Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Extending Your Pulpit Beyond Your Church

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14, NIV)

Over the last one hundred years, we have seen the growth of various new forms of technology that have transformed the world into a fast paced one big global village. Inventions such as the radio, television, the computer and the internet have revolutionarised the world. But these inventions which have so much potential for good have also been used as tools to merchandise all kinds of evil and desensitise people from the fear of the transcendent God.

However, technology’s potential to harm society should not force us to shun it as essentially evil and retreat to the ancient caves in order to avoid its corrupting influence. Technology, like any other gift from God can be harnessed for our spiritual good and to the glory of God. As our world becomes more and more saturated with technology, the potential to reach great numbers of people with the Gospel also increases. We should not leave the ungodly to set the pace and dictate to us the value of technology, albeit only its functional and utilitarian value. As Reformed Christians living in a culture that is increasingly revolving around technology, we need to explore ways of using technology so as to bring glory to God. We need to consider it as a blessing and part of what it means to fulfil the dominion mandate. We must be thinking of ways in which technology can point us heaven-ward and recapture the sense of wonder at God’s ways and His world.

The internet is one form of new technology that has broadened our capacity to bring the Gospel to a lost and dying world. Imagine a pastor standing before his congregation of barely a hundred people, in a nondescript part of the world, faithfully exegeting and applying Scripture in his sermons, through what Paul calls the “foolishness of preaching.” And imagine these same sermons being able to influence countless others throughout the world via the internet! Now, this is precisely what is happening through the ministry of SermonAudio.com. That is using the internet to the glory of God!

According to the description on the SermonAudio website, theirs is currently the largest and most convenient library of audio sermons on the web with over 232,000+ free audio sermons in the highly popular MP3 format.



The mission and purpose of SermonAudio.com is “the preservation and propagation of great Bible teaching and preaching in its audio form for this generation and the next. It’s also a great personal evangelism tool as people may be more open to listen to sermons in their homes even if they never walk through a church door.” The motto for the website is taken from Romans 10:17 where it reads, “faith cometh by hearing.”

The sermons on the website can be streamed online for immediate listening or optionally downloaded to your computer or portable MP3 player for listening at a later time. It hosts sermons that are easily searchable by broadcaster, Bible reference, topic, speaker, date preached, and keyword. I have seen the number of broadcasters and sermons hosted on the site grow phenomenally over the years. There is a large, active, listening audience on SermonAudio.com demonstrated by the over one million sermon downloads each month!

It is this easy potential and opportunity to tap into this large worldwide audience that compelled us to sign up as members of SermonAudio.com and broadcast numerous sermons to the world, something which would be impossible for us to do since we presently do not have a church website to host our sermons. We thank God for this gospel opportunity to serve the world through the faithful preaching of the unchanging truth of the Bible. We join the only two other broadcasters from Africa, Kabwata Baptist Church, and Grace Unlimited from South Africa. We hope to upload two sermons every week from our morning and evening services. Those of you with access to the internet, can visit our homepage on http://www.sermonaudio.com/source_detail.asp?sourceid=ebcl

Our prayer is that the Lord will use this worldwide media ministry of our church through SermonAudio.com in a powerful way to save those who are lost, provide spiritual answers to those who are seeking Christ, and encourage and edify the people of God around the world. We also hope that this will also further the awareness and ministry of Emmasdale Baptist Church.

One cannot not help, but think of the prophecy of Habakkuk quoted at the head of this blog post. To Know God is to know His glory. Seen in the light of the New Testament, this points us to the full revelation of the glory that God has given “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), and reflect that the worldwide spread of the gospel is His chosen means of giving effect to the promises of Habakkuk. Indeed, this extends your pulpit beyond the four walls of your church.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pastor Choolwe Mwetwa - 20 Years of Selfless, Faithful Ministry

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green..." (Psalm 92:12-14)

As newlyweds, my wife and I started our marital life in the mining town of Chingola (see map above), about 425km north of Lusaka. I had just graduated from my ministerial training at the Theological College of Central Africa (TCCA), and my wife had just started work with the giant copper mining conglomerate, the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). We both immediately joined the membership of Central Baptist Church (CBC), pastored by a dear brother and colleague, Choolwe Mwetwa. That was 12 years ago (1997 to be precise).


Pastor Mwetwa took up the pastorate of Central Baptist Church in November 1988 (Pictured here with his vivacious and charming wife Marilyn). In November, 2008, Pastor Mwetwa clocked 20 years of faithful ministry at CBC. His close friend and peer, Pastor Conrad Mbewe wrote an excellent tribute marking the 20th anniversary of his ministry (see Pastor Mbewe's blog posting at http://www.conradmbewe.com/2008/11/my-great-friend-pastor-choolwe-mwetwa.html

On Saturday, 31st January, 2009, Central Baptist Church hosted the 20th anniversary celebration service at Jesus Worship Centre. My family had the privilege of being part of this milestone in the life of our dear brother and the church. Several brethren from sister churches on the Copperbelt and Lusaka, as well as other Christians from the town of Chingola attended this colourful and joyous event (see picture of Pastor Mwetwa with the Reformed Baptist pastors who attended - from left to right: Isaac Makashinyi, Kabwe Kabwe, Ronald Kalifungwa, Choolwe Mwetwa, Ndonji Kayombo)

The celebration and service of thanksgiving was marked by testimonies from some of the members of Central Baptist Church; a visual photo-story of Pastor Mwetwa's ministry; singing by Janet Chisupa (Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka) and Mrs. Lumpuma C. Kayombo (Trinity Baptist Church, Kitwe); presentation of gifts, a cake and memorabilia to the Mwetwas. (see picture of Pastor and Mrs. Mwetwa receiving a gift from Mr. Ray Munsaka, elder of Central Baptist Church. And below, the Mwetwas cutting the cake).

God's Word was ably and faithfully preached by Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa of Lusaka Baptist Church. His text was John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Pastor Kalifungwa described Pastor Mwetwa as an exceptionally gifted man, much sought after by many pulpits within and beyond the borders of Zambia. He said that his greatness did not lie in any qualities inherent in him, but in the gifts that the One who had called him into ministry, has been pleased to bestow upon him.
If there is one word which best describes Pastor Mwetwa, it is the word "faithful."

For 20 years, Pastor Mwetwa has faithfully laboured in God's vineyard in the town of Chingola with selfless dedication and humility. I was privileged to serve as an elder alongside him and Dr. Duncan Mugala at Central Baptist Church for over three years (see picture taken on the day of my ordination in 1998).


I vividly recall his penetrating and depth of insight on any subject in our elders' meetings. It is his clarity of thought and theological acumen that made Pastor Mbewe write that "If God ever gave a John Owen to Zambia, he did so in the person of Choolwe." I cannot agree more with this observation. My time in Chingola was of tremendous benefit to me as I received practical experience on various intricate matters of church life and ministry. Besides serving together in the eldership, our houses were just a stone's throw away from each other. This meant that I was a regular visitor to the manse, spending long hours with him - drinking deeply from the well of his vast and wealth of knowledge and experience. It was a great honour to serve with him at CBC. The first church I pastored, Trinity Baptist Church in Kitwe was planted by CBC, and nurtured from its infancy by the fatherly oversight of Pastor Mwetwa and Dr. Mugala.

Someone has said that "great heroes seldom write their own stories." Pastor Mwetwa is one man who would never call attention to his great accomplishments in the 20 years of ministry at CBC, the reformed baptist movement in Zambia and the nation at large. His life has truly flourished among us, casting a bright glow on our ecclesiastical landscape. The words of the psalmist quoted at the beginning of this post aptly describe Pastor Mwetwa. "He has flourished like a palm tree...like a cedar of Lebanon."

The palm tree is one of the noblest and most beautiful of trees. It is remarkable for its straight and upright growth. It is known to rise to the height of more than 30 metres, and its leaves when it arrives at maturity are often 1.8 to 2.4m in length and broad in proportion. At the age of 30 years, the palm tree obtains its greatest vigour and continues in full strength and beauty approximately for another 70 years, living to be 100 years, 70 of them of abundant fruitfulness, producing every year about 140 to 185 kilograms of grapes. It has a very firm and deep root system.

On the other hand, the cedar of Lebanon grows to a very great size, rising to an enormous height and spreading its branches to a great extent. It continues to flourish for more than a thousand years. The point I am making here is that such has been the fruitfulness and vigour we have observed in Pastor Mwetwa. His life exudes the beauty of the Lord He serves. We are profoundly grateful to the Lord for giving us a man of such exceptional and outstanding qualities, which include his desire for excellence in all things and his quiet and gentle way of doing things. Pastor Mwetwa has faced many significant challenges with unusual grace and has been an example of confident trust in the Lord.

May the Lord bless the ministry of His choice servant, bless his family, and the family of God's people at Central Baptist Church, Chingola.