"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your Name? For You alone are Holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested." Revelation 15:4
Zambia is beautiful country with magnificent landscape. It is home to the mighty Victoria Falls-one of the seven natural wonders of the world. With its rich Christian heritage, statistics read that nearly 90% of Zambians claim to be Christian. However, our most recent mission into Zambia unveiled great apathy within much of the church, and more opposition to our work than I have faced before in Zambia.
The Ways of the Wicked
Crossing border posts prove to be testing when we find ourselves facing the corruption of men. During one of these crossings, an individual “from Interpol” asked us to produce documents which did not exist. It was clear that all he wanted was bribe, but I refused until he let me go. similar instance took place at another border. However, the person who was meant to be Interpol did not have so much as badge! He had liar written all over his face. He didn’t even know where to look for the chassis number or engine number when he performed his “vehicle inspection”. But what could I do? The border guards seemed to be in on this scam as well. I calmed down and patiently started to speak to them about the Gospel. I told the men that I was preacher, coming to minister to the people of their country. I had books and Bibles which would benefit their countrymen greatly. This seemed to soften their hearts, and they suddenly told me that the paperwork which I had was sufficient, and I could go through. Although we passed by many more police vehicle inspections, by God’s grace we arrived safely at our next destination.
A group of rural churches came together for conference our host had organised. There, I spoke about Biblical preaching which sparked many questions about what congregant member should do if he/she is in situation where the pastor is not open to being questioned. These kinds of questions require discernment and insight into the specific situations of the individuals asking. I did not want to incite rebellion within the members, so I carefully defined my terms and went through specific scenarios with possible solutions to problems. People should never be prevented from asking honest questions. Just because someone reads the Bible before he preaches, does not mean that his message accurately represents the Word of God. Everything that the preacher says must be consistent with God’s Word. The preacher should welcome anyone who wants to question him because everything he said should be directly referenced to the Bible and faithful to all of Scripture.
Jesus Film Outreach
The rural ministry continued with Jesus Film outreach. I preached after the film, but as soon as I stood up to preach, everybody started to walk away. Preaching to people’s backs is not very encouraging. At one point I considered stopping, but I continued to proclaim the Gospel anyway as most of the people seemed to have walked into the darkness. I made an appeal to anyone who wanted to call upon the Name of the Lord despite everyone walking away. I said that this commitment might cause people to walk away from them. About 30-40 people came out of the darkness and made public proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ. We should not allow apparent opposition, or lack of response, to prevent us from faithfully proclaiming God’s Word and calling people to faith, repentance and obedience to God.
Our team travelled across Zambia for ministry appointments, and we were harassed by police all the way. They were overbearing, and obviously making up rules as they went along. At one point, they wanted to fine me for transporting people in the back of our bakkie pickup truck, telling us that it was illegal to carry more than two people in our vehicle! Thankfully, one of our travelling companions has regular radio program, and many people recognised his voice. The police warmed up to us when they heard him speak. I saw another policeman examining truck by climbing inside of it and snooping around. These pervasive policemen and women cause one to feel like criminal for no legitimate reason at all. This is new development. Previously the Zambian police have been friendly and freedom of movement normally allowed.
When it comes to dedication, Christians in Western societies have much to learn. At one of our conferences, group of about 40 people travelled full day’s journey and slept three nights in local school building so that they could attend the entirety of our conference. Bishop who we worked closely with remained with us for over week, despite the fact that his father had passed away just days before. He was expected to remain at the funeral home for month, but left the mourning process early so that he could be with us for ministry.
Pastors under Pressure
Because of rampant abuses within churches, the Zambian government is potentially requiring all pastors to undergo theological training. While this may be seen as positive, requiring pastors to educate themselves, there is very real danger when governments interfere with religious freedom. This opens the door to future abuses of state controlled churches. However, this is to be expected when leaders are not faithfully speaking out against abuses within the Church. Vital doctrines such as the priesthood of all believers and the Person and work of Jesus Christ have been lost, allowing false teachers to place themselves as intermediaries between man and God.
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5
In 2000, Frontline Fellowship set up Bible College in Zambia’s Eastern province. Later, this project was entrusted to the Free Church of Scotland. Today, the Bible College is still operational with about 20 students. When I visited this college, the vice principal told me that many people come in to the Bible college with little to no understanding of Scripture, but there is radical change by the time they leave. Closely working with and mentoring these students is often rewarding because of the spiritual growth which occurs during the time of their studies.
Just in time for this mission, three new resources were made ready for distribution in Africa. A passionate project I was involved with was the Biblical Preaching Handbook which we finalised just days before our departure. Dr Hammond's latest books included, Old Testament Survey and Biblical Faith and Modern Counterfeits. We also distributed The Greatest Century of Missions and Putting Feet to Your Faith which were recently revised, updated, and reprinted.
Pray for Zambia
There are number of least-reached people’s groups in Zambia including Gujarati, Jews, Swahili, and Yao Muslims. Pray that the church would take up the challenge to reach these people for Christ. This year is an election year, and the political pressure on pastors is intensifying, Zambia needs faithful Christian leaders. Pray that God will rise up community leaders and church elders to speak out against social evils, and lead by godly example. We had the opportunity to preach the Gospel multiple times during this mission. Please pray that those who heard the truth with readiness will be established in the Faith.
“All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your Name.” Psalm 86:9.
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