Justo Mwale University - December 2016 Update
From time to time we have conversations in ministry that help us to see afresh why we are here in Zambia, and also make us grateful for supporters who make our ministry possible.
One of my students recently asked to talk with me in my office. I was a little surprised when he arrived and said he actually wanted to discuss what salvation means. He’s soon to graduate and be ordained, and my experience in America and in Egypt was that pastors and future pastors tend to know fairly well what they think about salvation. But this student was really wrestling with the topic, on account of what he had gone through in his various practical ministry experiences. He told me that based on his experience; all across Zambia are thousands and thousands of people who doubt that they are on the path of salvation, or that they are born again, because they continue to be poor, or because they have not been healed from their diseases. My student said many have also lost confidence in the pastors of their churches, because if their pastors were the real thing, then the people in the pews would be doing much better financially. We then talked about what happens in the New Testament, and what Jesus says to people when they become disciples. Any promises of material wealth? If anything, it sounds like the opposite: “Take up your cross and follow me…” And when Paul’s letters speak of knowing Christ, does he say it will lead to prosperity? Well, no. It leads to becoming more like Christ.
My student said the whole subject of salvation is so confusing here because people have heard it preached over and over that the sign of being a child of God is an increase in physical property, or a growing bank account, or at least more money in one’s pocket. I agreed that the subject isn’t simple, because surely God wants Africa to be developed economically, and for people’s financial situations to improve.
After a while, my student volunteered, “Maybe salvation is really about a relationship, a relationship with God.” I felt thankful to hear him put words on that for himself. And I told him I felt very, very disturbed and sorry to hear that so many people think they are outside the reach of God’s grace, solely because they continue to be poor. If anything, their neediness places them more at the center of God’s concern.
After my student left, I also felt thankful to be involved in theological education in Africa. The church in Zambia has grown to 95% percent of the population, yet this faith is so new, and traditional African ways of viewing gods and religion remain so fresh, that it really is hard for people to think of the purpose of Christianity not being their personal economic advancement. And it’s very hard for people not to view the pastor of their church as their link to the supernatural realm, from which financial prosperity and physical health flow. These ideas need to be sifted through in light of Christian and biblical theology. So I feel blessed to get to open the Bible with pastors and future pastors here on an almost daily basis and walk with them as they see truth for themselves, and sort through it for themselves, and figure out what they will preach and teach.
Would you please pray for the ministry of Justo Mwale University? Our students from seven African countries go forth to be leaders of very large churches and of whole denominations. Now is such a formative time for them. We are thinking through significant topics, and much is at stake: Will millions and millions of people across sub-Saharan Africa become disillusioned with the Christian faith? Will the churches teach and preach biblical and Christian truth? What will the Christian faith look like in Africa’s future?
Thank you for your partnership with us at Justo Mwale University.
Your partner in the gospel,
Read more about Justo Mwale University by clicking HERE.
Outreach is seeking gifts totaling $22,000 for student scholarships ($5,500 per student per year).