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, April 25, 2018

We must keep the work of evangelism central

The more I climb the ecclesiastical ladder the more I am disturbed by the discovery that many Christian leaders tend to abandon the gospel while still claiming to be faithful to it. They tip their hats to the gospel but do not preach it. It is almost as though the gospel was simply the first rung of the ladder of Christian ministry and should be left to those who are still cutting their teeth in pastoral work.

I do not want to be judgmental, but I find it instructive that I cannot remember the last time I met someone who, in sharing their testimony of conversion, mentioned the name of some of the loudest ministers of religion in my own country as the instruments that God used to bring them to himself. The names that are often mentioned are those of the “small boys”. This bothers me. Does it mean the big fishermen are no longer catching fish? I ask myself, what can be more glorious than preaching the gospel and seeing souls saved?

The “big fishermen” are quick to comment on Zambia as a Christian nation, or on the Zambian “firegate” scandal, or on the need for the church to monitor elections, or for the church to love homosexuals, or be involved in opening universities and hospitals, etc. It gains them a lot of mileage in the media and secures the attention of politicians but I keep asking myself whether this is what their primary calling is supposed to be.

Do not get me wrong. All these issues I have listed are important but my point is that we preachers must keep first things first and remain red-hot preachers of the gospel. There would be no church worth talking about in the first place if there was no gospel being preached regularly and effectively. All the the issues I have listed would even be worse if there was no church to start with.

It is a sobering fact that every generation must be re-evangelised. We should never take today’s statistics in Africa or anywhere in the world for granted. If we do not maintain and build upon the evangelism of the previous generation we will lose ground and Christianity will dwindle despite the fact that the number of church buildings may remain the same—at least for a little while longer before they become empty and start getting sold.

Again, I do not want to be judgmental, but the African church needs to look at what is happening to Western Christianity. The publishing houses are still there, churning out many good books as before. Christian organisations are still there, doing their works of charity. Bible Colleges are still there, fighting for the dwindling numbers of individuals answering the call to the preaching ministry. But ground has been lost. Many churches comprise octogenarians tottering to their graves. There are hardly any new converts!

I am not sure how the Western church found itself in this situation. My concern is for Africa. If we are not evangelising but simply talking about evangelism and the gospel we will soon find ourselves in the same situation as our Western counterparts. Sadly, I am observing that there is far too much of talking about the gospel but precious little of fervent gospel preaching. We need to reverse this before it is too late. We need to get back to red-hot gospel preaching.

Think about this: What would happen to a nation if all adults were simply talking about the science of childbearing and child upbringing but not proceeding to actually marry and engage in the activity that produces children? Well, before long there would be no nation to talk about because all would be well past their childbearing age!

It is not rocket science to know that for a nation to prosper, married couples should bear children while in their prime and then nurture them into adulthood. Once midwives run out of work, you can start preparing the coffin for that entire nation. It will soon be no more.

I fear that this is what is happening with the Christian church. We are majoring in minors. Do not get me wrong. Social, economic, and political issues are important. Thankfully, the preaching of the gospel will have social and political ramifications. Benevolence comes from hearts that are converted and are overwhelmed by the love of God. This is because the greatest enemy that people have is sin. The news of how sin was defeated by Christ on the cross ought to be defended and sounded forth all around us as the world’s best news. Preachers ought to be challenging the people of our generation to respond to this news through repentance and faith. Sadly, that is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The ACU—A university that transforms character

The proof of the pudding is in the eating
My speech at the ACU 2017 Annual Chancellor’s Dinner

"Yours truly" giving the annual chancellor's speech
I am mindful that it is now two years since we opened doors for the training of students at the African Christian University. We have seen two sets of students go through our Scholars Program. Listening to parents of these students who have been trained by our faculty convinces me that we are on the right track. A few parents gave these unsolicited remarks about their children on the social media site Facebook earlier this year.

Parent 1: “Thank God for ACU! This boy has really changed and become helpful at home and great blessing indeed! l am a proud and blessed mother!”

Parent 2: “Awesome program at ACU! It has completely transformed my ?Simbi Uwishaka?. No need giving instructions for chores at home.”

Parent 3: “When I look at what my son is learning, I wish I had that privilege at UNZA.”

A parent sharing about the transformation in her son while studying at ACU
Evidently, within months of students being trained at ACU they become hardworking and very responsible individuals. We are not only passing to them head knowledge. We are working on character development—and the results are showing. Which other university in Zambia is having parents saying such words about their students when they return home?

In case you think the parents are biased, here is what one student wrote to me upon graduating from our Scholars Program this year: “My year has been phenomenal mostly because of my time at ACU. It is the best school year ever. Honestly, if I got a chance to go to Princeton or Stanford I'd choose to stay at ACU. I've gotten the chance to learn from a point of view that I hardly knew even existed. I really want to learn more because not only do I get fed intellectually, I also get to grow socially and even more importantly, spiritually.”

Dr Voddie Baucham explaining ACU's philosophy
How are we managing to produce such results? Of course, it is by the grace of God. However, we must also state that from the angle of human responsibility, we are teaching students to integrate their faith with their studies.

(1) All our courses are being taught from a God-centered biblical worldview. All truth is God’s truth. He made the universe and our role as humans is that of “mining” its potential so that we subdue it for the good of God’s world and for the glory of God’s name.

The musicians who kept the guests entertained all evening
(2) All our students are divided into small mentoring groups where they are allocated to members of the faculty who meet with them regularly. In these life-on-life meetings, they are helped to become the kind of individuals God wants them to be at a very personal level.

(3) Then we have our flagship, the student labour program. Our students not only study but also participate in the maintenance and development of the university. They begin to see work as a joy and not a burden, and immediately see the application of what they learn.

Guests listening to the presentations at the dinner
As we go into 2018, we want you to join hands with us in investing into these young lives through the sponsorship of scholarships. Let me end with an appeal that I got recently from one student that I would certainly want to see get such a scholarship:

“I had been given a scholarship for the ACU Scholar's Program and I thank God for that. However, that scholarship doesn't extend to the Degree Program. I've applied for one for next year but it is not guaranteed. I was hoping that maybe, somehow, you could help me find someone willing to sponsor me next year from KBC or anywhere else because mum and dad are not really financially equipped to do so. It would mean a lot. I am also promising to do my best academically throughout because I am tremendously eager to learn from the ACU.”

...and then, finally, what our guests came for!
I hope that after reading this you will realize that some youths in Africa have begun to taste the pudding of the ACU through actual eating and they want even more of it. Consider helping us remove the financial barrier by participating in sponsoring student scholarships. Together, we can transform Africa for the glory of God!

(PS: The ACU annual chancellor's dinner is an event at which the ACU says thanks to those who have supported us in various ways and to also raise funds from well-wishers. If you would like to financially help us provide scholarships to students write to prashant.thakkar@acu-zambia.com)