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Church in Zambian bush reflects ‘God’s faithfulness’

MAKOMBWE, Zambia (BP)–People stream in from every direction out of the darkness, drawn by the light of the projector. In amazement they watch the moving figures on the screen — the first film they have ever seen. They are dumbfounded to hear this Jesus speak in their own tribal language.
Southern Baptist missionary Jerry Hubbard had visited the village of Makombwe in April. He found the people — a mixture of various tribes — responsive to the gospel and was able to start a church.
Now, two months later, missionary Kevin Rodgers and Zambian Baptist workers Michael Sikaonga and Abel Tembo have come to Makombwe, a community located about 30 miles west of the capital city, Lusaka, to conduct a crusade to strengthen the new church. They began with a screening of the “Jesus” film in the ChiChewa tribal language.
The film, a full-length movie based on the Gospel of Luke, seeks to give every person the opportunity to hear the gospel in his or her own language. Currently available in more than 400 languages, the film has been seen by almost 1.2 billion people in 120 countries, with 57 million indicating decisions to follow Jesus.
“When we arrived we rejoiced to see the way God had been at work in our absence,” said Rodgers, who serves with his wife, Suzie, as an International Service Corps missionary through the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
Rodgers teaches at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia, and the whole family — including sons Zachary and Justin — is involved in extensive weekend ministries outside the city.
“The church had continued to grow on its own, and they were very organized. They even had made bricks so they can build a church building and move out of the grass shelter they are presently using,” he said.
The team slept inside that grass shelter, Rodgers said. Because the weather was cold, they ate all their meals by a campfire.
After arriving on Friday evening and showing the Jesus film, they spent most of Saturday visiting the villages in the area and sharing Christ with the residents.
“We saw wonderful results, and about three or four village leaders were saved during that effort,” Rodgers said.
“I had to return to Lusaka, so we left the program in the able hands of our Zambian friends, Michael Sikaonga and Abel Tembo. When we were reunited on Sunday at his house, we rejoiced to discover there were about 50 saved as a result of the Jesus film on Saturday night, and Jerry had 10 saved in the worship service at Makombwe on Sunday morning.
“It is encouraging to see God’s faithfulness to build his church.”