The 18th Annual Zambian Reformed Conference
It was once again the time of the year when Christians of Reformed persuasion in Zambia come together for their annual spiritual feast.
This year the Zambia Reformed Family Conference and School of Theology started on Monday 27th August and ended on Thursday 30th August – one day earlier than usual. This reduction by a day was in order to accommodate a regional conference – the Sola 5 Conference – that was being hosted in Zambia. The Sola 5 Conference ran from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September. Since many were interested in attending both of these conferences, it was as good as attending one Reformed conference lasting seven days – a rare treat indeed!
The keynote address at this year’s conference was given by Emmanuel Sakala, pastor of the Berean Reformed Baptist Church in Chililabombwe, Zambia. He opened the conference by drawing our attention to the need to keep the cross of Christ central in our preaching because it is the very heart of God’s message to the world. The main preachers at this year’s annual feast were Jeff Noblit and Voddie Baucham from the USA. They preached on the theme of ‘Biblical Evangelism and Discipleship’.
Jeff Noblit majored more on the need for formative and restorative discipline in the church, while Voddie Baucham expounded sections of the Pastoral Epistles. The preaching was so good that just after the first full day pressure began to mount on the organisers to increase the evening preaching from the usual one session to two. And so ‘due to public demand’ on Thursday night there were two sermons instead of one!
One special feature this year was the presence of a lady speaker. Martha Peace, the celebrated author of The Excellent Wife, led the women at the conference in studying how to be a Titus 2 woman. She challenged the women, who attended her sessions in droves, to be the kind of women that God can use to mould other women into godly followers of Christ. Jeff Noblit also came with his wife, Pam, whose unique singing gift was put to maximum use especially in the evening meetings. Her songs blended in beautifully with the messages.
Attendance at these conferences continues to grow. Those attending throughout the day were between 500 and 600 while the evening attendance shot up to between 800 and 900. Again, as was the case last year, all the nine provinces of Zambia, except one, were represented. As for other countries in the sub-region, there were brethren from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. (The numbers attending from these countries were unusually high because many who were coming for the Sola 5 Conference decided to come earlier so as to also attend the Zambian conference). Others came in from Australia, the USA, and the UK to just be a part of this spiritual feast.
To cater for the large evening crowd, a big screen was installed outside the main hall under a large tent, where more than a hundred people sat listening to the preaching of the Word of God. It is very clear to the organisers that this conference has outgrown its present facilities and so a larger venue must be found before next year’s conference.
One special feature this year, whose fruit was evident to those in attendance, was that for the first time all the English-speaking Reformed Baptist churches in Lusaka came together to organise the conference and share in its financial load. Many of the international guests, and even the couples who came in from other towns in Zambia, were accommodated in various homes across the city of Lusaka. What a joy it was to see like-minded churches working together like this for the cause of the truth as it is in Christ! If anyone is still in doubt that the Reformed Faith has come to stay in Zambia, and that it is spreading like wild fire across this sub-region of Africa, all we can say to such a person is what is found on many holiday postcards – ‘I wish you were here!’
Conrad Mbewe is Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia.
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