zambia, composed of over 1,500 Baptist congregations throughout the country. We continue to work in partnership with the Baptist Mission of Zambia, the International Mission Board, and Southern Baptist Convention.

A section of the seminary chapel that can seat 350 congregants
The Seminary welcomes for study students from among Baptists and other groups compatible with conservative evangelical Christian beliefs. We thank God for a total of 261 graduates who are now serving throughout the country in various ministries such as pastoral, chaplaincy, para-church, and educational work. Our particular foci for study are the interpretation and proclamation of Holy Scripture, and practical experience in ministry. Both our programs of study and faculty are designed for these purposes.

Faculty, both full-time and adjunct, include: Principal Rev. Ezron Musonda (M.A. in Theology, Cape Town Theological College), Academic Dean Dr. John McPherson (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Business Manager/Instructor Rev. Misheck Zulu (M.A. in Theology, Cape Town), Director of Field Education Dr. James Pack (D. Min. in Christian Education, San Francisco Theological Seminary), Registrar Dr. Van Thompson (D. Min. Urban Evangelism, SBTS), Mrs. Misheck Zulu (M.A. in Theology, Cape Town), and Instructor In Biblical Languages Rev. Emile Masabarakiza (M. Div., Golden Gate Theological Seminary).

Former students who graduated in 2010
Our guiding principle is to provide quality, biblical instruction at all the levels required by Baptist churches in Zambia.  We aim to "start wherever they are and go as far as God leads them."

The Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia offers two post-secondary programs of study, the Diploma of Theology (DipTh) and the Bachelor of Theology (BTh). Educational requirements for the Diploma of Theology are completion of Grade 12 and a minimum of five “O” level passes with one of the passes being in English language. Full-time students would normally complete the Diploma of Theology in 3 years. Educational requirements for the Bachelor of Theology degree are completion of Grade 12 and a minimum of five “O” level credits with one of the credits being in English language. Full-time students would normally complete the Bachelor of Theology degree in 4 years.

To meet the needs of those with full-time employment, the Diploma of Theology and Bachelor of Theology are available on a part-time basis in night classes meeting in a downtown setting.  Requirements for these programs are the same as above, but the duration of study is extended.

Principal: Rev Ezron Musonda
For the spouses who do not qualify for either of the post-secondary programs (and other interested parties), BTSZ offers a Women’s Ministry Program. This is a 3-year fulltime, on-campus program, which prepares the student for a supportive ministry in the church and community.

In order to meet the needs of those unable to qualify for the above due to educational background or location, we recognize non-residential training at the Certificate level in 18 centers spread throughout the country. Many of our faculty, current students, and alumni teach in these centers, benefitting both the teachers and students.  As mentioned above we aim to “start wherever they are and go as far as God leads them.”

If you are interested in partnering with the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia as a student, prayer warrior, or supporter, please contact:
Rev. Misheck Zulu baptsem@zamnet.zm
Rev. Ezron Musonda btszambia@zamnet.zm

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Warning To Professing Christians

Some thirty years ago, when I was a university student, I came across a statement by Bishop J C Ryle that powerfully riveted itself to my mind. I made a small A4-size poster of it and put it up on the notice board in my room. I lost it when I graduated from university. Since then I have looked for it and failed to find it. I have tried to Google it, but even that has not yielded the desired fruit. I finally found it today (13 January 2012).

Bishop J C Ryle
All along I had been searching in the wrong place. I knew that the statement had something to do with a warning to Christians. Hence, I kept looking in Ryle’s A Warning To The Churches. I literally searched the book, sentence by sentence, several times over. Now that I have found it, I realise that it was in Ryle’s Holiness. The statement is found in the chapter, “Visible Churches Warned.” I will not reproduce the whole chapter here, as the book is readily available on the Internet. In fact, you can even read a PDF version of the chapter HERE. It is chapter 14 in the book.

The first paragraph below is the statement that shocked me out of my socks some thirty years ago. I have added a few more paragraphs to make this a fuller blog post and to also give my readers some more of the heart of this great bishop. I wish that all bishops today—including myself—could write and preach like this!

* * * * * *
I fear much for many professing Christians. I see no sign of fighting in them, much less of victory. They never strike one blow on the side of Christ. They are at peace with his enemies. They have no quarrel with sin. I warn you, this is not Christianity. This is not the way to heaven.

I often fear much for those who hear the gospel regularly. I fear lest you become so familiar with the sound of its doctrines, that insensibly you become dead to its power. I fear lest your religion should sink down into a little vague talk about your own weakness and corruption, and a few sentimental expressions about Christ, while real, practical, fighting on Christ’s side is altogether neglected. Oh, beware of this state of mind. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). No victory—no crown! Fight and overcome!

Young men and women, and especially those who have been brought up in religious families, I fear much for you. I fear lest you get a habit of giving way to every temptation. I fear lest you become afraid of saying, “No!” to the world and the devil—and when sinners entice you, think it least trouble to consent. Beware, I do beseech you, of giving way. Every concession will make you weaker. Go into the world resolved to fight Christ’s battle—and fight your way on.

…Let me warn all formalists and self-righteous people to take heed that they are not deceived. You fancy you will go to heaven because you go regularly to church. You indulge an expectation of eternal life, because you are always at the Lord’s Table, and are never missing in your pew. But where is your repentance? Where is your faith? Where are your evidences of a new heart? Where is the work of the Spirit? Where are your evidences of regeneration? Oh, formal Christian, consider these questions! Tremble, tremble and repent.

…Let me warn all careless members of churches to beware lest they trifle their souls into hell. You live on year after year as if there was no battle to be fought with sin, the world, and the devil. You pass through life a smiling, laughing, gentleman-like or lady-like person, and behave as if there was no devil, no heaven, and no hell. Oh, careless Churchman, or careless Dissenter, careless Episcopalian, careless Presbyterian, careless Independent, careless Baptist, awake to see eternal realities in their true light! Awake and fight hard for life! Tremble, tremble and repent.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bible Colleges Worth Attending in Zambia--The Central Africa Baptist College & Seminary

[This is my second instalment of blog posts on Bible colleges worth attending in Zambia. As I said last week, I am posting them as their information gets to me. I have watched with amazement at how CABC has grown over the last few years. I have no doubt that if the management and faculty maintain the same ethos, the sky will be the limit for this institution. It is certainly a college worth attending. Let me allow the principal, Phil Hunt, to take us by the hand and show us what is happening there.]

Central Africa Baptist College & Seminary, founded in 2006 in Kitwe, Zambia, exists to “train the next generation of servant-leaders in Africa for Great Commission living.

The beautiful Central Africa Baptist College campus
Central Africa Baptist College has been called into existence for the express purpose of preparing men for the New Testament Gospel ministry. The curriculum has been structured to fulfill this purpose and the faculty is unreservedly committed to this goal. Graduates will have the necessary tools and content material to enable them to take leadership positions and to fulfill their calling adequately whether it be in the home, the pastorate, establishing local churches, the mission field, or in Christian education.

CABC has many distinctives, which justify its founding and continued existence. It is committed totally to the primacy of the New Testament church as God’s ordained instrument of witness and work in this age. It thus trains its students in the ideology and function of the local church. The School emphasizes expository preaching based on a study of the Scriptures considering original languages and settings.

Phil Hunt with the mayor of Kitwe at the official opening of the CABC facilities
Theological education offered by the college flows from the authoritative, inerrant Word of God.  CABC affirms a literal approach to the interpretation of Scripture.  It emphasizes exegesis and Bible exposition courses, all of which are coordinated in a coherent, unified network of systematic theology.  This is accompanied by courses in expository preaching, church history, pastoral theology, church administration, and missions.

The scholastic side of college life is not at the expense of heart preparation for the ministry. A genuine desire to preach and a tenderhearted concern for the souls of men are fostered as best as is known how. A weekly ministry in a local church is required of all students. The practical, pastoral side of the Lord’s work is emphasized in the classroom as well as the academic. Not neglected is one’s personal relationship of obedience to God through the Scriptures. While rejecting various forms of pietism and mysticism, CABC nonetheless attempts to nurture the inner man and enhance the maturing process that any correct exposure to the Word of God will bring.

Some students attending lectures at CABC
Discipleship is the context in which both the practical and academic aspects of the college are carried out.  The staff and faculty are committed to a life-touching-life approach to ministry, in and out of the classroom.  New Testament servanthood demonstrated by Jesus Christ is a vital part of the character development of each.  The administration, faculty, and staff lead by demonstrating humble and sacrificial service to others. No person is beneath being served and no task too humble to be embraced.  This biblical philosophy of servanthood produces leaders who reflect the character of Christ by humbly serving and boldly proclaiming the truth of the gospel.

With such distinctives and philosophy, the college puts forth a product that will meet the need for well-trained and qualified workers in the Lord’s harvest field across Africa. Central Africa Baptist College & Seminary pledges uncompromising loyalty to the Scriptures and remains totally committed to the thorough equipping of men called of God into ministry.

Alfred Nyirenda, a guest lecturer, giving lectures at CABC
Central Africa Baptist College seeks to quench the thirst for theological training in Africa in four specific ways:

1.          The college is organized around the direct presentation of truth in a lecturer-centered classroom situation.  Students attend classes on the college campus either full-time or part-time.
2.          Three times a year, expository preaching block classes are held at the college campus in Kitwe.  These block classes are open to those wishing to advance their theological and ministry training but are unable to enroll for an entire semester.
3.          Extension block classes are offered at various venues across Africa.   These classes are designed to provide theological education to pastors and church leaders unable to leave their ministries and train on the CABC campus.  Extension classes are being conducted in South Sudan, Zimbabwe and in Malawi in 2012.
4.          The Seminary is scheduled to open in 2013. Classes will be offered in a multiple-approach format.  A combination of block classes on the CABC campus, online courses and evening sessions will be the means by which the classes are offered.  The goal is to offer an MDiv.

Attendance at a recent block class with Dr Doran
Central Africa Baptist College offers a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Bible (Theology).  There is a minor for those wishing to serve as Chaplains that includes 30 credit hours of instruction in issues specific to this ministry.  There are immediate plans to expand the degree offering to include a degree in Biblical Counseling and a degree in Education.

A combination of full-time and adjunct faculty faithfully minister in the classroom. These faculty members are drawn from within Africa as well as internationally. 

The academic standards at CABC are equivalent to similar institutions abroad.  After graduating from CABC our students have enrolled internationally in various Masters Degree programmes and are excelling in their studies. CABC will seek regional and/or international accreditation for their degree programmes.

Two smiling graduates!
God has blessed the college with a campus adjacent to the Copperbelt University, off Jambo Drive in Riverside Extension.  There are dormitories for single men and flats for married students.  More information about Central Africa Baptist College can be found on their website www.cabcollege.org.  Those interested in contacting the college can get in touch in the following ways:
Call or text the office at +260977415011. 
On Facebook at CentralAfricaBaptistCollege.
Philip Hunt serves as president at CABC.  He would love to chat with you if you desire more information, are a potential student, or if you would like to host an extension block class in your area. You can contact him through email at phunt@cabcollege.org or on cell at +260976153466.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Tribute To Martin Holdt (1941—2011)

Last night, Ronald Kalifungwa and I returned from South Africa, where we went to attend the funeral of a dear friend and ministerial colleague, Martin Holdt. The family was gracious enough to allow us to attend the burial in the morning before we attended the memorial service in the afternoon. Both events were conducted with God-glorifying dignity and simplicity, befitting the man who was being remembered and whose remains were being buried. I have no doubt that tributes will continue to flow from around the globe in honour of this Mr Valiant-For-Truth. This is my own contribution.

"Yours truly" with Martin Holdt in 2002
I first met Martin Holdt in 1990. I read in a Banner of Truth magazine that the Reformed Baptist Association had been formed in South Africa. Keen on linking up with them, I wrote to inform them about the budding Zambian Reformed Baptist movement. I was invited to attend their next RBA event, which was a training session for black South African pastors. One of the most memorable events there was hearing Martin preach. I returned to Zambia and told the brethren about this powerful and unforgettable preacher. Later in the year, Ronald Kalifungwa and Choolwe Mwetwa accompanied me for yet another visit to the RBA training sessions. When they heard Martin preach, they understood my excitement and we determined to get him to preach in Zambia.

In August 1991, Martin Holdt came (together with Vernon Light) to preach at our small conference. His commitment to preaching in general and to Zambia in particular spoke volumes to us because he left his wife in South Africa fighting with cancer. In the end, he had to leave a day earlier because she suddenly turned for the worse while he was with us. Since then, Martin became an elder brother figure to the burgeoning Reformed Baptist movement in Zambia. We owed a lot to him and learnt a lot from him.
Martin Holdt preaching in Zambia in 1991
I owe a lot to Martin Holdt
Martin Holdt was a true encourager of the brethren. It was because of him that I got a bicycle in 1990, which was to be the chief means of transport for me for the next six years. The church had bought me a bicycle to use in my pastoral work, but it was stolen within a week of its being purchased. Upon my arrival in South Africa, a few days later, I told Martin about it, and he, unbeknown to me, also told some friends of his (Nico and Anita van der Merwe) about it. Well, as I was leaving to return to Zambia, Nico and Anita showed up with a brand new bicycle—with gears—and I took it back with me to Zambia! I often wondered what the thief who stole my previous “Third World” bicycle must have been thinking, seeing me riding my new bike. I am sure he wished he had waited a few days before pouncing on my home. He would have stolen better booty!

Nico and Anita van der Merwe
Martin was also the man who opened the door for my international preaching ministry. He took the risk. It was because of him that I first preached outside Zambia. The first was in South Africa in 1990 and it was at Emmanuel Baptist Church where he pastored. It was also because of him that I first preached outside Africa. He had been asked to preach in Canada in 1992 at the International Baptist Conference in Toronto, but he had to turn that down due to his wife’s ill health. Martin then recommended my name and then wrote to me asking me not to be afraid if I got the invitation. I got the invitation and accepted it with fear and trembling. Thus began my international preaching ministry. In the first decade of this ministry, I often discovered that it was Martin Holdt who first suggested my name to conference organisers wherever I was invited.

When Kabwata Baptist Church finally obtained the piece of land on which we have since built our church auditorium, offices, and ministry centre, Martin made it a personal project to help us raise funds for the building project. He ensured an account was opened in South Africa for this purpose. He also often made appeals whenever I was preaching in South Africa for congregations to give towards our building project. He even seconded to us a handyman (Glen Carlson) from the USA to help us. Hence, in the initial stages of our building project, most of our support came from South Africa.

"Yours truly" on the new bicycle soon after it was purchased
Martin was a man of prayer. Often when we would talk on the phone he would tell me, “My brother and fellow partaker of the heavenly calling, I pray for you everyday.” I wish I could say the same to him. During his memorial service, his daughter brought the cushion on which he knelt for prayer. It was totally worn out. She said that was also the condition of his knees and elbows. I must say that his prayer life put mine to shame.

I should also add the fact that Martin spoke directly into my life whenever he thought things might not be well with me. On one occasion, after I returned from preaching in South Africa, he wrote to me asking if all was well with me. He said that my preaching had lacked unction and a few people had expressed concern about it. He thought I sounded brash and arrogant. On another occasion, he had heard from some brethren that I was studying with a liberal university and was very concerned about it. Whereas others were content to whisper to one another about it, he wanted to discuss the matter directly with me. On both occasions, I appreciated his forthrightness. There were also a few times when we locked horns on doctrinal subjects. We still remained friends despite those times of intense fellowship!

Martin Holdt leading his congregation in the Breaking of Bread
I learnt a lot from Martin Holdt
The first lesson that I learnt from Martin Holdt was to have a single-eyed devotion to Christ. Everything about him revolved around Jesus Christ, as a living and mighty Saviour. This is what informed and inspired his preaching. This is what made him love the church and continue serving in it until the very week of his death. The church was the bride of Christ and the apple of his eye. Martin was willing to spend and be spent for its health and prosperity. He was content to let the world go by—to know no gain or loss—as long as God was glorified, sinners were saved, and the church was edified.

The second lesson that I learnt from Martin Holdt was to love one’s wife and children. In the early years of my knowing Martin, I often ended up being hosted in his home. I observed the tender affection that he had for his wife, Beryl, and children. When his wife was ill with cancer, one could observe how he made her comfort the centre of his attention, until she went to be with the Lord. His greatest longing for his children was their spiritual well being, and on a number of occasions we prayed together for them.

David, Martin Holdt's son, who is pastor of Springs Baptist Church
Another lesson I learnt from Martin Holdt was that sound doctrine was worth fighting for. Martin spearheaded the resurgence of the Reformed Faith in South Africa, especially among Baptists. He was behind the formation of the Reformed Baptist Association—as a rallying point for Baptist churches of a Reformed persuasion in South Africa, enabling them to pool their resources together for the furtherance of the work of God in South Africa. He also spearheaded the formation of Reformation South Africa, a magazine that kept Christians challenged and informed about the progress of the Reformed Faith in South Africa. As he fought valiantly for the truths of God’s elect, he did so with charity. Thus, to the end, he remained within the context of the Baptist Union of South Africa.

Martin Holdt's son, Jonathan (and family)
Jonathan is pastor of Bethany Baptist Church
Yet another lesson that I learnt from Martin Holdt was not only to seek to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit, but also to seek to raise up preachers with similar aspirations. No one can doubt that Martin was one of the greatest preachers in South Africa towards the end of the twentieth century. The Spirit of the Lord was certainly upon him. He often pleaded for prayer that he may preach with unction. No doubt, God heard the prayers of his people on behalf of his servant. Martin, however, wanted to see this high sense of call to expository preaching to be more common in the pulpits of South Africa. Hence, he often held schools of preaching for this purpose. He also started a journal, Preaching and Preachers, which aimed to encourage preachers to preach effectively.

Martin Holdt also loved books. He not only was an avid reader but he also encouraged others to read good books. When he was at Emmanuel Baptist Church he encouraged the growth of the Barnabas Bookroom and during his last pastorate at Constantia Park Baptist Church he also encouraged the growth of the Augustine Bookroom (run by his wife, Elsabe). At every conference he was involved in, he not only ensured that there was a good book-table but he also personally advertised the books. He gave away hoards of good books. I am one of those who benefited from his large heart. Our own church’s Evergreen Christian Bookstore draws inspiration from his example.

Elsabe with her husband, Martin Holdt, in 2009
Martin Holdt died preaching Christ
The last pulpit Martin Holdt preached in outside South Africa was the Kabwata Baptist Church pulpit. By an act of providence, last November he came to Zambia to preach at an inter-church married couples one-day conference, which was hosted at my church. I missed the event as I had only arrived from Brazil that same day. However, the next day, having preached at Lusaka Baptist Church in the morning, Martin preached at Kabwata Baptist Church in the evening. He looked rather tired, but he summoned the energies in him to preach from the text, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). He pleaded with us to seek salvation in Christ. I am glad that the Lord gave me one more chance to meet this valiant knight in shining armour, who had done so much for the cause of Christ in southern Africa. He has now gone to his reward!

Martin Holdt preaching his last sermon at KBC, as if saying, "Farewell my friends!"