16 April 2009

NABYC Journal


I had no intention of attending the National Reformed Baptist Youth Camp (NARBYC) due to academic pressure but after it dawned on me that it was over the Easter weekend, I changed my mind. For some reason I thought it would be a week long or something like that. Anyway, my two buddies and I decided we'd pack a few bags, grab some guitars and hit the road. My two friends would have gone on Thursday morning but one had to work and the other, along with me, was participating in the Easter concert that evening. We left early friday morning.

We ended up hitting the road on the same bus with two couples (courting couples) with whom we attend the same church. They looked pretty romantic when they slept during the journey as the girls would lay their heads on the guy's shoulders. "Relationships galore!” Henry exclaimed.

We got to the town, Ndola. Henry and I carried guitars with the intention of "rocking the NABYC". We definitely raised some eyebrows at the bus station when we arrived, 5 guys, 2 girls and two guitars. We looked like a choir or band or something, in fact, I overheard someone ask whether we were from a church or which church we'd be singing at! After about an hour of waiting our ride to the camp site came, a whole minibus! We loaded our stuff. Henry and I, the two guitarists, sat in the back. I grabbed the guitar I had and started rocking away; Henry caught the fire and started singing with me. Soon the whole crew was singing as we drove along to the venue or so we thought. We spent the next 2 and a half hours going left and right. The guys who came to fetch us were organizers and decided they'd buy a couple essentials while transporting the tired choir.

Anyway, we sang and sang and sang. Soon even the girl’s boyfriends, who did not look impressed when I first started singing in the back of the mini bus, joined in and started making requests. I actually got a little tired playing guitar but the requests kept coming in, "When peace like a river", "Trials dark on every hand", "Amazing grace" etc.

We stopped over to pick my cousin up, so I popped into the house to greet my aunt, my dad's young sister and my other cousin who I hadn't seen in quite a bit. We got my cousin and also Mubanga, Pastor Kabwe's first daughter.

Finally we hit the camp site, got registered and tuned the guitars. We found a third guitarist (Tundo), and we knew we'd rock the show for sure, "Guitar galore!" Henry exclaimed.

That first evening a man rose to speak, Alan Lester, his accent was clearly South African and yet he did not look like an indigenous white South African. That puzzled me until he explained later, when I talked with him, that his ancestors came as missionaries from England and the past 3 or 4 generations of Lesters have been in SA. His father was also a missionary, although he, to the Zulus. His father speaks fluent Zulu and he himself is trying to learn so he can preach to the Zulu too. There is a book that records the stories of the first Lesters who came as missionaries entitled “The book of Lesters”. Some of the other Lester missionaries actually got eaten up by wild animals for the sake of the gospel, what a way to die! Dying for the sake of the gospel!

Mr. Lester is a retired paramedic who works full time for his church’s drug addicts ministry. He is not paid by the church but is sufficiently covered by his pension. Although he has never preached at his local church, he preaches about 10 times a month, 6 times minimum and NARBYC was his first time preaching out of South Africa. He has never solicited or advertised himself but just gets regular calls to preach.

He began preaching in 1998 when he, at the church he attended, enrolled for a 7 year study program. I was shocked when he told me the time it took to finish the program, but he did. The church gave opportunities for men to give short devotions during Lord Supper meetings and that’s how he began preaching. He pastored a church for about a year when their Pastor underwent a hijacking which left him a little mentally disturbed. Mr. Lester stood in the gap until the church found a replacement. You can see here how much I love trivia!

He was invited to preach at NARBYC, when he gave a seminar on drug addiction in SA. Two pastors who oversee the NARBYC were in attendance and later, they asked him to do some seminars on drugs at NARBYC and also preach evangelistic sermons on each night on any passage he liked.

The thing I admire most about Mr. Lester is that his ministry is actually widely appreciated and yet he is so humble. He is a regular preacher and his sermons are even available at audiosermon.com for downloads. And you know if your sermons are at sermonaudio.com you are not just a mere preacher. He has a website on which many of his stuff can be downloaded. He is very humble. I’d like to be like that. Bad news in the pulpit but people can’t see it till you’re in there!

Mr. Lester praying before beginning his last session

Mr. Lester is married and has 2 young daughters.

During the evening sessions, Mr. Lester spoke on Jesus’ time before and after the cross. Jesus in Gethsemane, Jesus on the cross and Jesus’ resurrection.

The first evening was my personal favorite as far as the Lord speaking to me is concerned. Alan Lester, spoke on Jesus in Gethsemane. Alan Lester has become one of my most favorite preachers; he makes me want to preach!

Mr. Lester always began his sermons with stories. That’s very first night he told a story of this shop owner who was in bed one night when his wife asked him to check the front door because of the noise she had heard from there. The man went to have a look and found his front door open. Somebody had broken in. Suddenly, four men appeared from the shadows. The robbers bound him and brought out the rest of his family. They wanted money. He explained to them that he only had a R1,000 or K500,000 or $140 because he had purchased stock for the shop, so he didn’t have any cash. Obviously the robbers didn’t expect him to give up his money like it was christmas and thought it was a likely story. They got a pressing iron and plugged it in so it could heat up. In the mean time they got out a panger, or large knife. They took his shirt off him and began beating him with the side of the knife while insisting that he give them the money. He maintained that he didn’t have any money. They continued hitting him and slapping him around, all this in front of his family. They got the hot iron out and began burning his beaten back with it. When the man still didn’t give them the money they finally picked up his youngest child and told him that if he did not give them the money they would chop his little child into several pieces. When he pleaded with them saying he did not have any money they figured that he was telling the truth. They locked his family along with him in their bathroom, got their van loaded it with goods from the house and as much stock from the shop as they could, and left.

He left the story at that promising that he’d get back to it later.

He then took us to Gethsemane and spoke of the anguish Jesus went through. He spoke of how his closest friends were not there for him during those moments of anguish as they slept while he suffered phsycological torment on his own. Jesus knew that he would have to bare the sins of the whole world on his shoulders. He knew that he, who had never ever sinned, would become the most sinful man on the planet as he bore the sin of this sinful world. All the murder, theft, adultery, fornication, hatred, racism, envy, malice, pride etc would be set on him, he would be the one accused of all those things on behalf of us all, on behalf of me. And that’s what caused him so much pain and anguish. It wasn’t the nails or the whip that would tear the flesh of his back that made him sweat blood, it was the reality of a man who hated sin becoming a sinner and paying for it by separation from God in our place. What a burden it was for him! What a bitter pill to swallow, what a cup to drink. “Take this cup from me”, he cried, “Yet not my will but thine be done.” He was so distressed that he sweat blood and an angel was sent to minister to him from the side of his father in heaven. Mr. Lester, a paramedic by profession, explained that there is a condition caused by extreme anxiety where the capillaries in the head burst. If one were sweating, the blood would mix with the sweat and thus the sweating of blood. And all the while his closest friends slept.

I thought of all my sins, all that I have done, all those sinful deeds I struggle to put off and how they trouble me so. I realized as Mr. Lester spoke that I am covered. I kept saying those words in my head, “Mwindula, you are covered!” All the anguish Christ endured was for your particular sins, they were laid on him. No wonder he was in torment, no wonder he sweat blood! Imagine, your worst sin and the worst sin of every other human laid upon one man, who wouldn’t sweat blood?! I am covered! We are covered! Of course, it’s not a pass to continue in our sin, because he died to set us free of the chains of sin, if we continue in our sin, we are missing the point, but one thing is certain, “Mwindula is covered!”

Imagine those four robbers being tried in court and being sentenced. Imagine having to bare the sins of those guys. Imagine the load of their combined evil being laid on your shoulders. Everyone looking at you with the disgust they would look upon those four guys. God looked at his son with the disgust he would looked upon an entire planet full of sinful men, imagine the anguish of the Lord Jesus.

This post is fast becoming a little sermon, but for me, the message of that sermon will remain with me for some time to come.