This is the second article aimed at helping those of us who have 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?” Once again, we glimpse the stories of people to whom pastors German Banda and Wege Sinyangwe are ministering, as they labor 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 second article, we hear the heart of these pastors for young people with bleak futures apart from Christ. Again, our goal is not to merely inform or evoke sympathy, but to stir prayer for gospel fruit among the youth in these impoverished communities.
Pastor Wege Sinyangwe writes:
“In our area (Freedom Compound) I have become known by both young and old people. Any time I am out, I am greeted or stopped by at least two or three people in need of one thing or another. At times requests come during my evangelism engagements. Most of the requests made are from young people, some are genuine and others are not. However, among the few genuine needs, I want to share Edward’s case.
Edward (below) is a teenager living with his grandmother in Freedom compound. He lost his father when he was a very young boy. He grew up with his grandmother because his mother decided to marry another man who seemed unwilling to raise him as his stepson. When I met him, he had dropped out of school because he failed examinations to proceed to grade 10. Furthermore, his grandmother did not have money to pay for his school fees. This young man told me that he really wanted to go to school but had no way to do so. I told him that I did not have the means to help, but pointed him to “the Father of the fatherless” who was able to take care of him. Edward was willing and excited to want to associate with this “Father of the fatherless”. To cut a long story short, that’s how I began sharing the gospel with him and invited him to our church.
I made arrangements to meet with the grandmother and his mother to get more information about him. I also shared his need with my fellow elder from our sending church. Thereafter, we shared this matter with the Good Samaritan Ministry, and they have since taken up the challenge and paid his fees to return to school. What impressed me about this young man was that he committed himself to church even before the support was assured and later given to him. With many others, the moment you start talking to them about Christ, they don’t want to be visited again, let alone attend church meetings. All in all, Edward is showing signs of being converted. He is currently in the baptismal class.”
Pastor German Banda (below right) also wrote recently about his concern for youth in his community:
“The challenge is very huge when I look at the potential God has placed before me in John Laing to preach the true gospel. I spoke the other day to a group of about 15 youth and shared the gospel with them. Many of them are involved in all kinds of wickedness such as robbing, drug abuse, rape, murder, and for the girls many of them are involved in alcohol and prostitution. Some of them have dropped off from school due to high tuition fees, and some have lost parents from HIV and AIDS. They often resort to sinful means in order to put food on their tables.
Now, the gospel will surely be shared and some are getting converted into Christianity. But how do we help them practically to fight the temptation to go back to their old lives? Jobs will not fall from the sky. I would like to see the Christian community more involved to help those who have been converted by training them in job skills.
Yes, I know God has plans on how to care for His flock, but I don’t want to take for granted that the Lord will automatically provide jobs for these young people. My prayer is that one day JOHN LAING REFOMED BAPTIST CHURCH can come up with a SKILLS TRAINING CENTER where our youths will be trained in tailoring, carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, electrical, automotive mechanics, etc. Even better, at the end of their training they could be given loans to purchase tools and engage themselves in self-sustaining jobs and generate income. We cannot depend on the Zambian government to provide jobs for our converted young people. We as the Christian community have a generous King and Father who owns everything. There is nothing impossible for Him. Brethren the poverty in John Laing is HUGE. I don’t know how I can measure it. We must transform the community spiritually, but how can we ignore the real physical need of those who have believed in the Lord?”
Can you hear Pastor German’s burden? He is a fiery preacher of the gospel and a zealous evangelist. Yet, like our Lord, he is surrounded by physical suffering that he cannot ignore. Compassion for souls has already moved his church to start a school for impoverished and vulnerable children. 170 boys and girls are receiving an education for the first time. Please pray for wisdom for Pastor German as he seeks to balance ministry to soul and body, spiritual and physical needs. Pray for gospel transformation in the lives of young people in John Laing and Freedom Compound.