This past July, I made my third trip to Kitwe, Zambia to teach a church history class at Central Africa Baptist College. This was particularly joyful because my oldest son and his family have been living and serving the Lord there for the past fourteen months. In the providence of God, he has led them and now burdened them to partner with the college in helping to prepare men for ministry within the African context. It was a joy to see them engaged in this exciting work.
I also had the joy of preparing a new class for the 32 men there this summer—A History of Christianity in Africa. Talk about a challenge and an eye-opener! As a professor of Christian history, I am keenly aware of the Church’s victories and defeats, its helps and, sometimes, its hindrances in taking the Gospel to the world. I was both teaching the class and living the reality of helping to strengthen the Christian witness in this part of God’s world.
As the Lord provides these international opportunities for me—this was my 19th trip overseas in the past fifteen years—I am keenly aware that I leave something behind in every place I go. I trust that it is more than a few American cultural opinions. I hope that what I leave behind is something of God’s grace in my own life. When I make these journeys, I think of some of the men who have taught me over the years—RDM and TJN to name just two. They will forever be a part of who I am and what I do for the Lord. In the same way, when I go to Zambia and teach the men, many of whom I had in last year’s summer class, I am conscious of the fact that wherever these men go to serve the Lord—Malawi, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe and, of course, Zambia, a part of me goes with them. I have had a part, for better or worse, in shaping their understanding of Christ and his mission. Part of me will remain with them for the rest of their lives. How they serve the Lord will be directly impacted by the time we spent together during those wonderful days. The fellowship was sweet, the conversation invigorating and the questions probing. In some cases, there were no ready answers. All I could do was encourage the men to probe the Scriptures more deeply for divine instruction and guidance. It was a rewarding week and when I left Kitwe ten days after I arrived, I realized again that I was leaving something important behind. This is truly a humbling thought. What a rich privilege this was to teach at Kitwe. – Dr. Jeff Straub, Central Baptist Theological Seminary