Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Samfya Bible School Empowers Local Church Leaders

Samfya, Zambia - Collins Samungole is a teacher at the Samfya Bible School in Zambia, in the heart of southern Africa. His life is centered around the satisfying task of training enthusiastic Christians to teach God’s Word effectively and plant new, thriving churches.

Scholars estimate that in 1900, roughly eight or nine percent of Africans would have called themselves Christians. Today, in many nations the number is above 90 percent. Roughly 85 percent of Zambians claim to be Christian.

While the growth of the church has been a startling work of God, the expansion has stretched pastoral leadership to the breaking point. “People are ill-equipped out there,” Collins explains, “so they have limitations in the way they run churches and the way they teach God’s Word. And much of it is really false teaching.”

Collins has seen the effects of this first-hand. Almost half of the new students at Samfya come with very little knowledge of the Bible, and some are brand new to the faith. Many have only a rudimentary education.

Complicating this, Zambia is roughly the size of Texas and has more than 70 languages. Training these students becomes a serious challenge. Most Bible schools in the country teach only in English, which makes it hard for native language speakers to fully understand the Word.

And all this assumes students can even afford to attend a Bible school to begin with. Eighty-six percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and all of these students come from impoverished families.

Collins came to the school from Ndola, where he had served as a pastor for 12 years. He felt God’s call to teach full-time, and also works to translate the Bible into local languages. He sees the critical need for people to have access to the Word of God in their own language. The lack of discipled Christian leaders is one of the greatest challenges to the growth of the Zambian church.

Samfya Bible School is addressing these issues by making Bible training accessible in the local language, and as a result, students are being transformed. The Bible school is also providing scholarships for poor students to attend the two year program.

In addition to the main campus, Samfya Bible School reaches out to almost 200 students through an Extension Program. Studying from home allows future students to come with a foundational knowledge in place.

Calvin Chibuye is one of the new students at the school. He is passionate about his church in northern Zambia. When his church asked him to be an elder, he decided to come to Samfya Bible School. Already he is seeing the benefits of his training and looks forward to reaching his community for Christ. Many in his village are bound up in superstition and witchcraft. Calvin is eager to tell these people about freedom in Jesus.

Calvin’s family sees the importance of his decision to follow God’s calling and support him every step of the way. While only the three youngest children are able to live with Calvin and his wife at the school, Calvin’s three brothers’ help him by caring for his older children and using part of their earnings from farming to help support Calvin’s family during the program.

His wife is in the women’s program at the school, taking part in Bible study and also receiving training in baking and knitting, which will help her provide for her family. Calvin knows that his small church will not be able to support him financially when he returns, but it does not dampen his passion and resolve to minister.

To support the work of teachers like Collins and the education of students like Calvin through the Samfya Bible School, please donate here.