Eastern Zambia received much of God’s special care in the last hundred years. Many old mission stations in the region are dated from the beginning of the previous century. They testify of God’s special care and intervention in that part of the world. The revivals in the early nineteen hundreds in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa produced Spirit-filled men who, constrained by the love of Christ, forsook all to give their lives in Malawi and Eastern Zambia. As we labour here today, we are reminded of Christ’s words, “I sent you to reap that for which you have not laboured; others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours” (John 4:38).

It is as if the spirit of revival, breathed by those godly men and women, from so long ago, is still hovering over that area. Entering into their labours is both a humbling and glorious experience. You are constantly aware that it is still God who is doing the work. Yes, that it is God who brought both those old missionaries of years gone by and the younger ones of our time to Eastern Zambia. You realise that his presence never left that area and his grace truly overcame the powers of darkness. This is evidenced as you behold strong indigenous churches, witnessing for God and sending their own pastors to be equipped at Covenant College Zambia.

The Aim and Purpose of the College

One of the greatest needs in Africa today is the training of church leaders. Thus the aim and purpose of Covenant College Zambia is to train and equip men as pastors. The College serves the Protestant Churches of Eastern Zambia. The focus is on church leaders, many of whom have no formal training for teaching and preaching the Bible. In Eastern Zambia, as in the rest of Africa, there is a multiplication of church groups and Christians attach themselves to new leaders to receive spiritual care from them. The question is not whether the Gospel is preached, or who ordained preachers or even where they received their training—the plain fact is, they are gospel preachers even if there is no answer to the last two questions! Many preachers received their position as leaders solely by the acknowledgement of the local Christians. They are leaders and will preach with or without any training, even without any formal financial support. Almost all pastors in Africa are “tent-making” pastors. This is true of the students of the Covenant College—almost all of them are peasant farmers.

The logical thing to do is to win the confidence of these leaders and their churches with the purpose of enrolling them for study at the college. There are obstacles and prejudices among some leaders, such as, “We only need the Bible and to be taught by the Spirit…” or “the college may influence us in a certain direction.” However, these preachers need training. The Bible tells us so: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).  That is our aim and purpose.

The student body, during the year 2006, standing in front of the main lecture hall

The Control over the College

The College was established at the beginning of 2001 and now functions under the Covenant College Zambia Trust. Trustees are from Reformed Churches in Scotland, England, South Africa, the USA and Zambia. Funds, materials, volunteers and lecturers are drawn from these churches. Locally, the college functions under the Principal of the college who reports to the Trust. I am soon to leave as Principal (December 2006), and the new Acting Principal is Cees Molenaar (see picture on front cover).

The College is situated 16 kilometres after Petauke, just off the Eastern Highway to Malawi. The signboard: “Covenant College – 4 kilometres”, will lead you to the farm, which provides a peaceful environment for the students to study in. Functional accommodation for personnel and students is provided. Almost all students return to their churches at weekends, some travelling up to 80 kilometres to their homes. A well-equipped library of Reformed books and tapes, is well utilised by the students. The college functions to train pastors and has no role in their ordination, which is the sole right of local churches, who alone determine whom they appoint as pastors.

The Character of the College

Firstly, to offer a service to all the churches, the college needs to have an interdenominational approach, while holding firmly to its Reformed principles and practice. Secondly, the college uses Bible translations which are known as direct translations (e.g. KJV, NKJV). Thirdly, the teaching at the college is in line with the Confessions and Catechisms which are known as Classical Reformed.

The Ministries of the College

1. Pastoral Training: The training and equipping of pastors or candidates for the ministry is the main task of the college. It is a three-year course and successful students are awarded the Certificate or Diploma in Theology accreditation by Mukhanyo Theological College in South Africa. The subjects are: Old Testament, New Testament, Dogmatics, Practical Theology, Church History and Missiology.

2. The Farm. The college is situated on a farm. The Farm Manager with his team manages the farm to provide in the various needs of the college and the other ministries. It functions as a supportive ministry as the bulk of the food for the students and personnel is produced by them. The farm provides also an environment for training the students in agricultural principles, as part of their course at the college.

3. The Christian Education Fund aims to assist the community schools with training and materials, to enable local communities to provide an education for their children, based on sound Biblical Principles.

4. Medical and Health Services are also part of the ministry of the college. There is an opportunity for qualified medical doctors to work in the Petauke General Hospital. We trust the Lord to provide volunteers to witness there of his love. Once a week the students engage in a hospital chaplaincy to attend to the spiritual needs of the patients.

As part of their training, the students at the college are also trained in the medical handbook, “Where there is no Doctor,” written for rural Africa.

5. The Correspondence Bible Courses. For people who cannot attend the College, a correspondence course is offered. It is available in both English and Chichewa.

6. Children ministry. Once a week children from the neighbouring villages receive Bible and systematic evangelistic teaching.

7. Annual Pastors Conference. Many workers of the Lord in Eastern Zambia benefit from the annual Conference for Pastors. International and local speakers challenge them to a greater dedication and self-denying service.

A Final Request

All true work of God is opposed by the devil—so is he also in constant opposition to God’s work at the College—the only approved weapon, against all his plans, is to walk humbly before the Lord in prayer. Every Wednesday morning, the first period we all bend our knees before God our great King to seek his face and overcoming presence. We invite you also to become partners in prayer for God’s work at Covenant College.