Below is an extract of an interview held with Mrs Gladys Sunkutu on the passing away of her husband and our fellow editor and dear friend Pastor Kennedy Sunkutu of Kafue Reformed Baptist Church. Pastor Sunkutu went to glory on the 4th and was buried on 7th of December 2018.

When and where were you born? Please give a bit of your background in terms of your upbringing and family.

I was born at Chikankata Hospital in Mazabuka district when my parents were working there as teachers. My father passed on when I was in early primary school and so I was brought up by my mother.

Tell us about your education background…primary, secondary and tertiary.

I did my primary and secondary school education at Namwianga, a school of Christ Mission Station in Kalomo of the Southern Province. My mother was then teaching at Namwianga Christian Secondary School. In 1989, I went to Lusaka School of nursing for my nursing training for 3 years.

When did you come to Christ and how did this happen?

I became a Christian early in life but later doubted my salvation until 1987 when I had my assurance. Having been brought up by a Christian mother, I was availed the means of grace ranging from family devotions, Sunday School and church attendance. She also encouraged me to read the Scriptures privately. My mother consistently shared the gospel of salvation apart from works with me. So, I accepted the person and atoning work of Christ, surrendering my failed efforts to him.

When and how did you meet Pastor Kennedy Sunkutu? Tell us a bit about your courtship, marriage and children.

I first met my late husband in 1990 at a youth meeting where he was preaching at Lusaka Baptist Church. Our courtship was good. We were open with each other and discussed many issues, including our faith and purity in courtship. We married in 1992 at Lusaka Baptist Church. Our married life was generally happy. Kennedy was a good husband, loving, faithful and full of laughter (he laughed heartily). We did not have much of earthly possessions but he taught me to be content with one of his favorite verses, “Give me neither poverty nor riches: feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal…” We endeavoured to live within our means. Our joys were heightened when the Lord blessed us with children—Kapambwe, Chabala and Muleya. They (as all other children) challenged us in their upbringing. We always discussed concerns about each child, disciplined, and prayed for them. We were blessed to see them come to salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. At least their father had the joy of baptising two of them. Kapambwe, the first born girl, completed her university education and is currently working for Toyota Zambia. Chabala is second, a boy, currently in his third year at the University of Zambia. Muleya, the last born girl, is doing her last grade at David Kaunda Technical School in Lusaka. They all love to read and enjoy talking about what they read during our meal times.

Which places have you lived? Comment a little more on Choma and your involvement with the church there.

As a family, we have lived in Choma, Luanshya and Kafue. We first lived in Choma from 1992 to 1999 then moved to Luanshya where we stayed for only one year. We have lived in Kafue since 2001. Much of our church involvement in Choma was evangelism as the church was still young. My husband served as an elder and did most of the preaching since the church had no pastor.

Tell us how you reacted when your husband informed you of the call to ministry

He told me about his desire to serve the Lord in full time ministry before we got married. I didn’t mind marrying a pastor because I also desired to serve the Lord, only then I didn’t know how. When the call finally came for him to plant the church in Kafue I rejoiced with him because I knew that it had always been his desire.

Your experience in relocating to Kafue?

We didn’t take long to settle in Kafue because Kafue, being a small town was in many ways similar to Choma.

How did the children react to your going into full-time ministry?

The children were still young and didn’t really understand the implications of their father’s decision to be a pastor. However, for me the magnitude of the decision dawned on me. I knew that the expectation was high and I felt completely inadequate for the task.

What are your thoughts on being a pastor’s wife? Any challenges, joys and lessons?

The expectation from society and the church was very high. My husband never took preaching lightly. He did not just cook up a sermon. Rather, he devoted himself to the study of Scripture and prayer. That made him very busy and was not always available. I had to learn to live with a busy man. Serving in the Lord’s vineyard with my husband was so joyous. We would evangelise together and it was fulfilling to see souls coming to salvation and eventually growing in their faith. Church planting was not easy but we learnt that it was the Lord’s work and he would bless it. I learnt to live with people and make time for them.

Could you share with us your experience during his illness and death?

The beginning of his illness was slow and did not seem serious. I was shocked to read the laboratory results which indicated that he had end-stage chronic kidney disease. I was very saddened to think of my husband doing dialysis. The fact that I might not be long with him on this side of heaven saddened me even more. It pained me to see him unwell and I made every effort to be with him and assist him whenever he was weak. However, my husband bore his illness with the Lord’s grace. As one of his friends, Mr. Malipenga commented, and I quote: “Kennedy’s attitude and response even in the last hours of his life here below will forever remain a challenge and encouragement and rebuke. He bore his illness and home going with rare patience, quietness and calmness. Even the severe headache did not make him restless! He lay on his bed with a calm, collected and peaceful posture. He humbly submitted to the sovereign will of his Maker…” Our stay in India was lightened by the presence of the Nsendulukas, our Christian friends who were then in India. They received us from the airport and took us to a guest house where we spent our first night. The Nsendulukas bought us airtime and we were happy to immediately call our family back home and inform them we had traveled safely. Throughout our stay in India, they ministered spiritually and physically to us. May the Lord bless them abundantly. While in India, we attended the church the Nsendulukas used to attend. There was such warm fellowship. I was thrilled to listen to some of the congregants as they testified about how they came to faith in the Lord Jesus before their baptism. Indeed the gospel of the Lord has to be preached to the ends of the earth. The Silwimbas who were also in India during the same period were of much encouragement to us as well. It was most painful to watch my husband’s health deteriorate slowly. I continued to pray despite the picture not improving. I kept calling to mind the Lord’s admonition for us to pray always and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1). The Lord chose what was best and took him to glory on the 4th of December, 2018.

How has life been like after his death?

Life after his death has not been easy. Our home is very quiet and we sometimes feel lonely. We miss Kennedy every day. We miss him a lot when we sit to eat, when we have our devotions and the many other times when he would be “prophet, priest and king” in our midst.

Tell us about your personal development, such as your career.

After the funeral, I started school (Master of Public Health). When I complete I hope to continue with my teaching job at the government nursing school in Kafue.

Anything concerning the future of the children?

I pray for our children’s future, their faith, careers, and even their marriages.

What counsel would you give to fellow Christians especially pastors’ wives?

I would encourage Christian women and pastors’ wives to support their spouses in their calling. This is very important as it makes their work bearable. I would also urge women to make the most of their time with their families.

What memorable experiences with your husband can you share?

Birthdays were times when we would especially thank the Lord for blessing us with each member of the family. We also tried to be together at Christmas and the first day of each year. Sunday evenings were also times we would each share our lessons from the preaching of God’s word. We valued family and endeavoured to spend our time together whenever we had the opportunity.

As you look back to your time in marriage, what are some of the challenges you can point out?

We experienced the major challenge of our lives together when my husband’s health started failing. However, the love of the brethren helped us through. They stayed close to us and have continued to do so even after Kennedy’s demise. As a family, we will forever be grateful for every material support we have received and every prayer that has been offered on our behalf. May the Lord reward you all a hundred fold.

What are some of your memorable achievements?

Kennedy valued education so much. He always encouraged the children and me to excel in our various career paths. When we got married, I had a diploma in nursing but Kennedy encouraged me to further my studies. I went for a midwifery course and later I attained a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. In all this, Kennedy was supportive and very instrumental.

What is your final reflection on your husband’s death?

The Lord graciously allowed me to witness my husband’s departure from this life. The morning before he passed on, he was put on oxygen therapy and tried to remove the oxygen mask saying he wanted to pray. He also gasped, To God be the glory”. Later that day he amazingly got better and everyone thought he had pulled through. The following morning, however, his condition changed. I prayed with him and as I recited Psalm 23 to him his heart stopped beating, he breathed his last and was taken to glory. Kennedy Sunkutu’s life was one well lived. What legacy! The apostle Paul’s last words fit him so well: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8).

What cautions can you give to the readers?

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone reading this script about the brevity of life. Our prayer, each one, should be that of the Psalmist, “Teach us to number our days aright…”