Have you ever wondered, “How do I pray for an African pastor on the other side of the world, ministering in a cultural context completely foreign to me?” In this 2-part series, I want to give you a glimpse into the stories of people to whom pastors German Banda and Wege Sinyangwe are ministering. These men are laboring to establish churches in some of the poorer regions of Lusaka, Zambia.
The stories they encounter every day are often tragic, as lives in their communities are ravaged by sin. Yet, in Christ, there is grace greater than the darkest sin and the deepest pain. Our God has power to bring life and beauty from what seem the most hopeless circumstances. In this first article, we hear the stories of two women in Pastor German Banda’s church. Our goal is not merely to help you be informed or evoke sympathy, but to stir more effective prayer for gospel fruit among the women of Pastor Banda’s community.
“One Sunday after the worship meeting, a visitor followed one of our ushers, because she wanted to meet the pastor. The lady wept when the three of us met. She was sorry for herself because of her sin. She is pregnant and the owner of that pregnancy is somebody’s husband. She confessed her sins and told us that the Lord has forgiven her. All she was asking from us as a church was that we should help her with any job, because the man who impregnated her has been paying her house rentals, buying food, and providing her with all what she needed as a human being. Now she wanted to tell the man that what they have been doing is sin, and God is not happy, and they must stop it.
Already this morning I received news from the usher that she has done this, but she has nowhere to go, no relatives to help her out with food and house rentals. John Laing church has little ability to help individuals materially, but we are very much willing to help her so that she does not go back into sinning because of her poverty. We can’t even offer her a job for we have a lot of our members who are jobless. Brethren what should we do for this soul? Should we only give her the words, ‘’The Lord will provide”? Surely pray with us for this soul!”
Tracy is over 25 years of age, and her story is one of remarkable grace and perseverance. At the age of 2, her father abandoned her mother. Tracy’s mother soon remarried, but the man did not want step-children. As a toddler, Tracy was taken in by her grandmother. Her grandmother died when she was 10 and Tracy went to live with an aunt. Like a storyline from a Disney fairytale, 10-year-old Tracy was not allowed to attend school, was treated as a housemaid, and sometimes was even denied meals.
At the age of 13, Tracy left her aunt’s home to live with another family and work for them as a housemaid. That year, the Zambian government introduced night school for illiterate adults, and it was Tracy’s intention to attend these classes. However, her employers/host once again prevented her from enrolling in school. Finally, at 17, Tracy threatened to quit if she was not allowed to pursue education. By this time the family was fond of her and her employer agreed.
At age 17, when many children are nearly finished with school, Tracy was just starting. But other significant events were also taking shape in her life. Her employer was transferred to Kafue, the next city south of Lusaka. Shortly thereafter, her employer was saved and became part of Kafue Reformed Baptist Church pastored by HeartCry missionary Kennedy Sunkutu. Since Tracy lived with the family, she was forced to attend church with them.
Tracy says she hated God. She thought God was evil and harbored deep anger and bitterness against Him for her painful childhood. Seeing other children in the church with healthy families only intensified her pain and resentment. Feeling inferior, as soon as church meetings were finished, she would wait alone under a tree while her boss chatted with friends. Pastor Sunkutu took interest in the withdrawn teen and talked with her. Eventually he persuaded her to participate in the youth Bible studies. In time, Pastor Sunkutu would arrange to visit Tracy’s employer in the late evening so that he was there when Tracy arrived home from night class. Much to Tracy’s dislike, over the course of several visits, Kennedy would share the gospel and read Scripture to her.
On one visit, Pastor Sunkutu left Tracy with a book to read. The book dealt with God’s love for rebellious sinners. On Kennedy’s next visit, Tracy bombarded him with questions. As he patiently walked through the Scriptures explaining God’s love for sinners, Tracy felt her heart melting with remorse for her sin and love for God. When the visit ended, Tracy went to her room, sat on the floor, burst into tears, and cried out to the God she once hated for forgiveness and new life.
Pastor German concludes Tracy’s story:
“Some years later, she was living with one of the brethren from our sister church, Emmasdale Baptist Church, under Pastor Isaac Makashinyi. They helped her to enroll with one of the private academic colleges and this year she will be graduating with a diploma as a Primary School Teacher! (left) We are grateful that early this month she relocated to John Laing.
She is very active helping in our Children’s Bible Club and Youth Ministry, and she is the head teacher for our Silent Voices Christian School. (Tracy now teaches impoverished children who have been deprived of education just as she was!) I did not know the whole story of her difficult life until she recently narrated it at a church social activity. This young lady has real potential as a soul-winner in our church as she touches so many children’s lives. We would be so grateful if you could just remember her as you pray this week.”