Some readers of this blog will already know that I have committed to teach a course on Christology in Africa this spring. People from our church have been involved from the very beginning with other brothers and sisters in Christ in building a Bible college in Zambia. Over the last seven years as a congregation we have been praying and preaching, sending people, Bibles, equipment, and other resources every year in order to support the development of the college (organized by Gospelink) and spread the gospel of Christ in that land.
I am persuaded that, Lord willing, this year is my time to go. I will be joining a team going in May. When I consider the way the gospel is spreading over the face of the continent of Africa and at the same time the challenges it encounters from poverty and persecution, disease and tribal hostilities, native animistic religions, cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and the prosperity gospel, not to mention the encroachment of Islam from the north, I feel a strong compulsion to labor in this field.
A few pictures and comments might help you envision what God is doing here. Below is the ground in Kazemba, Zambia before the ground-breaking for the college took place. It is exactly what kind of a picture I had in my mind when I thought of Africa as a kid.
Below is a picture taken some years ago as some of the first concrete slabs are being laid to serve as foundations for buildings that will soon be erected on the site. This photo strikes me as being rather significant in a symbolic way as I prepare to teach Christology to the Zambians knowing:
“no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11)
Here is a digital map of the college, which also has resources to teach pastors how to provide for basic physical needs for themselves and their congregations through skills learned in areas like agriculture.
Here is a video in which you will hear Zambian Christians singing gospel songs in the camp along with a slideshow of building progress in the various areas. The actual building progress in now beyond what is seen in this video but it gives some good perspective. Notice that the bunks don’t have mattresses but they do have mosquito nets!
At this point in time, Int’l Bible College in Kazemba Zambia is still under ongoing construction but has completed a full year of instruction. A number of pastors and pastors in training are now benefiting from the teaching. Below is Rick Hensley, who pastors with me here in Delaware, teaching the men in Zambia last year. I will be teaching essentially the same course that Rick taught last year which will amount to about 37 hours of classroom time over the course of less than two weeks. I will also have opportunity for some after class interaction.
Each student will be given a pre-printed copy of my class notes and a book on the doctrine of Christ. In years gone by we have distributed Bible commentaries and Bible dictionaries to individual pastors and many, many Bibles (even to the children in the public schools). I am hopeful that that will happen this year as well. In addition, The Banner of Truth Trust has agreed this year to make a generous contribution of resources to the college library for the ongoing studies of these men in training and those who will follow after them.
There are many pastors in Zambia who are getting by with the most basic means. Church leaders in Zambia have recognized that the church in Africa is in great need of theological training. They are largely an impoverished people [by our Western standards!] and books and training materials are costly to obtain. Pastors often have to travel significant distances in order to reach multiple remote congregations. There are many more people yet to be reached with the gospel. Despite all this, they continue “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31).
The hunger for biblical truth is as great as the need. It appears that I will have at least one opportunity to preach in a church on the Lord’s Day while I am there. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have an opportunity to break the bread of life with these brothers and sisters in Christ and to preach Christ and him crucified!
Permit me the liberty of adapting John Owen’s words regarding Dublin for my own thoughts regarding Zambia:
“The tears and cries of the inhabitants of [Zambia] after the manifestations of Christ are ever in my view. If they were in the dark and loved to have it so, it might something close a door on the bowels of our compassion; but they cry out of their darkness and are ready to follow everyone whosoever, to have a candle. If their being gospelless moves not our hearts, it is hoped that their importunate cries will disquiet our rest, and wrest help as a beggar doth an alms.” quoted in Robert Oliver, “The Life and Times of John Owen,” John Owen: The Man and His Theology, p. 21.
As far as resources go, I am trusting the Lord to provide. I am self-supported on this trip so if you would be interested in contributing financially to this mission to the Zambians it would be gratefully received and you can contact me directly or through our church website (http://graceandtruthcommunity.org/about-us/contact-us).
I would ask that you “pray also for us, that God may open up a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col. 4:3-4). May God grant that Christ would possess the Zambians and that the Zambians would possess Christ!