Kafue Reformed Baptist Church (August 2013)

Kennedy.SunkutuARTICLE

The Kafue Reformed Baptist Church (KRBC) was started in October 2000. This was through the church planting efforts of Kabwata Baptist Church (KBC) of Lusaka. Kennedy Sunkutu, accompanied by his wife Gladys (picture), and their householdKennedy-&-Gladys-Sunkutu-400p-web were the missionary family that came to Kafue from Luanshya about 400 kilometres to the north, where Kennedy had been working at a national curriculum development centre for secondary (high) school science subjects.

Kafue is just under fifty kilometres south of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. It is the first major town out of Lusaka on the road that leads to one of the Seven Wonders of the World: the Victoria Falls. This is almost five hundred kilometres away. Kafue was once a thriving industrial town, particularly in the 70s and 80s, but it fell on hard times due to the privatization of the two major state firms in the town which were a fertilizer plant and a textile producing factory.

Zambia’s economy for a substantial period of its existence has been dependent on copper. The fertilizer plant, however, ranked as one of the organizations outside the mining industry that was a flagship of the nation’s quest for self-discovery in its newly attained independence. However, the 90s brought about an economic downturn for the fortunes of Kafue residents. A substantial number were laid off and this led to a great deal of misery and disillusionment for the town’s citizens. It was against such a back drop that KRBC was planted. In the early 00s (that is the “naughties”—2000—2009) the town was beginning, in the normal parlance of the day, to pick itself up. It cannot be said to be blazing at levels of its former glory, but it is definitely far better than it was in those seemingly gloomy old days of the 90s.

The employed majority of people actually earn their living in Lusaka. However, there are a number of industries and organizations in Kafue. These include schools, government departments, a recently commissioned steel mill, and the resuscitation of the fertilizer plant is currently at fever pitch. Spiritually, Kafue is a typical Zambian town. All the traditional cultic denominations are present such as Roman Catholic, New Apostolic Church, Watch Tower Tract Society, and Seventh Day Adventist. Some evangelical denominations include the United Church of Zambia, Anglican Church, (Dutch) Reformed Church in Zambia, Evangelical Church of Zambia, and Christian Missions in Many Lands. Lately there has been what I can call an invasion of churches of the Charismatic persuasion. They are as many as their varied names indicate. Needless to say, very few members of the first group bear true witness of the gospel in their lives.

In the past year, a community radio station was started and we hope to have our pastor’s messages broadcast on air soon. The main thing prohibiting this is the equipment to have the messages recorded and the funds for sponsoring the broadcast.

Planting and Weaning

Planting-&-weaning-500p-webAt the induction of the first elder and weaning off of KRBC in July 2009 October 2000 (photo), as already mentioned, saw the beginning of the church-planting work in Kafue Town. Kennedy was sent there as missionary pastor. A blanket outreach and tracts distribution was undertaken by a substantial number of KBC members led by their elders, over two consecutive Saturdays. The work flourished through the years and on 7 May 2009 an ordination service for its first elder, which culminated in the final step of the weaning-off process of the church, was held. Three months later, on 30 August, Kennedy was ordained as KRBC’s first pastor. He was no longer a missionary from KBC.

At both services, KBC elders were present in the person of their pastor, Conrad Mbewe, and Mwamba Chibuta. No doubt, this brought about its own challenges for the recently weaned church. Not least was the full financial responsibility of the church for the upkeep of the missionary pastor. The young church—young not only in it being weaned off, but also in the majority of its then-27 members being babes in the faith—and a number of them being unemployed faced the (humanly) daunting task of looking after the pastor and his family. The Lord has been gracious in this. Not only has the church made various efforts to keep its commitments but the lessons of Christian stewardship begun to sink deep from this early stage. This was recently pointed out at our last business meeting, held in the second week of July, where it was specifically reported that the giving was better than the previous quarter. The increase in giving is true in a-year-on-year comparison.

Leadership and Membership

KS-induction-450p-webThe church currently has two elders. These are Pastor Kennedy Sunkutu and Seke Lupunga. The picture was taken during Pastor Sunkutu’s Induction Service. The diaconate comprises of four men. These are Chimese Nchito, Ernest Phiri, Godfrey Chimfutumba, and John Phiri. The membership currently stands at 36. A few of these work in Lusaka. We have among us teachers, IT experts, customs clearing agent, farmer, railway workers, and civil servants. A baptism class is soon to begin with three individuals to go through the waters, God willing, before the end of the year.

Ministries

At the beginning of the year each member was asked to be part of a ministry that they believed they would be most productive in. The ministries of the church include children’s (which encompasses Sunday school and Bible clubs), youth, ladies’, men’s, and couples’. There are two others which need special mention.

Firstly, the literature ministry under which the public book stall, library, and media fall. Its wide scope is easily noticed.

The other is the orphans and vulnerable children’s ministry (OVC), which was formed for outreach opportunity to children disadvantaged by the effects of early loss of key members of their families, mainly parents, who could support them to continue in school and their social needs. Some activities undertaken by the ministry include a number of visits to a local orphanage where the gospel was shared and groceries donated during each visit, of contributions by church members. Currently the OVC supports a girl of eight, Mandalene (pronounced as Man-Da-Le-Na) for her school needs. She is being looked after by her grandparents. They have lost a number of their own children and thus have the burden of keeping over seven other grandchildren.

Calendar and Evangelistic Activities

The church calendar is normally agreed on by members at the beginning of the year. The aforementioned ministries, other than the literature and OVC, have to have an activity that is of an evangelistic nature at least once in the year. This is when a flurry of all sorts of ingenious names comes up but largely those settled on include: breakfast, luncheon, tea party, outing, and braai (preparation of food over a coal fire, otherwise known as barbeque). All these names are prefixed by the respective ministry. For instance, Ladies’ Tea Party, or Men’s Braai. (Need I mention that braais seem to be one of the men’s favourite activities. If there is anyone out there who can explain the psyche of men and roasted meat please drop us a line; I dare say this is not exclusive to Kafue!) All these are evangelistic with speakers being invited to preach the gospel in the course of proceedings. Sadly, at times we do not fare so well with follow up of the invitees. Thankfully, however, over the years we have had people get saved and join the church from these activities.

One such person is a brother named Jones. He attended a men’s breakfast the year before last. He then began attending worship services on a regular basis. In the course of 2012 he professed faith and was baptized. He has since been an encouragement as he frequently brings unsaved friends to various evangelistic meetings. Though he is still a young Christian and continues to suffer growing pains, his resolve his undeniable. This can be seen in the fact that even though his wife refuses to attend worship with him opting to continue in one of the non-evangelical traditional churches he continues in fellowship when previously he would not attend any church at all. We thank the Lord for his grace to us, in having Jones among us.

Just over a year ago we started having midweek meetings in various localities of the town. We have four in all. Here we face the challenge of reaching out to the individuals in our neighbourhoods. The idea is that these will centres of outreach. So that eventually the effort made to reach the people will bear fruit in their salvation, and thus cause those people so such saved to be part of the fellowship.

Building Construction

Building-450p-webOur church building is still unfinished. However, it is usable. The deacons are planning a veranda with a roof hanging over it as an extension of the main building’s roof. A ceiling is also lacking. The need for it is so strong during the rainy season. There is no worse time for worship than when the word is being preached and at the same time rain is falling. From the picture the people are standing where a new extension has been done will form the foundation of the veranda. The works are ongoing.

Missions

There is an area called Shimabala that the church has been reaching out to. This is largely a farming area. An elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Lungu, opened up their home for us to be meeting in their home. (It should be mentioned that the husband John, has since gone to be with the Lord.) They used to attend worship in Lusaka at a vernacular sister church called John Laing Reformed Baptist Church. However, as time wore on they would not go due to transport difficulties and generally old age. Two of their grandchildren, however, regularly attended worship at KRBC. Among other reasons they preferred the English service to the vernacular preferred by their grandparents. As it turns out one of them, Rose attributes her salvation to a time when she heard a sermon during the morning services at KRBC. As a means of reaching out to the area and encouraging the family we held an evangelistic meeting at their home in form of a braai. (No prizes for guessing who were in the forefront of suggesting the type of meeting!) What followed was that we began meeting in that home every third Sunday afternoon of the month for a vernacular service. This has been going on for close to seven years.

For a while we also undertook regular outreach every third Saturday. This comprised of sharing the gospel door-to-door, tract distribution, and open invitations to people to attend worship with us the following day. Initially, we used to have a number of visitors but the numbers dwindled until we would have none. We have also on several occasions had times of blanket outreach to the area. Lately one of the Lungusother grandchildren, Ezekiel, has started attending worship services at KRBC. This is in spite of the difficulty of language for him. We are thrilled at the prospect of this soul’s awakening.

A second family has since moved into the area. They were formerly at KBC and have been instrumental in having a Sunday morning Bible study through the month. They are the Chimfutumbas, Godfrey and Glenda. They have begun a Bible club in their home which is making strides with children in their vicinity. We have been praying that we may have a fulltime missionary for the work. The work at present continues to be vernacular. Lately, there has been a great influx of families relocating to the area.

Prayer Items

  • Pray that our pastor’s ministry may be effective in this town through the church.
  • Salvation of the people we continue to reach out to.
  • Home groups may truly attract the lost and thereby grow through outreach.
  • The Lord may send a man to lead the Shimabala work.
  • The giving by the church members may continue to improve.
  • That we may identify more possible areas for mission works.

PRAYER LETTER JANUARY TO JUNE 2013

We read in Acts 8:1–4 something sad and also something joyous. It is the joyous event that I would like to draw your attention to. Sadly, there was great persecution for the church in Jerusalem, and Stephen had just being martyred. Gladly, those who had been scattered read this frowning providence alright. The text says, “Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” These were ordinary and relatively new converts, the apostle, we are told, had remained in Jerusalem.

At our last church meeting, we challenged ourselves with this account and are praying that we shall all, as members be involved in the work of evangelism. Beginning August, we shall be resuming door-to-door evangelism and we have already identified the area we shall be concentrating upon for a start. Pray with us that our members will rise to this important responsibility, and that the Lord will be glorified as we seek the lost and their conversion.

Membership

We have not had any additions to our membership in the period under review, though we currently have a baptism class running with four candidates. We also do have three young men (new workers in town, e.g. at NCZ) who have shown interest in joining the membership.

We are also urging our ministries to be innovative in their evangelistic efforts, as we plan for the rest of the year and the coming year. At least for now, each member has settled at least in one or two ministries, after the reorganization that was done last year and beginning this year.

Special Activities during this Period

We have had a number of activities during this period aimed at reaching various groups/ages with the gospel of our Lord.

During Easter, each of our home new home fellowship group organized an evangelistic get-together, which saw a few of those who attended these meeting come for our church services. We need to consolidate the follow-ups of such people.

Our young people organized two activities, an outing to the Kafue River, and a career’s talk, in May and June respectively. Both meetings had some non-Christian in attendance. We continue to pray for their conversion.

Our literature ministry managed to distribute a number evangelistic tracts during our district agricultural show here in Kafue. Apart from sharing the gospel it was also an opportunity to publicize our existence as a church.

The ladies’ ministry had their annual evangelistic tea party in June. A number of non-Christian ladies were in attendance, and the ladies need to urgently come up with a tangible plan to follow those who have since shown interest in hearing more of the gospel.

Our mentoring programme has gained momentum, with each of our leaders trying to get into the lives of our young people. So far the programme is confined to the boys who are regular at church. Each leader has four or five young people to encourage and share the gospel with. We pray this will yield the desired results, for the honour of the Lord.

The OVC ministry has identified one girl in primary school that they are supporting in terms of all her school requirements. They are hoping to identify another secondary school going pupil and see what support such a one may need. Pray that this will soon be a reality. So far the support has come from church members. We trust through this help demonstrate the love of God, to our needy here in Kafue, as we are praying that we should be able to support a few more such young people.

Building Project

The drawings for the pastor’s office and the veranda as an inclusion to our existing structure have now been approved by our local authority. We should now be able to commence the building works for the veranda and the pastor’s office. We pray that this can been done before the onset of rains, to create space where to hold some Bible studies on Sunday for certain groups (e.g. junior and intermediate group, who currently meet outside under a tree).

Thankfully, we have managed to raise some funds to meet some of our obligations to the Zambia Reformed Baptist Building Trust Fund.

We are extremely grateful to the Lord, because the giving (tithes and offerings) from our members continue to show signs of improving. If this can be sustained then we should be able to meet the above obligations.

Pastor and His Family

Our oldest daughter, Kapambwe, will soon be writing her final examination to end her first year at the University of Zambia. We are grateful to the Lord she managed to clear all her first semester exams. Her first exam for this last semester is on 22 August. We are trust the Lord to enable her do the career of her choice. We are grateful to the Lord, she continues to be active in the University Christian Fellowship.

Our son, Chabala, now doing Grade 11 is clearly battling with youthful pressures from non-Christian schoolmates. Thankfully he is normally an open child, and we have had some fruitful discussions over the temptations he is going through. We are still not sure about his profession. He still has problems with his eyes; he is said to have a form of allergy, which the medical people have said is difficult to pinpoint, possibly dust as well. We are trusting that this will not be a source of disturbance to his studies.

Gladys, my wife, managed to clear all her courses for the end of year exams. We are grateful to the Lord. She still needs alternative accommodation, particularly within the nursing school’s hostels, which is cheaper than renting a boarding house.

Our last born child, Muleya (girl of eleven years), continues to show a lot of interest in the things of God, and is also doing well in school. We are grateful to the Lord for all this.

I have made some progress with my Master’s Thesis. At least now University of Pretoria has appointed a supervisor for me. The lack of a supervisor appointed by University of Pretoria (UP) has largely been the cause of the delay so far. Cape Town Baptist Seminary have been very helpful through whom I am pursuing my studies. They offer their Masters Programme in collaboration with UP. I am now in chapter three, altogether I have six chapters. My Cape Town supervisor is however on sabbatical and will only be back in the office by September. I hope then to make some quick progress, so as to be through by end of April next year. Pray for me.

Since attaining autonomy (in 2009) the church here has not managed to pay me my gratuity. We are grateful to the Lord that Pastor Mbewe however shared this burden on our behalf with Heartcry Missionary Society and they have since come to the rescue of our church. They managed to give a donation covering all the money the church here was owing me (about $8,600 US). We trust that he who has enabled has to have this gift will enable us to use it wisely.

We trust that as you make supplications for all the saints, you will remember us as well before the throne of our sovereign Master.

K. Sunkutu
Pastor

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