Raising an Esther for our time

High levels of poverty in our nation have led the church to focus its message largely on God’s promises of prosperity. The story of Esther is an example of God promise of material prosperity to a poor or oppressed person. Therefore, when John Orteberg preached from the book of Esther three years ago at a Global Leadership Summit in Lusaka, Pastor Bright Siyanyinza stooped forward on his seat and listened intently. He thought he was going to learn how to come out of poverty into prosperity as it happened to Esther. But as Ortberg unfolded the story, Pastor Bright begun to see that Esther’s calling was not to be a prosperous queen but to save the children of Israel from oppression.

After the message he stated, “I believe the church is here to provide leadership that overcome our problems and bring prosperity, justice and dignity to our community.” He continued, “My community has become synonymous with poverty, HIV and AIDS, social disorder, corruption, injustices and general backwardness largely because the church in my community is not preaching the ‘full gospel.’  He concluded, “I have been depriving my members deepen their understanding that the fate of human redemption rests in the hands of the Christians because of my focus on the promises of personal material prosperity at the expense of themes of justice, compassion and mercy.  It is clear that my calling is not to attain a powerful position but to serve sacrificially-if I perish, I perish.”

Since then Pastor Bright has seen his ministry evolve to a place where the community is genuinely thankful for his church because of the tangible witness it is offering them of the love of God. In the last three years the church has been engaged passionately in community service: clearing drainage systems that people no longer get infected with cholera during the rainy season; providing home basic care for people living with HIV and AIDS; started a community school for orphans and vulnerable children. The church has sunk a borehole which is providing clean and safe drinking water to over 300 families in the community; the church is engaging the local political leaders to participate in the development of the community.

In the last three years his church has seen unprecedented spiritual and numerical growth. It is seeing material wellbeing in the members; tithing has increased and the number of people whom the church is helping with education, shelter and other needs is growing. The pastor is being blessed materially and has purchased land where he will start to build my house. Soon he will be a landlord. All this is happening because of his the message of redemption and of inviting his members to work for justice. In the next six weeks we will be voting in our general elections. Please help your members to vote for Esthers’ who will work for justice and economic wellbeing of the poor.

Lawrence Temfwe