How a pastor in search of biblical books in the right context finds “a rich vein of gold”
Conrad Mbewe knows from personal experience that these words by John Stott are true: “Good preaching is impossible without study, and study is impossible without good books.”
Although today Conrad is a theological leader in his native Zambia, an internationally sought after speaker (sometimes referred to in the US as the ‘African Spurgeon’), and heavily involved in training pastors across his country with Langham Preaching—it wasn’t always that way.
We recently had the chance to meet with Conrad–and we wish you were with us! Here, in his own words excerpted from a talk he shared, he reflects on how “good books” from Langham (and you!) helped him in his journey from new pastor struggling to biblically address the needs of his congregation to an internationally recognized Bible teacher now training and writing books for other African pastors.
A new pastor’s struggle to find helpful biblical books
“Well, I quit my job as a mining engineer in 1987 and became a pastor of a church in Lusaka, Zambia, that had only been in existence for a few years . . . Up to that point I had no formal theological education but was really burdened to become a pastor. As you process this quick description of myself, realize that this is typical of most pastors in Africa today. Very, very few of them ever go into pastoral ministry after undergoing formal pastor training.
My greatest need at that time was to have books. Books that would help me understand the Bible. . . Then came the realization that almost all the books that were available were written in a Western context. Although the principles were applicable to Africa, they were not addressing the kinds of issues I was wrestling with.
So, for the next 18 years I struggled on this way. Thankfully my church grew and even gave me a book allowance that enabled me to buy a few books a year . . . (but) the books I acquired were ordered from the West and were not quite scratching where it was itching. . . I was wresting with issues in my church and society like ancestral worship, bride price, HIV and AIDS, initiation and burial rights. The extended family culture, orphans and widows, polygamy, refugees, street kids, taboos, tribalism, witch craft and so on. These were a complete blind spot in almost all the books on my shelf.
An encounter with Langham and a “rich vein of gold”
About 12 years ago during the launch of the Africa Bible Commentary, I came to know about Langham Literature. On display were not only the new commentary, but also other titles that were written by evangelical pastors and theologians in Africa. Coming from a mining background, I felt as if I had struck a rich vein of gold. Here at last were books that were being written by Africans for Africa. They were helping me deal with these issues from the premise that the Bible is the Word of God and is sufficient to address all areas of life. You do not know what this meant for me, an evangelical pastor back home.
A pastor, now equipped, and writing books that open God’s Word across Africa
Langham Literature has gone further than helping me acquire home-grown books. I’ve also been helped to put my own thoughts into print to make them available to the church in Africa and beyond. . . . Recently, Langham Literature also published Pastoral Preaching: Building a People of God, a book I wrote on pastoral preaching when I clocked 30 years as pastor of my church. I was able to share with my fellow pastors how to build a people for God based on what the Lord had taught me over the years in pastoral ministry. . . Many pastors have since read this book and told me how (it) connected with them. I’m grateful for Langham Literature for enabling pastors like me to speak to my fellow pastors in Africa at a level that they can understand.
A generous people who help make it possible
I’m also grateful for people like you who make this possible through your sacrificial giving. You may be unknown to us, the beneficiaries, but your generosity is not unknown to God, whose love in your hearts causes you to support such a strategic ministry. Because of you, pastors around the world have hope that they can have the much needed books, at prices they can afford and in a language that they can easily understand and relate to. Thank you.”
Learn how Langham helps bring God’s Word into local cultures by helping local leaders write and publish–in the right language, from the right context.
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