Joe completed a pastoral internship under Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia throughout 2018. In March 2019, Kabwata Baptist Church ordained Joe as their missionary pastor to Harare, Zimbabwe. The Reformed Baptist work in Zimbabwe is not strong, and Joe is the bright spot that we have waited years to see.
Testimony of Conversion
My name is Joe Johnson Tawanda Shoko. I was born on the 3rd of August,1989, in Harare, Zimbabwe. I was raised in a middle-class family. My mother was a nurse and my father was a health inspector who worked all over Botswana as he was constantly getting promoted. My dad was a staunch African Traditional religion follower, whilst on the other hand, my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist, so growing up there were many contrasting views in the household. Therefore it was inevitable that the children were bound to be unstable in terms of what to believe and who to follow. I attended my Grade 1 at a school called Kgaswe in Palapye, Botswana. From the word go, I excelled both in academics and athletics. When my dad got a promotion in 1996 to the Northwestern District of Botswana, namely Chobe, I had to switch schools and found myself at Victoria Falls Primary School.
I spent the next two years there till my parents decided to take me to a boarding school called Whitestone in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in Grade 6. All along, the influential figure in our family (2 boys and 3 girls) was my father, so whenever we were on school holidays we never attended church. Whitestone is an Anglican School, so we were taught the basics of Christianity – who God is, who we are and why we are so depraved, and the saving works of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. I also began to understand the ordinance of communion and why we do it.
Tragically, on February 1st, 2002, my mother passed away after apparently suffering from what the doctors described as acute liver cirrhosis, although she was never a drinker. This was probably the most painful occurrence in my life to date. In 2003, after progressing from primary school, I began my journey as an adolescent at a high school called Falcon College, where I excelled both in sports and academia. Gradually the reality of not having my best friend around took its toll, and then I found myself hanging out with the wrong crowd. I developed a habit of drinking and sometimes smoked marijuana to try and get rid of the depression. This went on for a few years and it soon became a lifestyle. After I finished high school I constantly felt the urge to quit partying and drinking, and during that time my whole family suddenly started attending the Jehovah’s Witness congregation. Despite not being a Christian then, my system completely rejected their teachings.
In 2011, a friend of mine from high school, Ayanda Khumalo, who was the worship leader at Bulawayo Baptist Church, invited me to a church meeting. I just felt a sense of weariness from all that was going on in my life. After approximately 7 months, the pastor was preaching from Luke 9:23-27, talking about how depraved we are and that a lot of people cannot follow Christ because they have burdens and sins that they do not want to forsake and carry their crosses. He further emphasized that God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, as an atoning sacrifice to be battered, bruised, and humiliated, so that we can stand justified by God the Father and be ultimately reconciled! I have never heard such great news in my life!! I repented of my sins and put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and 6 months later I was baptized at the Bulawayo Baptist Church, after intense baptismal classes and discipleship. I have found out, as I gradually grow through being sanctified by the Lord, that Christianity is not an easy road!
The Call to Ministry
After I got saved I gradually developed an insatiable thirst for the word of God. I really wanted to know Him more and more, and I seized every moment that presented itself to read any type of book – doctrinal, worship, systematic theology, and practical theology. I read about the Reformation, and how our forefathers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Charles Spurgeon were relentless in making sure Biblical truth and sound doctrine were preached! After I read Luke 9:23, I was so convicted to die to self, pick up my cross daily, and follow Jesus. I began serving at our local church, working with the youth and feeding the poor.
My desire for the Lord grew so much that I began to pray about going to the theological college of Zimbabwe to gain the necessary depth of knowledge to be able to effectively minister the word of God to the lost. I got accepted after a short while and I really thank our president of the college, and my Pastor, Dr. Ray Motsi, for guiding and ensuring that we are well equipped for ministry. As I think back on my life, I thank the Lord with a tear in my eye for saving me, such a wretched sinner, in order to preach the Gospel to his people! Amazing Grace!
Presently I am involved with teaching the senior young persons, and some Sundays I actually preach in the main church service. I also teach children when the need arises. In essence, preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the lost is what I desire most because I too was once lost but was sought after with the Gospel. My prayer is that the Lord may grant the privilege to continue the work of evangelism ‘til my last breath.