We are thankful to God, the brethren, and for the leadership of Filius Jere for the development of the United Church of God congregations in Eastern Zambia. I would like to share this report with you about how God's Spirit is working in this remote part of Africa. Bev and I along with senior pastor Aaron Dean and his wife Michelle, have attached ourselves to these people on our visits and appreciate all that they have done to serve God and man. Below is a report from pastor Filius Jere that includes photos of events and people referred to in the account below.
--- Victor and Beverly Kubik
by Filius Jere
April 12, 2021
The United Church of God has established itself firmly in eastern Zambia. In addition to Chipata, the Church has satellite congregations in Chiwoko and Ngilile totaling around 150 or more brethren altogether. People in remote areas also meet in smaller groups to study the Word of God on the Sabbath. In recent years, 52 brethren have been baptized; with a few more eagerly waiting this moment.
This impact may be attributed to dedication to “the call” by the local servants of the Lord and unceasing encouragement, material and moral support, and guidance from the Home Office and other wings of the Church, e.g. LifeNets, Good Works, and individuals.
The current focus of the Church in eastern Zambia is to reveal the true Gospel using various communication platforms, including the media. Below is a tabulation of the genesis and growth of the Church in eastern Zambia.
Prior to my ordination, in 2013, I had started the production of a weekly radio version of Beyond Today TV. This was due to an intense desire to share the rare truths and beliefs taught by the United Church of God in Lusaka, where I periodically traveled to attend God’s annual Sabbaths.
The program was first aired on Explorers FM, a community radio station situated in the small town of Petauke. The selection of this station was dictated by the cost of airing because I had to use my own resources (my monthly pension from the government). The impact was enthralling because a number of villagers started to bunch around their small radios to listen and follow up with discussions akin to Bible study. Occasionally, they invited me to visit them.
This was the beginning of the Church at Ngilile, a community center in the middle of a handful of densely populated villages.
In 2014, Beyond Today Radio moved to Feel Free FM in Chipata and the impact was the same, leading to home Bible Study sessions every Sabbath. In 2015, Pastors Talama and Pringle came to formally establish the United Church of God in Chipata, the capital city of eastern Zambia. Six brethren were baptized during this visit. Later in the year, during the Feast of Tabernacles, Major Talama and Pastor Shanon Lucas ordained me as a deacon.
In 2017, the congregation in Chipata had grown and a more commodious facility was needed. A 0.5-hectare plot was acquired, and work started to build a small church hall on a self-help basis. Meanwhile, Sabbath services continued under the trees. Impressed by the self-help project, the LifeNets President, Mrs. Beverly Kubik, decided to assist with furniture and a solar-powered borehole for clean and safe water. This gesture was followed by Lena VanAusdle donating a van for transport, through Good Works.
Ordination as pastor:
On 1 September 2018, Major Talama Nawa , pastor for Lusaka Church, together with Pastor Alfred Siame of Isoka in northern Zambia, ordained me as pastor for the United Church of God aia to be based in Chipata. This was followed by attendance of the Pastors Development Program in Cincinnati in 2018 and serious work to evangelize the Gospel and establish the United Church of God in eastern Zambia started. This was enhanced by more financial support from LifeNets for the continuation of Beyond Today Radio on Feel Free FM and Kwenje FM in the distant, northern town of Chama.
Eventually, another congregation came up at Chiwoko, about sixty-five kilometers south of Chipata, while Ngilile, 165 kilometers in Petauke, continued to flourish.
Radio continued to play its role of courting interest in the true Gospel. However, apart from the resources of the Church, the twelve-lesson Bible Study package was, and continues to be, one of the most important tools for preparing members before baptism. In this way, six brethren from Chiwoko were baptized, followed by six more from Ngilile in 2020
Baptisms were halted for a while to give time for people to be coached through the twelve-lesson Bible Study package and also Fundamental Beliefs of the Church. For this reason, the next chance for baptism saw 32 brethren ready for baptism. However, at the end, six were unable to present themselves for baptism due to circumstances beyond control. This was on March 26, 2021.
Support and Back-stopping
There has been considerable support of the Church from Home Office, LifeNets and Good Works, thanks to Beverly, in the first instance, and Lena, in the second. In 2017, the Chipata church received one borehole powered by solar. Later, more boreholes were drilled for the Chiwoko and Ngilile satellites with financial support from LifeNets-Australia. Every year, LifeNets and Good Works also helped alleviate poverty and hunger among brethren through food relief and inputs for farming aimed at improving crop yield and building a food security base at household level.
Improving Household Food Security: Food relief was a very temporary intervention. Support to farming was the sure way to slowly take the brethren out of the vicious quagmire of food insecurity. To ensure this, Chosiwe introduced a program of conservation farming among the brethren. This way of farming had great potential to increase crop yields without damaging the natural set-up overmuch. Again, LifeNets came in with oxen and suitable ox-drawn implements to improve production even more.
Most interesting was the fundraising effort by children from Richmond to buy an ox to be named Linnie. This money was allocated to Vashity Tembo, a member of the Ngilile congregation in Petauke. However, instead of an ox, Vashity bought a heifer that produced a calf within the year, to be given to another member at an appropriate time. When the calf produces another offspring, this also will be passed on to yet another beneficiary until more people have either an ox for draft power or heifer for reproduction and milk.
Tailoring: With a heart for the underprivileged, Chosiwe also implemented a program to empower female members of the Church. Firstly, she submitted a proposal to LifeNets which resulted in a number of women undergoing a three months course in tailoring and design at the end of which they received certificates and new sewing machines.
Entrepreneurship for Women: Later, Chosiwe again appealed to LifeNets through Beverly and conducted workshops at Ngilile, Chiwoko and Chipata to prepare women for simple entrepreneurship in order to contribute towards the family income. LifeNets provided funds to enable each recipient to have start-up capital for her chosen enterprise. This money was a revolving fund that had to be paid back without interest over a stipulated period of time. In this manner, more women are bound to benefit from repayments
Madzimawe UCG Community Center:
By far the biggest infrastructure for the United Church of God in eastern Zambia is the community center at Madzimawe, 25 kilometers south of Chipata. This was again the result of Beyond Today radio programs. Followers of the program at one cluster of villages, namely Lufu, Lukezo, Chisapa and Maweni requested establishment of the United Church of God in their vicinity. Following protocol, this request was presented to the chief who instead, proposed that the Church be built near his palace. This was approved by the President, Victor Kubik during PDP 2018.
Initially, Chief Madzimawe donated 0.5 hectares of land and construction commenced with LifeNets-Australia funding a borehole with solar-powered pump, wall fence, caretaker’s quarters and storeroom. Beverly supported the construction of the main hall and water-borne bathrooms. From the initial need to establish a presence in Madzimawe chiefdom, the whole thing has grown to a level where LifeNets preferred to refer to it as Madzimawe UCG Community Center. As such, there was an unplanned need to include a catering facility in the project.
Apart from Sabbath worship and other important occasions of the Church, the facility will be availed to the surrounding community for sober activities, e.g. development workshops. As such, a need has arisen to acquire a passenger vehicle for this place, probably through assistance from Good Works and other well-wishers who may be able to do so.
Undeniably, the establishment of the United Church of God in eastern Zambia has been meteoric. Perhaps this may be due to too much enthusiasm. However, the urgency may be justified by the enormity of the task of preaching the true Gospel in a land where many have embraced a false Gospel preached by so-called men of the cloth who may have turned the Word of God into merchandise to be peddled for gain (2 Cor. 2:17). Yet this preaching is devoid of any form of coaxing and aimed at merely making the truth known to a people who have never had the opportunity to learn that what they are following may be a perverted Gospel (Galatians 1:6-7).
Such is the task in most parts of Zambia, otherwise we shall be in danger of being neither hot or cold about the mission of preaching the Gospel. Consequently, enough words are lacking to fully express the gratitude and appreciation that must be given to the Home Office and all brethren, Victor, Beverly, Aaron, Michelle, William Eddington, Lewis, Lena and everyone else, who have given so much moral and material support, encouragement and guidance to facilitate the preaching of the gospel and preparation of people for the Kingdom of God.