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!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Where are the men?

I am on my way to preach at a men’s conference in Vancouver, Canada, and this question is bugging me: “Where are the men?” I am not asking where the men are who are supposed to attend the coming conference because I have no idea what the numbers signing up look like.

Rather, I am asking where the men are in the families, in the churches, and in the nation. To be sure, I can see many of the male species in all these spheres but what irks me is that so few of them seem to be rising to the calling that God has given to them as men in society.

The missing men in the world

Look at the family, for instance. Many men are as good as absent. They seem to be content to being served rather than playing their God-given roles of presider, protector, and provider. There is little effort at leading family devotions, home maintenance, and discipling the kids.

In society where men were once dominant, the trend is also fast reversing. Apart from the push from the West to kick women out of the kitchen and put them at par with men in the business world, men seem to see the workplace as a place where you only go to make money.

If that is so, then why should men have a bigger share of the workforce cake than women? What’s gender got to do with it? The fact that women are more biologically wired for the role of home making and baby nursing is not a matter for discussion. Do not even go there.

Thus, we now have men who are content to stay at home while their wives go off to work. It is amazing how many jobless and homeless men want to marry. When asked how they will look after their wives, they look at you as if you are asking them a question in rocket science.

Missing men in the church

The same can be observed in the church. Men prefer to simply drop off their wives and children at church and proceed to their recreational or economic activities. Those who make it to church sit back half-asleep and watch young people and women lead worship.

Some time ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Is the Evangelical Church in Africa glorifying God?” I asked questions about some disconcerting issues. My last question was, “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.”

In that post I went on to say, “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?”

One pastor’s wife visiting Zambia soon after I posted the blog post said to me, “Conrad, the problem is the lack of men taking the initiative and providing leadership. My husband wants to use men but as soon as he asks them to do something they disappear into the grass!”

This lady is not the only one complaining. You ask most church leaders and they will tell you that even if their membership roll is half male, most of the men in the church will disappear faster than dew in the morning if you attempt to give them any work. They just won’t do it.

The missing male role model

Where is the problem stemming from so that we can try and address it there? It is in the homes. Many men are brought up in homes with absentee fathers. Either they only have a single parent mother or they have a father whose moral example is a total disaster.

The only proof of the father’s manhood is his adulterous affairs and fathering of their stepsiblings with other women outside the home. The male children in these homes know nothing about a man’s selfless leadership because they have grown up without one.

The only other time they see a man’s strength is when he turns into a brutish beast and beats up their mother. The strength that God gave him to protect and provide for the weaker vessel is instead abused to beat her into a pulp. What kind of men will come out of such homes?

These sons see their dads do absolutely nothing in church except warming their seats. Thus although they themselves may be active in church as young lads, they look forward to their years of “retirement” from Christian service when they also grow up, marry, and have kids.

It is a form of fulfilling the Scriptures that say, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Jer. 31:29 and Ezek. 18:2). In other words, sons are being condemned to an effeminate lifestyle because of the disastrous example of their fathers.

What does God say about this?

It is clear that we have two genders in every species—male and female. Did the Creator have any reason for making two of each kind? He seems to have had a reason for everything else!

In the cultural mandate, both Adam and Eve were to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). When the microscope of Scripture goes into the details of their work (2:1ff), it becomes clear that Adam was given charge even before Eve showed up.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat...” (Gen. 2:15-17).

There is no doubt that one vital role that God made man for was that of leadership. When he was about to make the first woman, Eve, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). Eve was made as a helper to Adam.

We can go further. In the 1,500 years in which the Bible was being penned, from Genesis to Revelation, you do not have a single female elder. The Son of God left twelve leaders for the church and not one of them was female. Dare we accuse our Maker of male chauvinism?

The reason why humanity is in chaos and death today goes all the way back to Genesis when Adam failed to play the man. God said to him, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife… in pain you shall eat of [the ground] all the days of your life” (Gen. 3:17).

Adam failed to provide spiritual leadership at the most critical juncture in humanity’s history and we are still paying for it today. Sadly, today’s men are making the same blunder. Women are running the affairs of homes, churches, and nations while they sleep in the backseat.

This criminal negligence by men must be arrested. Men must come out of the shadows where they are hiding behind women and take up the position that God wired them for. They must set an example to their sons of what a mature man is supposed to be. They must start doing so today!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Homosexual Agenda

(My 19th Radio Christian Voice Commentary for 2015)

I continue to be alarmed by the way in which Western funds are being used in Africa, and in Zambia to be more precise, in pushing the homosexual agenda. It does not matter how many times Zambians reject this, the funds continue to flow to make us change our minds.

Non-governmental organisations are the most vulnerable because they depend on donor money for their very existence. They cannot bite the finger that feeds them. Hence, they have to dance to the Master’s tune or face extinction. It is very sad.

Zambians have said a very clear “No” to the homosexual agenda over and over again. We are being made to look as if we are petty, fearful, and backward. We have said that it goes against both our cultural and Christian values. Yet, the pressure continues to mount.

I have a lot to say about how wrong this agenda is and how abnormal homosexuality is. However, too many children are listening to my commentary and so I do not want to defile their innocent minds. How best can I spare them and yet express myself? Let us try this.

In order to move from Point A to Point B in a car you need both a key and an ignition hole into which you place the key and turn it. I think that most adults will understand that. With so many second-hand Japanese cars in Zambia now almost all of us are driving these days.

If a person insists on forcing the key around the gear stick the car will not move, however much he rubs the two together. Similarly, if he insists on using the key in the exhaust pipe he will only make the key dirty but the car will not move. You get me?

Insisting that because the car is yours you can place the key wherever you want is not the point. Someone made the car and he made it for a purpose. Granted, part of the purpose was to give you pleasure as you drive. Yet remember a car is meant to move you around.

When I was a child, we would often sit in dad’s car and pretend we were driving. We would make “vroom!” sounds with our mouths and even bounce on the driver’s seat as if we were going over bumps. It was enjoyable but the car never got us from Point A to Point B.

That was okay. We were kids. We were imitating our parents. But now we have grown up. We have put childish ways behind us. We know that you need to have a real key and put it into an ignition hole in order to fulfil the purpose for which the car was made.

Similarly, sex is not only for pleasure. It is also for procreation, taking us on the road of partnership in parenting, as we fulfil God's cultural mandate to fill the earth and subdue it. The homosexual agenda flies in the face of all that and wants us to behave like kids. Come on, guys, grow up!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Corruption—a destroyer of souls and nations

(My 18th Radio Christian Voice Commentary for 2015)

I was at a petrol station and had just topped up fuel in my car. I asked for an invoice. The petrol attendant, as we call them, stood next to me with a pen in one hand and an invoice in the other and said, “How much should I write on it?” I insisted it must be what I had paid.

A few minutes later, driving out of Lusaka, I was stopped for over-speeding. When the policeman came over and asked me what I do, I told him I was a pastor. He let me go but added, “Just leave me something for a Coke.” I had a Coke in the car and I left it with him.

I knew what he wanted but I pretended that I did not catch the cue. After all, he asked for a Coke! I am concerned about this. There is too much money going into people’s pockets who have not worked for it. It has become a culture. We call it corruption. It is also fraud.

Corruption is endemic in Zambia—and it is getting worse with every passing day. With so few places in government schools, colleges, and universities, it is not uncommon for the officer processing new students to ask for a bribe. Sadly, many of us give in to this.

We know the language. The officer never says, “Give me a bribe.” He says something like, “Sorry there are no places available. The institution is full. But if you are desperate I can help you. It may cost you a little more. Leave your details here, I will get in touch.”

In Isaiah 1:23 God said to the nation of Israel, “Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts.” This is what we are dealing with here. No one wants a fair day’s wage. We are all running after so-called gifts.

You may say, “But what is wrong with that?” Money must be given in exchange for an honest service. It must never be given for an apparent favour. Favours are meant to be free by definition. When you pay for a favour, you are guilty of bribery. It is corruption.

Let me go further. In Exodus 23:8, God said, “You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.” The problem with receiving money where no equivalent service is given, you feel indebted to the person who gave you the money. You end up doing wrong as a form of gratuity to your creditor.

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. If you find that you are willing to do anything for money, you will destroy your soul and the soul of the nation. It is a matter of time. I implore you to ask God for forgiveness and, if it is possible, return the money you got.

Yes, God is willing to forgive bribery and corruption, if you ask Jesus to cleanse you by the blood that he shed on the cross. When Jesus cleanses you like this, he also gives you a heart that detests corruption. So, Jesus is the answer even to the question of corruption!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Pray for today's persecuted church

(My 17th Radio Christian Voice Commentary for 2015)

Pictures of students murdered at Garissa University College in Kenya

I am currently in Kenya speaking at the Scott Christian University's golden jubilee graduation ceremony. The fact that I am visiting a university in Kenya reminds me of the massacre that recently took place at Garissa University College.

In case you missed the news, about a month ago the al-Shabab Islamic terrorist group from Somalia attacked Garissa University College in the early hours of the morning and killed over 140 students in cold blood. They deliberately singled out Christian students.

The first target was an early morning prayer meeting, where almost all the Christians present were killed. Students were then dragged out of their dormitories by masked gunmen and told to recite Muslim prayers. If they failed to do so, they were shot on the spot.

There have been similar executions of Christians in Libya by ISIS, another Islamic terrorist group. In February it was Egyptian Coptic Christians and more recently it was Ethiopian Christians who were killed simply because they claimed to be Christians.

These are only three recent cases of mass killings where it was obvious the victims were being ruthlessly slaughtered because they were Christians. What are we to think about all this? This question is pertinent because these incidents are increasing by the day.

We must remind ourselves, Jesus warned his disciples that this was going to happen to them after his departure. He said in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

From the time of the martyrdom of Stephen recorded for us in the Book of Acts all the way to the conversion of Emperor Constantine around 300 AD, Christians were hunted like wild animals. It is a wonder that the Christian Faith continued to spread despite all this.

What is happening today, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, should not surprise us. Many of us are sheltered from this harsh reality. We think it strange that our brothers and sisters live each day under the threat of martyrdom. It should not surprise us!

Having reminded ourselves that this is the normal Christian life, we must pray for the persecuted church. No doubt, they themselves must surely be praying for their circumstances to change. We must join their cries to God that he may quench the flames of persecution.

Sadly, this is rarely happening. Our prayers are still about God fixing our broken toenails. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:26, if one member of the body suffers then all suffer together. Or as Paul said to the Colossians in 4:18, “Remember my chains.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Zambia's nationwide power outage

(My 16th Radio Christian Voice Commentary for 2015)

It rarely ever happens that a whole country is plunged into total darkness for over three hours. And so the fact that this happened across Zambia last Monday, except for two provinces, has caused the whole nation to pause and think. What on earth went wrong?

The Zambia Electricity Supply Company (ZESCO) has informed us that there was a system failure at its Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank power stations. How that can happen at two power stations at once is still a subject of further investigations.

The sudden loss of power is dangerous. There have been reports of vital institutions like hospitals being affected and obviously lives have since been lost. Individuals were trapped underground in the mines and in other places during this period.

The economic loss to the nation during those hours of power outage will probably remain uncalculated but it certainly goes into millions of dollars. So, everything must be done to avoid this situation ever occurring again. We must all agree about that.

The absence of electric power, and the darkness that results from this, reminds me of an even worse darkness that the Bible often warns against. It is the darkness that results from the absence of the word of God. This has far worse consequences that losing electric power.

We read in Micah 3:5 to 6, “Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray…. It shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them….”

Why is the absence of the word of God likened to darkness? It is because at night you need light to see where you are going. In the same way, life is like a journey. Without knowledge you cannot tell where you are going and, in the end, you would be totally lost.

Human beings are sinners under the wrath of Almighty God. We have an eternity in hell or heaven awaiting us. Our greatest need is to know how we can be reconciled to God so that we live in a way that pleases him. This knowledge is only available in the gospel.

Sadly, we are living in a day of prophets who lead people astray. Religious cults and false prophets in thousands are peddling a false gospel all around us. In other words, we are surrounded by pitch-black religious darkness and we do not even know it!

So, we must seek solutions to ensure Zambia is never engulfed in darkness again. The church must also combat false teachings that are engulfing our nation. The lack of electricity may result in the loss of lives but the lack of the true gospel will send people into a Christ-less eternity. That is a million times worse than the power outage we recently experienced.