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

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 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.


  1. Thank you for this blog. We thank God for Pastor Mwetwa's ministry among us. May God add many more years to him as he continues to labour faithfully within and outside Zambia.

  2. Indeed Pastor Makashinyi has ably described the ministry of Pastor Mwetwa. I can not add more, but to just say that I have been one of those shaped and greatly helped by Ps.Mwetwa's ministry.

    May the Lord grant him & family more faithful and fufilling years.

  3. We thank the Almighty God for the wonderful work being done in Chingola by Pastor Mweetwa and his wife. May the Lord continue to bless the Labour of their hands in His Vineyard.

    Pastor Makashini you are a marvel. Keep up the good work

    Charity Bwalya - Bethel Baptist Church

  4. Thanks for renewing your blog,I will look forward to reading the news. I am encouraged by Pastor Mwetwa's faithfulness. I pray that God would be pleased to use many pastors in this way. Ask Pastor Conrad is you would fit into his suitcase when he comes to Alabama next month, it would be good to see you again.

    Pastor Thomas Winn

  5. Let me add my voice to the many voices of those who have been navigated throughout this life's hard way by the preaching and counselling ministry of God's rare jewels of servants in Pastor Mwetwa. I owe my growth and especially my gift of preaching to him. As a young turk who left the chapels at the inception of Trinity Baptist Church in Kitwe in 1995, I had no idea that I would be his partner in the pulpit. Central Baptist in Chingola being the mother church of Trinity, Pastor Mwetwa was regular in the pulpit and the few times he was away I would be asked to preach. I learnt a lot from observing him preach and this was vital in my development as a preacher. But what inspired me the most to imitate his style of preaching was his thoughtfulness or his gift of deep thinking. He is unparalleled! I would not hesitate to call him my spiritual mentor, for he shaped my theological thinking. In 1999 in June, to be specific, on the 26th of June, Pastor Mwetwa was facing me, not to praech to me but to ask me repeat after him as he lead me in my wedding vows to Paula, my wife. And he married us at Riverside Chapel. I am thankful to God for having given to his church such a man as Pastor. He was needed for such a time as this when the church of Jesus Christ is in need of deep theological thinkers who in the face of liberalism and indifference to the truth, can navigate the saints to the shores of reformed truth. blessed be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!