Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Call To The Pastoral Ministry -- Kennedy Sunkutu

[This interview of Kennedy Sunkutu is the 3rd instalment in a series of blog posts where I've asked friends in pastoral ministry in Reformed Baptist circles in Zambia to share with us how the Lord called them to the pastoral ministry. I have confined my invitation to those who had to leave their jobs in order to encourage those who might be undergoing similar wrestlings of soul so that they can realise that they are not undergoing anything unusual. The feedback so far has been most encouraging.]

Conrad: Kennedy, I am given to understand that you finally answered the Lord’s call to full time ministry in 2000 after many years of hesitating. When did you first sense that God may have been calling you to a life in the pastoral or preaching ministry?

Kennedy: As far back as my university days (UNZA, 1981 – 1985), especially towards the end of my studies, my friends began to encourage me to think of full time service for the Lord. I was not sure exactly in what capacity that would be. Since I was pursuing a degree in education (BSc. Ed), I resolved to be in teaching, while waiting upon the Lord. This was also at a time when most of our university colleagues flocked to neighbouring countries to pursue their teaching careers, for obvious reasons – better remunerations.  One of the reasons why I opted to remain in teaching was that teaching afforded an opportunity to serve in Scripture Union, ministering to young people in schools.

Conrad: Did you have any opportunity within the context of the local church to see if God was equipping you for ministry there?

Kennedy: Yes, upon graduation from the university I first settled in Lusaka. I committed myself to my local church then, Kabwata Baptist Church (KBC), where I was one of the first deacons. I was also accorded opportunities to take Bible studies and preach from time to time. All along there was a brother who kept on saying to me “Iwe utaba calling” [you are running away from the call].

Conrad: So, how did the Lord lead you after this?

The Sunkutu family soon after relocating to Kafue for church planting
Kennedy: In 1989, I requested for a transfer from Lusaka where I had been teaching from 1986. I moved to Choma Secondary School, in the southern part of Zambia. This was for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to teach at a mission school where my services as a science teacher would be most appreciated. Lusaka had enough of such teachers, unlike a semi-rural townl like Choma. I was able to freely exercise my teaching and preaching gifts in this mission school along-side my teaching job. At one time I was also asked to act as the school chaplain.

The second reason was that there was a new Reformed Baptist church in Choma that needed additional manpower. I felt I could again be more useful there than at KBC, which was then a growing church. The Reformed Baptist church in Choma also accorded me an opportunity to exercise my teaching and preaching gifts. In due course it was becoming clear that this was what I loved doing much more than teaching Chemistry and Physics.

Conrad: How did the final break come about which led you to answer the call to the pastoral ministry?

Kennedy: I think that this came about when the pastor of the church in Choma resigned and I found myself as the sole elder in the church from about 1996 to 1998. I basically began to do all the pastoral work, while trying to remain faithful in my teaching job. This was becoming too much. I needed to make a choice or else one aspect was going to suffer. The following year, in 1999, I was promoted to be a lecturer at a college in Luanshya (on the Copperbelt). When I moved there, as much as I tried to fit into the local church there, I was convinced something I loved doing in Choma on a regular basis had been taken away from me – teaching and preaching the word of God on a regular basis. We only stayed in Luanshya for a year. My wife and I agreed that I give up lecturing, and, with support from KBC, go into church planting. This happened in 2000. It was this move that led to the birth of Kafue Reformed Baptist Church, where I have been labouring since.

The church planted by Kennedy Sunkutu in Kafue, Zambia
Conrad: Usually, part of the hesitation in getting into the work of ministry has to do with financial survival. How has the aftermath been?

Kennedy: The work here in Kafue has had its challenges and encouragements. No doubt the work has been steadily growing, and after 8 years of existence, the church became autonomous. The church has been able to support me financially and in terms of doing the actual work through the various ministries now in the church. We have been able to send all our three children to very good schools with the financial support of the church. Our eldest daughter is now in first year at university and the church has been very supportive. We have also had a few pleasant surprises. For instance, after four years of being in the ministry, the Lord miraculously enabled us to purchase our own house here in Kafue. In many ways the work has been very fulfilling, as we have seen lives changed and added to our number as a church.

Conrad: Thank you for sharing all this with us!

1 comment:

  1. These interviews have been both a great blessing and a great challenge to me. Pastor Mbewe may the good Lord bless you.