If you haven’t kept up with us in the last 6 months, you might be surprised to learn that we are planning to move to Zambia in January. I want to catch you up on the events that have transpired to get us to this place and let you know how you can help.
Last summer (2018), a friend of mine send me an email that he received from a friend of his, spreading the word about the need for a Dean at the Central Africa Baptist College (CABC) in Zambia. Describing the position, the email said, “They would need to both raise their own salary and have a PhD. Hard combo. But we pray. Any ideas?”
When I got the email, I remember thinking something along the lines of, “Well, I have a PhD…I’d love for that training to be useful to train pastors internationally…I’m not opposed to raising my own support…but I really don’t think I’m a good fit for a dean.” You see, the dean’s position involves a massive amount of administrative duties. I’d much rather be in the classroom, writing, or one-on-one mentoring students. So initially, I did nothing with the email.
But I couldn’t get Zambia out of my head. Many of the students I teach in Baltimore City have a particular burden for Africa. The time I’ve spent with them over the last couple of years has awakened a similar burden in me. Had I dismissed that opportunity too quickly?
Eventually, I reached out to the President of CABC, Phil Hunt. Much to my delight, Phil informed me that they had already found a Dean. But, Phil thought that CABC had a significant need for someone with my qualifications and experience to serve in the classroom and to help develop a program for more advanced training. Right now the school has a robust B.A. program. But some pastors want to go deeper. And it is particularly important that those pastors who are training others have a strong theological foundation. Right now, CABC doesn’t have anyone with the academic qualifications to lead a Masters program.
In November Becky and I made a trip over to Zambia during their leadership conference to take a look for ourselves. Although there would be many challenges in making the transition, we had clarity that this was the right move for us.
Here are a few things that make me very excited:
- CABC is equipping local leaders. Sure, there are plenty of good schools in America that would love to train African leaders in ministry. But that requires those leaders to relocate to the US. They would have to learn in a culture very different than the one they’ll be ministering to. Also, do you know that 80% of internationals studying for ministry in the US don’t return? Local training for local leaders just makes sense. CABC is doing this well.
- Greater than 50 percent of the teaching is already done by African professors. Now you might say, “But Mike, how does your going there help that?” It does in this way: offering a more advanced degree program will eventually allow CABC to train future professors, eventually turning even more of the teaching over to those who are trained locally. In a sense, my goal is to work myself out of a job.
- The is a priority on unreached people groups. There are many thriving churches and Africa, especially in Zambia. But there are 986 unreached people groups in the continent. The school takes special interest in equipping people from these people groups and raising missionaries to be sent to these people groups.
- The educational philosophy of the school is sound. Their goal is the equip men and women in the Scriptures. Students are not steeped in technique for ministry, but rather in the knowledge of the Bible. There is a strong emphasis on the original languages and understanding the deeper structure of theology.
- They have a mentoring approach to ministry. The classrooms format is a good way to communicate passion and ideas. But it is not sufficient to raise up leaders. There needs to be a strong component of discipleship and mentoring. Ultimately, this must happen within the local church, and CABC understands this. They partner with local churches, and they work hard to make sure students receive mentoring. They are not interested in awarding lots of degrees to people who can meet the academic requirements. They want to send out godly men and women who will be useful for the church.
- I have to raise my own support. Okay, to be perfectly honest, I don’t love every aspect of this. But I appreciate that the school isn’t dependent upon tuition, and therefore their admissions office can make decisions about who will attended based upon the potential for that individual to serve the church, not whether or not they can generate the funds to keep the school alive.
- I will be serving in community. We met wonderful people at the school and in the churches in Zambia. I found the leadership of the school to have integrity and godly character. We also loved listening to the stories of the Zambian pastors, and worshiping along side of brothers and sisters in Christ. In short, we think we are going to a wonderful community.