Ten years was the plan
ZAMBIA, Africa (BRN) – Since 2008, Rev. Ricky Wilson of Christian Faith Fellowship has traveled to Zambia, Africa nearly every other year to mentor local pastors and share the gospel.
It was a partnership he planned to fulfill for 10 years and then move on to whatever God had next. Last Friday, he returned to the States from Zambia with a team of 22 pastors and church members.
“You can never tell the Lord how long He’s going to work. So, we’ve been there for a minute,” said Rev. Wilson.
Out of the 22 team members, approximately 15-16 churches across the U.S. were represented; this included churches as close as Philadelphia and as far as Texas.
Additionally, 13 of the 22 members are connected to the Baptist Resource Network (BRN) including Pastor Hal Hopkins, Dr. Larry Anderson, Pastor George Blount, Dr. Kyle Canty, Pastor Brian King, Rev. Stanley Williams, Rev. Wilson and members from Christian Faith Fellowship Church in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
“We really had a great time [and a] good team. I was just so blessed with their presence and their willingness to serve. I was an honored host, if you will, and leader and point person of this trip because to have these giants of pulpiteers and ministry personnel, it was just great,” shared Wilson.
For nearly 17 of the team members, this was their first time going to Zambia with Wilson, and for 10 others this was their first time on a mission trip.
Four years was the reality
No matter their prior mission experience, the entire team was eager to land in Zambia as this trip, due to the pandemic, was four years in the making.
“I’ve never had a four-year-in-the-making missions trip, but this one was.”
Wilson continued: “There was a number of people that were a part of it, and I think we recruited maybe seven or eight other people in the last two years to join us. So, the Lord has been good.”
The team officially left for Zambia on April 21. However, even without the four-year delay this trip to Zambia was meant to look different.
“So, usually we would do a marriage retreat or a marriage conference, vacation Bible school at some point and evangelistic community outreach in three different cities – Lusaka, Ndola and Chingola – but in the last couple of years, in conversing with our rep on the ground Bishop Kasongo Malemba we talked about doing it differently,” explained Wilson.
Instead of bringing a team and traveling to three different cities, Wilson and Bishop Kasongo Malemba decided to bring all of the pastors and church members to Lusaka.
“So, the purpose of this one (the trip) was to, first of all, do what we call a church strengthening conference. As Jesus said to Peter, ‘Once you have been fully converted go strengthen your brothers,” said Wilson.
The conference kicked off the team’s trip, starting on Saturday and wrapping up that following week with Dr. Larry Anderson and Dr. Kyle Canty leading an evangelism workshop titled, Ask me why I’m not in church.
“We had sent over 100 or so books in advance for them to have. When we went over, we took workbooks for them and kind of worked through a presentation,” said Anderson, BRN director of church health and evangelism.
“We brought shirts for everybody who attended the conference – [there were ] only 80 pastors in attendance at the conference – and we walked them through a missionary evangelism strategy.”
Anderson also sent a survey to the Zambian pastors prior to their arrival, asking them about their strengths and what barriers they experience in their ministry.
“We didn’t just come from America trying to teach them how to do evangelism in Africa. I sent a survey created just for them. So, when we went over them, we were prepared to meet them where they were.”
After the conference, the team hosted five days of vacation Bible school, four days of a ministry called “Labor of Love,” which deals with community cleanup and evangelism, and then concluded their trip with a community barbecue.
In total, the mission team saw 500 children come to VBS, and 1,000 people attend their community barbecue.
They also hosted revivals throughout their second week, with about 10 revivals going on simultaneously Wednesday-Friday. Altogether, Rev. Wilson and his team served the churches and pastors of Zambia for 13 days.
Thirteen days made a difference
Throughout the team’s nearly two-week trip, they saw God work in marvelous ways.
“You see people come, you see people worship and, for me, you know one of the things in America [is] that I think we are so materialistic, that if we don’t have all of our needs met we can’t worship,” said Anderson.
“Somehow, we think God is not doing what He promised to do, but when you see people worshipping that have so little…it convicts you on what you think being blessed actually is,” he said.
Another moment that stuck out to Anderson was when one of the pastors who attended his and Dr. Canty’s evangelism workshop immediately went from the conference and shared the gospel.
“One of the pastors got into a ride-share immediately following the conference with his shirt on and the driver asked him about his shirt. He shared his faith with that driver and led him to Christ.
He was excited, we were excited [and] for us, the trip was made right there. Everything was worth it with that right there – all of this was worth it,” expressed Anderson.
For Rev. Wilson, the highlight of the trip was watching God reveal the lessons he has previously learned from the people of Zambia to his colleagues and church members.
“One of the joyous things for me, during the trip, was hearing the testimonies of the hearts of the people who were on a mission trip for the first time and how they said they’ll never see life the same after being on a trip,” shared Wilson.
“That was the joy of seeing the team members gel so well. We are not from the same church, we’re not in the same worship environment – this was a Kingdom work and it was all about the Kingdom and all about Christ.”
Rev. Wilson plans to return to Zambia with another team in 2025. Those interested in supporting the Zambia Partnership can do so through prayer or, if led to give financially, can contact Rev. Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.