Livingstone is a city of over 150,000 souls, at the very southern border of Zambia. Named after the famous Scottish missionary who was the first European to see the spectacular waterfalls nearby, which he named the “Victoria Falls” in honor of his queen, it has two distinct sides. One is the “tourist” side, welcoming the many visitors who come, not only to view the beauty of the Falls, but also to go on safari, or to take part in the many “adrenalin” activities which appeal particularly to the younger generation. The other side is that of a typical small city in the developing world, with poverty, unemployment, and many people who come in from the rural areas seeking a better life, only to find that the jobs are not there.
The fact that Livingstone is a border town, with considerable movements of people and goods by road and rail, in a region well-known for its high level of HIV/AIDS, means that it has suffered much from the virus. Traditional religious beliefs and practices are far from being a thing of the past, and to them has been added the confusion of purportedly “Christian” religions, in which the true message of the gospel has been obscured. Added to this, in recent years, has been the proliferation of technology. Often even the humblest of dwellings can be seen with a satellite dish on the roof, so that all the evils of so-called “western civilization” are now beamed into many homes.
In the midst of all this, there is a small assembly of believers, gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with about 30 in fellowship, and seeking to practice that which is taught in the Scriptures. This is the assembly in which my wife Priscilla and I and our two oldest children are in fellowship, and where we meet for most of the time. (We do occasionally visit other assemblies. The next one is about 500 kilometers away, so normally we are with the assembly in Livingstone).
There are meetings in the gospel hall four days per week. The weekly meetings are: the Breaking of Bread, Sunday school, Bible class, gospel meeting, two ministry meetings, prayer meeting, and Bible reading. From time to time, other meetings are arranged. We have been privileged to have a number of teaching brethren from other countries visit us, and when they come we usually have a whole day of meetings at the hall, for the teaching of the Scriptures and the preaching of the gospel. Those who have been with us in the last couple of years have included Jim Currie, Dan Gillies, David Gilliland, John Grant, Jack Hay, Bob MacLeod, and Michael Penfold. Believers from other assemblies at a distance have sometimes traveled to be with us on such occasions. It is surely one of the benefits of air travel that an assembly in the heart of Africa is able to have these brethren visit us and be of help and encouragement to the saints.
The believers are very conscious of the fact that, both in the city and in the surrounding countryside, there is a vast need for the preaching of the gospel, so there is a good exercise for gospel outreach. As well as the weekly gospel meeting, which is well attended, regular visitation takes place in the area around the gospel hall, when the brethren go to the homes, and seek to present the way of salvation to the people. Series of gospel meetings take place in the townships surrounding the city – the dry and warm climate in this part of the world lends itself to the “open-air” preaching where many people hear the message of salvation. Weekly children’s meetings are held in the town, in townships, and in a village.
A weekly gospel meeting and tract distribution takes place at the hospital. A dear commended brother, Evaristo Yamboto, and I, visit villages at a distance from the city, going from house to house with the message of the gospel.
The Word of God is presented in schools, both to individual classes and to whole school groups. Literature is used extensively. In addition to the distribution of many tracts and texts, there is a Bible book room, to which people are free to come, buy Bibles or helpful books, or sit and read, or discuss the Scriptures with the brother who works there.
The Government allows freedom for Christians to meet and to preach the gospel in Zambia. National leaders often publicly acknowledge God, and speak favorably of the work that is being done by what they call “the churches.” For this we are deeply thankful. On the other hand, on the part of many people, there is great confusion as to what a true Christian is. Many mistake being in a nominally “Christian” country, or being religious, or even just affiliated with one of the many religious systems, as being a believer. False profession is an ever-present reality, against which we have to contend constantly. We can appreciate something of the truth of 3 John 4. It gives much joy to hear of someone professing to be saved. It gives much greater joy to see one who has professed walking in the truth.
We deeply appreciate the fellowship of the beloved saints in the assembly here, who are indeed seeking to walk in the truth. They are dear to our hearts, and we thank God for them, for their faith, for their love, and for their labors for the Lord. Anything which is of God in this world is sure to be the object of the attack of the enemy, and we have seen this too. It is our heartfelt desire and prayer that the testimony to the Lord’s precious Name will be preserved and built up, and that it will continue in faithful service for Him until He comes again.
May I take this opportunity to express our thanks to many readers of this magazine, who pray for the work, and who help and encourage us in so many ways.