Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Call To The Ministry—Kasango Kayombo

[This blog post is the 5th instalment in a series of posts where I am interviewing some Reformed Baptist pastors in Zambia who left their jobs in order to become pastors. It is not the only way the Lord leads his people, but it is helpful for those who are in similar situations to realise that their struggles are not unique. It is my prayer that these testimonies will help such individuals to know what to do in order to bring their current struggles to a speedy and happy end.]

Conrad: Kasango, tell us, when did you first begin to sense the call to the preaching ministry?

Kasango: I think my desire to be in the preaching ministry began in the late 1990s but I only expressed it in 2002 when I shared it with my wife, who then was my fiancée. I remember telling her that I had the desire to serve in the office of pastor. However, it took another 5 years for me to make another important step forward partly because I thought the initial desires were just youthful.

This important step was made when the pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church requested me to attend the first class of the Copperbelt Ministerial College, a theological school that began on the Copperbelt in July 2007. This was meant to be for auditing purposes. I ended up doing the whole course for 4 years and I was more than ever convinced this is where I belonged.

Conrad: How did this initial sense of call become confirmed as more than just youthful passion?

Kasango: During the period I have just talked about, i.e. from about 1997 to the year 2007, my preaching engagements in local churches increased, especially in the churches where I was a member. This growth in preaching opportunities was coupled with a growing passion for the lost. Many brethren made positive comments about my call to ministry. All this, coupled with my own inward conviction, went a long way to seriously confirm my call.

Kasango and his wife, Mwape
Conrad: So, did the confirmation of this call immediately lead to you going into pastoral ministry?

Kasango: No. To begin with, I tried to deny what was clearly staring me in the face. In 2007, when we relocated to Lusaka, I wanted to rest from my preaching labours. I thought the change of environment would give me the opportunity to simply stop preaching, but this was not to be. Preaching engagements increased and reminders that I may be called to the preaching ministry became frequent and more intense.

I tried to reduce their impact by turning them into a joke, but it did not work. I remember literally avoiding some Christians for fear of being challenged over this important matter. I would usually shrug off this guilt and find some temporal solace when discussing this with my wife by saying, “These people who want me to go into pastoral ministry, why don’t they go themselves if they think it is that easy?” Clearly, I was simply resisting what I now believe was the voice of God speaking to my conscience.

Conrad: Come to think of it, how was your wife processing all this?

Kasango: My wife is a very sensible woman. She never doubted my calling but she was cautious on the side of timing. She wondered whether I had matured enough to handle the weight of such a high calling and the demands of being an under-shepherd in charge of precious souls. I also had my own reasons for hesitating. I knew my own weaknesses, and feared that I may fail and bring shame to the Lord’s name. There were issues of social security, and so I wanted to first secure a comfortable future. My family is still young and so I wanted to first finish building a house.

Kasango being ordained by the elders at Kabwata Baptist Church
Conrad: From what I know, you have not yet secured your comfortable future nor have you finished building your house. So, what made you take the plunge?

Kasango: I think it was interaction with our local Reformed pastors and good friends. The wise counsel and encouragement I got from them really helped. I remember a friend taking me out for lunch one day to discuss this important issue. The missions conferences at Kabwata Baptist Church also played a big role and greatly challenged me to make a decision.

Conrad: And when did this finally happen?

Kasango: In 2011. I told my wife and myself that I was not growing any younger and that, therefore, if I did not answer the call by the end of that year I would never do so. I do not know if you remember, but one evening in September or October that year, when coming together from an assignment, I asked you how you answered the call to pastoral ministry. During that discussion, I told you how I felt, that I sensed the call but the time to leave work was the big issue. You may not remember this, but you suggested that this could be presented as an item of prayer to the elders. However, you went further and suggested that in due season I should also share it with the church at large.

I felt that you were too quick in suggesting that I go that far. However, this helped me make the difficult decision. I had been lacking in faith and courage. Talking about my struggles with you as my pastor helped me cross the Rubicon. If I had not done so, I would have continued to suffer this horrible disease called indecision that has robbed many people from making tremendous progress in life. After the mind of the Lord was known through the church, this gave me peace and joy even when I knew I would part with some benefits that go with secular employment.

Kasango Kayombo preaching at a funeral
Conrad: I do not think you are the only one who has suffered such indecision for a long time. Using the benefit of hindsight, what would you say a person should do who is in “the valley of decision” and is at a loss what to do? 

Kasango: After going through this experience, I think the responsibility lies with the person feeling or sensing the call to ministry to share with his elders and good friends. Having said that, I also think the elders of local churches should be on the lookout to identify and provide counsel to men who they think are in this dilemma.

Conrad: Thank you, Kasango. I am sure many who are in “the valley of decision” will be helped to see the way ahead after reading the Lord’s dealings with you in this matter.

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