Hear a little about Steve’s work in Zambia…
Rev. Steve Slater left on June 1 for his fifth annual teaching trip to Zambia. He arrived in Lusaka (capital) on Friday night, June 2, after more than 30 hours of transit, got some sleep and was picked up on Saturday morning to begin a 9-hour drive to the city of Chipata, Zambia.
On the way he was advised that he would preach at the oldest Reformed Church in Zambia, for two services. The morning service of 1200 people had many, many young people and was preached in English. The second service of approximately 600 people was preached with an interpreter. After church, the 9-hour trip was reversed to Lusaka where he began teaching pastors on Monday morning. There is no Bible college to attend, so the pastors’ conferences are learning sessions and Steve now knows many people there and enjoys the work.
After the cities, he will take to the road (some of which we would not call roads!) and teach around the country. At each location pastors arrive on foot, by bicycle, bus, hitchhike, whatever means they can. Some travel for several days. In these areas there is generally no running water, indoor toilets, or electricity. He teaches in church buildings with no floors, no windows, no lights. All pastors are men. They sit on benches with no backs, eagerly taking notes to learn all they can. (This year Steve is teaching the Sermon on the Mount and communion)
Outside, women cook nshima (a thick grits) in a large vat for lunch. The men eat it with their hands, dipping it in a sauce, and drink water. They return to their seats and learning until it is dark enough that they can no longer see. They sleep on the floor of the church and begin again in the morning.
Most of these conferences last a day and a half. Steve then travels to the next planned site. Sometimes these meetings are outdoors, under a tree, or in a building with walls but no roof. Their appetite for learning is stunning. Each of these men has a church and is discipling 3 others to begin more churches and spread the gospel. Christianity is spreading like wildfire there. All teaching is done through interpreters, sometimes into more than one language at the same session. From English, to memba and once into French for men who crossed over from the Congo to attend. There are 73 dialects in Zambia.
Picture above: Steve and his translator teaching in a church with no roof, no windows. Some of the men are sitting on board benches with no backs, which is where people sit on Sundays. Others have brought in plastic chairs, or whatever chair is necessary. The men will sleep on the dirt floor of this church overnight once it is dark (no electricity).
Picture above: Two pastors who arrived by bicycle from some distance. The man on the right has two new tires for his bike. The man next to him has no pedals on his bike. A bicycle is their only means of transportation other than walking. They are dedicated to Christ, to their congregations, and work in conditions we have not experienced. Steve regards it as a privilege to serve these wonderful men.
It is winter in southern Africa now, the dry season, when the weather is great and the danger of malaria and yellow fever is at its lowest. This work is done through Hopebuilders Ministries (hbmin.org).
Steve retired from Doster Community Reformed Church at the end of 2016 and now lives in Kalamazoo with wife Janet.