Before I came to Reformed convictions, I was in Southern Baptist circles. In 2001, I discovered that I was lacking in my understanding of the doctrines of the Bible. I remember speaking to Pastor Lovemore Banda of Petauke Grace Baptist Church that I wanted to join his church so that under his ministry I could grow in the knowledge of God’s word. The pastor accepted, but we never got round to it at that time.

On 2nd August, 2004, I enrolled as a student at Covenant College in Petauke. In January 2005, a church in Sinda called the Evangelical Baptist Church, asked me to pastor them since their pastor had now become a “bishop” (i.e. he was overseeing a number of churches in the area). We agreed on everything concerning pastoral work and on 12th February 2005, my family and I moved to Sinda. I served in this congregation for ten months. These were not easy months for me because I encountered a number of difficulties with the bishop. As a result, in November 2005 I resigned. After much reflection, I realised that the reason why we disagreed on doctrinal issues with the bishop was because the principles and doctrines of the reformation were taking place in my heart. And since I had already spoken to Pastor Banda about joining the membership at his church, I finally did so in December 2005.

I told Pastor Banda that I wanted to remain in Sinda so that I could start a Reformed Baptist church there by God’s grace. Therefore, on January 8th, 2006, with the help of three other brethren, we started Sinda Reformed Baptist Church.

How my doctrinal position changed

During the period I was in Southern Baptist circles, I had a mixture of Arminian and Calvinistic doctrines and practices. For instance, I saw nothing wrong with making altar calls after preaching. I believed that a person should contribute something to his salvation. Nevertheless, after a year at Covenant College, my mixture of doctrines was sorted out and I grasped the Calvinistic doctrine more clearly.

My doctrinal convictions were shaped by four influences:

  1. As I studied the Five Points of Calvinism, I became convinced that I had been completely dead in my sins, and was only brought to spiritual life by the irresistible grace of God.
  2. I read a number of books published by the Banner of Truth Trust which deal with various issues related to the Reformed Faith. One book in particular entitled A Summary of Christian Doctrine by Louis Berkhof greatly influenced my thinking.
  3. The films I watched at Covenant College about Martin Luther and John Hus challenged me as I saw how these men suffered for their faith in the Lord Christ. John Hus was even martyred as he tried to correct the wrong doctrines which were prevalent in the Roman Catholic Church at the time.
  4. The fourth influence that consolidated both my theological and ministerial position was sitting under other pastors’ preaching such as Pastor Banda, Pastor Thole and the Rev. Jan van Straaten, the former principal of Covenant College.

The books I read and lectures I listened to about the Reformers and the Puritans were a real challenge to me. I learnt about how they worked hard to purify the liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. Some of them separated themselves from these churches to form their own churches. I read Puritan Evangelism by Joel R. Beeke, a book that a talks a lot about how these men laboured for the salvation of souls. I noticed that their preaching was:

  • thoroughly biblical;
  • unashamedly doctrinal;
  • historically evangelical; and
  • studiously symmetrical.

I was encouraged by the example of the Puritans in their plain preaching and catechetical evangelism. My theology was slowly being reformed under these influences.

My doctrinal position today

Today, I can say of a truth that I believe in the five Solas of the Reformation:

Sola Scriptura: This means “Scripture alone”. It means that all believers should acknowledge the sufficiency and final authority of Scripture because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and training in the righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). I, therefore, choose not to be governed by people’s opinions or any kind of tradition in society, but only by the Word of God.

Sola Fide: This means “faith alone”. All sinners are justified by faith alone without any effort of any kind from them. No one can buy their salvation. And the only church that can stand is one that preaches justification by faith alone.

Sola Gratia: This means “grace alone”. We are saved by the grace of God alone, according to Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 2:8. Nothing good can ever be found in any person. We are all picked from amongst the worst men in the world.

Sola Christus: This means “Christ alone”. I hold, in common with the Reformers, that Christ should be central in all our preaching and teaching of God’s word. Men and women can only be saved through Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria: This means “To God alone be the glory”. I believe that Reformed theology is God-centred. Without this centre you have missed the mark and your ministry is dead. God must be recognised as the beginning and end of all things.

I believe the doctrines stated in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. The doctrines in that book are in harmony with Reformed theology.

My desire for Sinda Reformed Baptist Church

My desire is to continue reforming in doctrine and in practice as I study the word of God. I have now moved to Sinda – about 50 kilometres east of Petauke. Sinda is a small town, and not yet a district, but has 16 church denominations. Sinda Reformed Baptist Church has been slowly growing. About one year ago (May 2006) we were joined by a policewoman who offered her house for Sunday school services and other meetings. Besides, the same policewoman donated three benches for use during services.

On 18th June, 2006, we were given a plot where we have put up a small grass thatched structure made out of poles, and we have since begun congregating at the same plot. Unfortunately the policewoman did not move with us but she has since joined another Baptist church. However, by October last year we had twelve regular visitors who have continued to worship with us every Sunday. We presently have eleven individuals attending baptism lessons.

As at now there is no leadership except for three brothers who are assisting with other church affairs. I am teaching a group of men how to read and write. I am hoping that out of this group, we shall see a leadership developed for the church. So far the church has three ministries only – the Sunday school, Women’s Fellowship and a church evangelistic program.

I wish to end my testimony by stating that I have every intention of building a church that is biblically-based; with a mission to promote a biblical worldview and a passion for lost souls. I long to establish a church in Sinda that is keen on inter-church cooperative efforts. May God help me to stick to Reformed and Baptistic thinking as espoused by our Reformed, Puritan, and Baptist forbears. To God be the glory. Amen!