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I just returned from one of the most unique trips I’ve ever taken to Africa. I had the privilege of leading a team in the filming of a documentary on the ministerial colleges of Zambia. Peter, a film editor working in Hollywood, and Mark, a videographer for an advertising agency in L.A., volunteered their time and skill to help HeartCry tell a remarkable story of the Lord’s work in Africa.

In two weeks, we traveled almost three-fourths of the country, filming four ministerial colleges on location and conducting a dozen interviews. In addition, we captured on film the ministries of three HeartCry missionaries who have trained in these colleges – German Banda, Marshall Kasongo, and Poniso Kuyumbana. As if that weren’t enough, we also managed to get background footage of the country and culture, Victoria Falls, and a missionary ordination service at Kabwata Baptist Church.

What is so special about four ministerial colleges in Zambia? What makes them worthy of a documentary film? Let me give four reasons:

First, they are African.

These four training institutions are part of the robust Reformed Baptist movement in Zambia. This movement has established over fifty churches now in Zambia and other African countries. These colleges are led by Zambians. Their approach is thoroughly biblical, and therefore much healthier than what is too often exported to Africa from the West. The rest of the world could learn from them.

Second, these colleges are a proactive response to false teaching. 

As the Zambian Reformed Baptists watched the prosperity cult flooding into their country, they contemplated a response. Rather than simply sit back and complain and preach against it, they decided to do something. The colleges recruit pastors from poorer areas where the prosperity cult flourishes. These pastors have minimal or no ministry training. The colleges offer quality theological education at very little cost and in a format that allows pastors to remain busy in ministry.

Third, their methodology is biblical.

It is 2 Timothy 2:2 – pastors training pastors. Courses are taught, not by professors, but by pastor-theologians. As Conrad Mbewe put it, these are men on the front line of the battle for biblical truth being trained by men who have been in the trenches longer. As the students begin to embrace biblical truth, they are mentored and receive practical guidance in implementing these truths in their churches. The students are encouraged to remain within their churches and denominations as much-needed influences for truth.

Fourth, the impact these schools are having. 

The four schools combined are training over 100 pastors. Most of these pastors have fallen in love with biblical doctrine and church practice. Most of these pastors then face varying degrees of resistance as they implement biblical truth in their churches. One of the highlights of the trip was an interview with an 81-year-old pastor in Eastern Zambia. When this man retired from teaching, he became a pastor in his local church. Lacking formal training, he attended one of the ministerial colleges. It was there that he was first exposed to the true Gospel, and realized that his ‘church’ was syncretistic, mixing some elements of Christianity with African Traditional Religion. Rather than Jesus Christ, the ancestor spirits were viewed as mediators between living people and God. As this precious elderly saint put it,

“Through the teaching of this school, I learned that if we try to have God without Jesus Christ, we have nothing.”

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Before his current role at HeartCry, S.R. served several years in pastoral ministry, and a few years in Zambia, Africa as a missionary.  He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps. S.R. and his wife have been blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They live near Christiansburg, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, where he enjoys deer hunting and fly-fishing for trout.

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