When Zambian Christian leaders go to Lagos, Nigeria for “anointed” water they may do well to visit the northern part of Nigeria to learn of the Christians facing torture, discrimination and murder. As Zambian Christians we face very little threat of persecution from any quarter of the community. The press, the judiciary and politicians are generally kind to Christians in Zambia. Even the army and police commands honor the Christian faith by appointing chaplains.
Zambian Christians have it easy. Persecution for a Zambian Christian, if we can call it that, takes the form of another Christian disagreeing with us about doctrine, or the coward who writes an anonymous article in the newspaper or on a website. Nigerian Christians face a very different kind of persecution. In November of last year 130 Christians were killed in Nigeria. During that same time churches were burned to the ground, property was stolen and homes were destroyed. Another way of persecution came a few weeks ago leaving 29 Christians killed for their faith during a two day period.
By comparison we haven’t seen any persecution in Zambia. We have had it easy. We have grown soft and lazy. We relax in a privileged subculture and yet fail to take advantage of opportunities to enter law school, politics, the film industry or journalism. By entering into these arenas we could create change from within. While change would not be easy with God it is possible. Christian influence in the Zambian music industry is one bright spot. Christian songs are often leading the charts. As church leaders we need to disciple these upcoming artists to move beyond writing songs that primarily deal with personal blessing. We must help them to write songs about Jesus healing broken homes, overcoming HIV and AIDS and poverty. Just imagine songs starting with lines like “Do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd… the Lord is known by His justice…I will sing of your love and justice…Seek the Lord and Live.”
There is a new generation of Christians who knows that Zambia’s transformation is not in anointed water from Nigeria but in taking their faith to the world. This new generation of Christians defines faith by action. At Christmas and New Year the church leaders in Mapalo made an appeal to their local civic leaders. They asked that all places serving alcohol would close their bars at 22:30. In their petition they stated that this would help to halt rape cases, reduce HIV and AIDS infection, gender violence and other crime. They argued that these should be family nights in which families spend together or go to church. The petition was granted! On these two nights the churches held all night prayer meetings and many were saved.
Wake up Zambian Christians. Since we are not being fed to the lions for our faith, we still have an opportunity to build a society that reflects biblical principles. We even have a president who is on record saying he will rule this country by the Ten Commandments. To stimulate such change Christians must penetrate the structures of society that are reforming and remolding our culture. For this to happen, we need shrewd church leaders who understand how unbelievers think and how the systems and structures of our society operate, so they can teach their people to evangelize them by taking their faith to the workplace and the community. Mapalo church leaders are doing it. Are you? And by the way, next time you go to Nigeria visit the north of that country. What you see there could be used by God to call the Zambian Church back to the glorious vision for which He created it.
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