On Friday evening, the eve before World AIDS Day, the UCZ hosted the traditional Candelight Service at St Paul’s, Kabwata. The programme began with a musical interlude from the Boy’s Brigade Brass Band and choirs from the UCZ and Reformed Churches. The meeting was interspersed by further contributions from them.
After the national anthem the opening prayer was offered by Kabwata’s Uniting Presbyterian Church and the opening hymn ‘To God be the Glory’. Rev Elizabeth Phiri, the Minister at St Paul’s bade all welcome, while Mr Friday Nkhoma from the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) compered the evening. The homily based on the readings from Hebrews 12:1-4 & I Corinthians 9:24-27 was given by Lusaka Presbytery Bishop Rev Rodwell Mwape Chomba around the theme, Run the Last Mile: Leaving No One Behind.
The congregation sang a moving rendition of ‘When Peace like A River’. There then followed Spiritual Statements from representatives of the Church Council of Zambia (CCZ) and the Bible Society of Zambia who also distributed to those attending a special copy of Luke’s Gospel with some introductory material on HIV & AIDS. There were intercessory prayers from participating Churches for Peace Unity and National Reconciliation, for rains and a good harvest, saying no to stigma and greater leadership and Church involvement in interventions to combat the pandemic.
The highlight was when a young women gave a moving testimony of her life and work living with AIDS. Her child was born HIV positive. She stressed the importance of adherence and avoiding listening to fake pastors and other charlatans peddling miracle cures. A representative of the Mayor of Lusaka City read a speech on his behalf after which the candles were lit, the benediction given and a candle-lit procession walked to the neighbouring Presbyterian church and back in memory of all those brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and children lost in the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
On Saturday there were a variety of marches, speeches and meetings in the Lusaka area and nation-wide. The major focus this year was on the event held in Livingstone which was graced by the presence of the Republican President.
On Sunday we set out at 0700h picking up Deaconess Carol Nyirenda from St Paul’s, we headed for St Philip’s in Kanyama Compound. As Health Secretary, Ida had been invited by the Community Development and Social Justice Committee (CDSJC) to address both morning services and share something of her work to mark HIV and AIDS Sunday. It is a large and vibrant congregation with over 2000 communicants. The present Minister is the former Northern Presbytery Bishop whom Keith got to know at Senga Hill School Board meetings. There are two services on a Sunday, the early one in English and the second one in Bemba. Each last around three hours. Again we were ministered to by a large youth choir and various praise teams. Ida spoke about the importance of knowing your status to help make the correct choices for you and others. She also shared about the need to improve service delivery for children. In the sermon Deaconess Nyirenda largely reinforced this message. The service ended with Holy Communion being efficiently served to the large congregation. At 1100h it all began again, the same things happening, but in Bemba this time. After a traditional Zambian lunch of chicken, nshima and cabbage we bade farewell to the congregation. As we left the various church groups were eating lunch together before beginning their afternoon meetings.
- Keith Waddell – Mission Partner in Zambia