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, September 18, 2012

Foundations for the Flock—has finally arrived in Zambia!


This is one blog post I have been reluctant to write. I already did a blog post on my book (Foundations for the Flock) when it was first published (see here). However, I finally got persuaded to write this post because the book has finally arrived in Zambia—one year after it was published and just in time for the 25th anniversary of my pastoral ministry at KBC. God’s timing is always the best!

So, this blog post is really only for my Zambian readers. Whereas our friends in the West have been able to order this book via the Internet, Zambians do not have that luxury. So, one whole year has passed since the book was published before it could be available for people to purchase and read here at home.

What is this book all about?
Many Zambian Christians will know that I have published about forty booklets over the 25 years of my pastoral ministry at KBC. The publisher has taken ten of those booklets, which are on the subject of the church, and put them in this more permanent form. The advantage of owning this volume, therefore, is that you will have a quarter of my booklets in a more permanent form (almost 400 pages). Let me give you a run-down of the contents of Foundations for the Flock:

Baptism: In this chapter, I give four basic lessons that a person needs to know in order for them to go through baptism meaningfully. These lessons cover how a person becomes a Christian, how a person grows in their Christian faith, what baptism means, and the demands of church membership.

Church government: In this chapter, I deal with the different roles played by elders, deacons and ordinary church members in the church’s government. Starting with Christ’s headship, I synthesise holistically the roles of all the church officers, including the church pastor, in this most important area of church life.

Foundations for the Flock on sale at a missions conference in the USA
The Lord’s Supper: In this chapter, I expound a few pertinent texts of Scripture in order to clear the minds of readers concerning this important memorial meal. With so many of us coming from various religious backgrounds, it is important for us to really understand what the Bible actually teaches concerning this meal.

The role of women in the church: In this very brief chapter (probably the shortest in the whole book), I tackle a very emotive issue today. I show that women have many roles to play in the church. However, I also show that the Bible teaches again that God’s created order must be observed in this matter.

Pastoral work: In this chapter, I use the famous phrase, “prophet, priest and king”, to show the three main roles that a pastor plays in the life of a church. I write as a pastor pleading with fellow pastors to develop our ministries after the pattern set for us in the Bible and not allowing the world to dictate our work.

Foundations for the Flock advertised at Bible Church of Little Rock, USA
Worship: In this chapter, I show how worship was encapsulated in the Old Testament, liberated in the New Testament, and re-defined during the Protestant and Puritan period. In today’s world where worship is either dead or adrift, I find this chapter vital to the wellbeing of any local congregation of God’s people.

The church and politics: In this chapter, I argue that the church and the state are meant to be two separate institutions functioning under God. They are not supposed to dictate to each other but each should fulfil its specific function under God. Individual Christians, however, are to be involved in both for God’s glory.

Inter-church relationships: In this chapter, I seek to encourage churches to a biblical form of inter-church relations. I show the importance of communication, prayer, and projects in order to realise Christ’s will for our churches. This is particularly helpful for churches that are not under denominational structures.

"Yours truly" with Dr Joel Beeke of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
(where I found the book on display for students and faculty to buy)
Missions (in two chapters): In these two chapters, I urge churches to work together in extending the borders of the kingdom of God on earth through the work of church-planting missions. I show how this can be done at a very practical level. It is a shame that so few of our African churches are doing this.

How can you get your copy?
Foundations for the Flock is presently available here in Zambia through Evergreen Christian Bookstore. Call the manager on 0979156731 in order to reserve your copy. Let me say again, I am delighted that one year after this book was published it finally arrived in Zambia, just in time for the 25th anniversary of my pastorate at KBC. It only made my thanksgiving to God sweeter. Hallelujah!

Monday, September 10, 2012

KBC PLAY PARK OUTREACH MINISTRY


[I have thought of using my blog to expose the wider world to some of the ministries that make up the life of Kabwata Baptist Church. In a sense, I have been doing that by the day-by-day narratives of the just-ended Reformed Conferences. However, these series of blog posts that I am commencing are to be written by individuals who are in the ministries. My role is to simply post! The first one is our play park outreach ministry. The report has been written by one of our pastoral interns, Chopo Mwanza. I’ll let him speak for himself…]


Chopo Mwanza
The Kabwata Baptist church play park outreach ministry effort began in 2004 with a twofold purpose. The first was to provide recreation to youths in our community. The second and most important was to preach the gospel of Christ to the same youths who come to make use of the play park. We adopted the park from the local council in a dilapidated state and we had to start from scratch and gave it a face-lift.

Impact on the community
Since adopting the park we have done some works on it, which has beautified the area and reduced crime levels, as it was a hiding place for thieves. Furthermore, it has provided a platform for sound gospel preaching in an environment infested by the prosperity gospel and provided youths with a recreation park.

This was the state of the park when the church adopted it and leveled it
Our aim and goals
Our aim is to be a light to all nations and people groups, and with the play park we have a glorious opportunity to reach the hundreds, if not thousands, of youths in our community. We do this by having an organised programme every Saturday afternoon. We have games, such as football (i.e. soccer), volleyball, and netball. On average we have 15 youths from the neighbourhood and about 15 youths from Kabwata Baptist Church, who interact with them and seek to share the gospel with them.

Church billboards put up after the play park was cleared of garbage
We provide the balls and refreshments, and we preach the gospel to the youths coming from the neighbourhood. We also encourage one-on-one evangelistic interaction. Special events, such as tournaments in ball games, video shows, music concerts, and funfairs, are held in the course of the year. These special events enable us to reach over 100 youths at any one time who live within the neighbourhood and the wider area.

This is now the state of the park as youths utilise it for games 
Needs and Challenges
Like in every spiritual work, there are many challenges that have been faced in the play park ministry

  • The biggest need of the ministry is prayer. Prayer for fruit, faithfulness, and consistency. We therefore crave the prayers of many.
    Youths being given snacks during a break from the games
  • The other challenge that has been faced is bringing the park to a modern standard in terms of facilities that will enable us to have these games and attract more youths from the community. One such facility is a basketball court. This is an essential aspect of our park since basketball is the second most popular sport after football among the youths. Raising funds for this project has proved to be quite a challenge as it stands at K30 million (which is roughly $6,000). We are, therefore, seeking partners in this endeavour.
    Henry Chibutu, a youth in the church, sharing the gospel at the play park
  • Vandalism of the play park by the community has sadly been a problem. Hence, the need for hearts to be transformed. Pray that people in the area may have a sense of ownership.

Conclusion
Despite the challenges, we are still trusting in the Lord for fruit and success in this work of love. The harvest is truly plentiful. We crave your prayers, and material and financial support to the praise and glory of the Lord.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2012 Annual Reformed Conferences – The Last Day


[Pardon this very late blog post on the last day of the conference. When the conference ended, I ran out of energy due to exhaustion]. This was the final day of the conferences and some people expressed great anticipation for what the Lord had in store. The day began with the prayer meeting at 08.45 hours. I attended the family conference stream, though I was occupied with other matters and so, although I heard what the preachers were dealing with, I was not there consistently enough to follow their lines of argument. Hence, the summaries in his blog post were from the notes taken by Chopo Mwanza and Sydney Kombe, our pastoral interns.

Ronald Kalifungwa preaching at the Family Conference
Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa preached on the cost of missions, using Colossians 1:19-24 as a starting point. He explained what filling up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ meant. Ultimately, it pointed to suffering in the establishment of the church on earth. In practice, Pastor Kalifungwa showed that it demanded being willing to (a) lay aside comforts and security, (b) give our wealth for the sake of the gospel, and (c) laying down our lives.

Pastor Kalifungwa also urged us to avoid a triumphalist mentality because preaching the gospel invariably brings suffering. Rather, we are to rejoice in our suffering for the cause of the extension of God’s kingdom.

Voddie Baucham preaching at the Family Conference
Pastor Voddie Baucham preached on the raising a missions-minded family. He expressed concern about the rise of an anti-biblical form of psychology, which was eroding confidence in the Bible and thus leading to biblical illiteracy. The lack of good role models in parenting only exacerbated matters. All this has resulted in ignorance in most parents in biblical child upbringing.

Pastor Baucham then spoke about the two forms of discipline—formative and corrective discipline. The former encouraged good behaviour while the latter discouraged bad behaviour. He spent some time explaining the biblical place of corporal punishment. Ultimately, he encouraged us to use the Bible to instruct children, bearing in mind that they were sinners in desperate need of the gospel. He ended by emphasising the role of fathers as family shepherds, guiding the family to prioritise worship—which is the goal of missions.

The panel that handled the Question and Answer session
In the afternoon there was a Question and Answer session. Pastors Choolwe Mwetwa and Kabwe Kabwe, and “yours truly”, were on the panel while Thandika Chirwa moderated. There was a healthy flow of questions, largely related to the subjects handled during the week, though some questions were of a general nature. I trust that the Lord helped us to think on our feet and to give biblical answers.

In the evening, the meeting was led by Dubeka Milandu. We also heard how the Lord's work was progressing in the Reformed constituency in Namibia and in Australia. Pastor Voddie Baucham closed the conference by preaching on the famous Great Commission passage at the end of Matthews’ Gospel. He commented that he was sitting at the edge of his seat the whole week, fearing that one of the other preachers would use that text for his sermon. Thankfully, no one did and so he felt at liberty to do so. His powerful sermon dealt with:

The Namibian women always add colour to the conference on the last day
(a) The context of the Great Commission: There were eleven disciples instead of twelve. They met on a mountain where Jesus had asked them to meet him. When they met him some doubted. The Bible goes on to state that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Jesus. This is quite a statement. This is God as he has never been. This is now the great God-man. Angels worship him.

At this point, Pastor Baucham went on to open up Matthew’s Gospel in such a way that it was a parallel with the major Old Testament themes. It was a fascinating exposition! The greatest news of the Christian Faith is that Jesus did not only die but he has risen from the dead. Thus he was not just a human being. We should not preach Jesus as if he was merely a good teacher. He is God!

Voddie Baucham preaching during the final evening combined meeting
(b) The nature of the Great Commission: It is multi-national and multi-ethnic. All power is given to him and so all men will be given to him. The gospel must go forth not just to people who are just like us. It must go to people who are different from us. The nature of the commission is that it is unapologetically evangelistic. Those who respond to the gospel must be baptised and added to the church. They must give up their old ways and come under the Lordship of Christ.

The nature of our commission is that it speaks about a person who does not just save us from our sins but also from our sinfulness. Progressive sanctification is part of the package of salvation. Cultures are transformed—marriage, family, science, education, architecture, arts, etc.—wherever Christianity goes. It is transforming by its very nature. Yet, it still leaves behind rich variety.

Part of the 1,200 people who attended the conference singing God's praises
(c) The guarantee of our success: Jesus said that he was to be with the church always. He was raised never to die again. There is a man’s body in heaven within the throne of God. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that is availed to you for this commission. Our mission cannot fail! We may not see much fruit now, but it will not fail. Revelation 5:5ff tells us the end of the story. The elect of God, numbering more than the stars of the sky or the sand of the sea shore, will worship God as a fruit of this Great Commission. Amen!

That was how the 23rd Reformed Family Conference and School of Theology came to an end. Phil Hunt closed the conference by sharing about the Central Africa Baptist College and then later closing in prayer. We were challenged afresh to participate actively in the work of missions as an African church. Pray for us that God will enable us to rise to this challenge. There is a work for Jesus that we need to do while it is still day. Amen!

Phil Hunt sharing about the Bible college he leads and then closing in prayer