In two weeks' time, I will be celebrating 25 years of ministry at Kabwata Baptist Church. Hence, you can well understand that my mind has been riveted onto this subject for the last month or so. 25 years! That is half my life on the planet! I thought I should do a few blog posts on the eve of the silver anniversary. And the very first one is a reflection on the joy that I have had in pastoring KBC for the last 25 years. It has truly been a great joy!
To begin with I must thank the leaders and members of KBC who in July 1987 voted almost unanimously to call me into the pastorate of the church. The church itself had only been in formal existence for a year and a half (since January 1986). I do not think they were desperate—at least not yet. So, for them to call a 25 year old single young man, who had no theological qualifications, to be their pastor had to demand a lot of faith on their part. Today, when I look at 25 year olds in my congregation, I say, “No way! What were they thinking?”
I must thank my dear wife, Felistas, who has stood by my side from the start of my pastorate. We got married on 2 January 1988, a few months into my pastorate. At the time of our wedding, I had no home to bring her into but the church deacons were working frantically to ensure that after our honeymoon we would walk into our own home—which we did. Phew! She knew that this was going to be a life of sacrifice and was willing to work double shift—as a wife/mother and as a breadwinner, like the noble wife of Proverbs 31—so as to ensure that our little family was well supplied. To her I must say, “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” More on this on 2 January 2013—our silver wedding anniversary!
I also want to use the opportunity to thank my children for their unflinching support. It has been good to see the children grow up, come to faith in Christ, and begin serving the Lord in the church. We are like one small army with a common passion to see souls saved and the church make progress. Over weekends, you see this one preparing the songs to be sang, another one is preparing the equipment for recording the sermons, another is helping with cleaning the auditorium, etc., while “yours truly” is also busy preparing the sermons. May this zeal continue long after the Lord scatters us in different directions as jobs and marriages empty the nest. Jesus is worth serving for life!
What has brought me the greatest joy in KBC itself? I would like to begin with the leadership. We had our periods of difficulties. In the earlier years the difficulties were primarily doctrinal, as I steamrolled resistance to the Reformed Faith in the life of the church. Remember, I was a young man. Then in latter years, some of our difficulties were primarily related to personalities. However, on the whole, we have had excellent men serving both as elders and deacons. Many times, I have told the Lord, “Why have you spoilt me like this? This is a dream team!”
Then, it has been the joy of seeing conversions. Which pastor would not be melted to tears to see whole rows of individuals saved through the ministry of the church? As I sit on the podium next to the pulpit waiting to preach, I look across the congregation and see individual after individual sitting there who first came into the church or into my office totally lost in sin and degradation. Now, there they are, sitting at the feet of Jesus and living for him. Wonder of grace!
|The KBC eldership, standing on the shoulders of others who have gone before|
What else has brought me joy in serving at KBC all these years? It has been the joy of seeing a congregation that has turned from being a bus into being a body. Once upon a time, KBC functioned more like a company of auditors and I was the only accountant. The chief question on everyone’s mind was, “Has the pastor performed up to our expectations?” That has totally changed now. The chief question in our members’ meetings is, “How have we performed in our various ministries of the church?” That has truly been a breath of fresh air.
This zeal for Christian service is particularly evident among the teenagers and young adults. We often joke about them in the eldership that the main reason why we keep running (despite our age) is that if we stopped they would run over us. So, we just have to keep on running—while huffing and puffing—for dear life’s sake. While their friends are wasting their lives in passionate lusts and debauchery, these young people are busy serving their Lord and Master. It is truly a joy to behold. It reminds me of the zeal we had in the good old days.
|KBC ministry leaders being interviewed during KBC's 25th anniversary|
May I add to this list the joy of seeing more and more churches being planted? When I came to KBC 25 years ago, there were no formally recognised Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia. There were Reformed Baptist individuals in many pews, but no church or pulpit had pinned such colours to its mast. Today, we have over 40 such churches scattered around Zambia and its neighbouring countries. KBC is involved in planting at least half of them. What a joy it has been to see this!
I thank God for our deacons. Each time we go to them to ask whether we could send out another missionary, in view of the church’s hand-to-mouth financial situation, their response has always been, “Yep!” Yet, no sooner is a new missionary sent out than our own financial giving towards missions grows and new partners come up who want to join hands with us in this work. I recently said to our church treasurer that the Bible is true: “According to your faith be it unto you.” This level of faith among the deacons has been a great source of joy.
Let me wind up this first blog post to commemorate the silver jubilee of my pastorate at KBC. I wanted to begin these blog posts by at least making it clear that the 25 years have been a joyous ride. I often have to sit with fellow pastors in Zambia and around the world who pour out their hearts to me because the going has been hard. I thank God that it has not been so with me. It has been a most joyful ride. Given a chance to live my life all over again, I would accept a call to KBC and remain there for 25 years. The Lord has truly been good to me!