Growing Up in Northern Zambia
Victor Chibangula was one of the fortunate children from his village. Growing up very poor in Northern Zambia, he knew that education would give him a chance to better his situation. He worked hard at his studies and eventually had the opportunity to go to a university in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Later, Victor’s academic prowess led to him being selected, along with just a few other Zambians, to receive a full ride scholarship to Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. Victor graduated from Wichita State, moved back to his native Zambia, and began a successful career as a bank executive. He was elevated to the position of Regional Director, overseeing bank operations in the northern half of Zambia, but God had different plans. Victor was given a book of sermons from the Scottish evangelist William C. Burns, and God used a sermon, written in 1840, from Luke 16:16 to convict Victor of his sin and need for Jesus. After giving his life to Christ, Victor felt called to the ministry. Eventually, Victor was able to begin attending Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in January 2002, under full sponsorship by a small, but faithful and loving church, known as Andover Baptist Church of Andover, Kansas.
The Start of a Friendship
In 2004, Martin Winslow was the Youth Minister at Lexington First Baptist Church when he began taking a Hebrew class with Victor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. They quickly became friends and began discussing their backgrounds. Victor told Martin about the spiritual and physical poverty in Zambia’s bush communities. He also told him about his struggle through days of serious poverty as a child. After hearing Victor’s passion for planting churches among the poor, Martin committed to helping his friend in the planting of churches, when Victor returned to Zambia.
Victor graduated in 2005, returned to Zambia and began full-time church planting, while Martin finished up at Midwestern and helped start a Classical Christian school in West Plains, MO. Late in 2009, Martin and a friend, Kurt Wiehe, were praying together on a Saturday morning. Martin had just recently re-read Mark’s gospel. In Mark 1, Jesus encounters a leper who said, “if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was “filled with compassion,” and He answered the leper, “I am willing, be cleansed.” Through reading these verses and prayer, Victor came back to Martin’s mind. The following Monday, Martin contacted Midwestern, and Midwestern put Martin in contact through email, reuniting Martin with his friend Victor. Victor told Martin that his church had been praying for two years that God would move hearts in the United States to partner with him to enable his ministry.
Giving Hope to the Poor and Orphan
Victor invited Martin and Kurt to come to Zambia, where they spent several days visiting poor bush communities that Victor had a heart for as well as several different school models in Zambia. Many villages were filled with children with distended bellies from malnourishment, and HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and water-borne illnesses were also common. Wanting to see an end to both the physical and spiritual poverty in these communities, Victor and Martin hatched a plan to spread the gospel through schools that were distinctly Christian. Because many of the children only had access to cornmeal once per day at their homes, it was also decided that BCA would feed children a nutritious meal each day. Victor and Martin decided on the name “Bethlehem Christian Academy” for their schools. Bethlehem means “House of Bread” in Hebrew, and it was in Hebrew class at Midwestern that they met. Both physical bread and spiritual bread are given at both of BCA’s locations in Zambia.
Since that first vision trip to Zambia, Martin came back to America and began to share at churches about the strategy of starting Christian schools in bush communities with a view toward church planting. Many churches began to get behind the idea, and people sponsored children to attend BCA. In 2011, BCA opened its doors with 31 children. By God’s grace, BCA began to multiply as it added a grade each year. BCA also opened its second campus in Northern Zambia in 2014, and by January of 2019, BCA will have over 330 children that are fed and educated with a distinctly Christian education! During one stretch of God’s blessings, BCA saw 27 people come to faith in a 15 month span, and many more have come to faith since then. Martin says that one of the greatest thrills of his life was to see the little girl his family began sponsoring in 2011, who had never heard of Jesus, come to faith in the gospel. Martin then had the opportunity to baptize her in August of 2018.
The Work Continues
Victor has planted a total of 11 churches since he left Midwestern in 2005, including a church at both campuses of BCA. BCA hosts a pastors’ conference every summer for bush community pastors. For three years running, BCA had over 30 pastors attend these one week conferences to learn more about God’s Word. Pastors from partner churches here in America have been faithful to train these pastors each summer. Because of God’s grace, this ministry continues to expand, and BCA is also starting a third campus in Northwest Africa with a Baptist missionary in a very poor village within the 10/40 window.
In all these things, we give thanks to God for His work through BCA.