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!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The 2013 Evergreen Christian Business Seminar

It is that time of the year again when our Evergreen Christian Bookstore hosts a Christian Business Seminar to inspire young Christian entrepreneurs to go about their work in a biblical and God-glorifying way. This year it will be held on Saturday 5th October right here in Lusaka.

Being mindful of the fact that many of our members are first generation Christians, this is a very important part of our work of discipleship. It is very easy for young businessmen and women to go about their careers the way in which the world does. We trust that these seminars will help to inoculate them and inspire them along a more biblical and God-glorifying path.

The theme
The theme this year is “Missions and Business: Can The Two Go Together?” We will be exploring how you can use your business to support the work of church-planting missions. The current challenge of missions will be surveyed, together with a biblical and historical survey of how individuals used their businesses to support the work of missions.

Some models will be analysed to help us see how this can be done and then we will look at what business opportunities are knocking on our doors from the small towns and rural areas of Zambia. Times for discussions and questions have been worked into the programme to ensure maximum benefit to those who will attend this seminar.

The speaker
This year our speaker is Dr Dennis Chiwele. He became a Christian in 1979 after completing secondary school education and joined Lusaka Baptist Church, where he has gone up through the ranks and served both as deacon (1994 to 2002) and as elder (2002 to date). He is now a development economist and has served as a development advisor to various governments, multilateral and bilateral development organisations on the continent of Africa.

Dr Chiwele served in the civil service (up to 1992), and as a member of the advisory board of the Bank of Zambia (up to 2011). He also serves as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Zambia (on-going), and as a development consultant (on-going). He co-founded RuralNet Associates Limited in 1989, a development consultancy firm with special focus on rural development. One can immediately see that we have the right man to lead us in our study.

The extras
Evergreen Christian Bookstore will be at hand with Bibles and books at special discount prices. So, if you will be in attendance, make sure you carry some extra cash on you. One book on sale will be Dr John Temple’s Be Successful, Be Spiritual. If you do not yet have a copy of this book, this will be the time to get yourself one.

Thanks to the proprietors of Dream Valley Lodge, who themselves are Christian entrepreneurs who are seeking to live out what is being taught in these seminars, we will be holding the seminar at their magnificent lodge from 08.30 to 17.30 hours. The fee for attending the seminar is only K170 per person and may be paid upon arrival. If you are coming from outside town, I would recommend that you book yourself in for Friday and Saturday nights. It will result in a most relaxed, educative, and memorable weekend!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Appointment As The African Christian University’s First Chancellor

[This is an article that appears in this month’s African Christian University news bulletin. It is here reproduced as an interview to give a sense of what the ACU hoped to cover in the article. Pray for me as I seek to fulfil this awesome responsibility in spite of my many weaknesses. This blog post says it all.]

ACU: So, Conrad, where on earth did you first get the idea that you should be part of the founding of a distinctly Christian university in Zambia?

Conrad: When John Chundu (the chairman of our deacons) walked into my living room and shared with me his burning desire to start a Christian university, I did not have the foggiest idea what the Lord was about to do. All I knew was that I needed to pray with John about this so that the will of the Lord might come to fruition.

And it did. A few weeks later, I got an email from Ken Turnbull (the ACU’s first appointed Vice Chancellor)—who at that time I did not even know existed on the planet—asking if we could talk about starting a Christian university here in Zambia. I quickly told John the Lord had answered our prayers.

One thing led to another so quickly that before I could count up to ten (or so it felt) the African Christian University was born on Zambian soil. What a joy it has been to see the team that God has put together in Zambia and elsewhere to get this mammoth project off the ground!

Dr Ken Turnbull making a presentation on ACU in the USA
ACU: Was this something you ever thought you would do in some long-distance future?

Conrad: For me, the ACU is a dream come true. I always wanted Kabwata Baptist Church to use the channel of education as a means to have a captive audience to saturate with gospel truths. By this I mean, to have them impacted with the whole of special revelation with Christ at its centre.

So, when the opportunity came for us as a church to start a Christian primary school, we went for it. We were battling with how to proceed to develop a Christian secondary school when ACU came knocking on the door. The Lord had been preparing us for this project long ago.

It has been great to see the Reformed Baptist churches in Lusaka, and indeed across the country, galvanising around this initiative so that it has truly become an inter-church project. Our team currently labouring to realise this dream is drawn from a cross-section of our churches.

Dr Turnbull and "yours truly" speaking about the vision of ACU in the USA
ACU: You are the newly appointed first chancellor of the African Christian University. Is this something you expected to happen?

Conrad: No. Perhaps the biggest surprise the Lord has given me since John walked into my living room has been the call for me to serve as the first chancellor of the university. I know the Lord is full of surprises, and I expect them any time, but this one was never on the radar.

I have always been content to be a catalyst. I love to precipitate events without appearing prominently on the front cover. It fills me with joy to inspire others to do what I think God wants them to do in the extension of his kingdom while I remain cheering in the crowd.

So, when the idea was first presented to me to serve as Chancellor of the ACU, like Jonah, I straightaway took off for Tarshish. Thankfully, in my case, the Lord did not need to use a big fish to teach me a lesson. His servants simply made me come to terms with what God was saying.

With a sense of trepidation, I heard a voice say, “Thou art the man!” All my excuses have since melted away and instead there has been a growing sense of gratitude that the Lord has seen it fit to use me in this signal way. I have said to him, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”

John Chundu, the ACU board chairman, speaking about ACU in Zambia
ACU: Now that you have gotten over the first shock, how do you see yourself functioning in this new role as Chancellor of the ACU?

Conrad: As I look at fulfilling my new role as head of the university, I see myself first and foremost as playing a pastoral role. I seek to ensure that the whole ACU project is bathed in the prayers of God’s people from right across the globe. We will need God’s help in this mammoth project.

This pastoral role will also involve listening to the challenges being faced by management, faculty and students, and seeking to encourage them to remain true to God in the midst of those challenges. I look to God to fill my heart with love for those who will be part of the ACU family.

Then, I also see myself as playing the role of “ambassador-at-large” for the ACU. I will do my best to carry the banner of the ACU wherever I go. This will not be easy because my default mode is that of pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church. Yet now I must always wear two hats.

Thankfully, my worldwide airfares for the next few years have already been covered. So, the issue is not finances. As the Lord brings us students and we begin to see their lives being moulded, I want to get out there and tell the world, “See what the Lord is doing here and be a part of it!”

Ronald Kalifungwa and "yours truly" posing in ACU colours with Don Carson
ACU: Finally, Conrad, as you look into the future, what are your aspirations for the ACU?

Conrad: I want to see the ACU grow into the best university on the continent—to the glory of God. I want to see the ACU disciple young minds, hearts, and hands to fulfil the cultural mandate in a way that no other university in Africa has done. I want to see this happen.

This will demand that we ensure the highest possible levels of scholarship and discipleship. With a Christ-centred view of all the academic disciplines, those who are Christians and are moulded by our faculty should go out there and change the way things are done in Africa.

Finally, I look forward to playing my first public role of conferring degrees on our first graduates. I trust they will be individuals who have Christ in their hearts by his Spirit and whose engines are raving to fulfil their God-given calling in life. What a joy that will be! May that day come soon. Amen!

[If you are keen to be a part of this vision in Africa, visit the ACU website and see what role you can play. It is http://www.acu-zambia.com. But above all…pray!]