Zambia #7: Reformed Church in Zambia and St. Marks Church
by Jennifer Ellis, for the team
Dear Outreach friends,
A lovely breakfast this morning and chat with an American missionary living in Siavonga was followed by a short drive to the Reformed Church in Zambia, hosted by Obusa (Reverend) Charles Ngoma and his congregation. Rev. Ngoma is a 2013 scholarship graduate of Justo Mwale University, a seminary of the Reformed Tradition located in Lusaka. This congregation has been his first assignment as a new pastor, along with his wife Memory and their two year old son Zyteca (which means “Possible” in Shona).
The church was inducted as a congregation in 2004, and now stands at 160 members. In our meeting the church leadership expressed to us that it has been very difficult to evangelize when the people of Siavonga have such great physical needs. Church members live on very little personal income and although over half are contributors, offerings usually bring in less than 200 kwacha (20 dollars) a month. But their hopes and dreams for growth include construction of a guesthouse to host visitors, and the start of a microloan program to help those less fortunate than themselves.
They have also begun an expansion of the sanctuary, with the addition of a conference room and office for the pastor. They have plans to complete the pastor’s home and construct a chicken house for broiler chickens to add income for their budget.
I spent some time taking with Chulu Yona Lenging, who is the congregation’s Youth Fellowship Chairperson. (In Africa, the “youth” are between ages 14-35). Chulu is a farmer with over 300 chickens on his farm and he plans to involve the youth in raising and selling the chickens for the church.
We concluded our visit with prayers of encouragement and conversation over refreshments.
We were greeted at St. Marks Church with smiles and songs and were escorted inside individually by the school children, each holding a sign with our first names. The 20 or so children in bright yellow uniforms sang songs for us and each stepped forward to introduce him or herself by name and with the words “education is the key to life.” St. Marks is not only a thriving church with a primary school, but it has also planted ten additional branches since its establishment in 2004! It is a vibrant congregation led by Elder Mujongo Namuyamba and his wife Esther, who also founded Namumu Orphanage Center many years ago.
The St. Marks congregation is committed to “the education of some less fortunate young ones.” They employ three teachers, one of whom is a former Numumu resident, Wendy Chikkumbula. Her teaching position is now sponsored through The Outreach Foundation. The school’s classes are held in the church sanctuary and a small back room; the congregation has hopes for a larger classroom block to be added in the future.
Esther and Mujango served us a delicious lunch in the back classroom while the choir sang and danced on in the sanctuary. We were given a warm send off with hugs, handshakes, smiles and blessings.
Our drive back to Lusaka took us through a steep and dry landscape with dozens of tiny rural villages of traditional huts and kilns. We arrived in time for heavy traffic in Lusaka and finally made it to our accommodations at the Booth Center of Justo Mwale University.
The evening offered us two more blessed encounters! The first was an impromptu meeting over dinner with Moderator Gibson Bottoman, CCAP Zimbabwe. We shared our recent experience in Zimbabwe with Home of Hope, and we encouraged each other in our shared vision of collaboration for its continued mission. At the end of the evening we were so excited to receive a visit from three more Numumu graduates. Malaki is in his third year of theological studies at Justo Mwale and hopes to return to his home church of St. Marks to pastor there when he graduates. Christopher and Florence are now entering their third year of Clinical Officer Training (similar to Physician Assistant training in U.S.). They are studying hard and preparing for their assignments for work placement when they graduate. We discussed the challenges of living and working in the bush, which is the likely assignment for new graduates.
At the end of our visit Malaki humbly thanked the church and The Outreach Foundation for our support of the Namumu orphans and community over the years. He said it is so difficult for him to imagine how his life would have been without our support, and how grateful he is that brothers and sisters in America have cared so much to give and even come to Africa to meet and encourage them.
In peace and thanksgiving,
First Presbyterian Church