Week of Prayer: Training results in 17 churches planted in Zambia, still growing

It was just a normal meeting of some Zambian pastors and a few workers from Christian organizations. When Randy Windham stood up and handed a sign-up sheet to the person next to him, they had no idea that ministry as they knew it was about to change.

“I’ve been to a training on how to plant churches,” the International Mission Board missionary told them. “I’d love to share this knowledge. If you are interested, just sign up and we’ll set a time for training.”

Randy and Kimberly Windham have planted 17 churches in and around Lusaka. There is always a small group studying what it takes to be a church from their series of trainings. (IMB photo)

Teaching Zambians to plant churches and transform lives with the gospel is Randy and Kimberly Windham’s passion. Seventeen new churches have started in and around Lusaka, Zambia — five in the last six months.

From that very first training session to the one they hosted very recently, the couple is always on the lookout for a pastor or church member to mentor. To them, it’s just natural to keep the training cycle going. Your gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering allow them to walk alongside local believers as they train them in a four-step process.

Randy explained that the first step is gospel access or entry into a community. During this entry phase, they pray for God-prepared people — ones whose lives God is already working in — to enter the picture so they can train them to address the world’s greatest problem of spiritual lostness.

Step two is all about evangelism. The Windhams teach Christians how to share the gospel. Everyone uses this skill immediately for door-to-door evangelism.

Step one for planting a church is entry into a community. Short-term mission teams from the United States help provide gospel access for starting churches through children’s clubs and special events. Local believers work side-by-side with the Americans so they can follow up and begin discipleship and do even more evangelism among the new community. (IMB photo)

“We want everything reproducible,” Randy said. “We teach everyone — including teams from the United States — to draw the plan of salvation using a stick in the dirt. That can be done anywhere in Zambia as a visual aid.”

As people make decisions to follow Christ, the church-planting team moves into the third step, discipleship. In a country where false prophets and cults are common, this is important. New believers grow in their faith by studying Scripture.

As this group grows spiritually and in number, they move seamlessly to the final step — healthy group and church formation. Not every group grows into a church, but those that choose to follow this route learn the 12 characteristics of a healthy church. This step alone can take three to four months.

Churches never look the same from the outside. They might meet under a shade tree, use a room at a school or have their own building. However, at their core, all have biblical teaching, fellowship, worship, service and evangelism.

Now, it’s the new church’s turn to train and help start another one.

One aspect of planting churches in Zambia is to always use the Bible. The country often has false prophets trying to get people to follow them but they never use Scripture. (IMB photo)

“You just continue to do the same thing over and over again,” Randy said. “We never stop training and planting churches.”

• Pray for the Windhams and their work in Zambia.

• Ask God to bring boldness and wisdom to local believers as they are discipled.

• Pray for continued church multiplication.

Sue Sprenkle writes for the IMB.