The blessing of God on the work in Zambia has resulted in the opposition of Satan and his attempt to hinder testimony for God.
Zambia is divided into a number of provinces with assemblies to be found in most of them. The Copperbelt province lies in the center of the country and stretches from Ndola to the Congo border to the west. These mining towns have hundreds of thousands of inhabitants coming from all over Zambia and from different parts of Africa.
Assembly work in the Copperbelt grew until after Independence in 1964 when the Christians of one tribe began to take control of assemblies and introduce wrong practices. Choir singing was copied from other missions and spread through Zambia and the Congo like a bush fire. Then they introduced “district elders” who control assemblies in their particular area. These in turn come under the control of elders who govern assemblies in the entire Copperbelt.
In the early days of the work, there were no choirs or district elders. There was fellowship between saints, and God was pleased to bless His Word. The saints were refreshed through the ministry. On the introduction of choirs and district elders, a stand was taken and ministry given to show the wrong of these practices. But those who had introduced these practices were strong willed, ruling over believers from other tribes. Consequently, those others gave way and went along with what they knew to be wrong. Not all had choirs, but all did give in to the district elders.
According to believers, the choirs are made up of believers and unbelievers. They compose their own songs which at times are incomprehensible, and their singing resembles heathen dances.
I have taught the Scriptures and have refused to go where these practices are allowed. I have been “judged” for this. The believers were told that no one must welcome me if I were to visit their village. This was ignored, and eventually all were greeting me as usual. On one occasion the brethren wrote to Zambezi to inquire about me. The brethren there replied telling them of my gospel work and of assemblies that had been planted. My Zambian friends were thrilled with the reply that those men received. In the midst of such confusion, there are believers who desire the right ways of the Lord.
There is another group of assemblies made up of young brethren and their wives, along with unmarried brethren and sisters. These assemblies prefer to use English instead of a local language. They are made up of believers from all over Zambia. They use English in their jobs and they speak it in their homes. It is most encouraging to see English speaking assemblies being formed in different towns; their testimony is being blessed by God. It must be stressed, however, that it is essential to learn the language if one is living in a rural area. Even in the towns, workers are respected if they speak a Zambian language.
The Nkana assembly has a conference in July with no arrangements for speakers. Many attend the conference and the ministry and fellowship is good. The gospel is preached and believers are taught. God has been most gracious in allowing them to see a few saved and believers helped.
The assembly at Kafue, made up mostly of Chokwe believers, is a testimony to the grace of God. I do not know of another assembly which has suffered as much as these saints. They have been a target of the evil one. Witch doctors divined and accused brethren of witchcraft. Some were badly beaten, and one brother was chased out of the district. While they were being persecuted we had a car accident and only through God’s preserving hand were we kept from being killed. I am convinced that it was a Satanic attack. God allowed Satan to go so fat but no further Satan then had some start an opposition meeting right next to the Gospel hall, using three men who were discontents. But not one believer left the assembly and went with them. The whole thing died a natural death. We do pray that there will be no more attacks against the Kafue assembly.
Twatasha had just received permission to build their Hall. I am with them each Saturday afternoon giving teaching on the Holy Spirit. We have studied His work in John 14,15 and 16. We are now looking at references in each chapter of Ephesians. I trust that the study will be profitable and strengthen the assembly. Brother Towse, on his return, will help in ministry. There are other vernacular speaking assemblies to help.
In Lusaka, there is a large English speaking assembly. I have been told that the Hall is far too small and some want to extend it. Some have said that it would be better to branch out by building in another district. One brother from Kafue went to Lusaka to work. He taught the assembly where he met what he had been taught in Kafue. Now there is no choir and they are building a new hall.
In other places, the problem of district elders and central decisions have caused great problems. Fifty one years ago I met with the Nchanga assembly here in Chingola. A very warm welcome was given, and it is nice to look back on that day with joy. Some years ago an invitation came from that assembly to come and teach them the Scriptures. Months were spent with them studying the different days in Scripture. Miners came directly from work and enjoyed the teaching. One of them told me recently that what was taught then is often mentioned now by some as they preach. Now, I am no longer desired there because of their practices and my ministry against them. I asked for a meeting with the elders but months have passed without a reply.
Another great problem In Zambia is the unequal yoke. Some assemblies are linked in association with denominations. Please pray for the deliverance of the assemblies from that which is Scripturally wrong and an offense to God (1 Cor 10:32).
Today Zambia needs brethren who will not compromise but will preach the gospel and teach assemblies. Zambians on the whole are a friendly people and this makes it easy for personal work.