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, December 2, 2014

Is the evangelical church in Africa really glorifying God?

As 2014 draws to an end, my heart aches. I am deeply burdened about what has become the dominant characteristic of evangelical Christianity in Africa. I have tried to wrap my mind around this by simply asking an honest question “Is this Christianity that has become pervasive across the African continent really glorifying God?”

1. Are we glorifying God when we claim that we are experiencing miracles that are actually not happening? When miracles were happening in the Bible, the blind were receiving their sight, the lame were walking, those with leprosy were being cured, the deaf were beginning to hear, and the dead were being raised to life (see Luke 7:22). Today, the land is littered with posters of miracle crusades but we all know that none of this is happening. Are we glorifying God by cheating people this way?

2. Are we glorifying God when we speak in “tongues” that cannot be interpreted? In the Bible, tongues were unknown languages that could be interpreted (1 Cor. 14:27). Today it is nothing more than a few syllables that are repeated at machinegun speed: “Kakaka filolololo wandarakawandara, etc.” It is not surprising that whereas churches are full of tongue speakers, there is not a single interpreter. Can anyone interpret this? Yet, I am asking a more fundamental question: Are we glorifying God by behaving so senselessly?

3. Are we glorifying God when we reduce the benefits of salvation to more wealth and better health? In the Bible, the main message of salvation was the forgiveness of sins and moral transformation (Luke 24:47). Today, the main message coming from Africa’s “evangelical” church is the ending of personal poverty and the healing of all kinds of bodily ailments (as can be seen from the above banner). Salvation is under “any other business”. Again, I am asking, are we truly glorifying God by this deathly substitute?

4. Are we glorifying God when we abandon the preaching of repentance for motivational speaking? John the Baptist and Jesus and his apostles preached repentance (see Matt. 3:2, 4:7 and Acts 2:38, 26:20). The growing view today is not that men and women are fallen and responsible for their sin and thus must repent of it. Rather, it is that they are victims of wrong thinking and evil powers, and so they need deliverance. Hence, the sermons are nothing more than motivational talks followed by hours of deliverance sessions. I am asking: Are these messages and methods producing God-glorifying lives?

5. Are we glorifying God when we hide the rot of spiritual wolves preying on vulnerable souls? In the Bible, Jesus warned about wolves in sheepskins (Matt. 7:15). I recently received a text message from a lady in Lusaka who was taken into the bush and asked to take off her clothes by a pastor/prophet claiming he would cure her of the “disease” that was causing her husband to be unfaithful to her. Only witchdoctors did this once upon a time but it has now become common fare among “evangelical” pastors/prophets. The tragedy is our grave-like silence about this rot. Is this silence the way to glorify God?

6. Are we glorifying God when we reduce truth to a minimum for the sake of Christian unity? When I read my Bible it is adamant on the necessity of teaching and knowing the truths of the gospel if men and women are to be saved. From there, the gospel rays shine throughout the Scriptures, demanding holy living from God’s people. Today, we want to hold hands in the dark. We want fellowship with anyone claiming to be a Christian without asking questions about what they believe. Holy water and oil, Jewish prayer cloths, etc., are being sold and bought among evangelicals. And anyone who raises questions about this is shouted down. Is this new stance really glorifying to God?

7. Are we glorifying God when we reduce worship to senseless dancing to sensual music? Look at the psalms of the Bible and the worship songs that we have inherited from a previous generation and see how rich they are in expressing the faith of God’s people. Each sentence is pregnant with Scriptural truths. Today in Africa, intelligent professionals leave their brains outside the church door as they gyrate to songs that repeat one sentence over and over again. What matters is the music, the sensual music, as the worship leader shouts, “Glory to God!” Are we sure this is glorifying to God?

8. Are we glorifying God when commanding, declaring and decreeing replace humble petitions in prayer? I read the prayers of godly people in the Bible and they are full of humble pleas to the sovereign God of the universe. I then listen to the prayers of today’s men and women of God and they are full of declarations, decrees and commands “in Jesus’ name!” Is it not the height of arrogance that a person should command God to do his bidding? Can these prayers be glorifying to God by any stretch of our imagination?

9. Are we glorifying God when we fill our church membership rolls with goats and kick out church discipline? My Bible teaches that church leaders must be careful about who they allow to enter and stay in the church’s membership. It must only be those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Christ, and who show this by the way they live. If they don’t, they must be excommunicated (1 Cor. 5:9-13). Sadly, our churches today are full of members and leaders who are drunkards, fighting, living sexually immoral lives, stealing money, etc., and no one is dealing with this. Is this glorifying to God?

10. Are we glorifying God when we have women preachers while men sit in pews and listen to them? The Bible teaches male headship in both the home and the church…all the way from Eden. The Bible teaches that the work of preaching must be carried out by mature and tested males (1 Tim. 2:11-14). Sadly, the number of women going around as pastors in Africa (while their husbands call themselves bishops or prophets or apostles) has reached epidemic levels. Are we sure God is being glorified by this kick in the face?

I doubt it. Yet, these ten traits have become very dominant characteristics of African Christianity. I honestly wish this was a description of some extreme cult that can easily be separated from evangelicals, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but sadly this has become the most common “evangelical” Christianity in Africa. It is the one representing us on television and radio. It is the one on the billboards and posters in the streets. It is the one that fills up the rolls in our evangelical associations and pastors’ fraternals.

I wish that all the noise I am hearing and the dust being raised across Africa were God-glorifying. But it is not. It is man-centred and not God-centred. We want the numbers at any cost and we are getting them. Hardly anyone is asking the question, “Is not this thing in my hand a lie?” (Isaiah 44:20). It seems to me we are glorifying a false God—and not the God of the Bible. We have set up our own twenty-first century idol and are bowing down to it. This is not Christianity. This is not the way to heaven. No, it is not!

Hence, I end the year 2014 with a very burdened heart because of all this.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome “the man of God”

Of the many scandals involving some high profile church leaders in Africa, the one of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome tops the list. His wife is suing him for divorce. Whether he is guilty of the wife’s allegations or not will depend on the court’s findings and ruling.

However, Pastor Chris (as he is more popularly known) has spoken out recently to address these allegations. His speech is on the Internet for anyone to hear what he says in his defense. At the least, he said that the allegations were crazy and stupid.

Pastor Chris' main argument
The main rebuttal he uses is to argue that he is a man of God, and as a man of God he could not have done the kind of things he is being accused of doing by his wife. He said, “No man of God does something against the Lord. Are you hearing me?”

“A man of God is not just someone who worships God or who preaches God. A man of God is directed by God, set on course by God. If you study the Scriptures you will not find one man of God going against God, sinning against God,” he said.

Pastor Chris lists only two men of God in the Bible who, in his understanding, made some small but costly mistakes—Moses and an unnamed young man—but they never obstinately went against God’s calling on their lives nor did they sin against God.

He asserted, “But a man of God setting himself in defiance to the word of God and living like they are writing those stupid things that I did this and I did that...You don't know what a man of God is. I don't go in that direction. That's crazy!”

Pastor Chris then argues that the fact that a woman is married to a man of God does not make her a woman of God. That is why the wives of men of God are not listed in the Bible. In other words, whereas he is insulated from going astray, his wife is not.

He is certainly very clear that Christians should not take each other to court or go for divorce. However, once sued, he knows he is obligated to appear there and defend himself. Thus he appeals to his hearers and followers to pray for his wife, Rev. Anita.

He ended with, “We are not walking in sin and living in sin and hoping we can mix sin and righteousness together. No! We are the manifestations of his righteousness. We walk in that light only, and that is the way it’s gonna be! Glory to God!”

A false view of "man of God"
Okay, so why have I gone into all this trouble of reporting on Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s self-defense? It is because it is a perfect illustration of one of the issues I have talked about again and again; namely, the false view of “the man of God”.

As long as we think that there are “men of God” out there who are reeking with power and thus cannot fall, we will continue to have these scandals with us. We’ll continue to keep them above accountability structures until they come crushing down!

The best biblical proof that “men of God” also have clay feet and are as prone to sin as the rest of us lesser mortals is the story of David. He is called a man of God again and again in the Scriptures. Nehemiah calls him as such (see Neh. 12:24 and 12:36).

We read in 2 Chron. 8:14, “According to the ruling of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their offices of praise and ministry before the priests as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers in their divisions at each gate, for so David the man of God had commanded.”

We all know what happened to David, “the man of God”. He lusted after Bathsheba who was Uriah’s wife. He had sex with her. When she told him she was pregnant, David “the man of God” conspired against her husband and got him killed in warfare.

King David then married Bathsheba, thinking that he had covered all his tracks and no one was going to know. Hence, for a long time he continued in silence with blood on his hands. It took Nathan the prophet to open the door for the skeletons to all fall out.

David “the man of God” confessed his sin against God. That was when Nathan told him that he was pardoned. Later, he wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me…[I have] done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:3-4).

The obvious contradiction
Pastor Chris Oyakhilome says, “If you study the Scriptures you will not find one man of God going against God, sinning against God.” Well, here before our very eyes is a very prominent man of God who went against God and sinned grievously against him.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome says, “No man of God does something against the Lord. Are you hearing me?” Well, we must now choose between hearing him or hearing what the Bible says. The Bible shows us that men of God also do things against God.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome says, “But a man of God setting himself in defiance to the word of God and living like they are writing those stupid things that I did… That's crazy!” According to the Bible, it is not crazy. All men can do those stupid things.

I am very concerned about this. I have asked before, “Could it be that one reason why 95% of all these scandals are taking place among Charismatic leaders is because of something in the teaching itself?” I am told that it is not. Here it is in the teaching.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, one of the foremost Charismatic leaders in Africa, teaches that men of God cannot do something against the Lord, cannot sin against God, and cannot do any of those stupid things he is being accused of doing. That is a total lie.

The Charismatic world will continue to suffer hemorrhage among its top leaders as long as the views expressed by Pastor Chris continue to be pervasive among them. Sadly, the way they treat their pastors like demigods only sets them up for a loud fall.

The apostle Paul wrote thus about himself, “I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:22-24)

I will be the first to confess that I am a fallen creature in constant need of careful watch over my own soul. I need the careful watch of my wife, fellow believers, and my elders. “I’m prone to wander. Lord, I feel it; I’m prone to leave the God I love!”

Monday, September 8, 2014

The African Pastors Conferences

I want to inform you about a ministry in Africa, which began 2008 and of which I am a part. It is called the African Pastors’ Conferences (APCs) and was begun with the initiative of Erroll Hulse who is currently incapacitated in England due to a stroke he suffered at an APC. The purpose of the APCs is to supplement the work of Bible colleges and seminaries by providing basic doctrinal preaching for local African pastors. At each conference, speakerswhich are mainly Zambian pastorspreach God’s Word, modeling for them how to preach biblically and encouraging them in their work.

Pr Kennedy Sunkutu from Zambia preaching at an APC in South Africa
The advantage of having Reformed African speakers, as opposed to pastors from abroad, is that they uniquely understand the African culture. This enables them to correctly apply the Scriptures in practical, effective terms relevant to their audience. The speakers also provide models showing that biblical preaching is not a product of Western culture, but of Christian culture.

Pr Lichawa Thole from Zambia preaching at an APC in Malawi
These conferences are held from one to three days, depending on the situation of each host church. The only qualification for attendance by a pastor is that he accepts the Bible as the inerrant Word of God in his personal life, preaching, and church government.  Many of these attendees are not able to pursue formal educational training so these conferences are vital to their ministry. In addition to encouragement and education, the conference provides the pastors with free, and deeply discounted, books of the best Reformed literature to add to their often inadequate libraries.

Tables laden with deeply discounted books for pastors to buy
The African Pastors’ Conferences have grown to over 40 annual conferences in the southern, central, and eastern part of Africa! Some of the countries covered are Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In South Africa alone, we run more than 20 conferences each year (which is about half of our annual conferences). We desire to increase the equipping of God’s people in this way. Each conference is affordable due to the subsidy received.

African Pastors Conference in Lilongwe, Malawi
I would like to encourage you and your church to help support the APCs. We are asking churches, as well as individuals, to choose a specific conference to support. The supporting church or individual will be sent information about that conference so that they can pray for their conference. Those attending the conference will be told about who is sponsoring and praying for their conference. We are asking supporters to make a five-year commitment, if possible. The cost of each conference can range from $1000 to $4000 depending on its location and length.   Please contact Pastor Thomas Winn, our USA board member, for information on how you can help fund the APCs.

African Pastors Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe
We hope that you will join with us in this great endeavor of spreading the Gospel and equipping God’s people here in Africa.

To Sponsor, contact: Pastor Thomas Winn, Grace Baptist Church Jackson, MS,
Tel: (601) 573-1072
Email: gbc@gracejackson.net

Conference books in transit on a ferry crossing the Zambezi river
To learn more about the African Pastors Conferences, please go to our web site: www.africanpastorsconference.com


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The priesthood of all believers and its relevance to Africa today

In a previous blog post, I argued that the modern popular view of the pastor within Charismatic circles is simply another form of the traditional view of the village witchdoctor. It is full-blown African traditional religion that has returned dressed with a thin veneer of Bible verses made to say what the Holy Spirit never intended them to say when he first inspired the biblical writers to pen them.

In this blog post, I am answering the question, “How can we bring down this popular unbiblical view and chase African traditional religion out of the church in Africa. How can we restore true Christianity to the African church?” It seems to me that this will only happen when we restore the New Testament teaching of the priesthood of all believers to the place it once held within Protestantism.

The priesthood of all believers in history
“The priesthood of all believers” is a teaching that was particularly popularised by Martin Luther, the great reformer of the 16th century. Prior to the reformation in the church that he is known for, there was a very thick divide between the clergy (who were called “priests”) and the laity (the ordinary church members).

The priests were a specially trained and appointed group of people in the church who claimed to have special dealings with God. They alone could handle the Mass (an unbiblical form of the Lord’s Supper), baptism, weddings, and even prayers for the people of God. They mediated pardon too, and so God’s people came to them to confess their sins in order to receive God’s pardon. Through their mediation, the people of God could get their relatives who died outside Christ to cut short their period in purgatory (an unbiblical form of temporal hell).

In this way, the laity was totally dependent upon the priests in the church for everything…until Martin Luther came around. He showed that, according to the Bible, all Christians have equal access to God through prayer because all of them come to God through the mediatorial work of Christ. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Through the death of Jesus Christ, he has paid for the sins of all his people and so God accepts them on the basis of Christ’s merit alone. Christians do not need a human mediator to receive any blessing from God—none whatsoever!

The results of the loss of this teaching today
These biblical truths are what Christians on the African continent today need to hear. Those who claim that we need to go to them to get a “breakthrough” or “deliverance” in whatever situation we are going through are impostors, cheats, and swindlers. There is no longer an altar in the front for you to go to in order to be prayed for. The brothers and sisters sitting next to you in church—indeed you as well—have the same access to God as those charlatans calling you to the front.

It is because we have lost this truth of the priesthood of all believers that we have now created a very sleek class of “men of God” in Evangelicalism. In the name of having special spiritual powers (which they call “anointing”), these guys are milking the church of its money and sexually abusing its women. They wear costly designer suits, drive the most expensive cars, and own property that even chief executives of our biggest business corporations only dream of. They do not even carry their own Bibles. Like chiefs, they have henchmen to do it for them.

Every weekend and during conferences, they invite us to go to them for spiritual breakthroughs and deliverance. As Johan Tetzel told the people in Luther’s day to buy indulgences by putting money into his tin box and once coins hit the bottom of the box the souls of their dead relatives would spring out of purgatory, today’s “Tetzels” claim that your socio-economic breakthrough will be bigger if you give them more money. Thus the poor are getting poorer as they give them their earnings, while they are getting stinking rich. This is daylight robbery!

The last two lines in this German poem read
"As soon as the coin in the coffer rings
The soul at once into heaven springs"
The one difference between the priests of the medieval era and today’s “men of God” is that the former often falsely promised a heaven after you die while the latter falsely promise you a heaven on earth while you still live. They invite you to their meetings in order for them to pray for you so that you get married or you get your loved one back who has run away with another man/woman. They say they will give you a breakthrough so that you get a job or a promotion at work. They claim that through their prayers you will get delivered from your persistent sickness or failure to conceive. They prey on the souls and wallets of men and women through the door of human greed. And thousands are falling for it.

We all have access to God through Christ
Yet the apostle Peter declared to all Christians, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:5,9). In other words, if you have been saved from sin, i.e. brought out of darkness and into Christ’s marvellous light, you are part of a royal priesthood that has direct access to God. You do not need someone else to act between you and God. No, you can go and talk to God yourself. Period!

Every Christian is a priest to God. He has access to God the Father through Jesus Christ. The only barrier that any Christian can have in terms of his access to God is his own sins. If you are living in sin the Lord will not hear you. We read this in Isaiah, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness” (Isaiah 59:1-3).

In this matter, there is enough evidence in the media today that these “men of God” who are claiming the powers to bring breakthroughs and deliverances in our lives are as steeped in sin and iniquity as the Herods of the Bible. As their wives sue them to court for divorce, we are discovering that while they were laying their hands on the innocent and unwary—and making them pay for this service—their wives were often catching them with their pants down behind closed doors. In outrage these women are now saying, “Enough is enough!” and letting the skeletons fall out of the wardrobes. Alas, these “men of God” are as corrupt as the Roman Catholic priests were in Martin Luther’s day—if not worse!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Zambian Reformed Conference—The Third Day

Today (Wednesday) is the third day but the second full day of the Zambian Reformed Conference. I missed the opening day and the first full day (Monday) as Felistas and I crossed the Atlantic from the USA.

Dr Voddie Baucham preaching
Dr Voddie Baucham took the first session this morning. He was handling the theme: “Running Forward.” His task was to challenge us on the subject of missions. Today, he expounded the context of the Great Commission, i.e. the claim by Jesus that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).  He had this authority first of all as God and then in the second place he earned it as man. Using passage after passage across the New Testament all the way to the book of Revelation, he showed us the victory that Christ has won for us. He also showed how Jesus fulfilled ALL the promises of the Old Testament as the promised and protected seed and as the true Israel.

Part of the congregation listening to Dr Voddie Baucham
Dr Voddie Baucham then also showed the content of the Great Commission. Our first responsibility is “Go”. This is a global commission. The pattern of the apostles was that they went to the nations. This was a multi-ethnic commission. One of the demands of this is to translate the Bible into the various languages of the earth. This also implies church planting. This is an evangelistic commission. It demands that individuals abandon their previous allegiances and commit themselves to the triune-God. This is also a comprehensive commission. You need to teach them all the commands of Christ. We must make disciples. It is a doable commission because Jesus will be with us to the end of the ages.

Part of the congregation listening to Pastor Ken Jones
Pastor Ken Jones took the second session. He was handling the theme: “Remaining Faithful.” His task was that of preaching on the doctrines of grace. Today, he handled the doctrine of election. Before the foundation of the world, God knowing that Adam would sin and bring condemnation on his offspring, God sovereignly chose to save some of Adam’s posterity. It was not based on any good in them. This was a free and sovereign choice.

Pastor Jones then took the meeting through various passages of Scripture beginning with the Old Testament and all the way to the New Testament (e.g. Deut. 7:6-8, Rom. 9:6-21, Eph. 1:3-6, 2 Thess. 2:13-14). From these passages he showed that God chose sinners in spite their sin. The purpose for God’s choice is that those that he chooses would be holy and would love him. Whereas in our creation God puts us in Adam, in election God chooses us to be in Christ (the last Adam). The means us by which he brings us into Christ is the message of the gospel. It is imperative that we get that message right and we get it out! The motive for God choosing one sinner over another is the pleasure of his good will.

Pastor Ken Jones preaching
Pastor Jones made it clear that unconditional election is consistent with God’s attributes and character. He also postulated unconditional election does not violate human free will. Unconditional election does not negate evangelism but fulfils evangelism. Unconditional election lets grace to be grace. It shows that God’s favour is unprovoked favour. God freely chose to save sinners.

I missed the afternoon as I was battling jet lag. Hopefully, I will report on this tomorrow when I will participate in the afternoon 25th anniversary panel.

Dr Voddie Baucham preaching in the evening meeting
In the evening, Dr Voddie Baucham began by quoting John Piper’s statement that “Missions exists because worship does not.” He then went on to assert that if we are to understand missions then we must understand true worship. We must worship God only in the way that he has specifically instructed (the regulative principle in contrast to the normative principle).

Dr Voddie Baucham attempting to preach with a megaphone
during a power outage. In the end he preached without amplification.
Dr Baucham then went on to use the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) to show how true God himself delineates worship. The first commandment gives us the object of our worship. It must be the triune God and not what we want. The second commandment sets the limitations of our worship. Sincerity is not enough and innovation is not acceptable. Rather, we should aim for faithfulness. (At one stage there was a powercut and Dr Baucham preached in darkness).

Part of the congregation attending the evening meetings
The third commandment demonstrates the reverence that we are to have in worship. This refers to the attitude of our hearts. Everything that we do has consequences. We must ask ourselves whether what we are doing is reverent before God or just feeding our passion. The fourth commandment gives us the regularity of our worship. We are to worship God on the seventh day after six days of work. We do so because he says so. In missions, we are calling all human beings to participate in this worship. Missions exists because worship does not!

Another part of the congregation attending the evening meeting

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why should I not get married to someone who already has children?

[Disclaimer: This blog post is for young adults asking themselves this question. It is meant to give them a peep into the minds of their parents to understand why they give a vehement “No!” when they announce to them that they would like to get married to someone who has children. It is not meant to justify the reasons. It was written because of a query that I received from a young person in Zambia.]

QUESTION: Morning pastor. I have a growing concern that I seek clarity on. If possible, please answer it through your blog. I would like to find out: Is it right to get into courtship with a man/woman who has a child with a different person? They could be living with the child or not but you are well aware of this child's existence. I would like to know the pros and cons of this.

It is something that we youths would want to hide from parents and friends for fear of how we will be judged. Please, shed more light on this. How are we supposed to inform loved ones—assuming that courting someone with a child is right—without them having to second guess our decision? I await your response.

ANSWER: One of the hardest pills to swallow by parents is when their child comes home with the news that he or she is in love with someone who already has children. Of course, this is usually only the case if their child is a young adult who has never had any children.

This is why many men who have children outside marriage will hide them when they start courting a new suitor. They fear that once the new girl finds out she will break the relationship. Hence, these children tend to only come out of the woodworks after the wedding day.

Of course, there is no chapter or verse in the Bible that states that a person without children should never get married to one who already has children. However, there are a number of human reasons why most parents will do everything to stop this from happening.

Reasons for parental reluctance
All parents dream that their children will arrive on their wedding day as virgins and will get married to individuals who themselves are also in the same state. A suitor who already has children outside marriage says to the would-be-parents-in-law that they were already “sleeping around”.

This feeling is exaggerated in parents when it is a son who wants to marry a girl who already has children. Since a man is a proposer, they often wonder how their son could have bypassed all the virgins in town and ended up choosing a “used” woman. Was he given love portions? Hence, it often takes a very long time for the man’s parents to stop visibly resenting their daughter-in-law if the marriage still goes ahead.

What if the children were born when that person was in a previous marriage? Is that okay? Most parents still worry because they realise that their child is getting married to someone who is coming into the marriage with extra baggage. This brings some challenges with it.

Let me explain. If the person is a divorcee, their child will have to reckon with the on going presence of their in-law’s previous lover. The other parent of the children will often want to see the children or buy them things, which will always be seen as a threatening intrusion.

Even where the marriage ended with the demise of the other parent, the challenge often due to the different levels of attachment to the children. The biological parent is often more attached to the children than the one who inherited them as part of the marriage package.

It is not uncommon in such marriages to find situations where the biological parent is accusing the other one of lack of love for the children or the one who inherited the children through marriage accusing the biological parent of spoiling the children too much at his/her expense.

These accusations of bias tend to be worse when other children are born into this marriage. The victim of these accusations, rightly or wrongly, is the parent to whom some of the children were inherited through marriage. It is hard raising kids who are not your own!

Children also feel as if the person their parent has now fallen in love with is an intruder who has come to take away the attention and love they were enjoying from their parent. They tend to resent this. It takes quite some time and tact to change this strong negative emotion.

This only gets worse when children enter their teenage years. They seem to realise that this is a trump card they can use to get what they want from their biological parent. Hence, when their inherited parent denies them what they want, they scowl at him/her, and out comes this card!

Sometimes the victim is not the parent but the siblings who are half-brothers or half-sisters. Remember how King David’s family fell apart in 2 Samuel 13 when Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, and later Absalom the full-brother to Tamar murdered him? Things like that can happen.

It is because parents know all this, either from their own experience or from the experience of others whom they have related to (see some of it here), that they kick and scream when their child tells them that they have a suitor but that suitor already has children. It is far from good news to them.

So, these are some of the reasons—whether spoken or not—that cause parents to dig in their heels and say to their child, “What on earth has gotten into you? Is this the only person you can marry? Be patient. God will bring the right person along without all this baggage.”

What should your response be?
How should young adults respond when they meet with this blockade? To begin with, they need to sympathise with their parents rather than immediately get into counter-attack mode. This was not their parents’ dream. In fact, it was probably one of their nightmares.

Young people should give their parents time to digest all this. Once tempers and emotions have cooled down, they should get back to their parents with tangible assurances that will show them that they respect them, and are going into this marriage with both eyes wide open. Saying, “But we are in love!” is not enough. Talk about how you feel God has prepared you for the complications ahead.

It is often wise to bring in other elderly people in the wider family and in the church who can listen to the anxieties of the parents with true understanding but who can vouch for the character of the father/mother of the children and testify to how the children have already emotionally bonded with the person who may soon be their step-parent. This goes a long way to calm parental fears.

The two individuals planning to get married should also take time to talk with older couples that entered into marriage in similar circumstances, especially if they are Christians. They need to hear what challenges they should expect—and how they can best overcome them. The person inheriting children through marriage must face the fact that there will be times of serious friction ahead.

Finally, the two individuals must hand over this matter to God in prayer, asking that his will should be done. It is rarely ever wise to go against parental guidance. Where parents continue to adamantly refuse to bless your marriage plans, the wiser route is that of waiting in prayer.

Often in the waiting, the Lord finally opens a door that you least expected. I wish I could say that he finally causes your parents to let you go ahead, but that is not always the case. However, the Lord finally gives you a sense of peace about what you must do.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Seven 9Marks Books On Building Healthy Churches

I do not normally take up a whole blog post on book reviews, and so when I do so it is because I think that the books being reviewed are worth the effort and time. That is the case with the seven books I’m about to briefly review in this blog post.

9Marks has produced books that are roughly 100 to 150 pages long on subjects that are vital for the health of our churches in any cultural context. If you are a fast reader, you can read each one of them in one sitting. It is worth the effort.

In this blog post I summarise the contents of each one of these books in about 100 words. I hope that this will whet your appetite for more. If you are already well-equipped with your own library, I would urge you to consider sponsoring a set of these books for pastors (especially here in Africa) who cannot afford them.

Here in Africa, our greatest need is not about how to catch the rarest deep-water creatures on the ocean beds but simply how to swim. Hence most “how to” books coming off the Western press are too complex for us. These seven books are not!

The Gospel by Ray Ortlund (Foreword by J I Packer)
The author says, “This is a book about the gospel, yes. But more specifically, it’s about how the gospel can shape the life and culture of our churches so that they portray Christ as he really is, according to his gospel.” Ray expounds John 3:16 showing God’s love in redemption. He proceeds to apply this to the church and to all creation. The rest of the book deals with the deeper implications of “a gospel culture”, which is produced by a church permeated with gospel doctrine. I can only say that I wish every church pastor would strive to achieve this today.

Evangelism by J Mack Stiles (Foreword by David Platt)
This is a book about developing a culture of evangelism in the whole church. Mack wishes to see less evangelistic programmes but more individual involvement in evangelism by church members. This involves intentional evangelism, life-styles shaped by the gospel, personal evangelism as a spiritual discipline, etc. To get us thinking, Mack begins with what most of us consider evangelism, i.e. the altar call system. Showing how it falls short of biblical evangelism, he proceeds to give us a positive dose of biblical teaching.

Church Elders by Jeramie Rinne
This is a book about “lay elders”, i.e. those who are elders in the church but do not serve as paid pastors. It answers the question, “Now that I am an elder, what next?” The author writes, “This books is intended to provide a concise, biblical job description for elders. I want to create an easy-to-read, inspiring summary of the elder task that could be given to a new or potential elder who needs to know what an elder is and does.” Like any good book on eldership, Jeramie begins with eldership qualifications and then goes on to look at the work that elders must do.

Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson
Each chapter in this book begins with the words, “Sound doctrine is for…” The reason for this must be obvious. Too many people believe that doctrine is divisive and must thus be set aside. We must instead only emphasise love. The author, therefore, labours to show that sound doctrine is for our good as individuals and as churches. “Doctrine isn’t just for a statement of faith that’s hidden away on the back page of a church website; it’s for sermons, small groups, personal conversations, prayers, songs, and more,” Bobby asserts.

Expositional Preaching by David Helm
Once upon a time, topical preaching was killing the churches. Today, it is motivational speaking passing under the guise of preaching that’s doing it. We need to get back to expositional preaching. David defines this as “empowered preaching that rightfully submits the shape and emphasis of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of a biblical text.” This book is all about how to do that. So, this book is more like a workshop manual (with diagrams), which you use while your hands are on the tools of the trade. Is that not what we preachers need?

Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman (Foreword by Michael Horton)
Jonathan begins by showing us how we often approach church membership wrongly (as a club instead of an embassy) and then he delves into Scripture to show us the right approach. He then defines what the local church is and what church membership should be. With that out of the way, Jonathan delves into the practical subject of responsibilities of church membership. This book ends with what to do when members stop fulfilling their biblical roles. As you can see, this is the kind of book you want to put into the hands of all church members.

Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman
If you are a church leader, this is the kind of book you wish you had read long ago! Jonathan gives us a biblical framework for church discipline so that we understand its basic principles. He then applies those principles to different case studies to help us see how they work. Finally, he takes us to the starting line and shouts, “Ready…steady…go!” In other words, this is a subject to be engaged in and not simply learnt about. I have no doubt that our churches would bear better fruit today if only we understood and applied the teaching in this book!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Charismatic teaching is breeding spiritual havoc

The Zambian government is concerned about the many cases of pastors defiling girls, impregnating female church members, swindling church funds, causing the death of congregants by advising them against medical treatment, etc. At their level, they are seeking to address this matter because it is conspicuously getting out of hand. We wait to see what wisdom God will give to “the powers that be”! Other countries, such as Botswana, have already started clamping down on such pastors (see here).

However, as a church, there is an elephant in the room that we seem to be failing to see—namely, that this scourge is almost exclusively among our Charismatic friends. Notice, I said “almost exclusively”. So, put those guns back into their holsters! I agree that once in a long while you hear of a pastor in other Christian circles being guilty of these misdemeanours. However, for every one of these pastors there are ninety-nine Charismatic pastors wreaking spiritual havoc. Am I the only one seeing this discrepancy in numbers on the two sides of this fence?

Also, in other church circles there seems to be self-regulatory methods that quickly kick these wolves in sheepskins out of the sheep pen. Disciplinary measures are undertaken and the individuals are speedily expelled. Across the fence, in the wider Charismatic world, these self-regulatory systems seem to be almost absent. Partly, it is because the pastor and his wife are normally the owners of the church’s name and the church’s assets. Hence, they have the audacity to tell those who point out their wrongs that the whistle blowers are the ones who must leave. Or, if they are ever expelled, they simply cross the road and start another Fimo-fimo [i.e. Something-something] International Ministries. And the rot goes on! Isn’t this ridiculous situation staring all of us in the face?

I have been told on many occasions that when I lump the bad guys with the good ones under the umbrella of “the Charismatics” I do a great disfavour to the good guys. I should perhaps use the term “prosperity gospel preachers” or “health-and-wealth preachers” in order to point out who the bad guys are.

Two vital concerns
Two issues concern me here. Firstly, why is it that almost all of these heretics are being nursed in Charismatic circles until they are weaned and ushered upon the world’s stage as full-blown heretics? Does this not suggest that there is something intrinsic in the Charismatic milk, which, once sucked for a number of years, tends to lend itself towards these heretical views? I am simply asking.

For instance, there is the view that God still speaks to us independent of the Bible. Drink this milk for a number of years and you will soon be attributing to God the inner voices coming from your fallen self. Then there is the view of “the man of God” who is a cut above everyone else in the church. Again suck this for a few years and, before you know it, you want to be a bishop, an apostle, and God-knows what other ecclesiastical titles are being forged in this factory of madness. You also close yourself off from peer accountability structures. You are a chief!

What about the emphasis on miracles, signs, and wonders? Again, does it not make sense that once this becomes a regular diet, all that people will want is health and wealth at the fingers of ecclesiastical witch doctors? Even the blood of Jesus is no longer about appeasing the wrath of a sin-hating God but instead it is about sprinkling on cars (for safe travel), hospital beds (for healing), and wallets (for more money). This is such an obvious continuum that I am amazed that we are not seeing this. Charismatic teaching is breeding these spiritual mavericks!

That does not mean that everyone who holds on to Charismatic views will end up tipping over the cliff edge. I have many Charismatic friends who I deeply respect and so far they are keeping a safe distance away from the edge. Many of them, for instance, are concerned about the Nigerian religious junk that is engulfing the continent. However, I am still asking the question: Can’t they see that intrinsic in their doctrinal position are the seeds leading to the disaster we are currently facing on the continent? This question needs to be faced honestly.

Secondly, I am very concerned about the failure of acknowledged leaders of the Charismatic movement on the continent of Africa to address this matter because to me it is a very serious issue. Behind closed doors, with a volume that is just slightly louder than a whisper, they assure me that they are concerned about it and are addressing it. But I never hear their voice in the growing chorus of condemnation at the havoc being caused by these health-and-wealth preachers.

A creepy similarity
There is a creepy similarity between this phenomenon and what is happening in Islam. There seems to be a fear by many people to state that Islam is the cause of the current mayhem in the world. They would rather we just call the people who are doing all this simply as terrorists. However, why is it that Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, etc., comprise people of Islamic belief? Could there be something in Islamic teaching that fosters the belief that Allah rewards you if you thrust your religious convictions down the bloody throats of other people?

Notice also that behind closed doors, Islamic leaders are willing to tell us that they are equally opposed to these militant terrorist groups. They assure us that Islam is a very peaceful religion. But even before they finish giving us these assurances, these Islamic terrorist groups are reported to be blowing up civilians on every side and we do not hear any loud condemnation from their lips. CNN, BBC, or Aljazeera is not quoting any of them issuing clear condemnations against these perpetrators of mayhem. Instead, they are conspicuously quiet.

These assurances from both Charismatic and Islamic leaders—while the world is going up in flames—remind me of what my late dad used to say when you wake up with a wound on any of your toes or fingers. He would say, “It was the work of a rat.” When you would ask how come you did not feel pain while the rat was nibbling your flesh away, he would say, “The rats blow on the wound each time they nibble. Thus you do not feel the pain. And that way, they can eat away your entire toe or finger.” Although that may not have been true, it was enough to keep me checking my limbs in the morning when I slept in a rat-infested place.

I fear that although the story of blowing rodents may be untrue, Charismatic and Islamic leaders are fulfilling this story in the world of humans. Their assurances are numbing our nerve-endings while rebels within their ranks wreak havoc. It is time they admitted that their teaching is fundamentally flawed at a very crucial point and is a nursery bed that is breeding these dangerous religious fanatics!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Parenting in the age of the smartphone

One of the greatest challenges presented to parents today who are trying to bring up their children in a godly way is the advent of the smartphone. It has opened doors into the lives of our children that we certainly did not have when we were growing up.

To begin with, if we had any phone at all in the home, it was the only one for the whole family to use and it was in a place where we could all hear the conversation. It never received text messages and it was locked so that you could not ring out without permission.

Once upon a time, it was also almost impossible for young people to lay their hands on pornographic materials. It was only available as hard copies through very rare magazines, which had to be smuggled into the country and kept under boys’ mattresses.

That has completely changed. Our children are now going around with smart phones, which are certainly a thousand times smarter than their parents. Those phones, which they keep with them wherever they go, give them access to virtually anyone and anything.

This ought to be a blessing—if only we were not living in a world of sin. The blessing is that as parents we can access our children at the touch of a button wherever they are, and they can access us too. But, that is probably as far as the blessing can go.

As I have said, we live in a world of sin. For every responsible parent there are tens of thousands of immoral men and women who are preying on the lives of our children. Thus, through those same smart phones, our children are being sent every form of corrupting junk.

Only a few years ago, as long as your son or daughter did not give their number to a stranger, they were relatively safe. No one could call them or send them text messages. Then the Internet became accessible via smartphones and everything changed.

Now, parents can be sitting in the living-room, and in their bedroom the children are being wooed by wolves through what is called social media on their phones. They could be accessing pornographic sites anywhere in the world at the click of a button. It is terrible!

What should we do as parents? Firstly, if we are going to bring up godly children, we will need to educate them about the fact that they are not in a playground but in a battlefield, surrounded by ferocious wolves. These wolves will use their smartphones to destroy them.

Secondly, as we slowly allow our children to have their own smartphones, we must work around the clock to ensure that they come early to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only when Jesus changes their hearts spiritually will they deliberately choose to use their phones to the glory of God and not to feed their fallen appetites. So, parents, wake up!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Watching Soaps Corrupts The Mind

[I have received numerous complaints about the lack of updates on my blog. I think that I have concentrated too much on Facebook. I plead guilty. I am back! I hope that this renewed commitment will last, after the number of rebukes I have received. Let us wait and see. So, here we go!]

I am concerned about the number of soaps that have invaded our television channels. I have no doubt that they must be popular. Otherwise, why would the owners of television stations multiply them so much? They must be bringing in stashes of cash for the shareholders.

My concern is with the moral effects of these soaps, especially on the minds of the young and impressionable. Young people easily believe what they watch on television. Thus even if they go to church on Sunday, the soaps end up dictating their views of life.

The result of this is that even if the Bible clearly teaches that sex must only be left to married people, many Christian young people have their views of love and romance moulded by the dirty and immoral programs that they make their daily evening diet on television. 

They soak themselves in the mucky sewer waters that gush out of those programs until their very lives also begin to stink in the same way. They forget that the movie directors are mostly godless and care nothing about the Bible and its Ten Commandments. 

Hence, the very thread on which the soaps move from one episode to another is one adulterous affair after another. This one is having an affair with that one, but he does not know that that one already has an affair with that other one, who has a child with the first one, and that child who is now an adult is having an affair with that other one’s father, and…the sordid details go on ad infinitum, ad nauseam!

It is basic computer language, “Rubbish in; rubbish out.” You cannot continue watching sexually explicit movies with an immoral bias without awakening sexual appetites with an immoral bias within you. It is simple common sense.

The Bible says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). By watching those blue movies, you are making yourself a companion of fools and so do not be surprised when you finally suffer harm.

The Bible also warns young people, saying in Song of Solomon 2:7, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.” When you are watching those blue movies as young people, you are awakening appetites within you when there is no way in which you can righteously satisfy them. The time is not right! Therefore, you end up satisfying those desires outside marriage. 

So, the way forward is: Do not watch those movies, they are poisonous to your soul! If you have already polluted your soul with the rubbish that comes from there, go to Christ and ask him to cleanse your soul with the blood that he shed on Calvary. He will do it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How can I prove that the gift of prophecy has ceased?

[This is the third instalment in a series of blog posts in which I am answering questions posed by my Facebook "friends" who are between the ages of 15 and 25. I took a rather long break due to other demands on my time but I am now back. This was actually the first question that I got, but I did not want to make it the first one to get an answer. So, SS, you actually made it. You were the first!]

QUESTION: “Hi Pastor. I was hoping I could be the first to ask a question. Hehe! I have a friend from school and we are always at each other necks when it comes to the topic of prophecy. He says they still exist and I say they no longer exist. I have been trying to convince him for a while now but it seems like it is not working. I need help on how I can solidly prove to him that those things stopped existing immediately the Bible was complete. He is always saying stuff like the Bible is not complete and asking me why those other books were not included in the Bible. That is another point were I zone out and fail to answer.” (From SS)

ANSWER: There are few areas in the Bible that Christians will always disagree on like the area of prophecy. Partly, this is because prophecy normally speaks about the future and we are not sure whether we are there or not. Hence, how to interpret prophecy will remain a point of contention until the Lord returns.

Another area that Christians will differ on until Christ returns will be the continuation or cessation (ceasing) of the extra-ordinary revelatory gifts that God gave to the early church. This includes the gift of prophecy. It is this matter that you are now asking me to address. This is easier to prove than the first.

When it comes to spiritual gifts, the best place to start is simply to state, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” What do you do if someone says he is gifted as an evangelist? Put an empty tomato box at a busy public square, ask him to get on it, put a Bible in his hands and stand aside. If he stammers into confusion and sends everyone to sleep, suggest to him that perhaps his gifts lie elsewhere. However, if he brings the place to a standstill as he declares the unsearchable riches of Christ and sinners are brought to repentance and faith, who are you to doubt God’s call upon his life? “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

Similarly, Moses said in Deuteronomy 18 that if someone claimed to be a prophet but his words did not come to pass then he was not a true prophet and the people were not to listen to him. That is the proof. Are there individuals in our churches today who are so gifted by God that they are foretelling the future and edifying God’s people? If they are there—and their prophecies are coming to fulfilment—then who are we to say that the gift of prophecy has ceased?

However, if the person you are arguing with will be referring to someone in far way in Nigeria who seems to be foretelling the future or if he is referring to his church pastor who is calling himself a prophet but has nothing to show for his title, then what he is referring to has nothing to do with what was happening in the New Testament. In the Bible, many of the churches had a number of prophets. Paul would urge them to wait on each other and take turns. Let your friend show you where this is happening today and why it is not the case in so many other churches? The burden of proof must lie with him rather than you.

There are other theological and biblical arguments but since this series is meant for those below the age of 25, I am reluctant to kill a fly with a ten-pound hammer. This should suffice for now. Let me know what your friend will say.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What I have gained and lost

Our hiding place for the last 13 months--40A Chudleigh Estate, Lusaka
Thirteen months ago, my family moved from the church pastor’s house that is on the church property to our family house some twenty minutes drive from the church. I think that we are now settled in the new home, having done all the initial necessary repairs to the property.

This is the best time for me to reflect on the move—a little more than one year later. Was this a good move? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a pastor living outside the neighbourhood where his church is? Those are the thoughts on my mind right now.

Obviously, depending on one’s circumstances, the advantages and disadvantages may vary. I do not think that my reflection will fit everyone like a hand in glove. However, for what it is worth, I thought I should pen down what I think I have gained and lost by moving away from Kabwata.

What have I gained? I think that the best word to describe what I have gained is the word PRIVACY. When we were on the church premises, our doorbell never stopped ringing until just before midnight. People kept coming for every conceivable thing—church keys, water, directions, money, counsel—you name it.

Where we now live, if you ever hear a knock on the door (or the gate), it is someone who really wants to see you. In fact, I cannot remember when that last happened. Those who come to visit often call well in advance and make an appointment. What a difference!

We do not have cars driving onto the property for other business or school kids running around. The perimeter concrete wall also ensures that our entire property is out of view from anyone. The only non-family members we see around are birds and stray cats.

What have I lost? I think that the best word to describe what I have lost is the word NEIGHBOURLINESS. When we were on the church premises for 18 years, I literally became part of the furniture in the Kabwata area. I am not sure what I was not involved in.

I sat on various neighbourhood boards—in boards for the local YMCA, the neighbourhood schools, the neighbourhood watch, the constituency fund, etc. Hence, I mingled almost daily with the leaders of the wider Kabwata community.

Taking early morning or late afternoon walks here in Chudleigh is a very private affair. From time to time, I get a respectful greeting from a total stranger. In the Kabwata area it was anything but private. Kids would often shout out, “Pastor Mbewe!!!” as they saw me walk by.

At the neighbourhood shops, I would pause to chat with the shop owners before getting my groceries. I would talk with my barber about things in the church neighbourhood as he reduced my net weight. Kids coming out of the shop would demand a lollipop from “Pastor”.

Felistas also had evangelistic opportunities in the area around the church simply because she is a nurse and a midwife by training—and the people got to know about it. So, there were quite a number of first-time contacts with the church that started as medical emergencies.

The people living in the community around the church knew my family and saw the way my wife and I raised our kids. In fact, our oldest daughter got married and now lives a stone’s throw away from the church premises. So, they can see “the proof of the pudding”.

People in the church neighbourhood would refer distressed individuals to me because we had come to know one another through my community involvement, and the church premises in the community spoke of a place to find help.

So many of my ministry opportunities as a local church pastor occurred through unplanned situations. Giving a lift to someone in the neighbourhood, chatting with my local barber, walking past the local play park and finding young people in each other’s warm embrace, etc.

I guess with time I could rebuild a sense of neighbourliness where I now reside—though in an up-market residential area it is ten times more difficult—but the absence of the church premises in the local community makes me less visible and denies them a nearby reference point.

So, today I am weighing my gains against my losses. I think that I have lost more than I have gained. A year away from my parish makes me feel like a stranger in the community of Kabwata. I think that it is preferable, if at all possible, for a pastor to live where he ministers.

Like Jesus, it is good to tabernacle among the people (John 1:14). Thus John was able to say, “We have seen his glory.” Obviously, this happened as they walked, ate, and talked with him in everyday life—and not just when he stood up to deliver his famous sermons.

One change, though, that I would make is to live off the church premises. That one, I do not miss!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Testimonies From Our 2014 Pastoral Interns

I was converted to Christ in 1995 in Lusaka at an evangelistic crusade organised by the Coming Soon Ministry of South Africa. Before I became a Christian I used to go to church regularly. I joined the Pentecostal Assemblies of God and even sang in the choir. Eventually I even became a choirmaster for eight years. I had no sense of my spiritual condition because I was dead in sin. When the Coming Soon Ministry came to conduct the evangelistic crusade, I participated in it because I felt it was my duty to do so as a Christian. The message that was preached was from Romans 3:23 and 6:23, and the Lord opened my eyes to my true condition before him. I realised how sinful I was and asked for forgiveness there and then. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

In 1995 I sensed a call to the preaching ministry and in 1996 a number of us opened a church in Lusaka. Then I was sent to Mumbwa where I opened another church. While in Mumbwa I enrolled in a Bible college. After graduation in 1999 I began to serve the Lord as a full time pastor. I was introduced to Kabwata Baptist Church by pastors Curtis Chirwa and Lichawa Thole. While on this internship programme, I hope by God’s grace to learn a lot concerning pastoral work in a practical way, more especially because the pastor of KBC is my lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the Lusaka Ministerial College.

I got saved in December 2001. The sermon was about going to hell or heaven. The preacher gave an illustration likening how a hen protects its chicks with its very life to how Jesus Christ left heaven and gave his life for our sins. That really touched my heart.  After the service I asked one of the leaders how I can get saved. Through the Bible he explained to me about my sins and the love of God. On that day I got so convicted about my sin that I could not leave the church premises until I gave my life to Jesus Christ.

I had a great desire for pastoral ministry for a long time but I first wanted to have a secured life with a good income so that I could help my family. But man’s plans are not God’s. In 2008, God took everything that I depended on and bought me to the point where I surrendered my life completely for his use.

I came at Kabwata Baptist Church to learn about pastoral ministry from a pastor whom I consider to have a successful pastoral ministry. I want to learn what it takes to have a successful ministry. I want to learn how a church should be organised with all the elders and deacons at work. I also want to learn how a church can be missions oriented through its church programs.    

I come from Sierra Leone and was born in a non-Christian family. I gave my life to Christ through a brother who invited me to his church and also told me about Christ and the beauty of being a Christian. Initially, I was very excited about the Christian life because I realised the pitiful life I had been living. However, as time went on the pressures upon me as a young man assaulted my devotion to Christ.

Through the vibrant teaching of a local church I recommitted my life to Christ. It was then that I began to sense God’s call for me to enter full time pastoral ministry. This was also confirmed to me by my pastor, friends, elders, and loved ones. I went to Bible college to further study the Word of God and to equip myself to tell others about Chr
ist. After completing the training I wanted to come for this pastoral internship program at Kabwata Baptist Church to learn how I can practically implement and practice what I had been taught. I wanted to know how to function as a pastor and teacher in the local church.

I hope and pray that after my one year of pastoral internship at Kabwata Baptist Church I will be able to understand the importance of the pastoral ministry and how it operates in the life of a church. I hope that after my period here I can go back to Sierra Leone and make a change in my generation by the grace of God.

I got converted during a camp organised by the Scripture Union in 1980. Then I was baptised at Bethel Baptist Church in Kafue. Since then my life has been at peace with God and I have enjoyed my relationship with him. I came to know about Kabwata Baptist Church through Pastor Albert Ngoma of Calvary Baptist Church in Chipata and then I learned of the internship program last year after my graduation at Covenant College where I got a diploma in theology.

My expectations during the internship are that I may grow spiritually and be able to understand the Reformed distinctives. As a missionary pastor, it is not enough to just graduate and then accept to pastor a church. I need to know more about what I am getting myself into. Therefore, I thank God that Kabwata Baptist Church has accepted me into this programme. It is my prayer that I will make it to the end and be fully baked for ministry.

During my internship, the following are the specific items that I would really love to learn:
How a Reformed church is run.
How a pastor works with fellow elders.
How two pastors can work together in the same church.
How cell groups are organised in a big church like Kabwata Baptist Church.
How deacons work with the elders.
How missions work is coordinated in a local church.
I have mentioned but a few items only. The list is long. May God help me during this period!

I come from Canada. I was first introduced to the gospel of Christ in the summer of 2003 at the age of 12. A good friend invited me to a teen activity at Cornerstone Baptist Church. I attended these youth meetings and even Sunday and midweek services for almost a full year, though I rejected the gospel that was taught weekly. It was in the summer of 2004 while at a camp organised by Heritage Baptist Church that I finally confessed my sinful condition and accepted Christ as my Saviour.

Upon completing high school in 2008, I began my studies at Faith Way Baptist College, where I was enrolled in a Bachelor of Christian Education. It was in my third year at College that I recognised the Lord’s calling to full time Christian service, particularly among the people of my home province, Newfoundland and Labrador. I attended Camp BIMI in the summer of 2012 to pursue these missionary interests. Since then, I have enjoyed the privilege that the Lord has granted to serve in my home church in many capacities—preaching, teaching, youth work, children’s clubs, and menial labours.

In the summer of 2013, my pastor, Dennis Seely, and a fellow church member, Allan Mweemba, took a three-week trip to Zambia that was grounded in philanthropy. Shortly thereafter it was proposed that I undertake a similar but more extensive trip. I am currently enjoying the opportunity to serve at Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, as a three-month intern. Your prayers are greatly appreciated.

My name is Monametsi Chapman Bahudi. I have been married to Tshoganetso Bahudi since November 5th 1998. We have four daughters. We live in Gaborone, Botswana.

I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at a Scripture Union meeting in July 1992. A sermon was preached on the story of Naaman. We had gone to the meeting to mock the Christians but the Lord had his plan for my life that day. I delayed going to any church, but in 1994 I started attending Gaborone Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) where I became a member. I experienced much growth and involvement in the church. I began teaching and rose to a point where I began to be treated as the pastor's assistant. I became confident in the church ministries and felt what I thought was a call of God to the pastorate. Sadly, I had to quit the church over doctrinal conflicts.

The desire to serve God grew after I joined Central Baptist Church in Gaborone (a Church plant of Kabwata Baptist Church) in 2004. I informed the elders at Kabwata Baptist Church about my call to the pastorate and I was ordained as a missionary of the church in July 2012.

I enrolled in this internship program so that I can learn how to plant and lead a biblical church. The internship is expected to give me the practical skills and disciplines on pastoral ministry in an environment of observing and interacting with experienced elders and an active church membership.