The 2011 Zambian Annual Reformed Conferences

The 22nd Zambian Annual Reformed Conferences, comprising The Reformed Family Conference and The Reformed School of Theology, took place in Lusaka from 22nd to 26th August 2011. The conferences were held at Lusaka Baptist Church and the theme was “The cross centred life”. This report is from the Organizing Committee’s side of the fence. The Committee comprises thirteen very dedicated members chosen from the hosting Lusaka-based Reformed Baptist churches—Lusaka Baptist Church, Kabwata Baptist Church, Evangel Baptist Church, and Mount Makulu Baptist Church.

Voddie Baucham and Jono Sims having fellowship at break time

We praise the Lord that we again saw overwhelming numbers of delegates that turned up for the conferences. The attendances averaged 550-600 during the day (up from about 350 last year) and 1,000 during the evening meetings (up from 650 last year). We had seven countries (Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, America, Australia) represented, with Zimbabwe sending apologies. The conferences are truly international in outlook. It is useful to also mention that we had about ten brethren from Pentecostal churches in Kabwe and Lusaka also in attendance. We also had people coming from all the nine provinces of Zambia.

Part of the evening attendance during the conference

The first full day’s planning underestimated the numbers. We had planned for 350 to 400 going on from the previous year, but about 550 people showed up and posed a great challenge on the service of adequate meals that first day. Much “holy anger” was raised as a result, followed by much offering of free, but forcefully given advice on strategic planning. It needs to be said that much reliance was made on last year’s numbers and indications of intended registration via websites and in the local churches to project attendance. Sadly, the Zambian mentality of doing things at the last minute is also in us as Zambian Christians. We need to reform in this area.

The two main speakers were Dr Voddie Baucham and Pastor Jonathan Sims—both from the USA. Dr Baucham has preached at these conferences a few times before and has come to be fondly nicknamed “Pastor Zulu” to signify he is now a local. This was Pastor Sims first ever visit to Zambia and to these conferences. Both men were tremendously inspired of the Lord to open up his Word and bless our hearts, and to vigorously encourage us to live the cross-centred life.

Local preachers and teachers ably handled eight seminars on various topics relevant to the stage of development of the Reformed Baptist constituency in Zambia. The speakers and topics were as follows:

  1. Lukonde Makupe—Developing an outreach ministry to educational institutions.
  2. Conrad Mbewe—Inspiring church-based ministries in outreach endeavours.
  3. Watson Lumba—The challenge of being in politics as a Christian in Zambia.
  4. Dennis Chiwele—The challenge of running a business as a Christian in Zambia.
  5. Isaac Makashinyi—Using the Internet for Christian outreach to the world.
  6. Ronald Kalifungwa—The challenge of church planting missions today.
  7. Raphael Banda—Finding a marriage partner God’s way.
  8. Grave Singogo—Maintaining an edifying family altar in the home.

Charles Bota taking us through some housekeeping matters

The level of co-operation from local church members especially in offering accommodation to those coming from outside town to attend the conference continued to be an example of great Zambian hospitality. We are grateful to the Lord for enabling us to see the 22nd of these conferences off successfully. May His name be praised!

Charles Bota

Conference organising team leader

 

The First National Singles Conference

The first ever National Singles Conference, dapped “The Fishers Conference,” was held in Ndola, Copperbelt, at Kaniki Bible College from 26th August to 28th August. It was attended by youths from Lusaka and the Copperbelt, with the males being notably outnumbered. It was facilitated by Pastor and Mrs Mwetwa and Pastor and Mrs Kabwe. The conference was attended by 21 singles, with the majority of those being the female folk. This vividly indicated that we have more females compared to males in our churches. The facilitators put up a number of activities, which were all designed to encourage interaction among the singles that were present.

The theme for the conference was “fishing for a future spouse.” This was not tackled in a sermon but for most of the time the singles were left to interact and do the actual fishing for a future spouse. Pastor and Mrs Mwetwa handled most of the discussions. Pastor and Mrs Kabwe were on hand to help out in the counselling sessions which were put up for those who needed counsel.

On the last night of the conference we had open discussions with the pastor’s wives on how they were proposed for marriage. This was designed to show the men how to make irresistible proposals and afterwards the single ladies shared how indeed they would like to be proposed. At this point I wished every male was present to listen to what the ladies had to say. Pastor Mwetwa shared some interesting thoughts and offered guidance to the singles on a number of issues.

Later that same night, the men compiled a list of things they wished the ladies would know about them and the ladies did likewise. This proved to be a fascinating time. These thoughts were shared in a group discussion and again at this point I wished we had more people in attendance because the material, which was shared, is very cardinal to the success of any relationship and even marriage. The whole meeting was premised on the assumption that participants were Christians.

Time was set aside for socialisation through games and various forms of entertainment. Generally the whole programme was designed to be interactive in nature, rather than instructive. Those who came expecting to listen to sermons got pleasantly surprised.

It was communicated that the Singles’ Conference will be an annual event to be held early in the month of August, so as not to overlap with the national Reformed Conference. So look out for it next year.

It was very good to be present at the first ever singles conference, my prayer is that we will have more people at the next one because believe you me, there is a lot to learn about the opposite sex. We thank God the first conference was a success and look forward to many more to come and we hope the friendships that emerged from there will one day culminate in marriage, to the praise of his glorious name.

Wezi Muwowo

Central Baptist Church, Chingola

 

Sola 5 Conference in Livingstone

This annual conference of God-centred Evangelicals in Southern Africa was held at the Livingstone Institute of Business and Engineering Studies. It was well organised. Zambian hospitality, as always was excellent. This conference was held under the auspices of the Trinity Reformed Baptist Church in Livingstone.

After the steering committee under the leadership of Christo Beetge (Brackenhurst Baptist Church) and our ever-efficient administrator, Hein Strauss (Antipas Baptist Church – Pretoria) had met on Thursday afternoon, 1st September to ensure that everything was in place to commence with the conference, the conference began with an evening fellowship supper followed by the first address.

Joachim Rieck preaching at the Sola 5 conference

The theme for this year’s conference was, “Living God’s Way in God’s World: Christians Impacting Culture.” Six topics were assigned for the conference, centring on the cultural mandate given to us in Genesis 1:28. I shall make mention of the topics and the speakers only. (The messages may be downloaded, I believe, from the SOLA 5 website in MP3 or DVD format).

  1. Bruce Button (Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary): The biblical basis for the cultural mandate.
  2. Jeff Gage (Free Grace Baptist Church – Boksburg): The theological basis for the cultural mandate.
  3. Joachim Rieck (Eastside Baptist Church): The historical outworking of the cultural mandate in western civilisation.
  4. Conrad Mbewe (Kabwata Baptist Church): The place of Christian education in the fulfilment of the cultural mandate.
  5. Ronald Kalifungwa (Lusaka Baptist Church):  The place of a biblical work ethic in the fulfilment of the cultural mandate.
  6. Choolwe Mwetwa (Chingola Baptist Church): The application of the cultural mandate in Africa. (This last message was preached in the context of a worship service held at Trinity Reformed Baptist Church).

The messages were all thought provoking and challenging. The subject at hand is one that needs to be mulled over and discussed in our churches. The nature of this conference was intensely practical since it dealt with the application of the gospel, which frees us to do good works (Eph. 2:10) in every sphere of our existence.

The preaching sessions were interspersed with mission reports and reports on new church planting initiatives (e.g. Richard Raven in Bloemfontein) from all the regions. It is wonderful to see how missionary-minded our movement is!

On Saturday afternoon there was an elective on youth ministry offered by Nick and Sheila Court of Stepwise Youth ministry.

The congregation listening to the preaching of God’s Word

On Friday afternoon, 2nd September, we held our Annual Business Session. Since SOLA 5 is not a denomination but an association of churches, this session was uncomplicated and quickly accomplished. A new steering committee was elected. Peter Sammons (Germiston Baptist Church, RSA) was elected as the chairman. The Steering Committee consists of Hein Strauss (Administrator), Ronald Kalifungwa (alt. Isaac Makashinyi), Conrad Mbewe (alt. Grave Singogo), Christo Beetge, Pieter Slabber (Eastside Baptist Church, Namibia), Jeff Gage, Roland Eskinazi, O B Macwele (Swaziland), and Kobus van der Walt.

New churches were received into membership: Kafue Reformed Baptist Church (Zambia); Midrand Chapel (RSA), and Birchleigh Baptist Church (RSA).

Dr Ken Turnbull gave an encouraging report on the development of the African Christian University in Zambia and Bruce Button of the Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary (Zambia). SGTS will hopefully become the theological faculty of this new Christian University.

On Saturday afternoon, 3rd of September, we had a bit of free time and visited the majestic Victoria Falls. The ever-efficient Col. Phiri had organised a Zambian Airforce bus for us and had negotiated a reduced entrance fare for us. Instead of paying US$ 20.00 we only had to pay US$ 10.00.

This is now the 7th SOLA 5 Conference, since this Association of God Centred Evangelicals in Southern Africa was formed in 2004.

Looking Ahead

Next year’s conference (2012) will be hosted by the Manzini Fellowship Church in Swaziland, before the conference hopes to return once more to Namibia in 2013.

Joachim Rieck

Eastside Baptist Church, Namibia

Foundations for the Flock

(From Conrad Mbewe’s blog, www.conradmbewe.com)

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

The blog post below is an extract from the Preface of my first book on the international market—at last! It is entitled, Foundations for the Flock. Its subtitle reads, “Truths about the church for all the saints.” The Preface speaks for itself and so I will not say anymore.

“For many years, I have been asked by a few publishers in the UK and the USA to write books for a Christian readership that goes beyond my own country, Zambia. Although I did accept the challenge long ago, I have not until now delivered a single title for publication outside of Zambia. The reason is simply the fact that I find it very difficult to write with the whole world in mind. In my own country, I maintain columns in newspapers and have written many booklets that continue to be sold among the churches. But to write a book for readers elsewhere is another story.

“So, how was this difficulty overcome? The book that you now hold in your hands [well, let us say, “which, I trust, you will soon be holding in your hands”] is a compilation of some of the booklets that I have written over the past twenty years for the church in Zambia. These were written to fill a void that I observed as a pastor of a local church and as a church leader in a nation that needed spiritual anchors. The publisher graciously looked at the forty titles that I presently have on the Zambian market and pulled out the ones that were more directly related to life in the local church. They have compiled them into this one book that is now [or will soon be] in front of you.

“Each one of the booklets which make up this book was written out of a pressing need to state clearly what the Bible taught concerning the issue at hand. You will notice that they cover the areas of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, church government, corporate worship, the role of women in the church, the relationship between church and state, the challenge of pastoral ministry, inter-church associations, and the work of missions.”

In short, this book comprises some of the fruit of my efforts to keep watch over the flock that the Holy Spirit has made me an overseer. I have sought to shepherd the flock of God, which he bought with his own blood. Dr Fred Malone, the Pastor of First Baptist Church, in Clinton, USA, graciously agreed to write the Foreword to Foundations for the Flock. Towards the end of this Foreword he says,

“I reiterate that Pastor Mbewe’s book would be of great benefit to pastors and students in the pastoral ministry. I would use it as one of my texts in a course on reformed baptist ecclesiology or the pastoral ministry. Always trying to be biblical, striving to be simple, this work is deceptively profound and practical. Self-consciously, he has not tried to define and evaluate every position and difference on the topics. He wants to expound positively his understanding of God’s Word on the church and to apply it as best he can to his church and other churches. I believe he has accomplished this well. In so doing, he also trains the reader how to think biblically for himself in pastoral work.”

The publication date for Foundations for the Flock is 27th September 2011. The book is presently being offered at a pre-publication price and can be ordered directly from the publishers website: www.grantedministries.org (or send an email to orders@grantedministries.org).

After the publication date, those of you who are in Zambia can purchase the book from Evergreen Bookstore (at Kabwata Baptist Church). For those in South Africa who want to purchase the book, I hope to speak to both Christian Book Discounters and Augustine Bookroom to see if they can have it available by the end of September.

For the rest of you who are regular readers of this blog, I ask that you pray for this book project. Pray that God may use this book to help many Christians around the world to come to a clearer understanding of how the body of Christ, the church, ought to function on earth in order for it to bring much good to God’s people and in order for it to bring glory to God. Amen!

An Inter-Church Married Couples Meeting In Lusaka

In November 2011, the English-speaking Reformed Baptist churches in Lusaka—namely, Emmasdale Baptist Church, Evangel Baptist Church, Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka Baptist Church and Mount Makulu Baptist Church—hosted Pastor Martin Holdt from South Africa for a one-day Couples Meeting. This was held at Kabwata Baptist Church. During his visit, Pastor Holdt also appeared on the Marriage Life programme on Radio Christian Voice.

During the radio programme, Joyce Mwanza interviewed Pastor Martin Holdt on the challenges of managing the first few years of marriage. Pastor Holdt stated that God wants couples to love each other and to be able to understand their differences.  A marriage relationship requires the correct application of marriage principles.  The first five years for a couple ought to be exciting and should be used to find out all they could about marriage and how it works.

Martin Holdt and Ronald Kalifungwa, with Sunday Mwanza, at Radio Christian Voice

                Pastor Holdt said that the first five years are crucial in a marriage relationship because this is the period when couples have to make major adjustments. A marriage brings two people together who previously lived separate lives and it is not always that they agree on everything. Hence, this is the time that couples feel a lot of tension in their marriage. These challenges need to be handled graciously and lovingly, and within the context of the vows made before God. With the fear of God, couples cannot go against their vows but will instead work on the challenges. God is the ultimate solution. They must pursue biblical principles for a happy and godly marriage.

Pastor Holdt ended by imploring couples to read the word of God together everyday. By so doing, they are subjecting themselves to the divine influence that enables them to relate to each other physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.   When this happens, the marriage takes off!

During the one-day couples meeting, Pastor Holdt shared on how a couple should handle the loss of a spouse. He spoke of how he handled the loss of his wife of thirty years. He spoke highly of his late wife’s faith and how she trusted in the Lord despite her battle with cancer. He shared that she looked forward with eager anticipation and she didn’t fear death. It was easier to cope after her death because of the way she lived her Christian life and looked forward to meeting her Lord. Pastor Holdt has since remarried and has been with his second wife for 14 years.

Pastor Holdt speaking during the one day couples meeting

                The one-day couples meeting also covered the parenting of teenage children, serving God as Christian couples in a biblical church, and how to maintain fulfilled intimate lives during the period of menopause. The couples meeting was attended by over one hundred married couples, as well as divorced and single parents.

As a follow-up to this meeting, the married couples’ fellowships from the English-speaking Reformed Baptist churches in Lusaka plan to hold a similar meeting in 2012. The focus this time will be on traditional versus Christian marriage counselling and how couples can work together in Christian ministry.

Ngosa Chisupa

Kabwata Baptist Church