We recently finished four days of training in a bush village named Musokotwane, about twenty miles north of Livingstone, Zambia. We met with leaders from two Assemblies of God churches sponsored by Calvary Assemblies of God church in Livingstone. Pastor Imasiku, an old friend of Percy Muleba's, and Deacon Simataa spearheaded the effort.
Our focus was typical, with Abby laying the foundation for healthy families & churches and me for properly understanding the Bible. It was just the beginning, we think, because it's likely we'll return next year for more extensive training, and Percy will be training them in biblical worship between now and then.
The people were great, very eager to learn and delightfully open to discussing very difficult issues facing them in the church on a daily basis. This isn't always easy when both men and women are in the class, but by using small groups we managed to begin the process of dealing with the particular issues of money, sex and power, not to mention various false teachings, that swirl in the Zambian bush church culture.
One of the false teachings that was identified is not uncommon in Zambia; it's the lie that African blacks are a separate creation of God, do not descend from Adam and Eve, and are therefore cursed to remain in whatever state they are in. It's a very fatalistic view. And it's such an insidious lie that it's shocking that anyone still believes it, but it's a lie our class members have heard all their lives. So, whether they actually believe it or not, it's in the air where they live.
Linked to such nonsense is something that comes up in our training regularly, and that's how poor the local Bible translations are, in this case in the Tonga language. The limitations of the local language, plus sloppy translations, often lead to false, even heretical, misunderstandings of the Word by well-meaning disciples.
Frankly, it infuriates us! And that's putting it mildly. The freedom and life the Lord intends for his people becomes muddled when his Word is muddled!
Our only recourse at this point is to teach them to use a good English Bible (like the Global Study Bible by Crossway we give to our class members - thank you Crossway!) along with their native language Bible so that they can see when their version is in error. For those who struggle with English, this is a problem, but we encourage the strong English speakers to help those who have less facility in English.
Despite this, we left Musokotwane feeling hopeful because of the teachable leadership who love Jesus and so very much desire to lead healthy churches according to the Word.
Please pray for the Musokotwane leaders as they seek faithfully to follow Jesus. And continue to pray for us as we debrief and prepare to leave Zambia on August 31st.