Dr Mugala, welcome to Reformation Zambia. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? When were you converted? How did you come to an appreciation of the doctrines of grace? Who are the men and women who had the greatest impact upon your life, especially in your formative days?

My name is Duncan Mugala and I’m 50 years old (This is the first time I have exposed my age to the public). I did my primary school at various schools in Zambia but I did my secondary school education at the David Kaunda Secondary Technical School (DK).As I sought God concerning my career it became quite cleat that I should go into the field of Medicine and so when I entered University I enrolled into the school of Natural Sciences with the aim of doing medicine despite having a technical background with little or no Knowledge of Biology. I qualified as a medical Doctor in 1984.At this stage I felt led into the field of Surgery how? Surgery was one subject I was at ease with, and indeed my tutors also saw the potential in me as a surgeon evidenced by the fact that the Head of the Department of Surgery Professor Anne Bayley wrote in my personal file “ A future Surgeon”.I saw this comment only when I was in my third  year of surgical training and the Professor had long left the school. I obtained my Master of Medicine in General surgery in 1991 after which I spent some time in the UK in a Gastrointestinal Unit. I’m also a Fellow of the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa. I work as a Consultant surgeon at Nchanga South Hospital in Chingola.

I’m married to a beautiful lady by name of Monde who is A Nurse Tutor. God has given us three lovely kids. Our First born Anchindika Tabo -a girl is 18 at the time of writing. The second born Inaka Mutende is a boy and he is 13 years old. The last born is Lukundo Musa also a boy and he is turning ten.  I’m serving as an Elder at Chingola Central Baptist Church.
I came to know the Lord in 1973 while I was at D K. I was in Form two (grade nine) then. I heard the gospel through the Scripture Union at school and though the Young People’s fellowship at Lusaka Baptist Church. My actual conversion was through the preaching of Pastor Graham Ingram.

I became aware of the Doctrines of grace pretty early in my Christian life mainly through my interactions with my mentors as well as through reading and even through the manner in which I was led to Christ-nothing could explain it except the Doctrines of grace.

Many people played important roles in my life and I’m eternally grateful to God for all of them, but let me mention just a few who were critical. Mr. Joe Quinn for his untiring encouragement, Dr. and Dr (Mrs) Stuebing for befriending me during those early difficult years, however the men and woman who shaped my doctrinal direction  were Alfred Nyirenda and his wife Tina. From my first acquaintance with Alfred he told me how important it was for me to have a doctrinal direction and so it was that I was inspired to seek to know the doctrines of grace. The other man who inspired me in his usual quiet way is Pastor Andrew Muwowo, he led me by example.

As you reminisce about “the good old days” what are some of spiritual virtues of those days that you wish today’s Christians could emulate?

I think our religion was a religion of the mind and most of all the heart; people lived what they believed as well as what they preached. It was not an issue of priding in the head knowledge of the doctrines of grace but rather to seek to put to practice what we believed.

You represent the second generation of Reformed Baptists in Zambia (after the generation of bena Alfred and Tina Nyirenda, who must also be interviewed in one of the coming issues). What challenges have you found in reducing Reformed theology to practice as a Christian getting married, pursuing a career and raising a family in today’s Zambia?

As a Christian getting married we found ourselves at the cross roads of modernism and our cultural ties: The cultural restrictions of what tribe you were allowed to marry from what sort of woman you were expected to marry and in some cases the family/parents choices conflicted with the desire to seek God’s will for you for a wife or husband. On the other hand the modern/western view of first “shopping” around by dating as many women as possible conflicted with our desire to seek the leading of the Lord to bring the right person at the right time.

In terms of pursuing a career the challenge was to go into a career that would make you an effective Christian as opposed to going in for the money and glamour the job offered. Which way you chose depended very much on whether you believed in God’s  will or not.

Raising a family in Zambia is not an easy job because you are part of the wider extended family which has it’s own demands upon you. Very often the course you set for your family is interfered with by the wider family. In order for you family to “resemble” your doctrine you have to work at it and sometimes you have to be willing be at loggerheads with the other side. As the children grow older the world’s influence upon them becomes another battle ground. I find in all these matters the solution to be; simply be true to the Word of God as taught.

 From your vintage point, as one who has been around for a while, what are some of the major achievements of the Reformed Baptist movement in Zambia and what are some of our failures?

I think we have been a beacon of steadfastness in the country while many have been swept to and fro by every wind of doctrine, we have remained true to our course and many admire us although the can not admit it openly. The absence of splits among us is another example of our stability  as a movement. The sound teaching in our congregations is another aspect many openly admire.

There are two areas where I think we have not done very well: Firstly we have not grown as fast as I would have loved us to grow- yes we have steadily grown but we should be much bigger than we are. Secondly I do not like the way we of late have been treating our Pastors; we seem to be almost Armenean in the manner we look at the pastoral office. We seem to believe we can hire and fire a Pastor as we desire. I have no solution to this problem but I suggest the Reformed movement takes a second look at this issue.

You have been an elder in Reformed Baptist circles in Zambia almost from the inception of the movement. What spiritual counsel can you give to those who are aspiring for this office in the church (according to 1 Timothy 3:1) to help them remain faithful to the task of oversight in Christ’s church?

Indeed it is a noble thing for anyone to aspire to the leadership of the church and as Paul tells Timothy the position of eldership is the right position to aim for. However it is important also to note that we have gifts that are different. And people are called by God almighty differently to different positions in the church. To be true to our reformed theology we must identify what our calling is  and do what it is that God has called us to do-If it is elder ship be a good elder if it is being a deacon do it with contentment. We must also understand that in any congregation the Lord’s anointed for that ministry is the pastor/elder in charge. One may find a lot of faults with the men at the helm of the ministry but they are the Lord’s anointed and David’s principle must apply. Unless it is an issue of plain sin trying to eject the pastor/elders on matters indifferent is touching the Lord’s anointed. My principle in a situation where I differ with my Pastor is that I choose to resign rather than insist that the pastor resigns. In any case why not focus on the positive aspects of the person in question? The key thing is to stick to what God has called us to do and live at peace with all men as far as it depends on you! We must also be willing to submit to one another in the fear of God! Be ready to work under authority.

Having said the above I must caution our Pastors as well: Almost all our Pastors in the reformed movement are very able men and we all know that able people do not take correction well. If this is your problem look into it before the walls come tumbling on you as a result of your own mishandling of church affairs.

As you look into the future of the Reformed movement in Zambia in particular, and of Evangelicalism in general, what warnings would you give to us? In other words, what are some of the trends you are seeing today that are of great concern to you?

There are two things that concern me as I look into the future: Firstly the issue of the religion of the head and not of the heart with its tendency towards legalism on one hand and hypocrisy on the other. The reformed theology is a neatly packaged theology which has a tendency to attract intellectuals, by its nature it is intellectually challenging and stimulating and to some this is the end in its self they never go on to reduce this theology to practice and after a while there develops a dichotomy between the things they believe and the lives they live which I call a state of hypocrisy- saying one thing and doing another. Some get so enthused about these doctrines that they become self appointed enforcers and begin to coerce every one in their way to do what they believe and they become intolerant to divergent views or to any one who is slow to catch on the reformed thought.

Secondly: The economy is affecting every one of us and in many pulpits outside our circles the prosperity gospel is being pelted out with a lot of zest. By any standard this gospel is very attractive; one wonders how long it will take before we are sucked into it ourselves. I feel the way to counter this phenomenon is develop a positive view of money and wealth rather than stick to the puritanical outlook of looking at poverty as a virtue.

What final words would you like to say to our readers, who are mainly although not exclusively from Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia?

The Reformed Movement in Zambia is growing one wishes it was growing faster but it is growing none the less. It is a viable theology and it is changing lives. When applied as a religion of the heart and not only of the mind it is a theology that can guide you through the twists and turns of life without regret. In my mind the solution to charismatic confusion is Reformed theology.