What does it mean to “make a paradise in every heart?” To “plant the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul?” To tend and cultivate for the Lord, day after day, month after month, year after year?
Deep in the heart of Southern Africa, in the country of Zambia, known for Victoria Falls, copper, incredible biodiversity, and as “one of the fastest growing economically reformed countries,” there is a paradox of Christianity. In a country that professes to be 95% Christian, many are unfamiliar with basic tenets, including the concept of sin, and even the redeeming love of Christ. This has been largely due to the historical failure of evangelical missions.
But that is slowly becoming a story of the past.
Throughout Zambia, a new wave of missionaries are educating community leaders, who are in turn spreading the Gospel within their respective neighborhoods. Thanks to advances in technology and free biblical training resources through digital platforms like LWM’s Lystra Global, pastoral resources are more available now than ever, allowing new church plants to quickly grow and spread.
In Kitwe, a city located in the Copperbelt region of Central Zambia, pastor Daniel Sitali, has lived this history. He was raised in a Christian household, because every household was Christian. He attended church because everyone attended church. But one Sunday, when he felt a pastor preaching directly to him at his sister’s church, holding him accountable for not living a proper Christian life, he did what many of us would do—he refused to go back. It wasn’t until a group looking to plant a new church literally rang his doorbell looking for volunteers that he was finally confronted with God’s calling for his life. They preached to him from the Bible, sharing with him the truth of sin and the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. They told him to change his life and accept Christ as his savior. They held him accountable and encouraged him on his road to salvation. And on December 25, 2000, Daniel gave his life to Christ. He then, in turn, joined in door to door evangelizations to share the gospel with others.
Over the years, Daniel worked with several church plants, serving primarily as a worship leader, before being promoted to assistant youth pastor. At the time, he was content and happy sharing the good news and helping others find their way to Christ. But as providence would have it, the pastor he worked with told him that he was destined for more. He pushed him to attend the Central Africa Baptist College (CABC), and study to become a pastor himself. While at CABC, Daniel received free access to Lystra Global resources, including The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible. After graduating in 2015, Daniel became a full-time youth pastor. Since then, he has seen dramatic and incredible conversions.
One of the most notable came when he preached to a congregation of people living with HIV/AIDS. Many of them had given up on living, and only attended church because that’s what everyone did on Sundays. So he decided to preach to them about the woman with the blood disease from Matthew 9:21-22. He told them that the woman’s faith in Jesus as savior allowed her to accept the redeeming love of God which cured her. He told them of the promise of everlasting life and the unending forgiveness of God. Afterwards, he was approached by many people who thanked him, and four who gave their lives to Christ that very day.
Daniel was recently asked to take over a church that has been without a pastor for a year and a half. It is a small congregation of about ten people, but it is surrounded by “Christian” churches that focus on reaping worldly rewards. These churches ignore the true meaning of salvation in Christ, and often lead their followers into dangerous situations. Daniel works tirelessly to fight their influence in his community and in his church, but is often met with resistance from what many see as an “easier road” to salvation. But he will never give up; he knows each and every soul is precious to our Lord.
Daniel still sees himself as a newcomer to Christianity, and works diligently to educate himself and those around him, using the resources from Lystra Global to prepare his sermons and inform his arguments against “false churches.” According to him, “What I like about The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible is that it provides good information and background of a text or a book of the Bible, and the sermon outlines are very easy and clear to understand and follow.”
Daniel’s hope is to grow spiritually alongside his community, so that they can greet Jesus together, as one family, one body in Christ.
He endeavors to honor his calling to ministry by proving faithful to the Word of God and to his congregation. And in that, he needs our help and prayers. He has accepted a flock that is continually under attack, and works tirelessly to sow and reap the love of God in every soul—to create a “paradise in every heart” for Jesus. But he needs his brothers and sisters in Christ to help him. As his conversion was brought about by his community, so too can the conversion of his new community, and even his country, come through our love and support.