Continued Progress in Livingstone
We continue to work in and near the city of Livingstone, in Southern Zambia with assembly meetings, weekly gospel meetings, children’s meetings, school Scripture classes, tract distribution, and visitation (see Dec 1997, Truth & Tidings). From time to time we have series of gospel meetings. New doors have opened; some have closed, but the work continues, and God is faithful. This article will focus on four new developments.
The population of Livingstone has increased, reflecting both the high birth rate and the notable rural-to-urban migration in Zambia. Between 1900 and 2000, the city’s population rose from about 100,000 to about 155,000. This growth continues. Recently we held a series of open-air gospel meetings at a market in Livingstone’s biggest township. The number of people moving around was markedly greater than when we had meetings there in 1999.
On the other hand, the high mortality rate, due mainly to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, takes it toll on the population. The life expectancy in Zambia is, officially, the lowest of any country in the world (presently early thirties, and falling). I go to the local hospital here with two other brethren for a weekly Gospel meeting and tract distribution. The ravages of the disease are only too evident. It is not uncommon to see people dying while we preach. Often we cannot recognize a single patient from the previous week. During that week, most may have passed into eternity.
These factors give an urgency to our gospel preaching. We can reach more and more people, but their window of opportunity is less than ever before.
These two factors also affect the life of the Livingstone assembly. Since 1997, the assembly has doubled, a rather modest increase from about 15 to about 30. This is partly because some believers have moved from other parts to Livingstone. We thank God that they have been added to the company. We also have much joy in some who have been saved, baptized, and added to the assembly and who have gone on well.
The high mortality rate also takes it toll on the assembly. Not long after some have been saved and received into fellowship, we have sat by their hospital bedsides and watched as their life ebbed away. How good to know they were saved in time and are now present with the Lord!
As we seek to continue meeting simply in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptural pattern with no authority other than the Word of God, the devil does his best to attack such a company. Maintaining a scriptural testimony is no easy thing, in any part of the world, and certainly Zambia is no exception. All around us, many things oppose all that God’s Word upholds, whether morally, spiritually, or culturally. We thank God for His preservation of the flock and we pray for its continuation.
We have been able to give out a large amount of literature over recent years: Bibles, New Testaments and other Scripture portions, books, tracts, booklets, calendars, magazines, and texts. Some of these are in the local vernacular, but many more are in English. English is widely used, especially in the urban areas. People are keen to get their hands on English publications. Many believers have sent us English publications or have given generously to enable us to obtain literature. A sincere “thank-you” is due to them all.
Truth and Tidings has kindly permitted me to use material from the “Questions and Answers” section for a little publication I produce, called “What Saith the Scripture?” While most of my time is spent in one small corner of this large country, I started this leaflet to help meet the great need of teaching believers all over Zambia. This production is free to any believer or assembly which requests it, whether in Zambia or further afield. So far I have covered the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, salvation, baptism, the church, assembly principles and meetings, and the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Livingstone Gospel Hall
Since its inception, the assembly had met in a rented schoolroom. As any who visited us can heartily testify, these conditions were not adequate. We obtained land and started building. This continued slowly, but by November 2003 we started using the premises for all the assembly meetings. Through His dear people, the Lord provided all that was needed without any appeals, circular letters, or publicity. Once again we are indebted to these beloved saints for their generosity which has enabled us to meet in a lovely hall. Their many names are recorded on high.
So the work goes on, and we bless God for His faithfulness through all the circumstances which we have faced. We give heartfelt thanks to Him, and we warmly thank His people, many of whom are readers of Truth and Tidings, for their love, prayers, and practical support, which has been expressed in so many ways.