“At the same time, pray also for us” (Colossians 4:3).
If my memory serves me right, I think we last sent out a full prayer letter about two years ago. This is not for want of desire to communicate or to have you pray for us; on the contrary, we continue to stand in need of your prayers. Indeed, we wish to acknowledge that it is through your prayers that the Lord has continued to sustain us.
When I last wrote, I shared that we were going to move to a tent (popularly known as the tent of meeting) for about eighteen months in order to pave way for the construction of our new church building. Well, we did move, and what an experience it has been! Before we launched out to the tent, we had three fears: the fear of losing visitors; the fear of lacking the ability to finance the project; and the fear of discomfort. In regard to the first fear, it was unfounded, for the attendance of visitors did in fact increase, and the Lord was pleased to add many to our numbers, both through the evangelistic activities of the church as well as through people joining us from other churches.
But there was also a way in which attendance decreased, for the Lord was pleased, early in 2009, to call to glory two of our choice members, namely Chitalu Banda and Dapson Mwendafilumba, who died within a month of each other (28 February and 21 March respectively). We all felt wounded, and the sense of loss was deep. We bless the name of the Lord for his sovereign providence, and for ministering grace and comfort to us during a very difficult time. In regard to the other fears, the Lord cast them out too, for in various ways, he provided the needed funds and kept us comfortable even under the tent. Such was the hospitable nature of the tent of meeting that we were able to host four high profile conferences under it; namely, the 2008 and 2009 Reformed Family Conferences, a married couples conference, which was taken by Dr Wayne Mack, and a school of preaching. There is therefore no doubt that the Lord proved himself all-sufficient and adequate.
Please join us in praising God for his gracious provision to us over the last two years. Join us too in praising God for the positive developments we have seen in our church plants over the last two years. During this period, and under the tent, we set apart three brothers for mission work: Isaac Makashinyi to Emasdale, northeast of Lusaka; Simon Mwango to Mansa, north of Zambia; and Albert Ngoma to Chipata, east of Zambia. In addition to this, we weaned off Evangel Baptist church, after eleven years of being under the oversight of LBC. This was an important milestone in our church planting endeavours. We believe that we have set aside a church that is mature and well able to run her own affairs, under a pastor (Dr Grave Singogo) and eldership that we trust will provide competent leadership for many years to come.
We would appreciate your prayers for us in the following areas.
First of all, we plan to move into our new building on 27 June 2010, God willing. The building, will not be a hundred percent complete, but will be sufficiently habitable. We are hoping to make this first meeting in the building not just an opportunity for thanksgiving, but also for gospel preaching. We have invited several people who live close to the church building to attend the service and are hopeful that a number will come to the saving knowledge of Christ through the ministry of the word on that day.
A few days after moving into the new building, we will organise a missions conference. The speaker will be Sean Reece, a missionary with Heart Cry Mission, who along with his brother, Shanon, is trying to plant a church near Sesheke, west of Zambia. The theme will be “Not Beyond Our Reach” and will run from 1-3 July. Please pray that the Lord would, through this conference, refresh us spiritually and renew our vision for missions.
Golden Jubilee Conference
The Golden Jubilee Conference will follow hard on the heels of the missions conference and will run from 4-6 July. The theme of the conference will be “Celebrating Fifty Years of the Triumphs of the Gospel.” Our Church (LBC) was birthed in the late fifties, when there was little in the way of strong Bible-based churches in Lusaka, and the Charismatic movement was only just beginning to make inroads into mainstream evangelicalism. LBC joined the ranks of the few churches that were ready to take a stand on the Bible and to plough the hard and fallow spiritual grounds of the time. Under God, this church has bequeathed to us men who have gone on to bring a good influence on both church and state; churches that have birthed other churches and have been contributing to changing whole societies; and causes that are laying a strong and firm foundation for the spiritual and material prosperity of our nation. Fifty years down the line, we feel compelled to celebrate the triumph of the gospel over these many years. Five preachers, including three former pastors (John Symons, Joe Simfukwe and Alfred Nyirenda), along with Conrad Mbewe and myself will bring God’s word. All the messages will be based on our church motto, “We are not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe” (Romans 1:16). We have put an organizing team together who have been working hard on the various preparations that need to be made. Please pray that the Lord would use this conference to renew our vision for the present and the future, namely to be a church that is biblically based, with a mission to promote a Christian and biblical worldview, a passion for evangelism and missions, an emphasis on a devotional and experimental Calvinism, and a keenness on interchurch co-operative activities, in our bid to saturate this nation and beyond with a healthy biblicism that will hopefully help to shape our culture and place us on the path of prosperity—both spiritual and material.
Since about the end of 2006, I have been preaching from the book of Romans on Sunday morning, and began a series of sermons on responding biblically on Sunday evening. Please pray for the Lord’s anointing upon this ministry. On Thursday evenings, I am taking a series called “A Tour of the Bible.” In addition to this, just after the golden Jubilee celebrations, the elders will embark on a series of teachings, in the Family Bible School on Sunday, on the subject of missions. This ministry is meant to consolidate our understanding of our responsibility to love and undertake missionary activity.
In April 2010, we organized an evangelism seminar in our bid to encourage ourselves on the need to evangelize. Our desire is to see the church at large get involved in church-organized door-to-door evangelism and in numerous other forms of evangelism. Although there is a fair amount of evangelism carrying on in the church, much, much more can be done. Please pray that we may harness the pull potential that lies in the church.
Our student ministry, called Elbicites, has over the years become an important aspect of our life as a church. The challenges and potential it offers have in the past moved us to employ some to work more or less full time in co-ordinating the ministry. We are now working toward engaging someone to do the work full time. Please pray for the Lord’s guidance upon us and pray too that this ministry would blossom.
Orphan Care Concerns
Last year, we began to explore how best we can expand and formalize our church’s involvement in the care of orphans. To this end, we established a team of men and women who are spearheading the work under the leadership of Mr Charles Stephenson. Please pray for the perfection of this plan, as there is a great need for orphan care in our country.
We have a lively association with other Reformed Baptist Churches in Lusaka. Together as churches, we have established a building trust fund by which we have been able to assist churches to erect their buildings. We now host the Reformed Family Conference together, and are sharing the responsibility to run the Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary (SGTS). SGTS is a ministry that is steadily but surely being established. Fifty students, drawn from six countries in Southern Africa, have enrolled to study with the institution. Brother Bruce Button, who serves as principal, is presently the only full time staff. There are plans afoot to employ more lecturers. Please pray for this ministry, which shows a lot of potential for growth and effectiveness in the training men for the ministry.
Africa Christian University
Another ministry we are undertaking together is the Africa Christian University. This is a vision to offer biblical and Christian based tertiary education. Here is a ministry with potential to influence our country, and hopefully our continent, in a big way. Together with brethren in the USA, we are hoping to facilitate for the establishment of this university, which we believe will go a long way in bringing a good effect to bear on our nation. Please pray for this work.
Finally, please pray that as a church we may live up to our full potential. A lot is being done in and through the church, and for this we are grateful, but much, much more can be done if we summon and the fullness of the potential that lies within us and put it into action. Please pray that we may not be slow in unleashing that potential. Thank you for taking the time to read this prayer letter, and for caring to pray for us. Please let us know how we may also pray for you. We are more than glad, particularly on Thursday evening, to spend some time praying for you. So let us know how we can meaningfully pray for you, even as you pray for us.