On the 12th of May this year, our college staff consisting of myself, Charles Mwanza, and Samba Kangwanda, and in the company of my wife, visited a new church plant designated as Kabvuma Chisomo Reformed Baptist Church. It is located in the outlying villages of Nyimba District. Kaluba Baptist Church is currently providing the immediate oversight. The Kabvuma church was planted by Nyimba Reformed Baptist Church while Kaluba was planted by Sinda Reformed Baptist Church. This was a legacy left behind by the mission minded Pastor German Banda. At the same time, the Kaluba church is also overseeing 36 another church planting work in Chimtondo village located about 6 kms southeast of Kaluba. The Kabvuma church we visited takes its root name from a government basic school found in the same area just off the Great East Road. It is known as Kabvuma Basic School. The church itself is just a stone’s throw away behind this same school.

Yoronimo, the tall man on the right, with Charles Mwanza and others

The Kabvuma church is headed by Pastor Yoronimo Tembo, a graduate from Covenant College. Here is a bit of information about Yoronimo. He is married and has 5 adult children (5 died earlier in life) and he is also a grandparent. He retired in 2002 from the Ministry of Education where he worked as head teacher of a primary school in the town of Sinda. Upon retirement, he opted to settle down in his home village near the Sinda Reformed Baptist Church. It was while he was living in this vicinity of the church that he came under the bombardment of the gospel through Pastor German Banda. By God’s grace, he got saved in 2007. He subsequently left his church, the Roman Catholic Church, and joined Yoronimo, the tall man on the right, with Charles Mwanza and others 37 Pastor Banda’s church. Later in 2009, he got baptised and was actively involved with his newfound church. Amazingly, he felt a special call to enter into Bible school at Covenant College in 2013. He did that in spite of his advanced age and was able to graduate with a Diploma in Theology in 2016. After graduation, Yoronimo was attached to Kaluba Reformed Baptist Church for his internship and in 2017 he was set aside to pioneer the mission post in Kabvuma.

The Kabvuma church is part of a village called Jeremiah with about 1800 households. It is one of the biggest of the four villages surrounding Kabvuma Basic School. The church is strategically placed because it is able to serve the immediate surrounding villages namely Kajanja, Kapangula and Jeke. Yoronimo has extended his evangelistic efforts further into two remote villages where he is currently conducting Bible studies. These villages are Machisa and Kanyuka, which are 5km and 8km away from his house, respectively. The church acquired a piece of land in 2017 and this is where a makeshift structure made of bamboos, grass and mortar is standing. The plot is 22m x 11m in size. We found plans underway to construct a permanent church building on the same site using burnt bricks. These plans were encouraging for our team to see. The foundation for this project is already dug out and a site plan done. The burnt bricks are being made using their own resources.

The weekly program for the church is as follows: (1) women visitations on Tuesdays, (2) work on church plot on Wednesdays, (3) a cell meeting in Machisa village on Friday, and (4) another cell meeting in Kanyuka on Saturdays. Every week the old man treks on foot together with his wife treks across the long distance to and from Machisa and Kanyuka villages to conduct Bible studies. The church attendance on Sundays is usually a mixture of both the old and young. So far the church has had two baptisms since its inception with 15 individuals baptised. The Sunday service we attended was encouraging for us as we saw adherence to Reformed church order in terms of the liturgy and delivering of the sermon. Currently, the membership stands at 15 with the Sunday attendance sometimes reaching 40.

In conclusion, I would make appeal that we consider supporting this work with both material and financial resources. Yoronimo’s biggest challenge at the moment is the payment of rentals for the house where he is living. There is also a need to help him with resources to construct a new church building. Encouragingly, Pastor Yoronimo has so far shown unsurpassed commitment 38 and zeal for the work of the Lord in this remote village, which he has done despite the limiting factor of his advanced age. Overall, this work is very inspiring and thus beckons for our attention and sponsorship.

Emmanuel Sakala

Principal, Covenant College Zambia