The Drum of Change is Beating
Many nights in the past we have drifted off to sleep listening to village drums echoing down the Zambezi River. Zambia is a land known for superstition, witchcraft, and rituals that have been carried on for centuries. Isolation has kept remote areas in poverty, ignorance, and held them captive to ancient practices.
The gospel first came to central Africa through men like Livingstone, Moffat, and Stanley. Some tribal chiefs and headmen welcomed the message and turned to Christ.
Today, Zambia is a country with nine provinces and 13 million people. More than 70 percent of the population is under the age of 20. Currently, 1.5 million people have HIV/AIDS, with many of the diagnosed cases currently receiving ARV treatments. Malaria, TB, and other diseases are common.
In 1914, Mr. and Mrs. George Suckling began a gospel work in Chitokoloki, as well as providing health care, and, later, education. As time went on, other workers came and many local people were saved and assemblies were established.
The sound doctrine and simple ways of the early brethren are being challenged today. Many cults and denominations are now established here and some of the believers are lured away from assemblies by activities and promises of practical prosperity.
Here in the Northwest Province, most people are open to the gospel and the things of God are respected. The government’s constitution states that this is a “Christian nation.” Study of the Word of God is part of the educational system. Thus, opportunities are many for the teaching of the Scriptures in schools, homes, and villages. Sadly, many who profess Christ are not willing to live a pure and holy life.
English is the official language of Zambia, but there are also over 70 local languages. In the cities there are English-speaking assemblies, but local languages are more commonly spoken in the rural areas.
With encouragement from the local assembly elders, Gayle and I took up the challenge of teaching the Bible program at Chitokoloki Day High School. There are currently six classes of 40 or more students, each receiving four Bible lesson classes per week. They must pass this course in order to graduate Grade 12. The high school curriculum starts with the birth of the Lord Jesus and continues into the early Church period. We use the Two Roads chart in some of the lessons, particularly to explain future events.
All high school classes are taught in English, so we spend time making sure that Bible words and concepts are clearly understood. All students have been given an English Bible, and we encourage them to read it at home, not just in class. We have been pleased to see many grasp the truths of the Word of God and some have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. A good number of students are now in assembly fellowship, causing thanksgiving to our God. Some of these young folks gather on Friday evenings in our home for fellowship, singing, and Bible study, and we pray that the Lord will preserve them as they seek to follow Him.
In recent years, there have been many changes with the introduction of cell phones, Internet, and satellite dishes for television reception into this remote area. Many are now exposed to a world previously unknown to them. Good and bad influences come with modern technology. The attitudes, music, dress, and morals of the world have been introduced to our young people and some find them attractive.
During the lunch hour, we have implemented a food program for those students who are either orphans, or who travel long distances to school. We serve a balanced and nutritious hot meal to about 30 high school students, Monday to Friday. After eating, they eagerly participate in the Bible quiz – ten questions on the daily chapter, with a small prize for the correct answers. We have noticed a marked improvement in the overall health and performance of this group.
Sunday afternoons, I travel to the Nymwanza prison farm, about 35 kilometers away. Many of the inmates (all men) are currently enrolled in the Emmaus Bible courses and ask good questions about spiritual matters. The prison authorities are very supportive of this gospel outreach and agree that men’s lives are only truly changed when they come to Christ for salvation.
There are many small local assemblies in this area who long for a visit. However, time and road conditions often do not allow us to do this important work.
We trust that you will join us in praying for the work here in Chitokoloki. Some specific prayer requests are: safety in travel, health of workers, open doors to continue with the gospel outreaches, stability in assembly testimony, sound teaching for the local believers, and the preservation of our young people as they endeavor to stand for God in these changing times.
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: Naked, and ye clothed Me … I was in prison, and ye came unto Me … Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Matt 25:35, 36, 40).