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!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The death of a pet

A few days ago I stood by my study window and saw our youngest daughter, Mwape, standing helplessly as she saw her pregnant dog, Chelsea, breathe her last. Mwape had taken a day off from work because she was not feeling well herself. Little did she know that it was going to be her last day with her dog.

It was evident that the exceptionally territorial dog had been poisoned on Sunday while we were at church. (Thieves often do this when they want to steal and find your dog too ferocious). The whole day Monday Chelsea was not her usual active self but we all thought that perhaps she was getting close to delivering her puppies. Tuesday morning she was gone.

Mwape had tried her best to save Chelsea’s life. She brought in a vet who gave the dog all the attention and medication possible. The vet stuck around all morning. Chelsea slightly revived and we all became hopeful but it was only for a few moments. The poison had already done too much damage. Chelsea died.

As I looked at Mwape standing motionless and teary-eyed halfway between the lifeless body of Chelsea and me, I walked over to her and hugged her. What more could a dad do? I shared with her my own pain when a hit-and-run car killed my dog when I was only nine years old.

That was forty-five years ago, but retelling Mwape the events of that day revived those painful emotions. My dog’s name was Cary and I loved him like a brother. I always looked forward to his warm and enthusiastic welcome whenever I returned from school. I would only leave him when I was called in for lunch.

One Saturday morning, I woke up and rushed outside only to find Cary lying on the driveway dying. I sat down at the edge of the veranda and cried my heart out as I looked at my childhood companion breathing his last. I stroked his fur until he breathed his last. Time stood still. Many thoughts went through my young mind that day.

The biggest question was, “Why?” “Why did God allow this? Why did the people who did this not stop and take Cary to the vet? Why do people do such things? Why haven’t the police gone after them?” To my little mind these questions were overwhelming and my tears flowed freely. I remember one song going through my mind again and again:

What the world needs now is love sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone

Lord, we don’t need another mountain
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross
Enough to last ‘till the end of time

What the world needs now is love sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone

As the events of forty-fives years ago caused my chest to heave, I realised that I was standing with Mwape about a metre from the exact spot where I sat as a nine-year old boy mourning my first major loss in life. The body of Mwape’s dead Chelsea was now lying in the same driveway that my Cary’s lifeless body lay in 1971.

The one major difference, though, was that I was nine years old while Mwape is now in her early twenties. Another was that whereas I could take a moment to hug my mourning daughter, I do not remember anyone hugging me. Perhaps they did. All I recall is that all the big people were busy preparing to dispose of Cary’s body.

I recall dad, uncle, and our domestic servant (“ba Lazalo”) getting a spade and a sack. They put Cary’s body in the sack and carried it to its last resting place. I followed. As I sat on the grass nearby, I watched them with teary eyes as they dug a hole in the ground, let down the sack, and covered it with soil. “Good-bye, Cary,” I cried as we headed back home.

When my family returned to occupy my childhood home in the year 2012, the first place I visited was the place where Cary was buried. It was about 300 metres from our home. In 1971 it was the edge of a forest but it is now a built up area. I stood at the spot and let the emotions of those days touch my heart afresh.

It is amazing how much pets mean to us. They are animals but they are not just animals. There is a real bond that takes places between us humans and those animals. In a very strange way, they love us and we love them too. We look forward to being with them and they also look forward to being with us everyday. Amazing!

And I think this is true of dogs more than any other animal. No wonder they have gained the title, “Man’s best friend.” I think cats are not as attached to individuals as dogs are, but I am willing to be corrected. Dogs will fight to protect their owner and their owner’s territory, whereas cats will get onto the laps of anyone who gives them the chance.

Is there any biblical example of this attachment between humans and animals? I can think of at least one. Here it is (2 Samuel 12:1-6): “And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought.

‘And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

The Bible says, “Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’” Why did David respond with such anger? Could it be that he understood the emotional attachment between that man and his ewe lamb? Perhaps.

I am sure our daughter, Mwape, feels like David towards the thieves that poisoned her dog a few days ago. I certainly felt that rush of anger back then as a little nine-year old boy. How we can get so attached to pets is yet another puzzle we will only unravel when we are seated by the side of Jesus in eternity. Come, Lord Jesus. Come!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The 2016 KBC pastoral internship programme

(...through the eyes of the interns themselves)

The pastoral internship programme at Kabwata Baptist Church continues to be one of its most important ministries because through this avenue the church gives individuals who are preparing for a lifetime of pastoral ministry an opportunity to be in a church that deliberately seeks to operate in a biblical fashion. They see in practice what (hopefully) they were being taught theoretically in the classroom at Bible college. For many of them, the coin clicks within the first three months. After that, they can hardly wait to get back home and begin to practice their Bibles in church life. Here are a few of the testimonies from the 2016 interns that we were able to gather for you.

Mzwakhe is in red trousers while Peter is in blue trousers

Mzwakhe Qozeleni (recently returned to South Africa)
The internship programme helped me big-time. I was struggling to pray in English when I came here. But after a few months staying with fellow pastoral interns I was able to speak and pray in English quite confidently because they would insist that I pray in English when giving thanks for meals in our home. However, I also learned to pray according to the acronym ACTS—adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. When it came to studying the Bible, I have learned "the five looks" and the process of preparing sermons. Today I can read the Bible with confidence that I never had before. On Tuesdays, we met with Pastor Mbewe in his office to review the previous week. This caused me to ensure that I was out there evangelising and at the church school sharing the Good News with the pupils in Grades 5, 6, and 7. I was able to see where my gifts lay as a result of all this. Attending elders prayer meetings and going with them for oversight visits was a great encouragement to me. I belonged to one of the home groups and through that I was able to build good relationships with both the younger and older members of the church. I must admit that this built my self-esteem.

I am now back in South Africa. I have already ensured that we start having Bible studies on Friday nights, prayer meetings on Sunday mornings, and a church officers' prayer meeting at 05.15 hours on Saturdays in my home. Last weekend we did outreach work at the local shopping mall and in the surrounding homes. God gave us some immediate converts and I am keen to see them go through a baptismal and new members class. The work that God has started in my soul, he will surely bring to completion. Thanks to KBC for the internship programme. I look forward to seeing all of you at the Sola Five Conference next month!

David Kasonde (from Luanshya, Zambia)
My internship at KBC has been good, encouraging and challenging. At the church officers’ retreat in February I learned that church leaders must be prayerful, planning ahead, reviewing the plans, and there must be a good relationship between elders and deacons. During members' meetings I noticed that members must be fully involved and engaged. I learned that leaders must update members on the happenings in church. During the missionaries' prayer retreat that followed I also learned the need to maintain a constant check between missionaries and the sending church. I have been exposed to the life of the church by how ministries are organised and function. I have learned that church must be outward looking in order to win lost souls. My internship has helped my personal walk with Christ to be Bible focused, prayerful, and evangelistic. It has also helped me to develop integrity.

Peter Joshua (from Nigeria)
I came to KBC from the London Theological Seminary (LTS), London as a final year student. The internship for me was an opportunity to deepen my walk with God and to come under a Reformed church's tutelage. I wanted to practically lay hold of some things that may not be learnt in the classroom. In addition to that I was seeking for an honest, practical example of how a Reformed congregation can be in an African context because such an example was non-existent in the part of Nigeria where I came from. My time at KBC answered all my questions and it went far beyond my expectation. In the future if I come back I would love to be assessed on my preaching because my training here at LTS has focused on that. What I am saying is that a uniform internship curriculum may not be suitable for all candidates at all times.

Samuel Kasonde (from Luanshya, Zambia)
My internship at KBC has been very helpful to my Christian faith and walk as well as an eye opener on how the church must function through its ministries. I have been attached to both the media ministry and the play park ministries. In the media ministry I have been helped to see the importance of the media today and how to record and air sermons on radio so that the world at large is ministered to and evangelised. The play park ministry uses a play park in the neighbourhood as a venue for evangelistic efforts to reach those souls that come there by interacting with them and getting into their lives. Through this ministry I’m able to talk to people with confidence and courage and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. There have been times when we have had lessons on family devotions and how to read or study the Bible effectively. This has been helpful each time I go back home to be with my family. What a joy it has been to bring my family to "the altar"!

David Oure (from Kenya)
My heart celebrates after six months of internship at KBC. It’s the rare opportunities the Lord opens for his people in need of tools necessary for sound and godly ministries. The exposure I got in the ministries that make KBC strong and a spiritually attractive cannot be learned in any other way. Some of the areas that my eyes were opened to were church-based missions work, equipping members for godliness in all circumstances, effective outreach to all classes of people through the powerful preaching of the word, and biblical leadership. I want to thank the KBC leadership, Anchored in Truth, and HeartCry Missionary Society for financially supporting my pastoral internship. It is my prayer that I will serve the Lord with the same soundness, zeal, and godliness I experienced at KBC.

David Oure leading worship at Kabwata Baptist Church
(If you are interested in joining our internship programme for 2017 contact Francis Kaunda via email. His address is fkaunda@gmail.com. He will give you all the details and requirements you need to make an informed decision and to finish your application process successfully).