The 17th Annual Zambian Reformed Conference
This year’s Zambian Reformed Family Conference and School of Theology were held in Lusaka from the 21st to the 25th of August. The keynote address was given by Choolwe Mwetwa, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Chingola, Zambia. He showed from Romans 8 how true spiritual assurance can only be attained as we reflect upon the eternal dimension of our salvation – what he called “the works of God in eternity”. Then the guest preachers were Lance Quinn, Todd Murray and James Henrich – all pastors from the Bible Church of Little Rock in Arkansas, USA. The theme was “The Doctrines of Grace”.
Lance Quinn handled this theme doctrinally, while Todd Murray showed the impact of the doctrines of grace on worship and James Henrich showed the impact of the doctrines of grace on missions. The combination of these three topics helped us to see that these glorious truths were not merely cerebral but that a proper understanding of them produced God-glorifying worship and God-centred missions. Todd Murray added a unique dimension to this year’s conference by giving us a biographical sketch on the life of John Newton on three evenings. He ended each presentation by singing to us some of Newton’s less known hymns using music that he had himself composed.
One of the two guest preachers last year, Paul Washer, returned simply to attend the conference with three other American pastors and one American seminary student. We did not allow four seasoned pastors to just sit around and enjoy the fellowship, and so they handled electives on marriage and the God-centred home, understanding the book of Proverbs, the worship that God blesses, and suffering all things for the sake of the elect. We were truly spoilt, therefore, as seven American pastors ministered to us across the week!
Thankfully, these men were not ministering to empty pews. The conference venue was packed with 300 to 400 people during the day and 500 to 600 people in the evenings. The conference hall could not contain the people that came for the evening meetings to listen to Lance Quinn as he expounded Romans 9. Some of them had to brave the cool weather outside as they listened to the messages while crammed at the doors or peeping through the windows. Those attending the conference came from all but one of the nine provinces of Zambia. Then we also had visitors from Australia (an 80 year old lady!), Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and the USA (as already mentioned).
Some Zambians living and studying abroad also made sure they joined us for this annual feast. They came from Australia, Kenya, Norway and Switzerland. We missed the brethren from Zimbabwe, whose economic woes made it impossible for them to come, and those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who were in the heart of their first national elections in over twenty years. Be that as it may, this was truly an international conference. And it showed how the doctrines of grace were a uniting force for the people of God in Africa.
Since the last conference four new Reformed Baptist churches had commenced in Lusaka, Windhoek (Namibia), Francistown (Botswana), and Zomba (Malawi). Brethren from these new churches shared with us how the Lord had led them to start these new churches and how these new fledgling churches were doing. Those who had started the churches in these neighbouring countries testified to the inspiration that they had received from the Zambian Reformed movement. We thank God that it has pleased him to use us in this way. Amen!
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