This principle was drilled into me during my own preparation for ministry. Therefore, training and equipping Christian Leadership, obviously has been part of the chore pillars of our Mission focus and strategy from the beginning. And so, as we look back over the past three decades of active engagement, we find fulfillment in the knowledge that through our efforts, AFnet has engaged at some level of training, directly or indirectly impacting the lives of tens of thousands of Church and active Christian Laity.
Our recent visit to Zambia again gave evidence of the impact of our efforts in that African nation, as we participated in, and officiated over the graduation of 219 students who had completed their two year, in-service, diploma course in Bible and Ministry. The International School of Ministry (ISOM) curriculum is specifically effective in providing a broad Biblical and Ministry foundation for Pastors and Christian Leaders who already are active in ministry and leading churches, but who have not had opportunity to receive any formal and/or systematic Bible training. And so, we received nothing but grateful praise from this graduating class, who unanimously thanked us for helping them get such a credential to help solidify their existing positions as Pastors and active Christian Leaders in their respective Denominations and Churches.
Serenje Graduation : n Serenje, a small rural outpost in north-eastern Zambia, right on the Congo border, 39 Pastors and Christian leaders received their Diplomas. Attending that graduation as official guests of honor were the government District Official representing the government of Zambia. Also participating were the two regional representatives of the Evangelical and Episcopalian national associations. The District Commissioner, not only thanked AFnet for bringing such quality training to such a remote rural area of the country, but reminded us that this was the first ever official graduation to take place in that part of the country.
He explained that this program was the first, and only, institution of higher learning ever to be established there. And for that, he offered us the official endorsement of his government. Likewise, both representatives of the Evangelical and Episcopalian associations offered their full endorsement of the program. In a joint statement, they mentioned that ours was a first time ever effort at bringing together Christian Leaders from across such a broad denominational spectrum, while at the same time, offering quality training that both associations could fully endorse.
Mansa Graduation: In Mansa, the crowd was much larger. Our graduation ceremony was planned as part of the last session, and after three days of intensive training by our two guest speakers, Dr. Chip Johnston (USA) and Prof. Herbert Beerens (Canada).
With around four hundred Pastors and Christian Leaders, most of them former graduates and students from all around the region, in attendance, the response, equally overwhelmed us. With a 158 graduating and receiving their Diplomas and Ministry Certification, the student representative’s public remarks touched us deeply. He made it clear that ours was the first and only, available, affordable, and credible training program to be offered to that whole remote region of Zambia. Likewise, the remarks of the official guest of honor, Bishop Andrew Phiri – former deputy minister of finance and Permanent Secretary of Education of Zambia, inspired us. He remarked, how in his opinion and experience at all levels of the education system in his country, that our program filled a felt and needed educational niche that otherwise was nowhere being met anywhere else that he was aware of.
New Bibles For Graduating Pastors: One of my personal highlights of this ministry time in Zambia, was the fact that we were able for the first time ever, to place Bible into the hands of each one of our graduating students. With the help and sponsorship of some of our supporters we were able to place a good, high quality Life Applications Study Bible into the hands of each graduating pastor. Likewise, each one of the other graduates in ministry, but not specifically in full time pastoral ministry, we were able to place regular Bible into their hands. For many, receiving such a Bible seemed to be even more important than receiving their diplomas.
We are so grateful towards you, our faithful friends, financial supporters and prayer partners for your trust, participation and contributions towards this work. Without your involvement none of this would have been possible. And so we thank God for you! And so as we plan for, and prepare for the second half of our 2017 calendar, we ask that you will continue to stand with us, helping to uphold our arms. We in turn commit to continue being wise stewards of your trust and of God’s resources, as you continue to support the vision and active outreach programs of this ministry.
Johan and Christa Combrinck