August 2019: Ministry in Zambia
One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Galatians 6:6
It is such a joy to be serving in Zambia and teaching for the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) University. I am challenged by some chronic problems – no reliable Wi-Fi for the classrooms, a needy library, one old copier that is not dependable, and a decaying water supply system – but we are succeeding. I arrived last winter to teach church history but have been drafted to teach African church history, research skills, theology, and missiology. My wife came a few months later to support the university library and has found other challenges in the computer lab and in the stacks.
Most of my students are hoping to become ministers in the UCZ, Zambia’s largest Protestant church. The organic union of three major churches – Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists – formed this church at about the time Zambia became independent from Great Britain almost 55 years ago. Ministry for my students will be the second profession for most. They will eventually serve all over the nation in diverse congregations. One recent graduate wrote to me about the challenges in rural ministry there. I suspect there are similar challenges in urban areas as well, like limited access to health facilities, poverty, unemployment, and risk of disease, among others. I am guiding them to understanding these challenges in ministry.
The Christian faith is growing and vital here. I run into many stripes of theology, but Christian faith is held intensely and shared openly. I am working to bring my students to a fuller, more reflective understanding of the nature and implications of the gospel. Some days I plant some seeds, some days I barely get started on what I intend to lecture on. Learning is taking place. New realizations are being formed. New understandings of Jesus and God’s mission in the world are being shared and explored.
Robert Breckenridge serves with the United Church of Zambia.