Three Frontline missionaries recently returned from an extensive 4 month, 4 nation mission tour. It involved over 200 meetings, including 21 Seminars and conferences, and 18 000 km driving throughout Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe (hence M2Z2). Frontline Field Director, Robert reports:
Discipleship Training Seminars (DTS) were held at 16 rural locations in Malawi and Mozambique. As always, our emphasis was to instruct church leaders in the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Virgil and I conducted about 120 meetings with the men; Louise held 80 with the women and children. In all, 180 Chichewa Bibles were awarded to those who memorised Scripture portions.
Afterwards we proceeded to Lusaka, Zambia where we were the support team for the conference on Biblical Reformation and Christian Culture (BRCC). Then we conducted four Biblical Worldview Seminars (BWS); two in eastern Zambia, one in Blantyre (Malawi), and another in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe). The responses to these courses were very positive as the participants came to realize that God’s Word not only shows us the way of salvation, but also shows us how we should live.
Finally, in Zimbabwe, we had several opportunities to speak at high school assemblies where we were allowed to share the Gospel and “True Love Waits” (a message regarding relationships between boys and girls).
“Now the churches in the area are full of people,” reported pastors who live along the Shire River in Malawi, some of whom I’ve worked with for the past four years. However, simply to fill churches is not our primary objective. Above all else we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It is worth recalling the words of Duncan Campbell: “Revival is not churches filled with people, but people filled with God.”
In the rural areas, sometimes the men who are appointed leaders in their local churches do not even have a basic understanding of the Gospel. This year was our first meeting at Kudeche. After two days the meetings were going well as the people were eager to hear the teaching of God’s Word and had many questions. But it became clear that many of the church leaders themselves did not know the message of salvation. For example they were unable to explain how a righteous God could cleanse man’s heart from sin. They suggested by good works. Virgil shared the message of the Cross with them and by God’s grace, they understood. Subsequently 17 church leaders at Kudeche came to a knowledge of God’s salvation and professed faith in Jesus Christ.
For three weeks we were together with one group of pastors. Verse by verse we studied the entire Gospel of John. They gained a deeper understanding of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After the lessons, one of the men stated, “we have been teaching and preaching to the people for many years, but we ourselves have not understood the message properly.” Then applying John 9:25 to himself he said “though I was blind, now I see!”
Simple songs and choruses often re-enforce important lessons. We taught men, women, and children the familiar song “Chitha nchiani kund’yeretsa? Mwazi wa Ambuye Yesu” (the Chichewa version of “What can wash away my sin? Nothing, but the blood of Jesus”).
Witnessing to the
In our preaching, Christology was emphasized, particularly the Deity of Jesus Christ. At the time it was difficult to discern whether the message hit home. But upon our arrival back in Cape Town we received a letter from a pastor stating: “I want to thank God . . . I want to tell you that I have received six congregations of Jehovah’s Wit-nesses! They confessed that they were going in a wrong way. God has opened their eyes, ears, heart, and soul with the verses which you preach to them. On this I want to thank God . . .”
Seed planted. The local pastors had no experience witnessing one-on-one to Muslims. So together we visited Amaz, a local Muslim leader who had built a mosque in Mozambique’s Zambezi Province. Amaz greeted us cautiously and at first he was even a bit hostile. We spoke with him about the way of salvation and of the forgiveness of sin. The message of Islam does not explain how God, Who is a righteous Judge, can possibly forgive our sins. The uniqueness of the Gospel message is that Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sin. We can experience God’s forgiveness for our sin as we place our trust in Jesus Christ. He accomplished full atonement for our sins and demonstrated that by the empty tomb, by His resurrection. At the end of our discussion Amaz was quite willing to consider more carefully the Gospel message.
“Will the year 2000 be the end of the world?” was a question raised by a number of rural pastors. That is the message that some people are spreading. That teaching could have dangerous consequences, especially in an agrarian society such as Malawi. Believing that the year 2000 will be the end, some people might neglect to till their land and plant their crops in 1999. The results would be disastrous.
In the Bible Jesus said “. . . of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Therefore we encouraged the Malawians and Mozambicans, not to be distracted by any “Year 2000” message. Especially they must not neglect the planting of their crops as the year 2000 approaches! “Occupy till I Come.”
Challenges in Africa. Over the course of the last century the Gospel has made a strong impact among the people of Africa. Yet today Africa still faces many serious problems: AIDS, anarchy, civil war, corruption, dictatorships, crime, environmental disasters, genocide, inflation, murder, poverty, starvation and war – to name just a few. In light of these harsh realities, a friend was justified in asking me, “What hope – other than salvation – is there for the people of Africa?” Is there any hope that the African people might break out of a pattern of suffering and poverty? Yes!
God’s Word not only has the power to transform men’s lives but God’s Word is also powerful to transform society. The Lord promises blessings to those who obey Him: “. . . if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God . . . all these blessings shall come upon you . . . Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks . . .” (Deuteronomy 28:1-4)
Africa has the Gospel, so why does Africa still have so many problems? My friend Ephraim from the Bible Society of Malawi explained: “The church is largely responsible for the problems of Malawi. The church in Africa has had a very strong emphasis on the spiritual part of man . . . but the social has not been emphasized . . . (hence) people tended to seek answers to social problems outside the Church.”
Effectively, the church has neglected to proclaim the whole counsel of God’s Word. Hence various humanistic institutions stepped into the vacuum and offered man-centered solutions. The nations and even the church accepted humanist social theories and programs. Today many Christians are thinking in the pattern of the world. The church is seldom offering distinctly Biblical answers to many of life’s practical problems. Ephraim’s analysis was right on the mark! Biblical Worldview Seminars which teach the Lordship of Jesus Christ have a timely message for the church.
At each of our four BWS’s we presented lectures on a variety of topics: The Applicability of God’s Law for Modern Man, Worldviews in Conflict, Creation vs. Evolution, Biblical Principles for Civil Government, Education, Economics, Crime and Punishment, Persecution in Church History, The Great Reformation and Biblical Foundations for Freedom. These were well received. Many Christians were surprised that the Bible gives us so much instruction pertaining to things such as civil government and economics.
Zambia: Yesterday . . .
Zambia became independent in 1964 and then for more than two and a half decades, Kenneth Kaunda ruled Zambia with an iron hand. Anyone who seriously opposed Kaunda was soon found to be either in exile, in prison, or dead. Kaunda espoused an official policy of Humanism and Socialism for Zambia. As is the case with all socialist countries, the primary benefactor of the government’s redistribution policies were the government bureaucrats and those in favour with the ruling political party. In Lusaka a Christian businessman told us that during Kaunda’s rule in Zambia, Christians who wanted to have a fellowship meeting of more than 10 people would first have to seek government approval. Such meetings would be forbidden at night. Freedom was greatly restricted.
Life was quite unpleasant in this “socialist paradise.” Zambia fell into economic stagnation and amassed a large foreign debt.
Some gullibly heralded Kenneth Kaunda as a great Christian leader. But this is simply not so. In spite of his attendance at a mission school, Kenneth Kaunda was (and is) a humanist. In his book A Humanist in Africa (1966), he stated “It is faith in the goodness of people that we must reinstate in Africa...” But in the Bible it is written “Cursed is the man who trusts in man” (Jeremiah 17:5), rather “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord” (17:7)! Kaunda rejected the Biblical doctrine of original sin. Trusting in himself and other men, assuming that man is naturally good, he caused much suffering in Zambia. It is worth noting that many who have held to the presupposition of man’s supposed natural goodness have been among the world’s most oppressive dictators.
Zambia Today . . .
In 1991 Kenneth Kaunda was pressured into holding the first multiparty election in Zambia, and to his surprise he was unseated. The new president, Fredrick Chiluba, renounced Kaunda’s Humanist policies and declared Zambia to be a Christian nation.
The Zambian people are presently engaged in the arduous task of throwing off the shackles of the previous 27 years of Humanism. We helped prepare for a team of American speakers who were invited to come and lecture at the Lusaka conference on Biblical Reformation and Christian Culture and meet with Zambian Christian leaders. Many Christians were personally challenged to apply the Lordship of Jesus Christ to all area’s of life.
Special meetings were held with several government ministers and the Vice President. Pray for the Christian leaders in Zambia, first that they would be faithful to the Lord; secondly that they would stand firm against Humanistic opposition.
“The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it. If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from it’s evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kindgom, to build and to plant it. If it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My Voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.” Jeremiah 18:7-10