Ten years ago my wife and I embarked on a journey to be full time missionaries to the African country of Zambia. Over the first eight and one half years we worked in that country on tourist visas, assisting senior missionaries in training national pastors and providing a doctrinal foundation for existing church plants. Because we were working with senior mission groups and national pastors who had been part of some of the early church plants in Zambia, we were able to avoid a great many of the cultural errors which hinder new works.Nearly two years ago we obtained resident status in the nation of Zambia and have been living in Livingstone, Zambia for 15 months. During this time we continued our work of training national pastors and in general encouraging the existent works that we have been a part of for the past ten years. During this time we took the counsel of several senior missionaries and have laid out a goal or mission plan for the next five years.Our first goal is to establish in every Zambian village a Bible believing independent Baptist church that is self-sustaining, self-supporting, and self-replicating. Everything we do will be geared toward achieving the above. This will include working with other missionaries who are of like faith scattered throughout Zambia, and to assist in the training not only of national pastors but to establish training programs for deacons, Sunday school teachers, and other church leadership.
First, a church must be self sustaining. This refers to a Berean congregation who understands the necessity of making life decisions based upon the teaching of the Scriptures. This also requires that as a church and individuals they filter all aspects of their culture through the Scriptures and change their life accordingly. To achieve this, over the past two years we have established a group of national pastors who are fluent in English and theologically competent to commence translating doctrinal commentaries and expositional commentaries into Chitonga and Silozi. This will allow us to have study material available which even the non -English speakers can start using in conjunction with their vernacular Bibles. This allows for a climate in which church growth can be quicker and the individual growth of the new B eliever can be systematically directed.
Secondly, a church must be self-supporting. We do not believe in paying national pastors to pastor their churches. I do believe that it behooves us to help provide financial support for young men who are being called to study the Word of God while they are in Bible school, or even in the early stages of establishing a new church plant. I will also make gifts to individual churches to assist in obtaining study materials or a location for a permanent church structure. We do this in order to show them by example that the people of God are expected to return a portion of their substance in faith to their Father to further His work. Only when the Zambian churches are consistently supporting their own programs and providing a living situation for their pastors can our missionary work in those villages be considered complete.