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Lael Zulu, Pastor and Champion NDOLA, ZAMBIA

How much longer do you have in your program at Asbury? I will graduate in the Fall 201510835320_849238645098264_8432818556314010020_o

What was surprising for you about living in the USA? There are many opportunities in this country and anyone can pursue their dream. By working hard you can succeed in life (that is not the case in my country). There is plenty in this country that can be used to raise the living standard of other countries but unfortunately much of it is going to waste.

Is life in the United States different than the town you are from? Yes, people in Ndola are very ubuntu (often used to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”). This is deeply rooted in our culture: we are a family even though we have different parents; your brothers and sisters are my relatives; your children are my children; your pain is my pain; your enemies are my enemies; my success or joy is yours to enjoy. The social links in Ndola are far stronger than what I’ve seen here in the USA where you must mind your own business.

Can you describe what your life was like back home? I have been involved with Church work most of my life, starting in 1997. In 2007, I took up a role as a pastor and since then I’ve been actively been involved with Church business in Zambia.

How many people are in your church? Between 200 and 300 members in 7 branch Churches.

What do you think are their greatest needs? Education (basic skills – a trade) and employment (which would help them put food on the table). 

How do you think we can help you succeed? Support TWIO in its vision of setting up a Center for Biblical Understanding in Zambia. By doing that you will help me succeed.

What prompted you to apply to come study in the US? The opportunity came my way under the auspices of the TWIO to take up my studies at Asbury Seminary with the view of working with TWIO in my country (no one in his right mind would turn down such an offer).

How has this experience changed how you see yourself? My approach in the way I study the Bible has drastically changed. I am now better equipped to teach and preach the Word of God. I am better equipped to handle the Bible and effectively use it to reach others for Christ.

How has this experience changed how you see the world? Every platform I am given is an opportunity to reach people for Christ. People of different backgrounds or of different status in society are now a potential target of my ministry.

Q&A with Florence Wachira, TWIO Champion

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What city and country are you from? Nairobi, Kenya

What prompted you to apply to come study in the US? The need for further training for effective ministry.

How much longer do you have in your program at Asbury? 1 year

Are you involved in the social life on campus? Yes! I am part of a single women’s bible study, a women’s worship night, an international single ladies Bible study and prayer group. I also attend an African fellowship pot luck once a month and often spend time with friends in my dorm.

What was surprising for you about living in the USA? The US is very fast paced. People are so busy that you can’t be spontaneous; you can’t just show up somewhere, you have to make appointments.

Is life in the United States different than the town you are from? Many things are different. One thing is that you don’t see people walking here, everyone drives.  There is little interaction with people because they are busy. At home there are people walking everywhere. Something else different at home is that we have nature accessible  even in the city. There is Nairobi National Park with beautiful scenery and wild animals. I used to go there often.

How many people are in your church? Approximately 400

What do you think are the greatest needs for the Church in Kenya?  In a general sense there is need for more formal training. The Kenya church is growing rapidly.  People are coming to Christ through street preachers, big meetings, open-air camps, crusades. A problem in Kenya is false preachers. Some fake miracles or take advantage of new converts by asking for money. 

Do you feel that you will be equipped to to train pastors once you complete your Masters in Biblical Studies? To some extent. The need for a high standard in training is very great. There are Bible schools in Kenya but few offer a masters level course. I am interested in pursuing a Ph.D. so that I can teach a higher standard. 

What do you think the challenges are in establishing a Center for Biblical Understanding (CBU) in Kenya? Denominations in Africa are skeptical  of para-church organizations. Because TWIO is non-denominational it may take some time to prove that we are theologically sound. 

How has this experience changed how you see yourself and the world? I see my time here as a learning experience not only academically but through my interactions with people, which has helped me to see things from a different perspective. I am learning to be able to appreciate others’ perspectives culturally, lifestyle, worldview, etc. I am being opened to do things differently. I am seeing that no matter what country, God works the same thing in a different context. I am becoming more appreciative of the different ways God deals with humanity.  

How can we help you succeed? I would greatly appreciate your prayers for what we are hoping to do after my studies. We will need funding for housing, salary, a building, etc. for a Center for Biblical Understanding (CBU). I am seeking God’s direction for what a CBU will look like specifically. I am praying for passion, academic strength, and that my calling would be made clear. I want to have a strong sense of how God is leading in the future and I desire to connect with other people wanting the same thing.

HERMENEUTICS: WHAT ON EARTH…?

My father served in the Royal Navy. He used to jokingly say that in order of importance there is the Admiral of the Fleet, Admiral, Rear Admiral, Commodore, Captain, Commander, Lieutenant, Sub-Lieutenant, Midshipman, Chief Petty Officer, Petty Officer, Leading Seaman, Ordinary Seaman. Then there is nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing…then there is an Army General! We all got a kick out of his hierarchy.

Funny how the cycle of life turns. I find myself making the same kind of tongue-in-cheek comparison: first there is hermeneutics, then there is nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. Then there is proclamation, evangelism, discipleship, prophecy, etc., etc.

Hermeneutics – though it may sound like a disease – is defined as“the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.”

It is a method or theory of interpretation. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the whole demeanor and veracity of Christianity depends upon it. It is the foundation stone on which the entire enterprise we call theology is formed. Get it wrong and the structure of faith will crumble. It is, in fact, that important.

At The Word Is Out, we affirm St. Paul’s declaration that “all scripture is inspired by God.” What we understand by that is that the Bible in its entirety is “God-breathed” (the literal Greek word for “inspired”). Written with all the idiosyncrasies of human beings but infused with the breath of God, the Bible is given a particular life distinct from all other literary works. As such it is fundamentally a unique document and, without question, the most important collection of books in the whole world. Being inspired, it carries the imprimatur of God. The message contained in its words, its grammatical construction, its intrinsic structure, its particular genres and terminology of translation is reliable, truthful and an accurate reflection of what God wants to convey to the people of earth. Within the covers of our Bible lies the heart of God, the story of His dealings with humankind, the means to salvation and the purpose of our existence. Nothing comes close to matching its import. It is altogether incomparable.

Our task at The Word Is Out is always to facilitate its exploration, to shed light on its meaning and to make it more comprehensible to those who read it to the end that all might know the heart of the God who has breathed it into existence. I am grateful for your partnership in this, the most vital mission of modern time. If ever our weary world needs what The Word Is Out has to offer, it is now.

In Christ,

Alan