NIGEL LACEY CALLED TO GLORY

Nigel Lacey with his wife, Margaret, in 2004

“I have just received news this morning that Nigel Lacey passed away early this morning. He was 63 years old and he will be sadly missed.” Thus came the news announcing the entry into glory of Nigel Lacey on 14th August 2007. Nigel had returned to England in 2004 after a successful ministry as pastor of Lusaka Baptist Church for the previous five years. Margaret, Nigel’s wife, was the first to suffer a heart attack earlier in the year and quick action by paramedics saved her from an early entry into glory. Little did we know that within a few months Nigel would suffer a similar heart attack and that in his case he would fail to survive it.

Nigel trained and worked as an engineer for many years in the UK before pastoring Bethesda Baptist Church in Stowmarket, Suffolk, for slightly over ten years. During this period he also engaged in a writing ministry. He served on the editorial board of Grace magazine for many years. He also wrote a popular book on church life called God’s Plan for the Local Church, published by Grace Publications. He then came out to Africa as a missionary, together with his wife Margaret. He first served for about three years in Kenya, where he participated in the pastors’ training programme at Trinity Baptist Church in Nairobi. After that he came to Zambia where he pastored Lusaka Baptist Church and was the principal of the Reformed Baptist Preachers College. He returned to England in 2004 and about a year later accepted a call to Hope Baptist Church, Forest Gate, in East London. He was also a regular speaker at the Metropolitan Tabernacle annual School of Theology in London. His sudden departure into glory is a blow to the church militant, but he has gone into the presence of the God whom he served faithfully as a preacher of the gospel and as a true defender of the faith.

Conrad Mbewe,
Lusaka

ARBCA CELEBRATES TENTH BIRTHDAY

In March of 1997 twenty-four churches in the USA brought to birth a Reformed Baptist association of churches. And that is rather surprising. Looking back on it, those same churches of the Reformed Baptist Mission Services (generated in 1985) were afraid of doing such a thing for the first 12 years of its existence. But once they realised their fears of “denominationalism” were an unfounded reaction to the poor situations they had experienced in the past and that this kind of formal association of churches is of the “kind” our fore-fathers who wrote our Confession of Faith (1689) used to practice, ARBCA become a reality.

            ARBCA is unique as a Reformed Baptist association of churches. There are other fellowships of reformed brethren that we respect and for which we thank our God, but in terms of a formal association of churches modelled after the way the historic Baptist associations viewed NT relationships between churches, ARBCA stands out as unique today. That doesn’t mean we are doing it perfectly, that we can’t do it better, that we haven’t made mistakes, or that we have nothing to learn from those who disagree with us. But it does mean we are trying. We are “reformed and we are reforming.” In 1997 we formed, and for these ten years we have been reforming. We continue to reform, and we are growing. We started with 24 churches signing the ARBCA charter covenant. After ten years we have 60. To the glory of our God’s we have added 36 member churches.

            We refer to ARBCA as a family of churches. And we do so on purpose. This is not simply sentimental jargon. We are not just an “organization” providing services to one another. We signed a covenant ten years ago and we became an organic entity. We are a family of sister churches who relate and work together. The significant thing about the ARBCA family when it gathers in General Assembly is that there is no head table. It is a round table where every member church, no matter how large or how small, has an equal place at the table with an equal value and voice. As a family of churches, we have big brothers and younger sisters. Every church is equally involved in planning and carrying out our tangible efforts to fulfil the Great Commission together, and every church looks out for the others.

            Because we are a formally organised association, we plan and we execute gospel efforts on a regular basis. That in itself has demonstrated practically how valuable a thing this is. Mission projects do not just come up sporadically in unplanned ways. There is ongoing strategy and planned execution in our agreed-upon gospel efforts. And every time there has been a financial need for any project, the gracious, big-hearted brethren of ARBCA have stepped up to meet that need. Much has been done in spreading the Gospel around the world, in fortifying pastors and churches, and in joining hands with many brethren of like precious faith everywhere in order to expand God’s Kingdom. In 2006 about 1 million dollars went through our accounts in gospel-related ministry.

            We are feeling our way along in many ways, but we are doing so with a demonstrated commitment to tackle every challenge. We have been accused of being a denomination with control over the local church, of being hyper-Confessional with our full subscription position, of being legalistic with our commitment to the moral law and the Sabbath, of being hyper-intellectual because of our insistence on the cessation of the apostolic gifts of the Spirit. It is not easy to grow such a theologically defined membership, and there are many churches who are with us theologically but who will not join us in such a cooperative relationship, unwilling to assume the responsibilities of such a membership. We also fully understand that our fellowship can very easily decline theologically and spiritually. It is the responsibility of every church in the family to watch and pray, and speak up when any concerning move is entertained.

            Here we are 10 years later, and we have much for which to give glory to our God. And we do give all the glory to God alone for anything and everything done by us. The future is bright. As long as we build our churches and our corporate fellowship after the design of Holy Scripture and progress in humility and in holy zeal for our dear Saviour’s cause, we will grow and we will be fruitful in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. What more could we hope for or aspire to?

            What will ARBCA look like in 10–15 years? We do not know. But this one thing we do know: it is not about ARBCA’s planning what the churches will do. It is about healthy local churches and their dynamic of growth that will make ARBCA what it needs to be. If the Spirit of God is upon the churches, ARBCA will develop as a cooperative support system. ARBCA does not challenge and motivate men with a passion to preach—the churches do. ARBCA does not send missionaries—the churches do. ARBCA does not plant churches—the churches do. So it is not about ARBCA developing and doing for the churches. It is about the churches developing and having the communion of the member churches in ARBCA to partner with and to draw encouragement and support from. ARBCA does not exist apart from the churches. ARBCA is the churches. This organised organism is of the churches, for the churches, and by the churches, so that together we might do what we find well nigh impossible to do separately.

            Our God has given to us an amazing first ten years. May these next ten be above and beyond anything we could ask for or even imagine under the blessing of our triune God.

Bob Selph
ARBCA Coordinator
USA

EDITORA FIEL CONFERENCE IN MOZAMBIQUE

This was the eighth consecutive year of our “Editora Fiel” conference in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula. This year 177 church leaders attended from all over the nation and from every conceivable church group. The theme of the conference was Biblical Evangelism in which our two speakers, Paulo Brasil (from Brazil) and Jim Elliff (from the USA), challenged these men to reflect on whether or not they in fact believe and teach the biblical gospel. From there they spoke of the negative consequences of a diluted gospel—churches filled with nominal and unbelieving members and serious problems with church discipline. Two missionary wives led five sessions with the women who attended. We gave workshops on expository preaching, music in the church, foundations for Bible study, and Christ in the Psalms. A biography of George Muller topped off an excellent and four-day life-changing conference.

This is the third year running in which my conference colleague, Charles Woodrow, has organised an in-depth post-conference seminar for those who wish to dig deeper into the Scriptures. Our conference speaker, Paulo Brasil, stayed on and gave a very fruitful four-day series on Christ in Genesis.

                But just before we crossed the border into Mozambique we organised a similar but shorter conference for church leaders here in Barberton, South Africa under the auspices of Evangelical Press (England). When we saw the enthusiasm at the conference among the 105 people who attended and the many books that were sold, it was clear that we need to make this an annual event. Under the theme “The Approved Workman,” speakers Erroll Hulse (England) and Jim Elliff (USA) gave timely and wonderful ministry. Five workshops provided help in specific areas of ministry—expository preaching, women’s ministry, youth ministry, foundations of Bible study, ministry to children. One of the greatest benefits of this conference was seeing how our own local church was so active in organizing the event. Almost everyone was involved in some way or another. Thank you for your prayers for these important conferences. It is a real privilege to be involved in strengthening and deepening the faith of the church in southern Africa.

Karl Peterson
Mozambique