This year is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and so it is only fitting that we should end this first issue of Reformation Zambia in 2017 by looking at a modern Reformation that has taken place in a neighbouring country—Namibia. We do so by interviewing Pastor Joachim Rieck, who has been used by the Lord together with others to see the Reformed Baptist movement grow to what it is today in that country. He will tell us about himself and about the progress that he has witnessed in that movement in his lifetime. We hope to end with some prayer pointers for us to use to pray for them because the work of reformation never ends. They will need our prayers!

Pastor Joachim Rieck, could you tell us a little about yourself, your conversion, and your call to the pastoral ministry?

I was born in 1958 in Walvis Bay, Namibia, the oldest of three children. My family did not take us to church, and so essentially I grew up as a pagan.  However, I had a Christian grandmother living in Hamburg, Germany, who I know was praying for me.
I was converted in 1978 as a student at the University of Cape Town. Upon returning to Namibia I became a member of the Baptist Church in Walvis Bay and was baptised there in accordance with the Scriptures.

The call to the ministry came in June 1985. At that time Eastside Baptist Church in Windhoek had started to meet and was soon constituted. I was working in the corporate world at that time.

How did you train for the pastorate and how did you finally find yourself at Eastside Baptist Church as a pastor?

I studied at the Cape Town Baptist Theological Seminary in South Africa for four years (1986 – 1989). It was during this time that I also met my wife, Marcelle. We were married in 1987. At the end of my studies in 1989 the Eastside Baptist Church called me to be their pastor and I returned to Windhoek, Namibia, in January 1990.

What was the state of the Reformed Baptist cause in Namibia in those days?

There was no Reformed Baptist work in Namibia at that time. The Baptist work in Namibia was started by American “Southern Baptists” in the late 1960s and was “Arminian” in practise.

Are you encouraged by the current state of the Reformed Baptist cause in your country? If so, what are some of the areas that really encourage you?

I am very encouraged. By far most of the Baptist churches in Namibia would identify with being “Reformed”. A steady diet of good Reformed literature and books plus the steady contribution made by Reformed pastors and churches from outside of Namibia have helped greatly to accelerate the God-centred gospel in Namibia. In a number of cases, the Reformation in our churches has also affected other denominations.

The editor with some Reformed Baptist leaders in Namibia. L–R: Pastor Laban Mwashekele, Pastor Spencer Tuundjakuye Tjijenda, and Hiskia Tjindere

Why have you felt for all these years of your pastoral ministry at Eastside Baptist Church that the Reformed faith was worth fighting for?

I have seen the impact that the Reformed faith has made upon the practical lives of our people, as the God-centredness of our proclamation turns people away from themselves to act in line with the Scriptures. This brings visible blessing to people and society. Reformation is more than an accurate understanding of the Bible. Orthodoxy as well as orthopraxy is required in order to secure the real benefits of the Reformed gospel-centred message.

If there were any areas in the Reformed movement in your country that keep you awake at night, what would they be?

So many of our ethnic groups have not yet been reached with the gospel. Many of our towns and villages do not yet have a biblical church led by a biblical leadership. The training of future pastors, biblical elders, and biblical deacons needs far more effort in Namibia. Namibia needs a Reformed Baptist training institute. We appreciate all the help that we get from elsewhere, but essentially we need our men to be trained here on the ground and in proximity to their local churches.

If we were to pray relevantly for the cause of Christ generally in Namibia what areas would you like us to centre our thoughts on?

Pray for spiritual hunger in Namibia, that people will long after the true God as he is revealed in the Bible. Pray against the work of false prophets and preachers who rob our people of their spiritual appetites.

If we were now to centre our prayer focus on the Reformed Baptist movement in Namibia what would you want us to pray for?

  • Again, pray for spiritual hunger in Namibia, that people will long after the true God as he is revealed in the Bible. This will stimulate our work.
  • Pray that we may continue to see Reformed Baptist churches planted and established.
  • Pray that we may be able to have an effective discipleship and equipping ministry in all our churches.
  • Pray that we may be able to see many effective workmen trained for the gospel cause in Namibia.
  • Pray that the Reformed Baptist movement here will have a missionary vision for Namibia, for Africa, and for the world.
  • Above all, pray that we in the Namibian church may fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus at all times. His call is the reason why we labour and his glory is the end to which we labour.