Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
December 9, 2012
art of marriage in another culture is a challenge
primary assignment in Zambia last month was to lead a marriage enrichment
seminar. Our host, Bishop Alfred Kalembo, invited Dean and me
to share major lessons learned from our sixty years of matrimony. No one there
had ever seen a couple who had married that long. I realized we were the “odd
couple” on display.
audience for the first three days consisted of pastors and their spouses of the
Pilgrim Wesleyan Church in Zambia. Bishop Kalembo is the respected leader of
the denomination. He was born in a remote village and is the first Pilgrim
Wesleyan pastor to earn a doctor of ministry degree. He received this degree
from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY.
Pilgrim Wesleyan Church grew out of a mission project sponsored by the Pilgrim
Holiness Church in the United States. The denomination has grown to more than
11,000 members with 212 churches and 53 pastors. Pastors are trained at Pilgrim
Wesleyan Bible College in Jembo, Zambia.
The PWC operates one hospital and several
primary and secondary schools in partnership with the government. Zambian
schools freely teach the Bible. The religion of Zambia is 87% Christian.
Adherents of Islam number barely two per cent. Though English is the official
language of the nation many of the people are illiterate and speak Tonga, one
of primary native languages. For that reason we had translators helping us
I were concerned that cultural differences would hinder our communication
skills. And we became aware that some of our “stories” did, in fact, not make
much sense to our Zambian friends. However we soon realized that the basic
marital issues are common to people everywhere. So we focused on the basics and
were led to believe that we communicated fairly well.
primary theme was “servant leadership.” Though the Bible teaches that the
husband is the “spiritual leader,” this does not mean that the wife is in a
subservient role or is inferior to her husband. I like the word “partner.” It
is a good word for marriage.
Dean and I are partners “in the gospel,”
serving Christ together, and we are also partners in marriage. Each of us has
an important, God-given role. The key to providing effective leadership is to
find ways to live as a servant. When I humbly serve Dean genuinely, and affirm
and encourage her in the use of her gifts, then I am exercising real spiritual
leadership. One excellent way to ruin a marriage is to assume that you are “the
Boss” and when you say “jump” your wife should say “how high?” Wise are the
husband and wife who choose to live as partners who have made Christ the Lord
of their home and marriage.
While leading the marriage seminar Dean
and I prayed a lot. It was deeply humbling to have them come and listen to our
stories and we kept asking the Lord to help us get it right. We wanted the Lord
to use what we said to strengthen the marriage partnership of those wonderful
Zambian servants of Jesus. If our prayers were answered then many of our
brothers and sisters in the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church will be blessed in days to
come. + + +