|"Making Disciples...Teaching Obedience"|
So far this year, Frontline Fellowship has conducted 7 mission trips to Zambia alone. While Virgil, Louise and Hansie have continued to build our mission station; Rob, Calvin and Glendon have conducted the most extensive leadership training programme throughout Zambia yet.
This mission trip had been planned and prepared for months. It took 51 hours hard driving (and a couple of mechanical breakdowns) to reach the first meeting in the capital, Lusaka. During the next 2 months the Fellowship vehicle drove over 14 500 km (9 000 miles). Despite being gored and badly damaged by a buffalo during the travels, our vehicle survived and managed to bring our team safely home. Over 2 000 Zambians (mostly pastors and teachers in training) attended the 20 Biblical Worldview Seminars in 13 different towns. This included 1 200 trainee teachers in 7 Teacher Training Colleges. Some of the Seminars received newspaper and radio news coverage. Here are some items from the team leader, Rob’s report:
Despite our intensive schedule in Zambia, we had brought along boxes of Gospel literature and Gospel Recordings materials in Angolan languages just in case! Providentially we “bumped into” an old friend, Antonio, from the Evangelical Church in Angola. He had come to Zambia hoping to find some Christian literature. He was overwhelmed and overjoyed to be sent back by us with boxes of invaluable Gospel literature from World Missionary Press and Gospel Recordings audio-visual materials in Umbundu and Portuguese!
On 17 May the Indeni oil refinery near Ndola was seriously damaged by fire. This disasterous fire was believed to be the result of sabotage and the Marxist MPLA government of Angola was generally suspected of being behind it. Since the resumption of the Angolan civil war the MPLA government has adopted a threatening posture towards Zambia – whom they accuse of supporting the UNITA resistance movement.
A new “Humanist Movement” is being organised in Zambia. They registered as a society in November 1998 and are recruiting new members. Some well-meaning Christians have been deceived by its apparently noble aims and recruited into the society. Many of the Christian TV programmes broadcast in Zambia are of the most sensational and superficial kind. Zambian Christians have commented that these TV programmes give the false impression that America is a strong Christian nation in the midst of ongoing revival. One astute Zambian commented: “with all the so-called healing ministries in America, one wonders why there is any need of hospitals!” He referred to the show hosts as clowns and noted that these TV hosts have platinum hairdos and manicures, each of which would alone cost more money than most Zambians earn in a year.
Others have noted that most of these Christian TV programmes are more entertainment than genuine ministry. Several asked: where in the Bible do we read of any of the apostles ever instructing “Let’s all give Jesus a round of applause”?!
Unfortunately, many Zambian pastors watch hours of these kind of TV programmes every week and are copying unBiblical patterns of “ministry techniques” learned from American tele-evangelists. Some pastors complained that these Christian TV programmes are having a negative effect on church attendance. Many now only “belong” to the “electronic church.” Christian television can never be a valid substitute for the local church yet vast numbers of Zambians are giving all their attention only to the TV. The TV stations make continuous appeals for funds to keep their expensive operation in business – on the air. This is often at the expense of more cost-effective on-the-ground ministries.
We were often reminded of the need for the Biblical Worldview Seminar. Historically, in Africa, the Church has not prepared Christians for their civil duties. Missionary Opportunity Today, published in 1963, made the candid observation that: “Few missionaries had given sufficient consideration to the relationship (between) ‘God and Government’ to help perplexed Christians.” As one missionary remarked, “the missionaries taught the people how to read, and the Marxists gave the people what to read.” 36 years later the problem has yet to be properly rectified.
“What kind of government does Zambia have?” is a question that we regularly put to our seminar attendees. And invariably most Zambians answered, “a democracy.” In a most basic sense democracy is “the rule of the majority” or as some have referred to it as “mob-ocracy.” In Exodus 23:2 God’s people were warned, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil . . .” Zambia is officially a Republic which is defined as “the rule of law.” A Republic has a constitution that limits governmental authority to the rule of law. What kind of government does Zambia have? A Republic. To help Zambians remember this, I remind them of the first three letters found on the government vehicle license plates. “GRZ” (Government of the Republic of Zambia).
A constitutional battle looms ahead. Some humanists are agitating for the repeal of the 1996 Amendment to the Zambian Constitution, which declares Zambia to be a Christian nation. A recent article alleges that the 1996 declaration should be revoked because it “violates the principle of separation of church and state.” But this is simply not the case. The church in Zambia is a separate institution from the state. What the humanists want to do is to separate Biblical principles from state government. Practically, the humanists don’t want to be hindered by Biblical ethics. Christians must be vigilant and take a stand.
At one of our BWS’s, at Kalulushi, a discussion ensued: thirty years ago Kalulushi was quite a beautiful town. Today Kalalushi is dying (if not already dead). At the BWS one man asked, “Why did things collapse?” One former engineer commented on the corruption of the post-independence mine management. He noted that newly appointed mine bosses bought expensive new vehicles for themselves from company funds and that there was corruption at all levels. Graft and corruption, theft by stealing and laziness made the mines unprofitable. We concluded that, at the very root, the poverty that came upon Kalalushi (and many other Zambian towns) is a spiritual problem.
One teacher trainee (a Zimbabwean) at Nkrumah Teachers Training College objected to our Creation vs. Evolution presentation. He suggested that there is no problem with teaching evolution because, “people understand that it is merely a story, just like the superstitions of African traditional religion”! Most everyone else attending the seminar understood our disagreement to be a conflict of worldviews.
After the BWS, the head of the Religious Education Department invited us to his office. He was very much challenged by the teaching that there is no such thing as religious neutrality. He had been a product of Humanist Zambian Religious Education curriculum that taught that all religious systems of belief were equal. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” Matt 12:30. This man had never before considered that fact while teaching the religions of the world. One cannot teach that “all ways equally lead to God” and yet profess Christ. Jesus Christ Himself proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6. The exclusivity of Jesus’ claim is a direct challenge to the man-centered inter-faith movement.
A statue of Kwame Nkrumah still stands at the Teachers Training College which is named after him. Nkrumah was one of Africa’s first post-colonial leaders. Over a period of ten years (1956-1966), Nkrumah’s socialist policies drove the wealthy and promising newly independent nation of Ghana to bankruptcy and degradation. His own people eventually overthrew him in 1966. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, many Africans continue to exalt him. Nkrumah had the audacity to refer to himself as “the Redeemer” of Ghana! Throughout history a recurring disaster of mankind has been to deify its leaders. In Zambia during the days of Kenneth Kaunda there were songs of praise and a popular slogan, “KK wa muya ya ya” (meaning “KK is forever!”) Each of these men had their day in the sun. Some fell harder than others.
The debate on Capital Punishment is once again raging in Zambia. The Roman Catholic Church is calling for the abolition of the death penalty in Zambia. The RC position is based on humanist philosophy. In the rare event that Scripture is quoted on the topic of capital punishment, it is usually out of context. One man at a BWS objected to capital punishment, quoting Romans 12:19 “. . . do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In response it was pointed out to the man that immediately following Romans 12:19, Romans chapter 13, states “. . . he (the governing authority) is God’s minister to you for good . . . he (the governing authority) does not bear the sword in vain; for he (the governing authority) is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practises evil” Romans 13:4. There is no contradiction. In Romans 12:19 we are commanded not to take personal vengeance. However, in Romans 13:4 civil government is charged with the responsibility to maintain law and order, even if necessary to employ the sword (capital punishment) as retribution for murder.
At the Zambian Institute of Special Education, the principal declared as she introduced us, that “We are all God’s people and everyone is the same, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu.” Our first message, Worldviews in Conflict proclaimed the contrary.
The humanists continue trying to promote casual “safe sex” and homosexual rights. Radio Phoenix included in one of their morning news bulletins that LEGARO (Lesbian-Gay Rights Organisation) had failed to attend a certain international gay athletic event (hardly a newsworthy item)! But it does demonstrate that the wicked don’t rest and are working to promote their agenda in Zambia.
Human Rights or God’s Blessings? Many people have been taught to believe that they have “undeniable rights” to food, medical care and education. I’ve heard some demanding their “basic right to have free electricity”! Certainly food, medical care, education and electricity are good things. But in most cases such people expect that someone else will pay for some of these rights. The question is: where do these blessings come from? And who is going to pay for their provision? All blessings come from God. Deuteronomy 28 is very clear that obedience to God’s commandments is a condition for receiving God’s comprehensive blessing in society. However, disobedience to God’s command-ments invites His judgments.