Our plans to hold a crusade in Chenda Village of Rufunsa District began after news of the people’s desire to hear more of God’s Word reached us. They wanted to “hear more” of the message that had been preached at a funeral service. It was perhaps the shortest sermon I ever preached, it was about 9 minutes short! It had to be that short because we travelled late to the village and only managed to arrive and start the burial service around 9:00 PM. Even so, the few words of the sermon triggered ripples of testimonies around the village that finally reached one believer who had gone to visit the village for her farming business. This believer reported to us the good news of the people’s hunger for the Word and so we conferred not with the flesh to delay our response; we were determined to respond to the Macedonian Call with haste. We quickly constituted an Advance Party to visit and survey the village. About four committees were formed – one was in charge of prayer and fasting meetings, another was focussed on communication with relevant authorities, another managed logistics and power (electricity and fuel) requirements, and there was also a team dedicated to music and public address system preparations. My work was to coordinate the works of the charipersons of these different committees. Thankfully, God has blessed this little ministry with passionate, selfless and humble brothers and sisters.
Chenda Village and its main Challenges
This village has no nearby water bodies such as streams, rivers or lakes and so the region is very dry and dusty. This condition makes it difficult to rear animals. Even so, efforts have been made by the government to construct water boreholes across the village. Another troublesome challenge is the lack of electricity. At night it gets totally dark with no sight of electric or solar lighting anywhere. Conducting a crusade in this area would definately require hiring a genset and buying polymer drums for storing water.
Three weeks before the crusade the Advance Party began making frequent visits to the village to begin preparing the piece of land we were offered as a venue for the crusade. The venue was a bush and so we had to schedule a day to cut down trees and clear up the ground.
With Brothe Annel Silungwe, we were axing this huge tree into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove it from the site
Digging the baptism pool
I made new friends. Here Bro. Nzima captured one of my chats with one of the boys who was helping us with some minor tasks
We also hired a bricklayer to assist with erecting a concrete stage and to also construct a baptism pool; we had the faith that some people would make the decision to get baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we were not sure of is how many people would respond to the call of Salvation – five, eight or ten?
The village is sparsely populated. However, we aimed high and prepared for a crowd of 200 people. A team of brothers who had arrived first in the village (a day before the first crusade meeting) to begin preliminary evangelism works in preparation for the crusade, reported of having had a difficulty time of walking two-kilometre distances between houses. I had experienced this the first time I took two brothers with me to survey the area. My waist and leg-joints were in terrible pain after walking very long distances.
In the absense of easily accessible water for drinking such long walks can be so exhausting.
Brothers Robert Kashala and Annel Silungwe quenching their thirst
However, there was more happiness in doing the work because, through these visits, it became evident that many people were already aware of the crusade meetings and were eager to attend. On 15th October the tent, chairs and various other equipment had been transported to the crusade venue. A small team of brothers arrived early to start preparing the venue for the meetings.
Bro. Annel Silungwe, Chairperson of the ‘Venue, Music and Public Address System Committee’
Brothers worked very quickly to get the venue ready. However, we had experienced a problem. The person hired to bring the chairs and tent to the venue could not wait for the tent-setup process to complete; he drove away his canter immediately after offloading the chairs and the tent. This was a big problem because the place where we hired the tent had provided us four men to help with the tent installation and we were supposed to provide transport to and from the venue. After the canter left these men had no option but to stay with us for the whole period of the crusade! This was bad and they bittery complained. I understood their pain. They had not prepared for the unplanned stay, they didnt come with extra clothes, and what is more, their families did not plan or expect them to not return home. The men did not attend the first crusade meeting. They stayed away.
16th October was the first day of the crusade. The tent had been mounted and chairs neatly arranged. The printed programme document indicated 7:00 PM as the time to start the meeting and preaching was to begin by 6:00PM. This is the day we had been praying for and we were hopeful that we would see the people of the village keep their promise to show up for the meetings.
The stage was set. With a length of 8 metres and width of 4 metres it was able to accomodate seats of pastors on one end and instrument sets of a keyboard, drums, amlifier and a mixer on the other end. Our two sisters – Norah and Mould – were ready to play their saxophones for the first time at a crusade. Ushers were smartly dressed and positioned themselves on the various points exactly as had been instructed.
We were all in anticipation to see the people of the village come for the meetings.Thirty minutes into praying and singing we kept looking around in expectation of seeing chairs to begin filling up, but they were all still empty. After an hour of singing and praying the 200 empty hired chairs were still staring at us.
It was 6:00 PM and the Praise leader had to call me to the pulpit. He delayed by about thirty more minutes and was left with no option but to hand the service to me. By this time two pentecostal pastors had arrived and were sitting in chairs reserved for ministers.I walked to the pulpit, greeted the few people around and slowly began to read the scriptures. Ten minutes into preaching I noticed different individuals and family groupings began to slowly fill the chairs.
Chairs gradually started filling some thirty minutes after the start of the preaching
After about 30 minutes the chairs were filled and the audience was jubilant when responding to the ministration of the Word. After the preaching 9 people came forward to receive Jesus as their personal saviour and the group swelled further as we began to pray for healing on those who were sick. After this first service people dispersed in various groupings, testifying about the different ways God had blessed them. More importantly, believers had various experiences of a restoration of their spiritual lives. After this first service I had a bad migraine headache attack and so could not mingle with brothers. Later that evening (between 10:00 and midnight) believers gathered to have fellowship, prayers and testimonies.
Bro. Joshua Phiri (pianist) and Bro Jason Simukoko (drummer)
When I have a migraine attack its effects lasts for a week, but that night the Lord healed me. Early in the morning I did not feel any aftermath pain but was as strong as though nothing had happened. In the morning I kept hearing different testimonies of the presence of the Lord. Some believers had dreams, others visions and some experienced a spiritual awakening from backslidden conditions. Most importantly, there was one woman who followed us from Lusaka. She came to know about our ministry through the Reflections on Faith weekly radio broadcast. On this morning, after the first night of the crusade, she said she wanted to be baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I could not allow that because she was very sickly with various complications. She could hardly walk. But she insisted. Next, we were all worried with the cold dirty water. Her situation was so delicate that she had never bathed cold water. I felt stressed about the predicament until I surrendered it to the Lord. “The Lord’s Will shall prevail” I thought to myself. Three people helped her into the pool and rising up out of the water she looked nervous. Strangely, after coming out of the water, she was stronger and was able to walk around on her own and for the first time she managed to bath herself, not using water pouring from a shower but from a bucket!
Sisters Mouldy Nzima (Left) and Norah Phiri (Right) with Sister Sakala (Middle) after her baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
[A day after the crusade I phoned the woman to check how she was and she sounded all strong and excited. “I keep getting better and stronger” she joyfully said. A week after the crusade she phoned me, “I keep getting better and stronger, its amazing!” I was happy to hear her joyous and no-longer frail voice! “I am happy I have been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; I had been baptised in the titles of Father, Son adn Holy Ghost but I am glad that I am now baptised correctly in the name of those titles which is the name of the Lord Jesus christ” she said].
The following day, after the first crusade meeting was a Sunday. We had prepared to have the crusade meeting later in the evening, but we had a surprise of all churches in the area suspending their services to come and attend our meetings in the morning. That morning chairs filled up and a number of people were standing.
Second crusade service, on Sunday morning on 17th October 2021
On Sunday the crowd kept swelling until we ran out of chairs
At the end of the sermon many people gave their lives to God including one of the men who was part of the tent-installation team. He was among those who had complained the previous day about the unplanned stay for the crusade but in the process he heard the Word and it brought him down on his knees to surrender his life to God. After the first service seven people got baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Later that day, during the Sunday night service,one woman being prayed for manifested a demon. Sister Norah Phiri was one of the people attending to this case. Whilst the prayer team prayed for her, sister Norah experienced a vision of the Lord Jesus nailed on the cross. After that night’s services one woman had a strange dream which revealed some details about this patient. It is our prayer that God may bless the mission work in this village, to let his light shine in the hearts of the people for their deliverence.
Bro. Thomas Khoza (Right), from Chipata Christian Tabernacle, a gallant evangelist whom we invited to be part of the evangelism efforts during the crusade
Bro. Daniel Zulu another passionate soul-winner and good interpreter from Chipata Christian Tabernacle. Together with Bro. Thomas Khoza he was invited to be the interpreter and supplement evangelism efforts for the Rufunsa Crusade. Their company was very valuable
Bro Mark Zimba with Joshua Phiri. Joshua made new friends and was reaching out to the young ones.
L to R: Bro. Jesse Nzima, Sis. Moudy Nzima, Sis. Norah Phiri, Bro. John Mwansa, Sis Loveness Mwansa
Baptism Service & End of the Meetings
By Bro. Jesse M. Nzima
After the service eight (8) souls went in water. It was a wonderful time. Before they could be baptized we had to explain to them the reason why the ordinance was important . There was joy and expectation from the people who were to be baptized. We saw the hand of the Lord in it. Among them some had questions which we answered and surprisingly their counterparts further added and answered the questions based on the scripture on our behalf. I wondered to myself and said, “Lord are we baptizing new converts or we are baptising seasoned saints?”. It was clear they understood the word so well that they were able to expound the scripture to their colleagues.
Brothers Khoza and Zulu from Chipata, with Bro Nzima, explaining batpism in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ to people who had come forward to give their lives to Christ during the service
Bro John Mwansa baptising the people in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
The last day had no outreach meetings, we only came together to share experiences and brother Phiri gave the closing remarks and emphasizing on the need for continuity. We reminisced on how God started the work which had now become a reality. We also looked at the miraculous way the Lord blessed the whole programme.
The last fish in the net
The tents were brought low the engines got ready to vibrate and sound before they could head back another 100km, and the bags came back to service to carry the cargo they had offloaded two days earlier ‘when we realized there was still a fish in the net’.
A very humble and quiet young man quietly came sat down. Since we had seen many faces we assumed he was one of the people who had attended the meetings and was here to say goodbye. Surprisingly he came for a totally different mission; he came to baptsised. We asked him if he had come earlier, he said he did not attend any meeting but his brother who did had expounded the word to him and the need to be baptized correctly. He did not hesitate and we had to take him to the water. We immediately abandoned all the other activities that we were doing and surrounded the small baptism pool we had constructed. We sang songs and the brother was baptized. We then travelled safely back to Lusaka.
L to R (standing row): Bro. Annel Silungwe, Bro Mark Zimba, Bro. Masuzyo Chavula, Bro. Thomas Khoza (from Chipata), Bro Jesse Nzima, Sis Moudy Nzima, Sis Norah Phiri, Bro Andrew Phiri, Bro John Mwansa, Sis Loveness Mwansa (Sitting row): Bro Robert Kashala, Bro. Charles Phiri (baptised during the meeting) Bro. Eliot Lungu, Bro. Daniel Zulu (from Chipata)
Addressing the Mission Team after end of crusade meetings
Difficulties of Missionary Work
May I take this opportunity to first heartily thank all friends who help with managing the difficulties of this little ministry. By making yourself available to financially support the ministry you have made our burden lighter. You may not be with us on ground to proclaim the Gospel but your support makes you part of what we do. It is my earnest prayer that the Lord may raise more people with a heart you have because the needs of the outreach ministry have grown exponentially. If the Lord tarries, the next two to three years of our outreach work will be focussed on establishing the new church in Rufunsa. Urgently needed for this project is (1) quickly setting up a simple church structure where people can start gathering; this is what people in the village are asking for now, (2) building a simple house where our missionaries can be keeping up during weekend evangelism activities, (3) drilling a borehole with solar pump to secure water supply for the mission centre, (4) setting up a solar-electric system, and (5) aquiring about three to five bicycles for our evangelists who visit far apart homes in this sparsely populated village. If you feel led to support this work in anyway you are free to do so. However, more importantly, we earnestly covet your prayers; pray that God’s light may shine in the dark places of this continent. Shalom.
Bro. Andrew C Phiri
Missionary & Pastor – Believers’ Assembly