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!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Yet Another Glorious Missions Conference At KBC


I know that in the West many churches hold missions conferences and so the heading of this blog post may cause many of my Western friends to yawn and move on to something more interesting. However, in the whole of Zambia, I'm only aware of two other evangelical churches that hold annual missions conferences. Hence, this is headline news!

Pastors from the East leading the conference in singing a vernacular hymn
In my last two blogs posts, I wrote brief summaries of reports that our missionaries gave at our missionaries prayer retreat concerning the triumphs of grace in their neck of the woods. This covered Monday 21st to Wednesday 23rd. It had been my desire to write daily blog posts on the missions conference which started on Thursday 24th and ended on Sunday 27th. I will readily admit that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

Congregational singing during the just-ended missions conference
Now, with the conference over, I'm en route to the USA on a preaching trip. I have a flight of 16 hours across the ocean and a stop over of about 10 hours in New York. If I cannot get this blog post done in these hours then it is a lost cause. So, here goes...

Our missions conference took place over Thursday and Friday evenings, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning. Our preacher across these four days was Pastor Choolwe Mwetwa from Chingola Central Baptist Church. He preached four sermons on the theme, "And you shall be my witnesses". One of the elders wrote a text message to me at the end of the conference saying, "Choolwe was exceptional!" I think that says it all.

Pastor Choolwe Mwetwa preaching on "You shall be my witnesses"
One of the highlights of our missions conference was the PowerPoint presentations that the missionaries made each day. The photos enabled us to see what went on in the mission field as our missionaries laboured there while we held the ropes back home. It is one thing to hear about these things in written reports, but it is something else to see the fruit of their labour. Then on the last day, all the missionaries sat on the podium to answer questions from the congregation for an hour. Although we did not go through all the PowerPoint presentations, the little we saw reconnected the church with its missionaries.

Our missionaries answering questions from the congregation
Perhaps the most moving presentation was that of the funeral of our missionary to Malawi, Percy Chisenga, who died in March last year. It brought back fresh memories of that painful event when one of God's choice servants lost his battle with cancer and graduated to his reward in heaven. After that presentation, our church treasurer came forward and gave Percy's widow, Betty, a cheque on behalf of the church to enable her finish off the building of her home and pour the balance into a chicken run to enable her sustain herself. She jokingly told me afterwards, "If you had told me what you had planned to do, I would not have come." I believed her because the funeral presentation left her in tears.

An overwhelmed Mrs Chisenga receiving a cheque from our church treasurer
Although this is an in-house conference, and so we do not advertise it to sister churches, we had international visitors at this one. We had brethren visiting from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Most of them came to see how an indigenous missions movement looks like, with the hope that they can replicate it in their own countries. We need to have more and more African churches taking the work of missions seriously. There is nothing like a missions conference to keep the fire of missions burning in the church. One visitor from South Africa, Irving Steggles, came to present the need for Zambian Reformed Baptist missionaries to go to South Africa to help plant churches there.

Irving pleading with our people to plant RB churches in South Africa
One of my tasks on the last day was to speak about where we were in our participation in the great missionary enterprise. I drew the church's attention to the two new missionaries we ordained last year and another two that were due to be ordained soon. I also pointed out that four churches had now become autonomous. These churches were in Kafue and Matero (Zambia), in Zomba (Malawi), and in Windhoek (Namibia). In 2013, we are expecting another two churches to become autonomous. This was going to bring to six the number of churches that would have been planted and were fully autonomous.

Tuundjakuye Tjijenda (alias "Spencer") the new pastor in Windhoek
Whereas autonomy sounds good when all you are thinking about is that you can now do as you please without getting permission from HQ, it is a nightmare when you do not have enough resources to pay all your bills. This is what inevitably happens with all our church plants. It really takes long for the Christians in those churches to realise that it is their responsibility to meet the cost of the ministries in their churches. By the time the penny drops, the pastors would have gone quite a few nights without bread. So, pray for the churches that have been weaned that they will wake up soon to their financial obligations. Pray also for our missionaries who have to brave difficult financial times for a season.

Pastor Raphael Banda answering a question during the Q&A session
The conference ended with "the grand announcement". This is where the collection taken on the last day towards the work of missions is announced together with the total monthly pledge. Our goal at this conference was to raise enough funds to repair and furnish the two homes of our pastoral interns that had been recently bought with funds from HeartCry Missionary Society, to finish off the home of the widow of our late missionary and give her some start up capital for a small business, and to finish off the roofing of a church we are planting in Sinda. I left for the airport before "the grand announcement" but was most encouraged to hear later that once again the total collected exceeded the goal. I remain grateful to God for a church that has learnt to give generously to the work of missions.

The missionaries being committed to the Lord as they return to their work
When everything was over, the congregation sang the hymn...

Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known

3 comments:

  1. Glory to our immortal King. its a great encouragement and awakening call to many churches

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  2. Pray for churches becoming autonomous. The anxiety is overwhelming at first. Often there is more willing spirit in a baby learning to walk on its own than a church taking up full self support.

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