THE 18TH ANNUAL ZAMBIAN REFORMED CONFERENCE

It was once again the time of the year when Christians of Reformed persuasion in Zambia come together for their annual spiritual feast. This year the Zambia Reformed Family Conference and School of Theology started on Monday 27th August and ended on Thursday 30th August – one day earlier than usual. This reduction by a day was in order to accommodate a regional conference – the Sola 5 Conference – that was being hosted in Zambia. The Sola 5 Conference ran from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September. Since many were interested in attending both of these conferences, it was as good as attending one Reformed conference lasting seven days – a rare treat indeed!

Voddie Baucham preaching to a packed hall during one of the evening sessions

                The keynote address at this year’s conference was given by Emmanuel Sakala, pastor of the Berean Reformed Baptist Church in Chililabombwe, Zambia. He opened the conference by drawing our attention to the need to keep the cross of Christ central in our preaching because it is the very heart of God’s message to the world. The main preachers at this year’s annual feast were Jeff Noblit and Voddie Baucham from the USA. They preached on the theme of “Biblical Evangelism and Discipleship”. Jeff Noblit majored more on the need for formative and restorative discipline in the church, while Voddie Baucham expounded sections of the Pastoral Epistles. The preaching was so good that just after the first full day pressure began to mount on the organisers to increase the evening preaching from the usual one session to two. And so “due to public demand” on Thursday night there were two sermons instead of one!

                One special feature this year was the presence of a lady speaker. Martha Peace, the celebrated author of The Excellent Wife, led the women at the conference in studying how to be a Titus 2 woman. She challenged the women, who attended her sessions in droves, to be the kind of women that God can use to mould other women into godly followers of Christ. Jeff Noblit also came with his wife, Pam, whose unique singing gift was put to maximum use especially in the evening meetings. Her songs blended in beautifully with the messages.

                Attendance at these conferences continues to grow. Those attending throughout the day were between 500 and 600 while the evening attendance shot up to between 800 and 900. Again, as was the case last year, all the nine provinces of Zambia, except one, were represented. As for other countries in the sub-region, there were brethren from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. (The numbers attending from these countries were unusually high because many who were coming for the Sola 5 Conference decided to come earlier so as to also attend the Zambian conference). Others came in from Australia, the USA and the UK to just be a part of this spiritual feast. To cater for the large evening crowd, a big screen was installed outside the main hall under a large tent, where more than a hundred people sat listening to the preaching of the Word of God. It is very clear to the organisers that this conference has outgrown its present facilities and so a larger venue must be found before next year’s conference.

                One special feature this year, whose fruit was evident to those in attendance, was that for the first time all the English-speaking Reformed Baptist churches in Lusaka came together to organise the conference and share in its financial load. Many of the international guests, and even the couples who came in from other towns in Zambia, were accommodated in various homes across the city of Lusaka. What a joy it was to see like-minded churches working together like this for the cause of the truth as it is in Christ! If anyone is still in doubt that the Reformed Faith has come to stay in Zambia, and that it is spreading like wild fire across this sub-region of Africa, all we can say to such a person is what is found on many holiday postcards – “I wish you were here!”

Conrad Mbewe

Lusaka

LUSAKA BAPTIST CHURCH SCHOOL OF PREACHING

Lusaka Baptist Church (LBC) hosted for the first time the School of Preaching and Pastors’ Fraternalon 15th and 16th August 2007, respectively, at the church grounds in Lusaka’s Longacres. The School was open to all who believe in preaching. Author and speaker, Iain Duguid, well-known for his commentaries on the Books of Numbers and Ezekiel and other celebrated classics, led over 100 pastors and church leaders from various denominations around the country through a series of discussions on the theme “Seeing Christ in the Old Testament”.

The two main topics were: Seeing Christ in Old Testament Narratives, and The Singing Saviour: Seeing Christ in the Psalms. As expected, the Questions and Answers session was lively, sometimes rather exigent. A few questions were drawn out of somewhat complex or “vague” Old Testament texts, as the participants sought to understand how Christ could actually be preached from there. While Dr. Duguid cautioned against casual allegorical interpretation of Holy Scripture or the stretching of given texts beyond their intended meaning, he showed from each Old Testament text presented to him that Christ was indeed in the text.

The Pastors’ Fraternal, which this year is celebrating its sixth anniversary, attracted some 33 pastors—once again from various denominations. The fraternal is an initiative of Reformed Baptist pastors, but is not restricted to pastors of the Reformed persuasion alone. The fraternal has been attended in the past by Pentecostal Assemblies of God, Pilgrim Wesleyan, and Brethren in Christ church leaders, and is normally held on the first Wednesday of each month at the homes of various pastors on a rotational basis. It aims at providing fellowship between and among pastors living in and around Lusaka.

Dr Duguid took a two-part series on the theme: The Role of the Pastor in Theological Education. He firstly gave a talk on the task of training men and how to train men in the congregation generally. After the tea-break he went on to handle the question of how to train men for ministry, a task Dr. Duguid has been carrying out for the past 12 years. Training for ministry, he showed, is not without its great challenges regardless of the culture. He brought out some broad ideas on how church leaders can assist their men grow and develop their gifts and busy themselves in the Lord’s vineyard.

Muki Phiri

Lusaka

ZAMBIA REFORMED BAPTIST BUILDING TRUST FUND

About 1996 a number of Pastors within the Reformed Baptist fraternity began to sense the need for a fund that would assist the many new Reformed Baptist Churches that were being planted with funds for construction of Church buildings. Most of the new churches were either meeting in Primary school halls or other rented accommodations like many other religious groups were doing. For instance, Kabwata Baptist Church was meeting in the Kabwata community for the morning services on the Lord’s days and Ridgeway Campus lecture room in the evenings; Fairview Reformed Baptist Church in Mufulira was meeting at Mano primary school and later shifted to Mufulira Secondary school; Calvary Baptist Church in Chipata was meeting at Hillside Primary School; Mount Makulu Baptist Church was meeting at ZAMIM College Campus; and Choma Central Baptist Church who was also meeting at St Patrick’s Basic School. One of the negative results of this scenario was that a number of potential church attendants were hesitant to come as they perceived churches meeting in such places as not being serious. Consequently the idea of a building fund among the Reformed Baptist churches was born. With initial financial help from the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America (ARBCA) of about US$47,000, the Zambia Reformed Baptist Building Trust Fund (ZRBBTF) was thus established in July 1996.

Organisation

The ZRBBTF is owned by a number of Reformed Baptist Churches around the country. Consequently the pastors in the member churches constitute the policy-making body. Traditionally this body meets once a year taking advantage of the Reformed conferences in August. For the day-to-day administrative work, an administrative team was constituted comprising various professional individuals drawn from the member churches. The administrative team operates under terms of reference (TORs) from the policy-making body. Among its functions is the management of the Fund in terms of appraising various applications for financing from member churches as well as providing some basic technical help in the design and actual construction of church buildings.

The Administrative Team is presently composed of the chairman (Mr Mwamba J Chibuta, a banker, an elder at Kabwata Baptist Church), the secretary (Mr Joseph Taguma, an economist, an elder at Mount Makulu Baptist Church), a lawyer (Mr Buta Gondwe, legal counsel, a deacon at Lusaka Baptist Church), an accountant (Mr Barnabas Chiboboka, accountant, a member of Kabwata Baptist Church), and an architect (Mr Abraham Chileshe, a member of Lusaka Baptist Church).

Fairview Reformed Baptist Church buildings with beautiful plush surroundings

Vision

One of the major hurdles faced by many new and young churches is that of finding money from user-friendly sources to erect church buildings at reasonable cost. This is because borrowing from Banks has tended to be prohibitive in terms of cost. Consequently the ZRBBTF sets out to make available finances to all Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia at reasonable cost so that God’s people are able to worship the Lord our God in decent basic structures. The loans are therefore interest free. However, they are designated in United States Dollars in order to help maintain value given the wild fluctuations of the kwacha in the past (thankfully, this has really changed!)

What has been done so far?

From inception the Trust Fund has given out loans worth a total of US$63,000 to churches across Zambia. These are Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Mount Makulu Baptist Church in Chilanga, south of Lusaka, Fairview Reformed Baptist Church in Mufulira on the Copperbelt, Choma Central Baptist Church in Southern Province, Calvary Baptist Church in Chipata, Eastern Province, Kafue Reformed Baptist Church in Kafue, south of Lusaka, Bethel Baptist Church in Kabwe, in Central province, and most recently Trinity Reformed Baptist Church in Livingstone, Southern Province.

As a matter of policy the Trust Fund will only finance works of a basic nature. The definition of basic is the four walls and a roof for the main auditorium. Other ancillary works such as ablution facilities may be financed depending on circumstances. The basic idea is that the building must be brought to a level where meetings can take place and some level of stability achieved. If churches want to put chandeliers and fans, they will have to look elsewhere! So far this approach has worked well for most, if not all, the churches that have borrowed.

How does it work?

It was recognised from the outset that the Fund needed to be self-sustaining and that this would not be achieved by simply relying on donations. Consequently, given that the loans were interest-free, a subscription system by member churches was included so that the Fund could grow itself beyond the initial capitalisation. The level of subscriptions is related to the membership levels. The higher the membership, the higher the level of subscription. At the moment, the two churches with the highest membership are paying K600,000 (about $160) per month, while those with the lowest membership are paying K75,000 (about $20) per month. The subscription is also used as the indicator for annual renewal of membership for the churches. Whereas in the past the levels of subscriptions were a serious source of concern, the administrative team is happy to report a drastic improvement in the levels of subscriptions by the member churches for the year 2007. Please keep it up!

Having provided the necessary documentation, including approved building plans, the ZRBBTF will disburse the loan as approved and will allow for a grace period of one year or until the church begins to use the sanctuary, which ever is earlier, before repayments on the loan commence.

What does the future hold?

With the number of new Reformed Baptist churches continuing to grow, the ZRBBTF will continue to be an essential tool for the churches. This is because the cost of construction is generally high and continues to rise in Zambia. Because of this, the average church may not manage to raise the necessary funds to erect a church building at a go. Ordinarily the church could borrow from a commercial bank or a building society but the cost of such borrowing is generally prohibitive. The ZRBBTF is, therefore, a viable alternative as the terms of borrowing are meant to assist the churches while at the same time seeking to be sustainable over the long term. The future is bright especially because of the growing support of the churches.

The Building Trust Fund also gives the opportunity to those churches with a lot more resources to assist those which may not have the financial capacity to fend for themselves at a critical stage in their development. We see this principle in the Bible when the Corinthian churches sent financial help to the church at Jerusalem during a time of need (2 Corinthians 8:1-15).

Conclusion

Trinity Baptist Church (Livingstone) incomplete building about to be roofed

After ten years in existence we can see some of the fruit of the Fund’s work as we look at Fairview Reformed Baptist Church in Mufulira, Calvary Baptist church in Chipata, Choma Central Baptist Church in Choma, Kafue Reformed Baptist Church, and Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka. These churches, which were once meeting in classrooms and welfare halls, are now meeting in their own church buildings. They are more visible in the community and, therefore, know an increasing number of visitors when they meet for worship. We have just approved a loan application for Trinity Baptist Church in Livingstone to enable them roof their building. We look forward to seeing them move into their building soon. Praise the Lord!

Mwamba Chibuta

Lusaka

Copperbelt Annual Women’s Rally

Some ladies in attendance from Faith Baptist Church

We successfully hosted the Copperbelt Annual Women’s Rally on 3rd November 2007 from 0900 to 1530 hours. Ten churches from three provinces were represented; Copperbelt, Central and Lusaka. The total attendance was about 70. Notable was the appearing for the first time of ladies from Faith Baptist Church in Kitwe. But notable also this year was the absence of the “Chapelians”, who normally come in large numbers. Only Chimwemwe Chapel was represented. Others represented were Bethel Baptist Church (Kabwe), Berean Reformed Baptist Church (Chililabombwe), Chingola Central Baptist Church, Fairview Reformed Baptist Church (Mufulira), Grace Reformed Baptist Church (Ndola), Kabwata Baptist Church (Lusaka), Mufulira Baptist Church, and Trinity Baptist Church (Kitwe).

The preachers: Pastor Kabwe, Pastor Nsenduluka, Dr Mphuka and Pastor Sakala.

The Theme of the rally was “Women and False Teachers” and was handled as follows: Session 1: “Why do most false teachers target women?” by Pastor Kabwe Kabwe, pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Ndola. Session 2: “How to discern and respond to false teachers,”byDr. Simon Mphuka, elder at Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka. Session 3: Question and Answer panel. The panelists were Pastor Kabwe Kabwe, Pastor Emmanuel Sakala, pastor of Berean Reformed Baptist Church in Chililabombwe and Pastor Kapambwe Nsenduluka, the host pastor.

We thank all the participants and speakers wholeheartedly. We also thank Grace Fellowship Church in Pretoria, South Africa, for donating some booklets on the theme of the rally. We sold them at giveaway prices to defray part of rally expenses. So far feedback has been encouraging.

Kapambwe Nsenduluka

Mufulira

A PASTOR AND AN ELDER ORDAINED

Pastor Ndonji Kayombo

The month of October brought tidings of great joy to the Copperbelt Reformed Baptist fraternity as they witnessed some tangible progress in the oversight of two of their churches. It was a joy to witness both of these occasions.

                The first was Trinity Baptist Church in Kitwe, where Ndonji Kayombo was inducted into the pastorate on Saturday, 13th October 2007. Ndonji had already been serving in the eldership of the church for about two years. During this period he handled much of the pastoral and preaching work. The church appreciated his giftedness in this area and hence felt led of the Lord to call him into the pastorate. We rejoice with Trinity Baptist Church and pray that the Lord will give their new pastor many years of fruitful service in their midst.

                Then on Sunday 28th October 2007, Mufulo Ngandwe was ordained into the eldership of Fairview Reformed Baptist Church. Mufulo got saved in the same church some ten years ago and since then has grown in the things of God by leaps and bounds in the same church. He had served as a deacon for many years and proved himself to be an avid reader and an able preacher. The time had now come for the Lord to give him the solemn task of leading his people at Fairview as an elder. As one of those guilty of plundering the eldership at Fairview, witnessing this event brought great relief and realization that the Lord continues to watch over his churches and will truly provide shepherds for them.

                Both occasions were witnessed by many visitors from sister churches across the Copperbelt. A few came from further a-field. Both events were also marked by a spirit of joy as could be seen from the hearty singing. May God raise up more such men to provide the much-needed oversight for this people. Amen!

Conrad Mbewe

Lusaka