20 Years of Choolwe Mwetwa’s Pastoral MinistryChoolwe Mwetwa, with his wife Marilyn, cutting the Anniversary cake

It was a joyous Saturday 31st January, 2009, for Central Baptist Church (CBC), Chingola, when the church celebrated 20 years’ ministry of a humble servant and pastor, Choolwe Mwetwa. Celebrations took place at the Jesus Worship Centre auditorium in the heart of Chingola. Brethren from other churches, e.g. Trinity Baptist Church (Kitwe), Grace Reformed Baptist Church (Ndola), Berean Reformed Baptist Church (Chililabombwe), Bethel Chapel and Evangel Assemblies of God (both of Chingola), Lusaka Baptist Church, Kabwata Baptist Church, and Emmasdale Baptist Church (Lusaka) joined the church in the celebrations.

The event commenced at 11.00 hours and was adorned with various activities, some of which included some special songs by Miss Janet Chisupa and her singing group, and a poem to Pastor Mwetwa by Mr Logan Nyasulu, which was read by Mr Mlingo Mwambu.

The history of Central Baptist Church was given by one of the longest serving members, Mr Lightson Silweya. In his presentation, he gave an overview of how the church started and how Pastor Choolwe Mwetwa was called to become the shepherd of Central Baptist Church. Memories were brought to mind for those who were there. A story was told through a photo Powerpoint presentation of a small fraction of Pastor Mwetwa’s life in the ministry of God’s word. This was compiled by Mrs Shupe Makashinyi.

A testimony by another long-time member at CBC, Mr Gershom Mwelwa highlighted the impact of the reformatory expositions of Pastor Mwetwa when he started shepherding CBC and how the church embraced the Reformed teaching and has grown in the same because of the labours of this humble servant of God.

Pastor Kalifungwa of Lusaka Baptist Church preached from John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. He laboured to show why Christ must increase and the preachers of the gospel must decrease. An example of this was evident in the humble service to God exemplified in the ministry of Pastor Mwetwa.

After a sumptuous lunch prepared by Mushimbwa Gardner and her team, there was presentation of gifts and tokens of appreciation to Pastor Mwetwa. Trinity Baptist Church (Kitwe), Central Baptist Church (Chingola), as well as some individuals, gave tokens. The occasion was summed up with a group photo, interviews and comments.

Here is a glimpse at some comments written to Pastor C. Mwetwa from the young and old:

  • “Thank you for being a good pastor”.
  • Chimwemwe Kanyanta (9 years old)
  • “He has led you this far by His grace and He will lead you by fire and by cloud, He will bring you to Zion to look on His face. Blessed be God”.
  • Martha Mwewa
  • We give thanks to God for your faithfulness in serving Him. May the Lord Bless you and increase His favour upon you and your family”.
  • Albert Ngoma

Chiluba Lesa

Central Baptist Church, Chingola

The Wedding of Ndonji and Lumpuma KAYOMBO 

On 17th December 2008, at a time when business houses and individuals are taking stock of the year and planning for a new year, Ndonji Kayombo and Lumpuma Chitambala joined together in holy matrimony at Kabwata Baptist Church. Ndonji is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kitwe. Lumpuma had served for many years as pastor’s assistant at Kabwata Baptist Church where Conrad Mbewe is pastor.

Pastor Mbewe officiated and preached at the wedding where he lost a hard-working church worker to a fellow pastor. The wedding was witnessed by families of the couple, church members of Kabwata and Trinity Baptist Churches, including other Reformed Baptist and Evangelical churches in Zambia.

It is worth noting that both Ndonji and Lumpuma have been keenly involved in a good part of the growth of Trinity and Kabwata Baptist churches. 

Gabriel Konayuma

Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka

 Trinity Baptist Church Receives another Elder

Trinity Baptist Church (TBC), Livingstone, Zambia, has experienced phenomenal growth in the last couple of years under the pastorate of Michael Bwembya. Pastor Bwembya came to TBC as a missionary pastor in 2002. Then, its membership comprised fewer than 10 faithful saints. Today, the church boasts over 40 members.

In the year 2008, the church went into prayer, seeking the Lord to clarify in our minds the need for an additional elder and to point us to his chosen one for this role. We are, therefore, glad to announce that the Lord confirmed this to the church through various means and on 24th January 2009, Joseph Mubanga Chanda was ordained as an elder. Come to think of it, he is really the first ordained elder from within the flock at TBC.

We remain as grateful as we are indebted to Almighty God for this gesture of goodwill to his church in Livingstone. We covet prayers of saints everywhere for our new elder that the Lord might use him mightily and also that the church might continue to experience growth.

Here below is Joseph Chanda’s personal testimony

I was brought up in a religious home, with Christian parents. My father was serving as a pastor in a Christian Brethren church. I grew up with memory verses from Sunday school. I was, therefore, exposed to the gospel early in life and I remember professing faith somewhere around Grade Six.

But school life in boarding school changed all this as I gave up on church altogether and joined bad company. I became vile and considered religion foolishness.

In 1991, when I completed Grade Twelve, I left home to live with one of my brothers in Lusaka. Another elder brother of mine was then studying at Evelyn Hone College and he would pick me up every Sunday to go to the Mtendere Christian Brethren Church. I joined in and pretended to be like everyone else. One day, I got a small book which was explaining the gospel of salvation according to the Gospel of John. The book was divided in such a way that it could be read in 30 days. I had very little to do and so I faithfully read the book. It was as I read through that book that the sense of the reality of God, and especially the reality of judgement, dawned on my conscience. I struggled with the thought, “If Christ returned, where would I be?” This brought great anxiety in my heart and led me to pray for God’s mercy. I prayed once or twice but I never got the peace I so much yearned for. I struggled to cut off ties with friends and sins.

This was around October 1992 and during that time there was a concert at the Independence Stadium where musicians Jambo and Brenda Fassie came from South Africa. I went there with friends, ordinarily hoping to “enjoy” myself. But I had completely no peace and the sense of Christ’s return even became heavier. I could not stay to the end, so I sneaked out and went back home. I sincerely sought the Lord’s mercy for forgiveness of sin. From that time, my perspective of life changed.

When I moved to the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe for my degree studies, I joined the Riverside Chapel. It was there that I was baptised by the late Elder Ngungu. My biggest problem was with the assurance of salvation. I always joke that I don’t know how many times I got saved!

About eldership, I have the desire to serve the Lord in any way the Lord would make available for me. Sometimes the desire has been stronger and the thought of entering into full-time ministry has crossed my mind several times but at other times it has been weak and that desire has been completely lost. Sometimes fear has been strong but the Lord himself who calls his people to serve him indeed makes provision at the right time. I only surrender myself to his grace.

As for my theological persuasion, I believe that:

  • God, the Creator of the whole world, rules in sovereignty over all the universe according to His purpose.
  • God created man upright but man fell from his state of righteousness into sin. That this sin has affected the totality of man in his heart, mind and will, so that he cannot understand nor desire nor choose God naturally. It is only by the power of God the Holy Spirit that he may be enabled to do so.
  • The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God;
  • Worship is only to the one and true God who exists in three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • Man is a sinner and that Christ died for the salvation of man.
  • Salvation is all of God’s free grace.

In summary I believe the system of theology nicknamed Calvinism as the true understanding of the teaching of the Bible.

Thank you!

KABWATA BAPTIST CHURCH’S SECOND MISSIONS CONFERENCE 

The 2009 conference started on Wednesday, 28th January and went up to Sunday, 1st February. The theme was “Send the Light, the blessed Gospel light”. During the week, the meetings took place in the evenings. On Saturday the meeting was held in the afternoon and on Sunday it took place during the morning service. It ended with a fellowship lunch which replaced the usual evening service on Sunday. We had an average of 250 of our members present each day, except for Sunday when we had a full house of approximately 450 people. The Elders of the church took turns in leading our worship services. Each day, two missionaries used Powerpoint presentations to show the church what was going on in their fields of labour. This was greatly appreciated by the members. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for all the missionaries to make their presentations.

The work of missions at Kabwata Baptist Church has continued to grow over the last few years, with twelve missionaries presently serving directly under the church, and two others being jointly supported with our sister churches. From the eight missionaries we had directly under the church at the beginning of last year, the number leaped to the current twelve as four joined this army in the course of the year. Three mission stations without a fulltime missionary are also receiving oversight from the church.

The main achievements in the past year include new support for five more mission stations — Chitabe and Nyimba in Eastern Province, Bonaventure and Kabanana in Lusaka, and Zomba in Malawi. We are also now poised to send a missionary to Namibia, while at the same time are starting to investigate the possibility of entering Ethiopia with church-planting labours. All this is very exciting! Negatively however, we had to relieve of his duties and excommunicate our missionary in Mwense.

The speaker for the conference was Pastor Philip Hunt, who has been involved in church planting since 1992.  He served as pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Riverside, Kitwe, until 2007 when he handed over the work to an indigenous pastor, Saidi Chishimba. Phil’s vision is to impact the continent of Africa with the gospel for the glory of God. His passion is to train the next generation of God-called African leaders who will catch the same vision that he has. He hopes to see God-called men and women who will advance a truly indigenous and independent Baptist church-planting movement across the continent. To this he has dedicated his life, since vacating the office of pastor at Faith Baptist Church, to the establishment of Central Africa Baptist College in Kitwe, Zambia.

God could not have given us a better instrument to spur us on in the work of missions. Phil has experience as a missionary working in Zambia. He has been used of God to plant a church to the point of successfully handing it over to its first called (rather than sent) pastor. When he was pastor of Faith Baptist Church, he got that church into serious church-planting efforts, starting a number of churches in Kitwe. He ensured that his church held missions conferences long before we ever thought of holding any ourselves! He even got them to commit themselves to supporting us financially every month in our first international work of missions in Botswana. So, here is a man who does not just talk about missions—he does missions!

His messages were excellent, as they dealt with the heart and experience of missions. The sermon on the Priority of Discipleship, based on 2 Timothy 2:1–9, was exceptionally challenging!

The ladies not only provided a powerful lunch on Sunday but also mobilised clothes from their homes for the mission stations, especially those in the rural areas and in the poorer townships of Lusaka. What overwhelmed the missionaries the most was the response that the members made towards the new pledge system and the one-off amount meant to cover the projects in three mission stations. The total monthly pledge came to a little more than what we needed to keep our missionaries on the field (apart from the help we get from our partners and the extra that we give towards their outreach and building projects). The one-off contribution overshot our target by 50%. We rejoiced at the way God moved his people to show this practical re-commitment to the work of missions. To God alone be the glory!

Wilson Kamanga

Missions Coordinator, Kabwata Baptist Church

Dapson Mwendafilumba

Church Secretary Par Excellence

(A testimony by the editor, from his blog—www.conradmbewe.com)

Dapson Mwendafilumba passed into glory at 14.30 hours on Saturday, 21st March, 2009. He was the chairman of the deacons at Lusaka Baptist Church at the time of his going to glory. However, to my mind, he always remained the church secretary par excellence. This is because that was his role at Kabwata Baptist Church some twenty-two years ago when I first came here as a new pastor and still green between the ears. When Kabwata Baptist Church was constituted on 25th January 1986, Dapson was already on the leadership team.

What most church members who were there then will remember were Dapson’s announcements during Sunday church services in the Kabwata Community Hall. He spiced them with just enough humour to keep us all interested in the whole range of announcements to the very end. Never missing in those announcements was “Number 4, Mucheka Street”. It was the home of the Mwendafilumbas in the early days of Kabwata Baptist Church and it was often the venue for deacon’s meetings, couples’ fellowship meetings, prayer meetings, etc.

Behind the scenes, however, Dapson was a very hard working church secretary. His strength lay in always anticipating challenges and so would have everything ready when you needed them—agendas, minutes, bills, letters, notices, etc. In the early days of any church, such assets are rare and must be highly appreciated. Talking about anticipating challenges, Dapson even noticed when my wife was expecting our first child (Mwindula) that one of our biggest hurdles was going to be the acquisition of a baby cot, and so he provided the finances from his own family coffers to enable us buy one! How can we ever forget that? Hence, I was not too surprised when in 1990 his employers, the Hostels Board of Zambia, promoted him to go to Ndola to run the Henry Makulu Guest House. They saw and appreciated this gift in Dapson. That is how we lost his services at Kabwata Baptist Church.

Dapson also endured the worst from me as a young pastor. I came to Kabwata Baptist Church with the zeal of a young reformer. Whatever I saw that did not conform to the New Testament model of a local church, I wanted to see changed “yesterday”. As church secretary, Dapson must have found this quite confusing because what was alright yesterday had to suddenly change just because the pastor says so. From time to time, he came into my study and took me on about my riding rough-shod over the sensitivities of church members. Thankfully, he left for Ndola before these reforms almost cost me my pastorate. In an interview in the USA World magazine, he recollected those difficult days at Kabwata Baptist Church and again insisted that my reforms were too fast. Looking back now, with the hindsight of some twenty years, I think he was right.

His last visit to Kabwata Baptist Church was during our 20th anniversary commemorative activities as a church (see photo). I recall vividly how he spoke passionately about those early years when the few people who were committed to “the work at Kabwata” gave their all to see this work grow. He spoke about their zeal for evangelism and their love for one another in those days. He pleaded with those who were now in the membership of Kabwata Baptist Church to emulate its pioneers, especially in loving one another in the body of Christ. It was good to see “the church secretary par excellence” once again in the pulpit!

Apart from his service in the church, Dapson’s passion was in the hospitality industry. His services were highly sought after by many individuals and companies who were either establishing or already running lodges and hotels in the country. However, Dapson was committed to the Zambian government’s hostels and lodges. He worked for the Hostels Board of Zambia and rose through its ranks over a period of more than twenty years until at the time of his death he held its highest position as Executive Secretary. In 1999, when Zambia hosted one of the biggest conferences ever hosted in this country, the ICASA Conference, the Zambian government called upon Dapson to chair the conference’s accommodation committee. They are not the only ones. The Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia also ensured that he was on the organizing committee of our annual Reformed Family Conference and School of Theology, which last year alone drew participants from no less than twelve countries.

To Dapson, his vocation was more than just a job. He wanted to see standards improved in the hospitality industry in Zambia. Hence, he worked hard to ensure that the Zambian government enacted legislation that would compel hotel and lodge owners to meet certain minimum standards or lose their practicing licences. On the international hospitality scene, Dapson’s gifts and passion were also noticed. Hence, he soon became the Hotel and Catering International Management Association (HCIMA) Zambia chapter chairperson. He brought the weight of this association behind his drive to improve the hospitality industry in the country. He was quoted in the Times of Zambia recently saying, “Our association wants to see professional standards in the hospitality industry. Wrong things are happening in these institutions where, for instance, unqualified chefs are employed who are doing wrong things. We have people being served with leftover food.”

Dapson leaves behind a wife, Martha, and three daughters—Mubeji, Tukiya and Mulaye. Please pray for them as they adjust to life without a loving husband and father. There is no doubt that the members of Lusaka Baptist Church will come alongside them in this trying time. For us as a family, Dapson’s passing away brings to an end an annual ritual that we really appreciated. Every year around Christmas, Dapson came with his wife Martha to our home with a carton full of packets of fruit juice—“with compliments from the Mwendafilumbas”! On his last visit, he came alone, and, as he put the big and heavy carton down, he said that Martha was out of the country but they were not willing to delay the bringing of the “small” parcel. That was Dapson’s sense of humour!