Biblical Worldview Seminars
Most Chalcedon Report readers should be familiar with the nation of Zambia. It was in its capitol city, Lusaka, that Chalcedon presented a three-day conference in July, 1997. The work of Chalcedon continues to have an effect in the nation through the lives of those who were impacted by the conference and through the books that continue to be distributed throughout Zambia.
By God's grace, I had the opportunity to spend nearly seven weeks in Zambia working with a Frontline Fellowship team consisting of Glendon McGill and the team leader, Frontline Fellowship Field Director, Robert Zins. Our work in Zambia consisted of leading twenty Biblical Worldview Seminars in various cities. Seven of the seminars were held in government teacher training colleges.
Through the efforts of the Minister of Education, Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda (former vice president), we were given permission to hold seminars in seven primary and secondary teacher training colleges. The one-day seminars at the colleges were filled with hard-hitting lectures: worldviews in conflict, creation vs. evolution, the Biblical view of education, introduction to government, poverty and prosperity, and the testimony of the persecuted church in Sudan.
A Christian Nation
Certainly not all Zambians are Christian, yet the environment in the teacher training colleges was not at all hostile. We boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ while railing against the idols of evolution and humanism. For some students, our message was more than they could handle and so they would leave during the day. But praise to God, there was always a good group of students (70-100) who remained through all the lectures. Some professors (or "lecturers" as Zambians call them) also attended the meetings at several of the colleges. At one particular training college, there were a number of professors who were very interested in the seminar and the books and materials we presented. At this meeting, one of the professors opened the meeting in prayer declaring that Zambia is a Christian nation. Afterwards, we were able to talk with several of the religious education professors and encourage them. The head of the religious education department told us that he was challenged by our presentations and that there can be no neutrality in life and education. Robert Zins was also able to clearly articulate the Biblical position on capital punishment. (Roman Catholics in Zambia are trying to abolish the death penalty.)
Precept upon Precept
The thirteen other seminars were held in different cities in Zambia. At these seminars we were able to reach pastors, elders, businessmen, teachers, housewives, and students from various denominations. The two-day seminars (three days in Lusaka) were packed with 16 or more lectures covering the application of God's Word to all areas of life. The goal was to help lay a foundation for reformation by declaring the importance of God's law. While not using the names, the heart of the seminar is Calvinistic, presuppositional, theonomic, reconstructionist, and postmillennial to the core. One of the key messages given at the seminars was, "Are We Living in the Last Days?" This message, an exegesis of Matthew 24, was designed to get people to turn away from a doom-and-gloom, defeatist outlook and embrace a long-term vision to fulfill the Great Commission. As Christians we must be concerned with the future. Many commented that this was a very helpful message.
The Road to Poverty
Zambia gained its independence from Great Britain in October, 1964. A humanist-socialist, Dr. Kenneth Kuanda, transformed the nation, rich in copper and other minerals, and a food-exporting nation, into one of the poorest nations of the world. This sad tale was repeated numerous times in the former British colonies and, sadly, South Africa seems to be following in some of the same paths. In 1991, a professed Christian, Fredrick Chiluba, was elected president of Zambia. He declared Zambia a Christian nation. In 1996, the Constitution was amended declaring Zambia to be a Christian nation. However, Zambia's government is still a long way from turning away from humanism. The country is still in desperate poverty, economically and spiritually. Too many people still look to government as their provider, the result of twenty-seven years of devastating socialism and decades of colonialism. While independent of Great Britain, Zambia is now a colony of the IMF and the World Bank.
The Way Back
However, there have been dramatic changes in recent years. When Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship was in Zambia in the 1980s, he had to pass through thirty-four roadblocks to get from Livingstone to Malawi. At each roadblock the guards felt free to tear his vehicle apart, steal personal items, and generally intimidate any and every traveler. Having cocked AK-47's pointed at him and his team was a fairly common experience. As Peter Hammond describes, in the 1980s in Zambia:
- There were great difficulties organizing church or evangelistic meetings. Every single meeting had to be cleared with the local police, who were extremely difficult and stubborn and would never give approval for the kind of meetings that are routinely organized now.
- It was a vicious police state. The prisons were filled with people who had never been charged, let alone been given a fair trial in court.
- The schools only taught Humanism, Atheism, Evolutionism and Marxism.
- Outspoken critics of the government often just disappeared, never to be seen again.
- Torture in the prisons was common.
Night and Day
In many respects, the contrast between Socialist Zambia under Kenneth Kuanda and "Christian" Zambia under Fredrick Chiluba is like night and day. For anyone who didn't see or read of Zambia in the old days and who is used to the efficiency and prosperity of America, Zambia today would seem most disappointing. However, compared to neighboring African states or compared to how Zambia was in the 1980s, the transformation has already been remarkable. The freedoms of speech, movement, press, association, and freedom for Christian schools are recent developments that cannot be ignored.
The Work of Reformation
The work of reformation is more than holding a revival weekend tent meeting and is more than holding twenty worldview seminars. God works in time through generations. The work of reformation can take hundreds of years. This is certainly the testimony of the great Protestant Reformation. Nations did not change overnight. Thousands were martyred. Battles were fought. Thousands of sermons needed to be preached.
For example, the work of Reformation in England advanced somewhat under Henry VIII; it was established much firmer under King Edward. England reverted back to Roman Catholicism with the wave of persecution under Bloody Mary. The Reformation was finally securely entrenched under Queen Elizabeth. However, it still took much more work under the Stuarts, especially during the English Civil War and under the influence of Cromwell, before the reformation in England truly matured. It will not take less effort and dedication to secure a similar result in Zambia.
The next generation must be diligently trained. There are no quick-fix solutions in Zambia. We emphasized that the key to prosperity is more than just simple faith. God requires faith along with obedience, planning, and diligent work. God blesses and judges nations according to Deuteronomy 28. This has not been the typical message preached in Zambia.
The work of reconstruction is similar to building a new house. First, the old structure and junk must be bulldozed away. This process is often painful, difficult, and certainly not glamorous. After this occurs, the new structure can be raised. Zambia does not have as much junk that needs to be cleared as compared to the United States. Zambia has only two humanistic universities. There are not many Zambian Christians who think their local public school is super. There are many opportunities in Zambia that are not available in America. Abortion and homosexuality are still illegal in Zambia. Modesty and humility characterize most Zambians. Thankfully, they have only a few TV channels. Best of all, there are Christians who recognize the problems and who are working to implement Biblical solutions.
Of course, if we are going to see lasting changes, then as Reformed, theonomic, postmillennial Christians, we are going to have to be involved in more mission work. Thankfully, most of the books for laying a foundation have already been written in the past thirty years. It is now time to see those principles implemented and taught to the nation at large. The principle of sowing and reaping continues to hold true. Why don't we see more nations working for the implementation of Biblical principles? Well, the seeds haven't been planted yet in those nations.
While in Zambia, we met a number of individuals who were working in Christian education. There are Christians who are being influenced by solid Reformed and reconstructionist teaching. Chalcedon air-mailed nine boxes of books for distribution in Zambia. We were able to place some of these books in the hands of pastors and other leaders. The trip helped develop more key contacts throughout Zambia. General Miyanda, the Minister of Education, addressed the Lusaka meeting and stayed for several of the lectures. Slowly the foundations are being set.
How can we continue to work for reformation in Zambia? First, we need to have a long-term and realistic vision. Hosting one seminar will not change the country. If we are going to see lasting change, then we must be willing to labor to that end.
Seminars and conferences currently have an important role. We hope that in the near future, a Biblical Worldview Seminar can be hosted in the Zambian Parliament, similar to the recent Biblical Worldview Seminar held by Frontline Fellowship at the South African Parliament. I believe that planning a conference specifically on homeschooling and Christian education is also very necessary. The current Minister of Education is very interested in Christian education. I had the opportunity to talk with him for over thirty minutes. He is especially interested in homeschooling and how it might work in Zambia. Frontline has developed some good contacts and will be continuing to hold seminars and meetings in Zambia. Continue to pray and support the work of Frontline and Chalcedon as they work in Zambia.
Third, it will be necessary to develop a Bible college/seminary and a teacher training college. Zambians are hungry for sound teaching. It will take some time to develop such a ministry, but something permanent needs to be established. Pray that a training center or college will become a reality. Would you be interested in working for several years in establishing such a place? If so, then get in contact with Chalcedon or Frontline Fellowship or me. I met with one group of Zambians interested in starting Christian teachers' training college. They recognize the necessity of Christian teachers and a Christian curriculum. It is people who are already doing something whom we need to help and encourage and influence with sound, Biblical instruction.
Fourth, let us pray that God will bless the efforts of the many Zambians who are already working for true reformation. May He raise up a generation of Zambian Christians who will be able to lead their nation and set the example for the rest of southern Africa. It is they who have a great challenge ahead of them. May we beseech God in His great mercy to richly bless their efforts.
I must commend the work of the Frontline Fellowship Field Director, Robert Zins Jr., the leader of the team in Zambia. Robert is doing a great work in promoting postmillennialism, theonomy, and reconstructionism. Books and knowledge must be distributed for them to have any effect. Please pray for Robert and his work in Zambia and the other nations in southern Africa. Pray that God will raise up more workers. There is a great harvest, but the laborers are few.
Continue then to pray for God's kingdom to expand in Zambia. Let us continue to train our children to have a long-term vision. Zambia and Africa are examples that God's curses are generational. We pray that in the future it will be an example of God's generational blessings.