Paul Muwowo: An Interview about the Reformed Church in Zambia

By Milena Rampoldi and Japhet Mphande, ProMosaik e.V. – With this interview, we would like to introduce you to our coordinator Japhet Mphande.We had interviewed him so timeago, and then we decided to start talking about his country Zambia and its people. First time which came to my mind were two matters: religions in Zambia, and the problem of HIV and AIDS and social problems and poverty. Today we would like to introduce you to the Reformed Church in Zambia. We talked about it with Paul Muwowo. We would like to thank him for his time and precious information. 80% of the Zambian population is Christian. Then there are a Muslim and a Hindu minority in the country. 
Milena Rampoldi: Please tell to our readers a bit about the Reformed Church in Zambia in its history?
Paul Muwowo: The Reformed Church in Zambia was founded through the missionary activities of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Orange Free State (OFS) of South Africa.  They began their work at “Magwero”, meaning “origin” in the Eastern Province of Zambia on 5 July 1899. That was the first mission established by the Church in Eastern Zambia. Rev P J Smit and Rev J M Hofmeyr were the pioneers, although there were other local men who assisted in the work of the missionaries whose names were not recorded.  
Today, the RCZ has expanded throughout Zambia except in few places.  The RCZ also offers, though with great difficulties, services that benefit the communities.  The runs schools, health institutions and also Magwero Schools for the blind and for the deaf.
PICTURE:  Pupils from Magwero School for the Blind singing
The first school for the Normal was established in 1915 and the Church on 27 September, 2015 celebrated the education centenary.
The church as also a health centre for the mentally challenged patients in Nsadzu in Chadiza district in Eastern Province.
 MR: What are the specific characteristic of the Reform Church within Christianity?
PM: Within the Christianity the Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) believes in the following
·         Unity –  the Church believes in unity for all the people based on the spiritual life of all.  Ephesians 4:23
·         Holiness – the Church believes that holiness comes only from Christ and only through his blood that all believers in him are sanctified and kept holy.  Ephesians 5:25-27
·         For all the people -the Church through Jesus Christ is for all the people.  It is unifying factor which brings, races, tribes, political figures together. Above all Zambia was proclaimed
·         Teachings based on what the Apostles – The Church is built on the Word of God and on Christ alone.  Acts 2:42
The Reformed Church has the following features:
·         True preaching of the Gospel:  The Church believes that in any worship service, the Gospel has to be truthfully preached and in relation to the text.
·         Sacraments – baptism and Holy Communion:  Sharing of Sacraments, baptism and Holy Communion should be guided by the Word of God as these were instituted by Christ.
·         Church Courts:  The courts within the Church are based on God’s Word. All members of the Church, that is, Communicant, Catechumen, and all office bearers, are subject to discipline.  Everyone has equal rights and equal opportunity to present their cases.
The Church also believes in the five Solas (Sola Scriptura [Scripture Alone], Sola Fide[Faith Alone], Sola Gratia [Grace Alone], Sola Christus [Christ Alone] and Sola Deo Gloria [Glory to God Alone])
MR: Tell us about your building project for the congregation please.
MP: Chunga RCZ Church has been building for the last four year. We have seen growth in membership and hence then need to expand the Church. Once completed the church will have a sitting capacity of approximated 800 people.
 The main income to the Church building comes from tithes, Church Sunday offering and Pledges from Church members. The current economic down town and the fall in copper prizes on the world market has had a negative impact on Pledges and offerings. This has in-turn slowed down the building process.
MR: Which are the most important social activities a church has to offer to the community. Which are the biggest problems people face in Zambia?
MP: Looking at our Country and our Church at large, the most important social activities revolve around helping each other. Most Churches in Zambia have men, Women and Youth fellowship groupings that make social programmes for respective fellowships. These groups visit vulnerable households, help the sick and also gather to share the Word of God and testimonies.
Poverty is biggest problem that Zambia faces at the moment. People of all ages suffer from malnutrition while some children of school going age are unable to go to school. Early marriages as a result of poverty is on the rise. The number of street kids is also on the rise.  Youth unemployment and lack of funding to support Youth entrepreneurship has added another dimension to poverty.
 The Reformed Church in Zambia Provides open space for discussion with the youth and free ICT lessons with support from well-wishers.  
MR: Which are the most important strategies you use for the education of women?
MP: Our Church uses functional literacy as a strategy for educating our women. We have girls brigade to looks after the youths who later graduate into Women’s fellowship. Sharing God’s word, testimonies and hands own teaching of cooking, house shores and how to be a good wife based on biblical principles are taught. Women in RCZ church meet every Tuesdays and Fridays to discuss, share and teach each other on a number of topics.
MR: What is important for the religious education of children? Which are the most important principles according to your own experience?
MP: Christianity has to grow from home and in most homes there are children who have to be taught the basic values beginning from a tender age.  One has to learn of the origin of humanity and the cosmos.  Then learn of the following principles:
 ·         Stewardship, we all as human beings should be good stewards of what God has given us.  We are in charge of animals and nature therefore extra-care has to be considered.
·         Excellence, in all we do we need to embody excellence.
·         Justice, all are made in the image of God and therefore there is need for justice to prevail as we are all equal.
·         Compassion, – as demonstrated and taught by Christ we need to be compassionate beings. 
·         To add on as part of the core values of the Church, they have to embrace
·         Accountability, – everyone is accountable for his or her signs, words and deeds though it is not easy to take accountability of a wrong thing.
·         Transparency, – Doing things truthfully without hiding anything.
·         Integrity, we need as human beings at all time to uphold integrity both in private and in public life.
·         Love, love for one another has to be taught and practiced.
·         Holy Living, as Christians there is need for upholding holy living that pleases God.
·         Servanthood – Everyone is encouraged to serve someone.  The world needs this service today than ever before.
When these are practiced in the life of children then the communities and the nation are likely to unite and develop in many all areas.