Report from Zambia
Flying into Zambia I sat next to an auditor for the World Bank. After a few pleasantries, she mentioned that she was “quite concerned” about the President’s stand “against democracy.” It will, she sighed, “Bring economic aid to a halt, at a time when the nation still needs so much more.” I asked her to explain to me just how President Chilubah was resisting democracy. “Well, he will not allow Kaunda to run for election.” When I reminded her that this was the man who raped and plundered Zambia for 27 years and left the nation with a 6.6 billion dollar debt, her only retort was, “Well, maybe he has changed . . . and maybe the people will want him as their President.” (I found out later that, as in our Constitution, a person must be a citizen of the nation to be a President: Kaunda is not a citizen. But I am sure that this too would be a minor point of no consequence to our friends at the World Bank.)
Let’s face it. The problem has little to do with who can run for office and who cannot. The crisis for the donor nations (USA, Germany, Switzerland, UK, et al.) is that a professed Christian is the President of the nation and he has sworn to re-build Zambia upon the Word of God. If people vote for a Socialist, fine and good. The People Have Spoken. But i f they vote in a Christ-worshipping, Bible-believing advocate of a free-market economy, the system failed: The People Were Mistaken.
I was met at the airport by Pastor John Jere of Zambian Christian Action. John is a man dedicated to giving his life to discipling his nation for Christ. Every ounce of his energy is poured out in this mission. He meets with cabinet officials, prays with fellow pastors, teaches in seminars, preaches in churches and publishes newsletters that are distributed around the nation. John is not just a thinker, but is the consummate activist. When he finds pornography being sold (which is against the law in Zambia), he not only reports the infraction to the police, but often drives them in his own truck to the scene of the crime!
The first two stops we made were for radio interviews. In both situations, the conversations turned to economics. The concern was that, if privatization is good for Zambia, why is it causing so much pain and hardship? My answer was that it was not the retreat of the state from the marketplace that was causing the trauma, but the 27-year addiction to socialism. In essence, I said, “Your nation is like a recovering drug addict. It will be painful to kick the habit but the nation will be far more healthy in the end. The temptation is to return to the habits that made you ill: don’t do it!” I t was obvious that there had been very little explanation of Biblical economics on a national scale.
In Kabwe, teaching dozens of spiritual leaders from around the nation, I found the leaders to be quite hungry and open to the message of Christian reconstruction. On the other had, given the generation of slavery to the state, the majority were clueless as to any ideas of concrete application. Socialism’s parentalism leaves its citizens in a state of apathy and laziness, with an expectation for the state to solve all problems, personal and national.
In communicating with Minister of Parliament Ngoma who sits on the President’s Cabinet and is responsible for Social Services, I was struck with the magnitude of the task before this nation. Kaunda did not simply come close to destroying this nation’s resources, but it’s will to work, as well. Yes, entire villages have been decimated by AIDS and malnutrition. But the scourge of socialism is causing even greater damage.
While the destitute certainly need a helping hand, if it is given in the wrong way it only serves to reinforce the idea that the average citizen is incapable of making it on his own. Many who are capable of supporting themselves look to others for support, refusing to work. Any solution offered by Christians must include the Biblical ideals of work, the command to provide for one’s own family, and the church’s responsibility to disciple its members in Christian character and godly behavior.
My itinerary was largely directed by Grant and Lynne Schaefer, missionaries to Zambia sent out from FrontLine Ministries and Peter Hammond. This omnicompetent couple will be moving to Zambia next year to focus on discipling one village. This is the sort of sacrifice and vision that will change Zambia’s future. Teaching and literature are important, but demonstration and application are absolutely critical.
Think about it. A generation of people has grown up with the belief that the state was to provide economic security for all. People in their thirties have experienced only the illusory security of an all-powerful state and know nothing of the joy and freedom of self-government. When I asked a group of ministers why people would not leave the city (where there were no jobs) for the countryside where they could at least grow enough food to provide for their families I was told that, “This would not happen because such a move would require the individual to work.” Clearly such people will need more than information (teaching); they will need hands-on life-formation (discipleship).
At Grant’s request, we held a one-day seminar in Lusaka, the capital city. Grant did a stellar job of summing up the history of the Reformation and pointing to its fruit in Western civilization. Theory is great, but theory verified as fact via historical testimonies often serves to excite and motivate people in developing nations. (Of course, we always have to remind our audiences that Western civilization has cut itself off from the roots that brought the flowers and fruit of cultural progress.)
My two topics were the Biblical Foundations of Civil Government (as defined by Scripture) and Biblical Economics. Upon my return home, there were a number of letters from businessmen requesting books not only on economics but on how to start micro-enterprises. To grab the attention of those who are still halting between two opinions—Should the State Provide, or is this the Domain of the Family?—it is going to take a few people who were poor to work and to prosper. I have no doubt that such a demonstration will reverberate across the nation.
The Islamic Threat
The Muslims are taking great advantage of the crisis in Zambia. They frequently move into villages, build beautiful mosques and educate all the children in the village for free. One minister approached me with the argument that if Christians did not do the same thing, the nation would be lost to Christianity. I reminded him that people were saved by God’s grace, not by money. Moreover, the early church experienced incredible blessings of growth and influence while constantly confessing, “Silver and gold have I none. . . .” However, we should pray that God would raise up workers to labor in Zambia. We should invest in ministries such as Chalcedon, FrontLine and Classical Christianity that are equipped to make a difference on a national scale. We should also pray that God reveals alternatives to oil for fueling automobiles. Oil is the chief source of income to the Muslim states. If there were a decreased need for oil, their ability to pour finances into their own missionary endeavors would dwindle to a slow trickle.
On To Uganda
From Zambia, I flew to Kampala, Uganda, where I hooked up with Bill Mikler to teach a pastor’s seminar. Our audience was composed of priests with the Church of Uganda who oversee right at 400,000 active church members. Our topic was. Proclaiming and Living the Gospel. Bill laid the theological foundation for the Lordship of Christ and the reality of His government in the earth today; I followed with practical applications, showing that the context and framework of the appropriate and Biblical presentation of the gospel is the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:26-28) with the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20).
The level of commitment to actually taking the information we were giving and living it was so high that teaching these men and their wives was pure joy. If you could have witnessed the hunger for truth and the seriousness of purpose to reconstruct their nation in harmony with Biblical truth you would understand why I love to teach people in developing nations! They believe the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible says, Cultivate every sphere of life for God’s glory. They believe, therefore, that this is not only their mission in life but one that will be successfully attained.
Given the conditions of life for most of these people, their cultures have not had leisure time to build up great systems of thought that deny God or the authority of His Word. They are far more teachable and available for service than anything we in the United States are accustomed to encountering. Furthermore, given the desperate conditions these people are facing, they move and work with a ferocious tenacity; They are after nothing short of the Christianization of their culture and nothing short of success is acceptable.
In the not-too-distant future you will be given an opportunity to contribute toward a major mission to bring the message of Reconstruction to Zambia. Andrew Sandlin, Brian Abshire, Colonel Doner and I will be teaching a leadership training seminar where we will deal with those subjects that will help equip Zambians to extend Christ’s kingdom in their nation. Please begin praying even now for all the details involved in such a mission, as well as for God to begin preparing the minds and hearts of those to whom we will be ministering.
Topics: Biblical Law, Culture , Dominion, Government, Justice, Socialism, Theology, World History