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Zambia: Pastors Using Facebook to Evangelize

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Mat. 28: 19 commands all those that are called to spread his [Jesus] word.

Preachers in Zambia, a country which was declared a Christian nation by the now late President Frederick Chiluba 20 years ago, are using every opportunity and, indeed, forum to spread the word.

Until now, the most innovative use of an unlikely forum for preaching the word of God has been bus termini where preachers await long-distance buses to get full and ready for a journey before they jump on, evangelize, and even collect offerings sometimes for a few kilometres into the journey before they jump out.

Prayers from bus preachers in the early days were welcome because there used to be a lot of accidents on the roads involving passenger service buses in which many people lost their lives and others maimed. A departing prayer was seen as a tonic but it is now a ritual that almost every long distance journey has to be blessed with.

Of course the typical gathering is a brick and mortar arrangement where churches have built grand buildings in cities and towns while those that can’t afford buildings of their own, use school classrooms and community halls for which they pay nominal fees for their usage.

With the coming of social networking site Facebook, some innovative pastors and motivation speakers are using the website to reach out to the “lost souls”.

Two of my Facebook contacts are pastors who use the social networking site to evangelize. I contacted them to find out their views on the use of Facebook.

Bishop Stephen Safwali said he got on Facebook for an online members’ only consultation he has been involved in between Pentecostals and the World Council of Churches for the last 10 years from which he saw the benefits of reaching out to a wider audience. Although he is on Twitter, he does not use it as much.

Bishop Safwali admitted he receives a lot of responses to his postings.

Bishop Steve Safwa with his wife. Photo source: Bishop Safwa Facebook page.

On the question of receiving financial benefits needed to pay for administrative costs such internet services, Bishop Safwali answered in the negative but thought that “for sure social media can help in raising funds for world evangelism.”

 

Bishop Safwali did his undergraduate studies at Valley Forge Christian College, Pennsylvania and graduate studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, California in the USA.

Below is a typical post on Bishop Safwali’s wall:

Church is that one place that should never run out of good news! It is full of promises and the fulfillment of such promises! It is forever full of hope, assurances, answers, encouragements, healings, deliverances, providences etc. Go to Church and experience the care and love of God today!

Bishop Safwali who, at the time of writing, had 2310 followers, summons the faithful to an overnight meeting through Facebook:

Ok Antioch Bible Church it's that time again! The All Nite Evangelistic Crusade is on: Friday May 20, 2011! Let's do it – Not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God! See you there!

Below is a response from one of his followers, Paul Tembo:

Bishop, that interview with znbc (Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation) was powerful. A thought for reflection. be blessed.

Another heavy Facebook user for evangelization and motivation is Dr Elijah Miti, a Zambian based in South Africa. An author as well, he has 2235 followers.
A typical motivational post from Miti  goes like this:

Today, choose to speak encouragement. Choose to speak victory and faith. Instead of telling people what they’re doing wrong, instead of pointing out all their faults, find what they are doing right. Focus on the good.

Dr. Elijah Miti. Photo source: Dr. Miti Facebook page.

A biblical post goes like this:

For, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:13-15.

I sent Dr Miti a few questions about his use of social networking sites:

Gershom: What motivated you to start using the social networking site, Facebook, for evangelisation/motivation messages?

Dr. Miti: I believe in reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Chrsit and with this new technology its help me meet many people and also help many people through out the World. I now have sons and daughter who have accepted Jesus on FB [Facebook] through my inspiration and also have many who ask for prayer and conseling an God has shown and answered their prayer. We have had testimonies of people getting jobs after many years of being uneployed after our midnight prayers.

G: Do you use other social networking sites such as Twitter?

Dr. M: I Use MySpace, LinkedIn and blogs

G: Do you receive any responses to the messages?

Dr. M: Everyday, many

G: Do you ever receive negative feedback?

Dr. M: Yes, especially those current in passing through challenges in life.

G: Has it improved physical attendance in your congregation?

Dr. M: Yes and also opened doors for international travel and invitations.

G: Considering that you need finances to run certain services like paying for the internet, do you receive financial benefits from using social networking sites?

Dr. M: I have never receive any donation but it helps to sell my books and get speaking engagements both locally and Internationally.

G: Would you encourage other churches?

Dr. M: Yes every church need to create a group for their members to post prayer request and testimonies of what God is doing.

Using Facebook to sell his books, the following message is typical:

Thank you for your inqueries on books pls click on The Book Cover. under EVENTS to order your copy and download ebooks immediately on www.elijahmitimotivation.webstarts.com

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