This past Saturday was a very special day for ACTION Zambia. 15 pastors marched down the aisle of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia to receive their diplomas after three plus years of study. APC is accredited through BTS (affiliated with the Southern Baptist) in a Certificate of Ministry, which is why the ceremony was held there. The graduates also got another diploma from APC.
It was actually a pretty bitter sweet graduation. Bitter in that a lot of these guys have been around for a long time taking classes through AZ, dating back to when Kristin and I were here in 2003 and 2004. It will be really sad not seeing Peter Zulu and Patson Sakala at the office and so many other guys after so many years of hanging around AZ and going to the pastor’s classes at Camp Timothy with Glenn Ripley and now APC. I will miss seeing their smiling faces week in and week out at the office. The day was also bitter in that Tracy Singleton’s sister passed away after a long battle with cancer. Also, the Allen family will be leaving to head back to the States on December 3 to do Church planting after being with AZ for four years. We will miss them and Steve’s lectures and ministry at APC.
The day was also SO sweet in seeing all of these guys graduate and all of their families filled with so much joy and pride. After the BTS graduation ceremony was “officially” over, AZ had a time of fellowship in the fellowship hall of BTS. It was a lot of fun to see slideshows, hear speeches and see the pastors receive their APC diplomas, as well as their wives, who received their PHT (Putting Honey Through) diplomas. Please pray for these pastors and their families as they minister in very poor urban conditions, filled with health, wealth and prosperity gospel, JW’s, witchcraft and an increasing Muslim influence. Pray that they would remain faithful to the Word of God and sound biblical doctrine and seek to magnify and glorify the risen Christ in their churches and ministry.
But the fun was not over just yet. On Monday, Stephanie Allen’s parents took all of the pastors and their wives for a “field trip graduation celebration” to a safari lodge on the outskirts of Lusaka. Kristin and I were able to come along and “chaperon.” It was pretty hard missionary duty – those pastors and their wives get so rowdy. 🙂 It was so funny and wonderful to see these couples experience seeing elephants, snakes, giraffe and other African animals for the very first time. Most had only seen them on TV. Some of them also experienced going on a boat for the first time. It was a great day of fellowship, fun and getting out of polluted Lusaka and be able to enjoy God’s beautiful creation in their own country where few of the urban poor ever really get to experience. Almost all of the pastors and their wives remarked that it will be a day they will never forget. And I know AZ and many of you who know these pastors will never forget this very special first class of APC.
Thanks so much for sharing the realities & contrasts, the ups & downs of Life & ministry in Zambia!