God's Provision for Rural Churches

Solid, waterproof, locally-built church at Mujila

Gordon McKillop  (CAM International missionary in Zambia)

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations…’

Learning to trust
This challenge hasn’t changed in 2000 years. Jesus was well aware of the forces of darkness being set against every people group and that the only response was for men and women to accept a Saviour by faith and become ‘new creations in Christ’ through the Holy Spirit. One of the key areas of discipleship is learning to trust the Lord to provide for every need.

ISybil taking Sunday School in Zambiandividual churches helped
CAM has always striven to see self-propagating, self-governing and self-supporting churches develop in Africa and this policy has worked over many years. In the last ten years or so, Africa has seen an increasing number of Christian visitors to previously inaccessible places. Many individual churches have benefited from these visitors, who have compared church buildings in the West with what they see in Africa. The result is often that a particular church receives funding to build in permanent materials and put on a corrugated iron roof. This has been done with the best of intentions and those who have received assistance are always
very thankful.

However, the problem has arisen that, whilst the few churches who have received outside assistance are grateful, for every church building assisted, there are hundreds which are not. This naturally creates a feeling, within the majority of congregations, of being ‘neglected’ and destined to worship in poor quality, inadequate buildings.

Discipleship challenge
This challenge was discussed by a group of leaders visiting Nyangombe and we prayed together for an answer to the problem. Teaching the churches how to depend directly on the Lord within their own country and culture is an ongoing discipleship challenge. We looked at how to deal with this issue so that ALL could benefit from the Lord’s provision and be enabled to build churches in permanent materials – previously seen as an almost impossible goal for most village churches.

Enter into this problem some African wisdom and divine guidance! We visited churches in the Ntambu area and asked that at least ten of them join together for meetings. Our teachers began to outline a simple programme whereby believers in the bush could trust God to enable them to build permanent, tin-roofed buildings by themselves. The plan was to construct two church buildings each year, by the ten church groups pulling together, so that ten permanent buildings would be completed within five years.

A church to be proud of at Mukulu

75p in offering
Church members said, ‘We are too poor - we can never do this!’ Church offerings seldom amounted to more than 75p per week! Charles, one of our leaders, had been waiting for this response and he asked how many people grew cassava. All the Christians did. Can cassava be a cash crop if sold in quantity? ‘Yes,’ they replied. Why shouldn’t every person, when planting cassava this year, plant an extra ‘lima’ (25x25 metres)? If every adult did this and brought that crop to the church, it could be transported to the nearest town for sale and the money used to buy cement and roofing iron. God can provide!