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Africa is like a vast embroidered garment. From the white sands of the Mediterranean Coast, past the golden Sahara, through the emerald forests, to the windswept, white coastline of the Cape of Good Hope, the continent embraces a tenth of the world’s population. Threading through it are many rivers, such as the Nile, the Niger, the Congo, and the Zambezi. And deep in its folds lie vast reserves of gold, copper, and precious stones.

Where the tropical rain forest of the Congo Basin rises to meet the gently undulating savanna that is the central African plateau, there nestles Zambia. Some have said that this country resembles a huge, lopsided butterfly that settled on a map. Its unusual border, a legacy of the colonial era, marks out an area of more than a quarter of a million square miles [three-quarter million sq km]​—larger than the state of Texas, U.S.A.

To the northeast of the territory now called Zambia lies the Great Rift Valley. To the west and south is the mighty Zambezi River. Until the late 19th century, this land remained remote to foreigners who plundered Africa for gold, ivory, and slaves. In 1855 explorer David Livingstone, the son of a Scottish mill worker, helped to open the eyes of the world to the land beyond “The Smoke That Thunders”​—the imposing wonder that Livingstone later called Victoria Falls in honor of Queen Victoria of England.

Soon came missionaries of Christendom eager to promote “Christianity, commerce, and civilization” in an effort to open up the heart of the continent. Their methods often did little to recommend their ministry. Yet, it would not be long before some came who, with God’s help, would truly recommend themselves as his ministers.​—2 Cor. 6:3-10.

The Early Days

By the year 1890, five missionary societies had established themselves within the territory that is now Zambia. At the turn of the century, beleaguered by the advance of colonial power and commercial enterprise, a growing number of Africans were seeking direction. Exotic and bizarre religious movements were making their appearance across the continent. Genuine spiritual help, however, was at hand. As early as 1911, copies of Studies in the Scriptures found their way into the hands of honesthearted ones in Zambia. The Bible truths found in those books quickly spread north, though not always by means of those sincerely interested in serving God.

In 1910, Charles Taze Russell, who had oversight of the Kingdom-preaching work in those days, sent William W. Johnston, a dependable, sober-minded brother from Glasgow, Scotland, to help the brothers in Nyasaland (now Malawi). Regrettably, a few who had gone before​—both native and foreign—​had distorted Scriptural truths as they sought to promote selfish interests. Indeed, in the years to follow, self-styled preachers and pastors came to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) promoting a heady mixture of religion, promises of liberation, and unclean practices. While Brother Johnston helped those in Nyasaland, whom he described as “filled with a strong desire for a more intimate acquaintance with God’s Word,” little direct attention was given to territories to the west. Bible-based literature did reach Northern Rhodesia by mail and by means of migratory workers, but the Kingdom-preaching work in those years remained largely unsupervised.

A Period of Uncertainty

The early 1920’s was a period of uncertainty. Indigenous “Watch Tower movements” did much to discredit the true Christian ministry of God’s servants. Wife-swapping and other acts of wrongdoing were reported among some who not only had little understanding of Bible truth but also falsely professed association with the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called. Evidently, though, there were many groups whose sincere devotion to Bible principles and zealous preaching bore the hallmark of truth.

The challenge was to identify those who were sincerely interested in serving God. Thomas Walder and George Phillips, both from Britain, arrived in South Africa at the Cape Town office of the Bible Students in 1924. Brother Walder, a man in his early 30’s, traveled through the Rhodesias to establish who were being linked to the name Watch Tower. The following year, William Dawson, from Europe, was assigned to visit developing groups. He noted that some self-appointed pastors were eagerly baptizing large numbers of people, most of whom lacked an understanding of and appreciation for Bible truth. Llewelyn Phillips (not related to George Phillips) later wrote: “It became abundantly clear that the vast majority were like the people of Nineveh who ‘did not know the difference between their right hand and their left.’” (Jonah 4:11) Many were sincere, but the almost complete absence of publications in vernacular languages made it difficult for people to comprehend the truth. Since repeated efforts to gain government approval for permanent oversight of the work had been unsuccessful, the decision was made by the Cape Town office to curtail public preaching and baptisms. Though not discouraging Bible study and meeting together for worship, Brother Walder wrote a letter to groups of interested ones, exhorting them to cooperate with this temporary measure until the appointment of a permanent representative of the Bible Students could be made.

Along the Railway Line

For centuries, local peoples had used surface deposits of copper for tools and decorative purposes. By the mid-1920’s, the British South Africa Company, which not only governed the territory but also controlled mining rights, began to exploit the vast subterranean reserves. Workers were needed, and thousands came from rural areas to newly developing towns and cities along a railway line originally meant to stretch from the Cape to Cairo.

James Luka Mwango recalled: “The establishment of companies, as congregations were then called, was very different from our modern-day organization. Before 1930, meetings for Bible study were limited to small groups. Some interested ones communicated with the Cape Town office, while others sent their requests for literature directly to Brooklyn. Since the literature was in English, it was difficult for many to understand the truth properly.” Though the groups were generally small, they were making progress, and their zeal and determination were being increasingly directed toward organized preaching. This did not escape the notice of the clergy of Christendom.

A Campaign of Suppression

By May 1935, influential religious groups had pressed for an adjustment to the penal code of Northern Rhodesia, making the importation and distribution of so-called seditious literature a serious offense. Of course, those who decide what is seditious or subversive are influenced by their own political or religious persuasion. As events were to show, there was little doubt that opposers were searching for a pretext to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses.

When the announcement of new taxation sparked riots in mining communities, opposers saw this as an opportunity to brand the Witnesses as antigovernment. Earlier in the month, the Witnesses held an assembly in Lusaka. Apparently, opposers claimed that the small assembly was in some way connected with the unrest more than 200 miles [300 km] north. Thomson Kangale, a young man at the time, remembers: “We knew that trouble was brewing. Instead of preaching, we decided to stay indoors and practice Kingdom songs. We knew that we should not become involved in strikes or acts of violence.” Nevertheless, arrests of brothers followed, and in many towns they were hounded from their homes, and their Bible literature was confiscated or destroyed. The governor issued a proclamation banning 20 of our publications.

A commission of inquiry was appointed to investigate the disturbances. The district commissioner in the area primarily affected acknowledged: “Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower itself as an organization took no part in the strike.” Not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was implicated in any rioting. However, the book Christians of the Copperbelt reported: “The Commission of Enquiry . . . accepted many serious allegations on very slender evidence, [and] on the strength of its report the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses was banned. In a few districts, [tribal] chiefs carried out a vigorous campaign of suppression, burning down the Watchtower meeting enclosures.”

Meanwhile, the Cape Town office repeatedly appealed to the British government’s secretary of state for the colonies that the Witnesses be “permitted to exercise their God-given rights to worship Jehovah God according to the dictates of their own conscience, without interference.” Appeal was also made for a permanent office with a representative. Jehovah blessed these efforts. In March 1936 the secretary of state approved that a depot be established in Lusaka and that Llewelyn Phillips be the representative.

The Four Requirements

The establishment of a depot in Lusaka was a significant victory. However, until acceptable evidence could be presented that more structured oversight of congregations was in operation, the governor withheld approval that Jehovah’s Witnesses be legally recognized as a religious organization. In the years to follow, Brother Phillips vigorously worked with faithful brothers to help and strengthen sincere ones and to exclude those who promoted unscriptural practices. Pioneers received training in doctrinal, moral, and organizational matters, and then they went out to help groups and congregations.

Commenting on this period, one brother said: “The best year for publishers in Zambia was 1940. It was in this year that baptism was again allowed. It had been stopped in 1925.”

“Before he was allowed to be baptized,” recalls James Mwango, “a Bible student now had to study what we called the four requirements. He was then questioned about their meaning by the one baptizing or another brother designated by the company servant. The first requirement was hearing the truth; the second, repentance; the third, learning God’s Word; and the fourth, dedication. When a student properly understood the four requirements, he could be baptized. This procedure was introduced to make sure that those being immersed knew what they were doing.”

Literature Prohibition

Particularly during the second world war, government officials mistook the neutrality of the Witnesses for opposition to the government’s recruiting policy. In December 1940 the list of banned publications was expanded to include all literature published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The importation of our literature was also banned. The spring of 1941 saw the government issue a notice requiring that those possessing Watch Tower publications surrender them or face prosecution and possible imprisonment.

Solomon Lyambela, who served as a traveling overseer and later attended Gilead School, recalled: “We hid literature in canoes on the Zambezi River. We tied books under beds and even hid them in our stores of mealie meal [corn meal] and millet.”

Another brother said: “We had to bury our books. However, we did not have to hide the Berean Bible, which we greatly valued and was not banned. We lost many books​—termites ate some, and thieves stole others. Because we frequented the places where books were buried, thieves thought that we had buried something of material value. I remember that one day when I went to study in the bush, I found our books scattered about. We collected them and hid them again, in a different place.”

Llewelyn Phillips boldly wrote a complaint to the governor regarding the banned publications. Already having been imprisoned earlier that year for refusing military service, Brother Phillips was sentenced to a further six months. A volunteer who served temporarily at the Lusaka depot said: “We were frequently visited by the Criminal Investigation Department, and Brother Phillips was often called to the police station.” Nevertheless, Brother Phillips continued to promote good order and a zealous spirit among the congregations. As capable brothers became available, they were trained and sent out as traveling ministers, or servants to the brethren. They helped contribute to the peak of 3,409 publishers in 1943.

Steady Progress Toward Greater Freedoms

Following the war, the Britain and South Africa offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses repeatedly appealed to the Colonial Office in London to legalize our publications. Upon receiving a petition signed by more than 40,000 expressing their support for the educational work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the government removed some items from their list of proscribed publications. However, the Watchtower magazine remained under ban.

In January 1948, Nathan Knorr and Milton Henschel from the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn made their first visit to the country. After attending a four-day assembly in Lusaka, they met with the secretary of native affairs and the attorney general, who told them that soon the remaining restrictions would be lifted. What a joy it was when the work of Jehovah’s people was finally legally recognized! On September 1, 1948, a new branch office was established under the name Jehovah’s Witnesses, not Watch Tower Society. In the minds of the authorities, of the population, and even of the brothers themselves, a distinction could now clearly be made between Jehovah’s Witnesses and adherents to indigenous, unrelated “Watch Tower” sects.

During the preceding 40 years, religious opponents, who showed little interest in making disciples of Christ, directed their efforts toward tearing down the faith of those who listened to the good news. For a time, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had been misrepresented as “deceivers,” continued to establish themselves as truthful ministers of God. (2 Cor. 6:8) In anticipation of postwar freedoms, they set in motion exciting measures to care for the increase to follow.

Missionary Service

“Among the rewarding features of missionary service is seeing how Jehovah uses all kinds of men and women in fulfilling his purpose. It is also a joy to see the appreciation shown by those who receive spiritual help,” commented Ian (John) Fergusson, who served for many years in Zambia. Missionaries of other religions are often preoccupied with social and economic issues, whereas the missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses focus on the work of making Christian disciples. In carrying out this divine commission, these missionaries have provided evidence of having “love free from hypocrisy.”​—2 Cor. 6:6.

The missionary spirit is epitomized by such individuals as William Johnston who, a few years before the outbreak of World War I, came to southern Africa and traveled widely throughout the region. Piet de Jager, Parry Williams, and others had by early 1921 reached Salisbury (now Harare), the capital of Zambia’s neighbor Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). George Phillips, Thomas Walder, and William Dawson gave attention to Northern Rhodesia in the mid-1920’s. Others, some who were born in Northern Rhodesia but had come in contact with the Bible Students while working elsewhere, returned to spread “good news of good things.” (Rom. 10:15) Manasse Nkhoma and Oliver Kabungo had a great share in those early days. Joseph Mulemwa, a native of Zambia, was contacted at the Wankie (now Hwange) mine, in northern Zimbabwe, and he later served faithfully in western Zambia. Fred Kabombo served as the first traveling overseer in that area. These brothers were real pioneers, reaching out to areas where little or no preaching of the good news had been done and laying a solid foundation for future growth.

As the end of the second world war approached, Charles Holliday from South Africa responded to an invitation from George Phillips in the Cape Town office to visit groups of interested ones in the Western Province. Accompanied by a local brother acting as interpreter, Brother Holliday journeyed by timber train, canoe, and ganger’s trolley​—a small hand-powered railway car. On reaching Senanga, a small town some 150 miles [250 km] north of Victoria Falls, they were welcomed by a large crowd. Some of those present had journeyed for several days, keenly interested in listening to this visitor explain Bible truths.

Gilead Missionaries Arrive

In 1948, two missionaries, Harry Arnott and Ian Fergusson, arrived in Zambia. Attention was now given to the thousands of Europeans who had moved there in connection with copper-mining operations. The response was exciting. That year saw a 61 percent increase in the number of Witnesses active in the field ministry.

In many places it was not unusual for the missionaries to have waiting lists of people who wanted Bible studies. The branch office acquired a ten-year-old Dodge panel truck, which was used by two missionary traveling overseers to reach areas beyond the industrial centers. “It served well,” stated one branch report, “although at times it returned to base on three wheels or with half the chassis dragging behind.”

By 1951 there were six missionaries in the country. December 1953 saw six additional missionaries arrive ready to help. Among this group were Valora and John Miles, who served in Zambia for six years before being transferred to Zimbabwe and then to Lesotho. In the years that followed, more missionaries arrived: Joseph Hawryluk, John and Ian Renton, Eugene Kinaschuk, Paul Ondejko, Peter and Vera Palliser, Avis Morgan, and others all contributed their loving efforts. Of course, being effective in their special service involved sacrifices and adjustments.

“He Is Still a Child!”

“I felt sure that there had been a mistake,” says Wayne Johnson, recalling his feelings when he received his assignment to Zambia. A graduate of the 36th class of Gilead, Wayne arrived early in 1962, accompanied by Earl Archibald. Now a traveling minister in Canada, accompanied by his wife, Grace, Wayne reflects: “I was only 24 years old and looked even younger. As I was learning the Chinyanja [also called Chichewa] language, I would hear sisters whisper to one another when they first saw me: ‘akali mwana’​—‘He is still a child!’”

“I realized that I would have to lean heavily on Jehovah and his organization,” says Wayne. “I wanted everyone to know that in the spirit of Acts 16:4, I was merely conveying direction and information prepared by Jehovah and his organization. I also tried to act in a way that others would find acceptable. As I look back, I still marvel that I was given such a great privilege.”


The 1960’s and 1970’s were years of change. Periodically, persecution broke out across the country. Following Zambian independence in 1964, the brothers faced increased difficulties in relation to flag-salute and national-anthem issues. Toward the close of the 1960’s, some politicians considered the missionaries’ influence as hostile to the aims of the government. A branch report explains what happened: “Early in the morning on January 20, 1968, telephone calls began to come in from overseers in almost every English-speaking congregation informing the branch office that the overseers had been served with deportation orders. Interestingly, the deportation orders were served not only on expatriate Jehovah’s Witnesses but also on Zambian citizens, two of whom were George Morton and Isaac Chipungu.”

Events moved swiftly. At ten o’clock in the morning that same day, immigration officers came to the branch office to serve notices on five missionary couples. “Before we knew it,” remembers missionary Frank Lewis, “they were on our front step. It was decided that the missionary brothers in the office should leave by the back door and make their way to a brother’s home to set in motion the arrangements that we had made in case of a ban. However, we hesitated to leave the property because a missionary sister was upstairs seriously ill with malaria. But the local brothers insisted that we leave, promising that they would take care of the sister. We knew that they would.

“How strange it seemed when we read in the Times of Zambia that the Watchtower, as they called us, was now banned and that the ‘leaders’ were in hiding. Our names appeared on the front page of the paper, which added that authorities were making a door-to-door search for us in the town! The local brothers who had remained in the office did their job well. They transferred the files and literature to various places. When that was accomplished, we returned to the branch the following day to turn ourselves in.”

A police guard was posted at the branch office, and soon deportation notices were served on selected missionaries and other foreign nationals. “We were among the last to leave,” explained Brother Lewis. “We still get a lump in our throats when we visualize the group of sisters whom we didn’t know personally but who walked 16 miles [25 km] from Kalulushi with their children just to say good-bye in person and to shake our hands!”

A Second Wave of Deportations

Time passed. Albert Musonda, now serving as a member of the Branch Committee in Zambia, was a 22-year-old Bethel volunteer working in the Accounting Department when one day in 1975, the police suddenly arrived. “They gave the missionaries less than two days to leave the country,” he said.

John Jason adds: “In December 1975 a brief letter from the immigration office ordered us to leave the country within 36 hours.” An appeal was lodged through a local lawyer, and an extension was given that allowed the missionaries to collect some of their personal belongings. “After that,” says Brother Jason, “we had to leave a people whom we had come to love very much.”

Albert’s wife, Dailes, recalls: “We escorted our brothers to Southdown Airport to see them off. John Jason flew to Kenya, and Ian Fergusson went to Spain.” What had caused this second wave of deportations?

In the minds of many, the convention of 1975 was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. “It was one of the largest conventions held during that turbulent period, with a total attendance of more than 40,000,” remembers John Jason. Coincidentally, a political gathering was being held nearby. Some there called for strong action against Jehovah’s Witnesses because of their neutrality in political affairs. Brother Jason recalls that the convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses was blamed for the poor attendance at the political gathering.

Missionaries Return

Ten years were to pass before missionaries could again enter Zambia. The 1980’s was a period of greater political stability and of diminishing restrictions. In 1986, Edward Finch and his wife, Linda, arrived from the Gambia. More were to follow, including Alfred and Helen Kyhe and Dietmar and Sabine Schmidt.

In September 1987, Dayrell and Susanne Sharp arrived via South Africa from Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They had graduated from Gilead in 1969 and had served throughout the Congo in the traveling work. They were already familiar with central African life. Dayrell, a robust figure, has now been in special full-time service for more than 40 years. He says: “Our missionary home for many years had been just over the border in Lubumbashi, and we had regularly traveled to Zambia.”

Susanne has vivid memories of that period. “Food shortages in Congo during the early 1970’s made it necessary to go to Zambia every few months to buy supplies,” she says. “Then in early 1987, the Governing Body asked us to leave Congo and go to a new assignment​—where? Zambia!” Finding their activity increasingly restricted in the Congo, the Sharps were delighted to move to a country where the brothers enjoyed increasing religious freedom.

Some adjustments in the field and at the branch were needed, however. Because of the partial ban imposed on the public ministry, most of the brothers only conducted Bible studies. Many publishers were unfamiliar​—and even uncomfortable—​with the idea of preaching openly from house to house, a fundamental feature of the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Consequently, the brothers were encouraged to be bolder in the house-to-house preaching work, especially since the situation in the country had relaxed and the police paid little attention to our activities.

Moving Forward, Not Backward

The Branch Committee was concerned about the apparent stagnation of growth during the 1970’s. Local tradition made it difficult for the brothers to study with their own children, and since house-to-house witnessing had been banned, it became common for fathers to let their children study with others. Fathers, in turn, studied with children not their own. Now was the time to make courageous decisions. In the years that followed, the publishers were encouraged to put away unscriptural traditions and practices. As congregations responded, they were blessed, and the brothers worked hard to bring their lives into harmony with Bible principles and the worldwide brotherhood.

In the five-year period following the deportations of 1975, there was almost an 11 percent decrease in publishers. In contrast, during the five years following the return of the missionaries in 1986, the peak number of publishers increased more than 50 percent. Since that year, the number of active publishers has more than doubled.

In a letter to the branch, Silas Chivweka, a former traveling overseer, said: “From the 1950’s onward, the Gilead-trained missionaries helped others to advance to maturity. The missionaries were very patient, understanding, and kind. By drawing close to the publishers, they became aware of what required correction.” Such unhypocritical, loving assistance on the part of the missionaries continues to stimulate growth today.

The Printed Word

Like Paul and his companions, Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses give evidence of their ministerial status through their use of “weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” (2 Cor. 6:7) In waging spiritual warfare, they continue to use righteous “weapons,” or means, for furthering true worship.

In the early days, our publications were available only in English. Though some in southern Africa subscribed to The Watch Tower as early as 1909, Bible truth was spread largely by word of mouth. One brother of that era reported: “Every village has a [gathering place] for the hearing of matters of public interest. The itinerant brother reading English translates the paragraphs in simple style into the vernacular of the people. Questions are entertained.” Of course, the accuracy of the truths conveyed depended heavily on the ability and motives of the one translating. Therefore, to promote both unity and accurate knowledge among interested ones, a regular and reliable flow of Bible-based publications in their own language was needed.

Publications Made Available

The early 1930’s saw a book, The Harp of God, and some booklets translated and published in Chinyanja. By 1934 the small number of active publishers had distributed more than 11,000 pieces of literature. This activity stung the opposers, who would later frame “trouble by decree.” (Ps. 94:20) Nevertheless, by the close of 1949 when the Watchtower magazine was no longer under ban, a monthly edition in the Cibemba language was being mimeographed and mailed to subscribers.

Jonas Manjoni recalls his work on the magazine during the early 1950’s. “I was alone in Cibemba translation,” he says. “I would receive the English manuscript, translate it, and make corrections. Next I retyped it onto a stencil and used that to produce copies. It took a long time; sometimes 7,000 copies of each issue were needed. I hand-produced each magazine and then stapled it together. Then I mailed the magazines to the congregations. Putting stamps on the rolls of magazines and taking them to the post office in cartons was a big job.”

Despite the limited technology of the day, those involved in translation demonstrated dedication, recognizing the beneficial results of their work. While active in the traveling work, James Mwango wrote out translations by hand and mostly by candlelight. “I never felt too tired to do this work,” he said. “It was a pleasure to know that my efforts helped provide spiritual food for my brothers, assisting them to maturity.”

‘Changing Hands’

Properly conveying truth requires a translator with a sound understanding not only of his own language but also of the English manuscript. Aaron Mapulanga said: “In translation, there are phrases that mean something other than what they might seem to mean from the words. I remember a discussion we had about the English expression ‘to change hands’ in a publication that spoke of the transfer of responsibilities from Elijah to Elisha. One brother translated the phrase literally. I questioned if the text really meant ‘exchanging hands.’ After consulting with other brothers, we came to understand the correct meaning. I recall too that we were advised not to translate literally word for word because our work would then sound like English. We made an effort to get away from a literal translation and to follow the form of the language into which we were translating.”

Technology Assists

Since 1986, MEPS (an acronym for multilanguage electronic phototypesetting system) has been made available to branch offices. This has helped greatly in speeding up the translation, checking, and composition of text. More recently, Watchtower Translation System software and translation tools have been used extensively. Currently, teams working in several major local languages provide Bible-based publications that are understood by most Zambians. The New World Translation and other “weapons of righteousness” will continue to play a role in assisting honesthearted people come to know Jehovah.​—2 Cor. 6:7.

Help to Refugees

In Africa many people enjoy a happy, peaceful life. Sadly, though, more and more people are affected by war. Overnight, neighbors become enemies, innocent people have to flee their homes, and communities are devastated. Carrying but few material possessions, refugees seek security where they can. This is the experience of millions today.

In March 1999, thousands of people poured into Zambia, fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As in many wars, advancing forces looted, compelled men to carry heavy loads, and abused women and children. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses would not carry weapons, many were humiliated and brutally beaten. Katatu Songa, a zealous regular pioneer in his mid-50’s, recalls: “They made me lie down in front of women and children and whipped me until I was unconscious.”

To avoid similar mistreatment, many families fled. While running away through the bush, Mapengo Kitambo was separated from his sons. He explains: “We had no time to look for anyone. We just had to move on, though we worried terribly about our loved ones.” Many fled hundreds of miles on foot or by bicycle to reach safety.

The small town of Kaputa was overwhelmed with refugees. Among them were close to 5,000 brothers and their families, exhausted by the long and harsh journey. Though unprepared for the refugees, the 200 Kingdom publishers who lived in the town happily extended Christian hospitality to their brothers and sisters. Refugee Manda Ntompa recalls: “We were profoundly impressed by the love and the hospitality that were shown to us. Upon realizing that we were Witnesses of Jehovah, the local brothers opened up their homes. Like the widow of Zarephath, they were willing to share their meager provisions with us.”

Near the shores of Lake Mweru in the north, a small number of local Witnesses cared for hundreds of refugees. In an organized manner, they supplied food and shelter. Nearby congregations provided cassava and fish. Finally, after three months, the Congolese Witnesses were registered and transferred to a refugee camp.

Those who flee violent conflict rarely bring with them books and magazines. Often the most treasured possessions have to be left behind in the desperate flight to safety. A contrasting situation prevailed among God’s people. Frantic as their escape was, a few managed to bring their publications with them. Still, Bibles and Bible-based literature were scarce. Typically, at a meeting with an attendance of 150, only five books were available. How did those present participate? One brother explains: “Those having a Bible looked up scriptures, and those who did not have a copy paid rapt attention. So all took part in praising Jehovah and encouraging one another by their comments.”

Material Needs Are Considered

Most refugees are women and children. Often they arrive in poor health and with nothing to eat. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses assisted them? The Times of Zambia reported: “It is gratifying that the Zambia Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses has sent volunteers and relief workers to the former Zaire just to alleviate the burden of refugees in the Great Lakes region.” The article explained that Witnesses from Belgium, France, and Switzerland “supplied the refugees with a total of 500 kg [1,100 pounds] of medicine, 10 tons of vitamin products, 20 tons of food and more than 90 tons of clothing, 18,500 pairs of shoes and 1,000 blankets, totaling nearly $1m[illion].”

Brother Ntompa recalls: “It was a very exciting and faith-strengthening day for all of us when the goods arrived. What a caring organization we belong to! This great demonstration of love was a turning point for many of our brothers’ unbelieving family members. Since then, some of them have joined us and are making fine progress as God’s worshippers.” Relief supplies were donated to all refugees, without discrimination.

By late 1999 the number of displaced persons in the country had swelled to more than 200,000. A local newspaper reported: “Zambia has become one of the largest asylum countries for African refugees fleeing conflicts.” Despite the efforts of the authorities to meet the needs of the refugees, frustration and dissatisfaction among the latter led to violent protests. Following one riot, the camp authorities approached the circuit overseer, charging that he had done little to help them in maintaining order, even though Jehovah’s Witnesses had had no part in any disturbances. The circuit overseer kindly but firmly replied: “I have helped you! Can you imagine how much worse things would have been if 5,000 people were added to the mob? Please appreciate that at least 5,000 refugees did not take part in the riot because they are Witnesses. They are my brothers!”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are recognized as a stabilizing influence in the refugee community. One government official commented: “We heard that Jehovah’s Witnesses are very religious, and we assigned many of them to be section leaders. Since then, there is calm in the camp because they are helping, and everybody is concentrating on reading the Bible. I thank God that such people should continue with us and that peace is prevailing in the camp.”

Obeying the Divine Prohibition on Blood

Though the practical wisdom of the Scriptural injunction “to keep abstaining . . . from blood” has long been evident, sub-Saharan Africa has seen much prejudice and misunderstanding regarding nonblood medical care. (Acts 15:28, 29) Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subjected to harsh and humiliating treatment. It was not uncommon for a hospitalized child to be taken at night, without the parents’ knowledge, and transfused.

Jenala Mukusao’s six-year-old grandson, Michael, whom she cared for, was admitted to the hospital with severe anemia. Doctors ordered a transfusion. Sister Mukusao’s refusal to give consent resulted in four days of intimidation and abuse. She said: “I pleaded with them and showed them my Medical Directive card, but they were not willing to listen. The nurses accused me of being a witch who wanted to kill my grandchild.”

In view of such hostility, some have hesitated to go to the hospital. Many doctors ignored the patient’s right to informed consent. The few doctors who were willing to help risked harsh criticism and even ostracism from their peers for practicing what many thought to be unconventional medicine. There were also the challenges of an underdeveloped infrastructure and limited availability of alternatives to blood. In 1989, however, the chief medical officer of the copper-mining industry said, “Blood transfusions should not be given against people’s wishes.” It was evident that the views of a few in the medical profession were softening.

Committees With Impact

In 1995, Hospital Information Services, together with its associated Hospital Liaison Committees (HLCs), was established in Zambia. Few could foresee the profound impact these committees would have on the medical community’s attitude toward nonblood treatment and patients’ rights. Part of the work of the HLCs is to visit hospitals, interview doctors, and make presentations to health workers, all with the aim of cultivating cooperation and preventing confrontations. The level of professionalism evident in these presentations impressed medical staffs. At a hospital in the southern part of the country, one clinical officer was moved to say to the brothers, “You are doctors​—you just don’t want to say it.”

A Dutch doctor working in a district hospital in western Zambia said: “Two weeks ago we were discussing means of minimizing blood use because of the associated hazards. Today we have had experts talk with us about the issue.” Before long, medical personnel who attended the presentations by the HLCs began to recommend to their colleagues that they too attend. The program gained recognition among the medical community, and confrontation increasingly gave way to cooperation.

Some serving as committee members had to overcome their feelings of inadequacy when approaching doctors, who for years had been regarded almost as gods. Brother Smart Phiri, who served as chairman of the Lusaka committee, recalls, “I had no medical background and felt very unsure of myself.”

In time, however, perseverance and trust in Jehovah were rewarded. Another committee member recalls the early days: “Three of us went to meet a doctor, a very influential man, who had worked as minister of health. We were very nervous. In the corridor, in front of the doctor’s office, we said a prayer to Jehovah, asking for His help so that we might speak with boldness. When we entered the doctor’s office, we had a good discussion, and he proved to be most cooperative. I realized that we had Jehovah’s backing and no reason to be fearful.”

Evidence of the growing cooperation between the HLCs and the medical community is seen in the willingness of doctors to take up challenging cases that some years ago they would not have accepted without freedom to transfuse. In October of 2000, two surgeons made a bold decision to operate on Beatrice, a six-month-old baby who was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though the operation for biliary atresia was successfully performed without blood, the case brought a torrent of adverse publicity.

However, a press statement by Professor Lupando Munkonge, the head of the team that had performed the operation, brought about a reversal. He made clear his respect for the stand of Beatrice’s parents. This did much to defuse media criticism. Two months later a television documentary focused on the case, presenting a positive view of our stand on the issue of bloodless medicine and surgery.

“Do It Fast”

Few doctors have remained skeptical regarding the Witnesses’ conscientious stand on blood. Most now recognize that alternative strategies are safe, simple, and effective​—even in rural Africa. Many patients have learned to defend their rights with boldness. This has meant educating themselves on important issues and learning how to give voice to their conscience.

Even children have been given “the tongue of the taught ones.” (Isa. 50:4) Before his surgery, Nathan, an eight-year-old boy who suffered from osteomyelitis of the left femur, told a team of doctors: “Please, when you do the operation, do it fast so that I don’t lose a lot of blood. Do not transfuse me, otherwise my parents and Jehovah will not forgive you.” After the operation, a member of the surgical team commended Nathan’s parents for training their son. Humbly, the doctor said, “It is the first time for me to be reminded by a young patient about the importance of respecting God.”

“We recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . . by sleepless nights,” stated the apostle Paul. Sleeplessness for God’s servants frequently stems from concern for fellow believers and for the advancement of true worship. (2 Cor. 6:3-5) This is often true of those serving on the HLCs. Such self-sacrifice does not go unnoticed. One sister said: “I am at a loss for words to express my appreciation adequately. It is heartening and comforting to note the self-sacrificing spirit of brothers on the HLC who came to my aid on short notice and were always there for me even at odd hours. When I went to the operating room for the second time within 24 hours, I did not panic. I had been greatly fortified by the brothers’ encouraging words.” Yes, despite ‘bad reports,’ Jehovah’s Witnesses have continued to recommend themselves as God’s ministers through willing cooperation with the medical community. (2 Cor. 6:8) Strengthened by ‘good reports,’ they are determined to remain obedient to the divine command “to keep abstaining . . . from blood.”

Ministerial Training School

“In many countries a group of 25 or so young men might be viewed with suspicion as a potential source of trouble,” comments Cyrus Nyangu, a member of the Zambia Branch Committee. “However, the 31 classes of the Ministerial Training School (MTS) have consistently trained groups of energetic, dedicated Christian men who prove to be a blessing to the communities in which they serve.” More than 600 graduates of this international school are serving in various avenues of full-time service throughout the six countries of southern Africa. In Zambia, more than half of the traveling overseers are graduates. Why is the school necessary, and what does it accomplish?

Since the graduation of the first class in 1993, there has been an almost 60 percent increase in the number of active publishers in Zambia. Still, there exists a need for qualified men to care for congregations, especially since there is strong community pressure to conform to traditions and customs that conflict with Bible principles. Emphasizing this need for capable men to shepherd and teach, one graduate stated: “A problem in our field is that people are inclined to tolerate wrongdoing. I have learned that we need to be firm for what is right and not to go beyond what is written.”

Initially, students are unaccustomed to the range of information considered and the depth of study. The instructors, though, are eager to help. One of them, Sarel Hart, said: “Teaching each class was, for me, like conducting a tour along a mountain trail. At the beginning, all are strangers, trying to get accustomed to unfamiliar and awe-inspiring surroundings. At times, boulders obstruct the way. As the students negotiate obstacles and continue to climb, they look back to see seemingly insurmountable barriers conquered and paling into insignificance.”

Many describe their spiritual progress as a result of attending the school as a metamorphosis. Elad, now serving as a special pioneer, said: “I viewed myself as unqualified to teach and too young for further congregation responsibilities. The school helped me realize that I could be of use. In the congregation to which I was initially assigned, the 16 publishers had problems conducting progressive Bible studies. We regularly considered suggestions and practiced presentations before going into the ministry. By 2001 the congregation had grown to 60 publishers with an isolated group of 20.”

Measuring Success

What are some features that make for success at the Ministerial Training School? “We really emphasize the importance of always being humble, stressing that one should not think more of himself than it is necessary to think,” explains Richard Frudd, one of the instructors. “We look for maturity, compassion, and the ability to handle tough challenges and still smile. If brothers can relate to others in a kind way, showing that they want to serve and not be served, then we feel that the school has accomplished its purpose.”

Students acknowledge the truth of those words. Emmanuel, a graduate of the 14th class, said: “Being assigned to a congregation does not mean that we should rush in to correct every little thing. Rather, our focus should be to share with the congregation in the most important work, the preaching of the good news.”

Moses, a pioneer, said: “I have come to appreciate that Jehovah can use any humble one and that sometimes knowledge and experience do not matter. Love for those in the congregation and in the field as well as cooperation with others is what matters to Him.”

Large Gatherings

Pre-Christian festivals of the nation of Israel and their ‘holy conventions’ were happy occasions, helping those present to focus on spiritual matters. (Lev. 23:21; Deut. 16:13-15) This is no less true of modern-day gatherings of God’s people. In Zambia conventions are not staged in a gleaming modern sports complex. The brothers build what they call a convention village, which includes small booths in which to sleep.

Over the years, more permanent structures have been put in place at such locations. However, the early years were challenging times full of innovation. “At the circuit assembly site,” remembers a district overseer, “the brothers would build a hut for me, usually made of grass. They then erected a fence around the seating area. The seats were mounds of earth, and ‘cushions’ of grass were placed on them. Sometimes the brothers leveled the top of a dormant termite hill to make a platform. On top of that, they built a little booth from which the program was presented.”

Peter Palliser, a missionary, recalled: “At one convention the brothers decided that they would like to have a raised platform. One of the brothers was skilled in the use of explosives. He rigged the area and blew the top off an abandoned anthill that had been some 20 feet [6 m] high. That left us with a raised mound on which we built a podium.”

Efforts to Attend

Most convention sites were away from main roads and difficult to reach. Robinson Shamuluma remembers a convention he attended in 1959. “About 15 of us cycled to Kabwe in Central Province,” he said. “We carried mealie meal and dried fish for food. Every night we slept in the bush. At Kabwe we boarded a train, and we eventually reached the convention site after almost four days of travel.”

Lamp Chisenga remembers one brother who traveled about 80 miles [50 km] walking and cycling with his six children to attend a convention. He said: “For their journey, they prepared food​—roasted cassava, groundnuts, and peanut butter. Often it was necessary for them to camp unprotected in the bush.”

While serving as a district overseer, Wayne Johnson noted the effort that many put into attending. He wrote: “One special pioneer rode his bicycle for almost a week to get to an assembly. Others rode in the back of a truck. Many arrived early, at the beginning of an assembly or a convention week. They sang at night as they sat around campfires. Sometimes there were so many of us for field service that we worked the territory three times that week.”

Opposed but Not Neglected

Large gatherings continue to bring strength and encouragement to the brothers. Today conventions receive much positive publicity. However, during periods of political change and particularly during the 1960’s and 1970’s, such events were viewed with suspicion. Elements within the government did what they could to restrict our worship. Because of their refusal to sing the national anthem, the brothers could not receive the necessary police permits to have public gatherings. Later, restrictions limited the number who could attend. “The year 1974 was the last year for Jehovah’s Witnesses to meet in open areas,” recalls Darlington Sefuka. “The minister of home affairs announced that no public meetings could be held unless the national anthem was sung and the flag displayed.” Nevertheless, the brothers were allowed to meet at local Kingdom Halls within grass-fenced compounds. Adjusting to this situation, the branch arranged for the circuit assembly program to be held at Kingdom Halls, often with just one or two congregations in attendance.

District conventions were also held on a small scale. “Instead of having one large district convention, we would have 20 small ones,” recalls a brother who shared in convention organization. “Many brothers were trained and used on the programs and in the departments, so that when the ban was lifted, we had many experienced men to use in organizing conventions and assemblies.”


From the early 1940’s, efforts were made to ensure that those getting baptized fully appreciated the significance of that step. Some found it difficult to abandon completely “Babylon the Great” and false religious practices. (Rev. 18:2, 4) Contributing to this problem was the fact that comparatively few could read well and many congregations did not receive adequate supplies of Bible study aids. Consequently, circuit and district overseers would interview each baptism candidate to see if he or she was qualified. Geoffrey Wheeler, a graduate of the 33rd class of Gilead, recalls: “We looked closely at the babies carried by nursing mothers wanting to get baptized to check for superstitious beads and charms. We were often up until midnight each day of the assembly week; there were so many candidates.” The kind assistance given to congregation elders by traveling overseers; later publications, such as “Your Word Is a Lamp to My Foot”; and further organizational refinements did much to reduce the need for such interviews.

Stage Fright!

Full-costume Bible dramas remain among the most popular convention features. Each participant takes seriously his responsibility to convey his character’s emotions, and few Zambians have a reputation for underacting. Frank Lewis, a former missionary and now a member of the United States Bethel family, recalls: “We did not have the early dramas on tape. The brothers who played the various parts had to memorize their lines. I remember going to one assembly in the Northern Province where we had our first drama, which was about Joseph. Well, since the mail was a bit slow and the manuscript had not reached the brothers, we had to work late into the night trying to help the brothers memorize their lines. When the drama was presented, we came to the scene where Potiphar’s wife screamed to her husband that Joseph had tried to rape her. At that point, the brother playing Potiphar developed stage fright and walked off. I was backstage prompting the brothers and saw him coming off the stage. I quickly reminded him of his first few lines and pushed him back on the stage. He then in a very fine way blurted out his words of contempt for this man who stood accused of attempted rape! Though this was a near mishap for our convention, every time I read the Bible account, I think: ‘Perhaps it was that way. Perhaps Potiphar in anger left the room, composed himself, and then returned to denounce Joseph!’”

In 1978 when a four-year government ban restricting the size of assemblies and conventions was eased, the “Victorious Faith” Convention presented a challenge. A former traveling overseer recalls: “At that convention we staged all the dramas we couldn’t have in previous years when we were forced to meet in Kingdom Halls. The convention lasted five days, and we had five dramas, one each day. We caught up with all the dramas we had missed! It was really nice but challenging for the Bethel representative who had to review all those dramas. It was quite a lot of work!”

“I can truthfully say that I have never attended more enjoyable conventions,” said a Branch Committee member. “In the morning families come out of their little booths, looking so neat and clean. They come in to Jehovah, looking their finest. They often sit, not in the shade, but in the sun. Yet, they remain there the entire day and pay rapt attention. It’s beautiful to behold.” Associating together is an essential part of worship for Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Heb. 10:24, 25) Whether “sorrowing” on account of personal difficulties or religious opposition or not, Jehovah’s people know that attendance at large gatherings is a reason to be “ever rejoicing.”​—2 Cor. 6:10.

Kingdom Hall Construction

“I write this letter to authorize the above named congregation to have its own land. This is a permanent area, and I have agreed for them to be there for 150 years. Nobody should trouble them until Paradise.”​—Chief Kalilele.

From early in the last century, truth-seekers in southern Africa recognized the need to gather together for worship. In about 1910, William Johnston reported that rapidly growing groups constructed meeting places from traditional materials, some large enough to hold 600 people. Though many were eager to have places of worship, not everyone felt that way. Holland Mushimba, who first learned the truth in the early 1930’s, recalled: “Although meeting for worship was encouraged, little local emphasis was placed on having a regular meeting place. We used to gather at any suitable spot in the shade of a big tree or in the yard of a brother. The view that some entertained, based on Luke 9:58, was: Even Jesus had no permanent hall, so why should we worry ourselves with building one?”

Prior to 1950, most meeting places were uncomplicated, flimsy structures made of rough timber and mud. In the busy Copperbelt region, Ian Fergusson convinced a mine manager to allocate a plot for a Kingdom Hall. In 1950 the first Kingdom Hall was constructed, in Wusikili. A decade was to pass before the brothers drew up plans for unified construction. The first Kingdom Hall built from those plans was a fine flat-roofed structure costing about 12,000 Zambian kwacha. Though a considerable amount at the time, in today’s inflation-battered economy, that is the equivalent of a little under three U.S. dollars!

Because they refused to buy political party cards, the Witnesses continued to face storms of violence unleashed by patriotic militants. Places of worship were burned. Alarmed by the prospect of further attacks, some brothers thought it best, not to build, but to meet in the open. Following further restrictions in the early 1970’s, it became increasingly difficult to obtain plots of land. Although it was well-known that Jehovah’s Witnesses would not support any political party, authorities in some areas insisted that party cards be attached to any letter of application.

Wiston Sinkala recalls: “We could hardly obtain a plot, let alone building permission. When we told the city council that we were taking them to court, they thought we were joking. However, we found a capable lawyer, and after two years, the court ruled in our favor and ordered the council to provide plots. This case opened the way for future freedoms.”

The Black Horse

It was rare for congregations to be given plots with legal certificates of title. Often the brothers found undeveloped pieces of land, but without the proper papers, they could not build a permanent structure. Materials were expensive, and many used iron sheets or empty fuel drums that were split, flattened, and then nailed to a wooden frame. Referring to one such structure, an elder commented: “We had painted the iron sheets with tar, and from a distance the hall looked like a big, black horse. Inside, the heat was unbearable.”

A former circuit overseer said: “When I look back, I feel uncomfortable referring to those structures as Kingdom Halls. Really, they were not suitable to represent the Most High God, Jehovah.”

Some congregations decided to rent halls. Although this seemed an inexpensive solution, it did pose problems. Edrice Mundi, who associated with the only English congregation in Lusaka in the 1970’s, recalls: “We rented a hall that was also used as a disco. Every Saturday people would drink and dance until the wee hours of the morning, and we would have to go early on Sundays to clean up. The hall smelled of beer and cigarettes; it just did not feel right to worship Jehovah in such a place.”

Edrice’s husband, Jackson, recollects: “One Sunday in the middle of the program, a young man walked in, went all the way to the front, picked up a crate of beer that he had left the preceding night, and walked out without any concern for those present.” Little wonder that the brothers yearned to have their own Kingdom Halls!

A Program That Made History

As more people responded to the Kingdom message, the need for dignified halls became ever greater. However, though full of enthusiasm and zeal, some brothers were barely able to afford food for their families, let alone pay for a Kingdom Hall. Jehovah, whose hand is never short, had a pleasant surprise in store.

When a survey showed that there was a need for more than 8,000 Kingdom Halls in 40 developing lands around the world, the Governing Body decided to accelerate the construction. It was recognized that in some areas there might be few tradesmen who could make themselves available for projects. Tools might also be in short supply. Furthermore, in developing economies many congregations could not afford to repay large loans. In addition, with the rapid publisher increase, it was difficult for branches in certain regions to develop a well-organized program. With all of this in mind, the Governing Body established a design/​build committee in the United States to oversee the development of Kingdom Hall building programs worldwide. Guidelines for Kingdom Hall construction in lands with limited resources were issued, and skilled volunteers were assigned to overseas construction projects.

Sometimes traditional building methods and ideas needed to be adjusted. In Zambia, for example, women supported construction projects by volunteering to draw water, carry sand, and cook. However, the construction teams were eager to get sisters involved in the actual building work and to make full use of the workforce.

One chief in Eastern Province watched in total disbelief as a sister built a wall for a Kingdom Hall. He exclaimed: “Since I was born, I have never seen a woman laying bricks and doing it so well! I feel very blessed to see this.”

“Our Spiritual Hospital”

The construction program has had a profound impact on communities. Many who at one time were either indifferent or opposed to Jehovah’s Witnesses have adopted a more tolerant view. For example, a chief in the Eastern Province who at first resisted the construction of Kingdom Halls in his area said: “I did not initially reject your project of my own initiative, but I was influenced by the clergy of other religious denominations. Now I can see that you are here for a good purpose. This beautiful building is now our spiritual hospital.”

The primary Christian ‘labor’ is that of preaching the “good news of the kingdom.” (2 Cor. 6:5; Matt. 24:14) Yet, just as the holy spirit moves God’s people to preach, it also spurs them on to labor vigorously in promoting Kingdom interests through the construction of dignified meeting places. Congregations gain an enhanced sense of purpose. One brother said: “We now feel confident when we go in the ministry and invite people to our meetings because we know that they will come, not to a shack, but to a Kingdom Hall that glorifies Jehovah.”

Another brother said: “We may not deserve such a nice Kingdom Hall in the bush, but Jehovah deserves it. I am happy that Jehovah has been glorified with better places of worship.”

The Traveling Work

Endurance is necessary for God’s ministers. (Col. 1:24, 25) Traveling overseers are an example of those who give of themselves in advancing Kingdom interests. Their loving labors as shepherds strengthening the congregations have established them as “gifts in men.”​—Eph. 4:8; 1 Thess. 1:3.

By the late 1930’s, capable men were being trained to serve as zone and regional servants, today called circuit and district overseers. “Traveling to congregations was not easy,” recalls James Mwango. “We were provided with bicycles, but the brothers had to accompany us to help us by carrying our luggage on foot. It took several days to reach our destinations. We used to spend two weeks with each congregation.”

“He . . . Promptly Fainted”

Rural travel then, as today, was a challenge. Now over 80 years old, Robinson Shamuluma served in the traveling work with his wife, Juliana. Robinson remembers being caught in a particularly heavy rainstorm during one rainy season. As the storm subsided, the way ahead was clear except that they had to pass through mud up to the seats of their bicycles! By the time they reached the next congregation, Juliana was so exhausted that she could hardly muster up the energy even to have a drink of water.

Enock Chirwa, who served in both circuit and district work through the 1960’s and 1970’s, explains: “Monday was a very difficult day; it was traveling day. However, when we reached the congregations, we forgot about the journey. Being with the brothers made us happy.”

Distance and hardship were not the only obstacles. On a journey to visit a congregation in the north of the country, Lamp Chisenga was accompanied by two brothers. On a dusty road, they saw an animal in the distance. “The brothers couldn’t see it clearly,” said Brother Chisenga. “It sat on the road like a dog. ‘Can you see it?’ I asked. ‘Can you see it?’ Then one of the brothers recognized the shape as a lion. He cried out and promptly fainted. We decided to rest there for some time to allow the lion to disappear into the bush.”

John Jason and his wife, Kay, who spent part of their 26 years in Zambia serving in the district work, learned the need for patience when facing mechanical “machinations.” John said: “I recall driving over 100 miles [150 km] on broken springs, since we had neither the spare parts nor a place to call in for help. At one point we broke down. Stranded with an overheated vehicle, we could do only one thing: Use all the water we had to cool the engine and to make one last cup of tea. Isolated, hot, and tired, we sat in the car and prayed to Jehovah to help us. At three in the afternoon, a roadworks vehicle came by, the first vehicle that day. Observing our plight, the crew offered to tow us. We reached our brothers just before dusk.”

Learning to Trust

In such circumstances traveling overseers quickly learn to place their trust, not in personal ability or material things, but in more reliable sources of support​—Jehovah God and the Christian brotherhood. (Heb. 13:5, 6) “We met a challenge just three weeks into our district work,” recollects Geoffrey Wheeler. “We were at the assembly site, ready for the weekend program. I had inherited a faulty Primus stove. It was a hot, windy day, and as I lit the stove, a burst of flame flared up. Within minutes the fire was out of control. The tire on the front of our Land Rover caught fire, and the flames quickly engulfed the entire vehicle.”

The loss of their vehicle was bad enough, but there was more to contend with. Says Geoffrey: “Our clothes were in a black steel trunk inside the Land Rover. They didn’t burn; they shriveled! The brothers came around the far side of the burning vehicle and rescued our bed, a shirt, and my typewriter. How grateful we were for their quick thinking!” Their personal possessions were lost in the ruined vehicle, and they themselves were not due back in town for two months, so how did they manage? Geoffrey says: “A brother lent me a tie, and I gave the public talk in some rubber overshoes. We survived, and the brothers did all they could to comfort their inexperienced district overseer.”

A Bed Safe From Snakes

The love and concern displayed by congregations that “follow the course of hospitality” strengthen traveling overseers and their wives to continue in their self-sacrificing activity. Endless are the accounts of how congregations, though in material need themselves, make loving provisions that are deeply appreciated.​—Rom. 12:13; Prov. 15:17.

Accommodations for traveling overseers are usually basic but always provided in a spirit of love. Fred Kashimoto, who served as a circuit overseer in the early 1980’s, remembers arriving at a village in Zambia’s Northern Province at night. The brothers gave him a warm welcome. After they all entered a small house, the brothers put his cases on top of a large table made of poles some five feet [1.5 m] high. When it grew late, Brother Kashimoto asked, “Where am I going to sleep?”

Pointing to the table, the brothers replied, “That is the bed​—there.” Apparently because of the prevalence of snakes, the brothers had provided a safer bed frame. With rolls of grass for a mattress, Brother Kashimoto settled down for the night.

In rural areas, gifts often take the form of farm produce. “On one occasion,” Geoffrey Wheeler remembers with a smile, “the brothers gave us a chicken. We put it on a perch in the pit latrine just before dark. However, the silly thing jumped off its perch and fell down the hole. We managed to scoop it safely out with a hoe. My wife then washed it in hot soapy water with plenty of disinfectant. We cooked it at the end of the week, and it tasted fine!”

The Jasons benefited from similar generosity. “Time and again, we would receive a live chicken from the brothers,” John said. “We had a little basket, and we carried a hen in it as we traveled through our district. Each morning she laid an egg, so we were not about to eat that hen. When we were packing to move to a new location, she made it clear that she wanted to come along.”

Moving Pictures

Commencing in 1954, The New World Society in Action along with several other films made for a stimulating educational campaign. “It inspired many to exert themselves both in the ministry and in the congregation,” commented a report from the branch office at the time. Some adopted a slogan when dismantling the assembly site after a film showing: “Let us do it ‘The New World Society in Action’ way”​—meaning “vigorously!” In the first year of its release, this film was seen by over 42,000, including officials of government and education, who were impressed with it. Eventually, more than a million people in Zambia were informed about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Christian organization.

Wayne Johnson remembers its impact. He says: “The films attracted people from miles around and did a lot to teach them about Jehovah’s organization. Often during the program, there would be enthusiastic and sustained applause.”

For a time, the Saturday evening session of the circuit assembly featured one of the films. In bush areas, this was an exciting experience. The campaign had a strong impact, though people who were unfamiliar with life elsewhere misunderstood certain scenes. One film showed people streaming from the exit of a subway in New York City. Many thought that this depicted the resurrection! Nevertheless, the films helped the people to have a greater appreciation for Jehovah’s Witnesses. But times were changing, and a growing desire for national independence would turn many Zambians against the brothers. Congregations and traveling overseers alike would confront situations calling for even greater endurance.

Political Interference

On October 24, 1964, Northern Rhodesia gained independence from Britain and became the Republic of Zambia. During this period, political tensions ran high. The neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses was misinterpreted as tacit support for the perpetuation of colonial rule.

Lamp Chisenga recalls traveling to the Lake Bangweulu area during this time. He planned to take a boat to island areas to visit fishermen there who were Witnesses. The initial stage of the journey was a bus ride to the lakeside. After he disembarked, he was asked to show a political party card. Of course, he didn’t have one. Political cadres took his briefcase. Then one of them saw a box marked “Watchtower.” He blew his whistle loudly and began to shout: “Watchtower! Watchtower!”

Fearing a disturbance, an official pushed Lamp back into the bus along with his bags. A large crowd had formed and began to throw stones at the bus, hitting the door, tires, and windows. The driver sped away, traveling nonstop to Samfya, some 55 miles [90 km] away. Overnight the situation cooled. The next morning Lamp, unperturbed, boarded the boat to serve the small congregations around the lake.

“By the endurance of much,” traveling overseers continue to recommend themselves as God’s ministers. (2 Cor. 6:4) Fanwell Chisenga, whose circuit covered an area along the Zambezi River, notes, “To serve as a circuit overseer calls for whole-souled devotion and self-sacrifice.” Traveling between congregations in this area involved lengthy boat journeys in old, leaky canoes on a river where an angry hippopotamus can snap a canoe like a dry twig. What helped Fanwell to endure in the circuit work? Smiling as he studies a photograph of congregation members who escorted him to a riverside, he acknowledges one source of motivation​—his brothers and sisters. Wistfully, he asks, “Where else can you find such happy faces in this angry world?”


“Every one who serves as a soldier keeps himself from becoming entangled in the world’s business​—so that he may satisfy the officer who enlisted him.” So wrote the apostle Paul. (2 Tim. 2:4, Weymouth) Remaining wholly at the disposal of their Leader, Jesus Christ, requires Christians to avoid involvement in the world’s political and religious systems. This stand has presented challenges and “tribulations” to true Christians, who wish to remain neutral in worldly affairs.​—John 15:19.

World War II saw many brutalized for lack of “patriotism.” “We saw old men being thrown on a truck like bags of maize for refusing military service,” recalls Benson Judge, who went on to become a zealous traveling overseer. “We heard these men say, ‘Tidzafera za Mulungu’ (We shall die for God’s sake).”

Though not baptized at the time, Mukosiku Sinaali well remembers that during the war the issue of neutrality was never far away. “Every person was required to dig and collect the roots of the mambongo vine, which produce a valuable latex material. The roots were stripped and beaten to make bands of material that were bundled and later processed as a rubber substitute used in the manufacture of boots for military personnel. The Witnesses refused to harvest these roots because of the link that this work had to the war effort. Consequently, the brothers faced punishment for their noncooperation. They became ‘undesirable elements.’”

Joseph Mulemwa was one such “undesirable.” A native of Southern Rhodesia, he had come to the Western Province of Northern Rhodesia in 1932. Some claimed that he encouraged people to stop cultivating their fields because ‘the Kingdom was at hand.’ A minister from the Mavumbo mission who despised Joseph promoted this false accusation. Joseph was arrested and handcuffed to a mentally disturbed man. Some hoped that the man would assault Joseph. However, Joseph pacified the disturbed man. After being released, Joseph continued to preach and to visit congregations. He died faithful in the mid-1980’s.

Strengthened to Face Trials

The spirit of nationalism and tensions within communities led to the intimidation of those who could not in good conscience participate in the political process. Even though the atmosphere in the country was tense, the 1963 “Courageous Ministers” National Assembly at Kitwe testified to the peace and unity existing among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Almost 25,000 delegates, some of whom came with tents and caravans for the five-day event, enjoyed the program in their choice of four languages. Significant was Milton Henschel’s talk that focused on a Christian’s relationship to the State. Frank Lewis recalls: “We remember his telling us to help our brothers understand the issue of neutrality. How happy we were for the timely counsel we received because most of the brothers in Zambia met the severe tests ahead and remained faithful to Jehovah!”

Through the decade of the 1960’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses faced widespread, violent persecution along with destruction of their property. Homes and Kingdom Halls were razed. Commendably, the government responded by imprisoning large numbers of those involved in the intimidation. When Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia, Jehovah’s Witnesses took special interest in a provision for basic human rights that was made by the new constitution. However, a wave of patriotism was soon to come crashing down on an unsuspecting target.

National Symbols

In colonial days, children of Jehovah’s Witnesses had suffered punishment when for religious reasons they did not pay homage to the flag, at that time the Union Jack. They were also punished for refusing to sing the national anthem. After representation was made to the authorities, the department of education softened its view, writing: “Your [group’s] views about saluting the flag are well-known and respected, and no child should be penalized in any way for refusing to salute.” The new republican constitution fueled hopes that fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, thought, and religion, would be strengthened. However, a new flag and anthem led to an upsurge in patriotism. Daily flag-salute and anthem ceremonies were reintroduced in schools, with great vigor. Though some Witness youths were granted exemption, many others were beaten and even expelled from school.

A new education act, passed in 1966, gave reason for hope. Incorporated was a provision allowing a parent or a guardian to request that a child be exempted from religious services or observances. Consequently, many children who had been suspended or expelled were reinstated. However, shortly afterward and with a measure of secrecy, regulations were appended to the act, which defined flags and anthems as secular symbols that promote national consciousness. Despite the brothers’ discussions with the governmental authorities, by the end of 1966, more than 3,000 children had been expelled from school for taking a neutral stand.

No School for Feliya

The time had come to test the legality of such action. A test case was chosen. Feliya Kachasu regularly attended Buyantanshi School in the Copperbelt. Though she was known as a model student, she had been expelled. Frank Lewis recalls how the case was brought to court: “Mr. Richmond Smith presented our case, which was not an easy one since it was against the government. Hearing Feliya explain why she did not salute the flag had convinced him that he wanted to take the case.”

Dailes Musonda, herself a schoolgirl in Lusaka at the time, says: “When Feliya’s case was brought to court, we were very much in expectation of a good result. Brothers traveled from Mufulira to attend court sessions. My sister and I were invited. I remember Feliya in court, dressed in a white hat and pale dress. The proceedings lasted three days. We still had some missionaries in the country; Brother Phillips and Brother Fergusson came to listen. We thought that their presence would help.”

The chief justice concluded: “There is no suggestion in this case of Jehovah’s Witnesses intending any disrespect to the national anthem or the national flag by their actions.” However, he did rule that the ceremonies were secular and that despite Feliya’s sincere beliefs, she could not claim exemption under the provisions of the education act. The ceremonies, he believed, were required in the interests of national security. How the imposition of such a requirement upon a minor would serve the interests of the people was never established. No school for Feliya while she held to her Christian beliefs!

Dailes remembers: “We were very disappointed. Nevertheless, we left everything in Jehovah’s hands.” When pressures continued to increase, Dailes and her sister left school in 1967. By the close of 1968, almost 6,000 children of Jehovah’s Witnesses had been expelled.

Public Gatherings Restricted

The Public Order Act of 1966 required that all public gatherings be opened with the singing of the national anthem. This made it impractical to hold assemblies to which the public was invited. The brothers met the demands of the government by holding larger gatherings in private areas, often around Kingdom Halls, fenced with grass. Intrigued, large numbers of interested ones were drawn to investigate what was happening, and as a result, attendances rose steadily so that in 1967, some 120,025 were present for the Memorial of Christ’s death.

“During this period there were outbursts of violent opposition,” remembers Lamp Chisenga. “In the Samfya area, a mob attacked Brother Mabo of the Katansha Congregation and killed him. Brothers were sometimes assaulted at meetings, and many Kingdom Halls were burned down. However, the authorities maintained respect for the Witnesses, and some opposers were arrested and punished.”

Their Own Air Force!

Opposers continued to make false accusations against Jehovah’s Witnesses, claiming that they were unusually rich and that they would form the next government. One day the secretary of the ruling party arrived at the Kitwe branch office unannounced. The first thing that the brothers knew of his visit was streams of police officers arriving at the gate. At a meeting with branch representatives, he got excited. “We gave permission for you to construct these buildings,” he said, raising his voice. “What are you doing with them? Are they your government offices?”

Some among the authorities continued to believe distorted rumors. In Zambia’s North-Western Province, police used tear gas in an attempt to break up a convention. The brothers managed to send an urgent telegram to the branch office. An expatriate farmer owned a small airplane, and he flew additional representatives from the branch to Kabompo to help in calming the situation and in clearing up any misunderstandings. Unfortunately, this did little to dispel the suspicions of some who now reported that the Witnesses had their own air force!

At the site, the brothers carefully collected spent tear-gas canisters. Later, when branch representatives visited government officials to express their concern, these were presented as evidence of the use of unnecessary force. The incident was widely publicized, and the peaceful reaction of the Witnesses was noted.

Explaining Our Stand

The drive to outlaw the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses continued apace. The branch wanted to explain our neutral stand to the government. Smart Phiri and Jonas Manjoni were selected to make a presentation before many government ministers. During the presentation, a minister verbally lashed out at the brothers. “I would love to take you outside and beat you!” he said. “Do you realize what you have done? You have taken our best citizens, the cream of the crop, and what have you left us with? Why, the murderers, the adulterers, and the thieves!”

The brothers quickly responded: “But that is what some of them were! They were thieves, adulterers, murderers, but because of the Bible’s power, these very people have made changes in their lives and have become Zambia’s best citizens. That is why we appeal to you to let us preach freely.”​—1 Cor. 6:9-11.

Deportations and Partial Ban

As we learned earlier, missionaries were ordered to leave the country. “We shall never forget January 1968,” said Frank Lewis. “A brother telephoned to tell us that an immigration officer had just left his home. The officer had served him deportation papers giving him seven days to wind up his business in Zambia and get out. Soon another call came and then another. Finally, one of the brothers called to say that he had heard that a big complex in Kitwe was next on the list.” Evidently, such drastic measures were intended to destabilize the unity of the Witnesses and to discourage them in their zealous activity.

The following year, the president authorized the Preservation of Public Security Order, which outlawed the door-to-door preaching work. In the face of this virtual ban, the brothers needed to restructure the ministry, with informal witnessing taking on greater importance. Our Kingdom Ministry became Our Monthly Letter, and the section “Presenting the Good News” took on the title “Our Internal Ministry.” This helped us to avoid attracting the attention of government censors. A peak of almost 48,000 home Bible studies was reported in April of 1971, giving clear indication that the efforts to restrict the work did little to discourage the brothers.

Clive Mountford, who now lives in England, associated with many missionaries. He recalls: “One way we would witness was to give people lifts in our cars and then to discuss the truth with them. We always kept magazines in the car, in full view of any to whom we gave a ride.”

Although not outlawing Bible discussions, restrictions demanded that consent be obtained beforehand for a call to be made. Sometimes this was simply a case of calling on the homes of relatives, former schoolmates, workmates, or others. During a social call, conversation could be tactfully directed to Scriptural matters. Since extended families were large, contact could be made with a chain of unbelieving relatives and members of the community.

By 1975 the branch reported: “Several thousand publishers in our field have never engaged in preaching from house to house. However, new disciples have been made, and a tremendous witness has been given.” In view of the restrictions placed on their door-to-door activity, the brothers used other ways to give a witness. Typical is the example of one brother who was a recordkeeper in a government department. His work involved recording names and details of members of the public. He took particular interest in those having Bible names and asked them what they knew of the Bible character by the same name. This provided many opportunities to witness. When one mother and her daughter called, the brother noticed that the girl’s name was Eden. When asked if she knew what “Eden” meant, the mother admitted that she did not. The brother briefly explained, pointing out that in the near future, the earth would become like that original Paradise in Eden. Intrigued, the woman gave him her home address. Her husband too became interested, the family began attending the meetings, and eventually some were baptized.

Other publishers took advantage of their secular work to give a witness. Royd, who was employed by a mining company, used his lunch break to ask workmates for their thoughts on various texts. “Who do you think is the ‘rock-mass’ mentioned at Matthew 16:18?” Or, “Who is the ‘stone of stumbling’ at Romans 9:32?” Large groups of miners would often gather to hear the explanations from the Scriptures. Because of these informal discussions, several of Royd’s workmates progressed to dedication and baptism.

The determined stand taken by our young ones at school also provided opportunities for others to hear the truth. When one group of children refused to participate in singing patriotic songs, their teacher became angry and ordered the class to stand outside. One of the group recalled: “The teacher must have thought that we couldn’t sing even our own religious songs. It seems that he saw it as an opportunity to subject us to mockery. He ordered the pupils to separate themselves according to religious denomination. Each group was directed to sing one or two of their church songs. When two groups failed to recall any songs, the teacher turned his attention to us. We began with the song ‘This Is Jehovah’s Day!’ It seems that we sang well​—local people passing by the school stopped to listen. We followed with ‘Jehovah Has Become King!’ Everyone, including the teacher, burst into applause. We returned to class. Many of our classmates were moved to ask where we learned such beautiful songs, and some accompanied us to the meetings, later becoming active Witnesses themselves.”

“Those Who Drop Books”

Throughout this period the brothers showed themselves to be as “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) Because of their distinctive literature and enthusiastic use of study aids, Jehovah’s Witnesses were nicknamed Abaponya Ifitabo meaning “Those Who Drop (or, Place) Books.” Despite determined efforts by opposers to silence the brothers, the Kingdom-preaching work continued unabated. Though sporadic and violent opposition continued for years, by the early 1980’s, opposition had lessened.

During the 25 years following national independence, almost 90,000 were baptized. However, the number of active publishers increased by only about 42,000. What was the reason for this? True, some died, and others may have moved away. “Fear of man, however, was also a factor,” recalls Neldie, who served at the branch office during that period. Many became irregular or inactive in the ministry. Furthermore, independence brought change. Positions in management and business administration, previously reserved for expatriate workers, needed filling. With new opportunities for housing, employment, and education, many families shifted their focus from spiritual to material pursuits.

Nevertheless, the work progressed. Wise King Solomon wrote: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” (Eccl. 11:6) The brothers endeavored to plant seeds of truth that would flourish as conditions became more favorable. Steady increases meant that in 1976, purchase of a new truck was necessary for increasing literature deliveries. In 1982 work started on the construction of new printing facilities some miles from Bethel. Such practical developments would lay the foundation for future growth.

Few countries in central Africa have enjoyed the level of peace and freedom from civil conflict that Zambia has. While circumstances are now extremely favorable to “declare good news of good things,” memories of “tribulations” serve to inspire faithful ones to continue busy in “gathering fruit for everlasting life.”​—Rom. 10:15; 2 Cor. 6:4; John 4:36.

Branch Expansion

In the 1930’s, Llewelyn Phillips and his fellow workers cared for their assignments from a two-room rented building in Lusaka. Few would have imagined the current 270-acre [110 ha] Bethel complex, which houses more than 250 volunteers. These brothers and sisters serve the spiritual needs of over 125,000 publishers and pioneers. Let us briefly consider how this growth came about.

As we learned earlier, by 1936 the attitude of the authorities had softened sufficiently to allow the opening of a literature depot in Lusaka. Expansion soon called for a move to a larger building. A residential property was obtained near the central police station. “It had two bedrooms,” remembers Jonas Manjoni. “A dining room was used as the Service Department, and a veranda, as the Shipping Department.” In 1951, Jonas took two weeks’ vacation from secular work to serve at Bethel, and later he came to stay. “It was well organized, and there was a happy spirit,” he says. “I was in the Shipping Department with Brother Phillips, working on subscriptions and putting stamps on rolls of magazines. It was good to know that we were serving the brothers.” Llewelyn Phillips was later joined by Harry Arnott, and they worked alongside local brothers, such as Job Sichela, Andrew John Mulabaka, John Mutale, Potipher Kachepa, and Morton Chisulo.

With Zambia experiencing a healthy mining industry and a rapidly developing infrastructure and the mining region drawing people from all corners of the country, attention was increasingly focused away from Lusaka to the Copperbelt. Ian Fergusson recommended purchasing property in a mining town, and in 1954 the branch office moved to King George Avenue, Luanshya. Before long, however, these premises became too small to care for the rapidly expanding field, which extended into most of East Africa. During his visit to the “Awake Ministers” District Assembly in 1959, Nathan Knorr, from world headquarters, viewed possible locations for a new branch and gave the go-ahead to proceed with construction. Geoffrey Wheeler recalls, “Frank Lewis, Eugene Kinaschuk, and I went with an architect to the new site in Kitwe to set out pegs for the new Bethel.” On February 3, 1962, a new branch office with a home, a printing room, and a Kingdom Hall was dedicated to Jehovah. Concluding the dedication program for the facilities, Harry Arnott, branch servant at the time, directed attention to the more important spiritual building at which each one must work hard using the building blocks of faith, hope, and love.

These facilities soon became inadequate because of an increase in the number of Kingdom publishers from 30,129 to almost 57,000 in the next ten years. “Brother Knorr encouraged us to expand our printing,” recalled Ian Fergusson. “I visited the branch in Elandsfontein, South Africa, to consult with the brothers. Soon a printing press was airfreighted from there to Kitwe.”

Besides literature and magazines, Kitwe produced the monthly Our Kingdom Ministry for distribution in Kenya and other East African territories. In no time at all, the small printing facility became cramped, and it was necessary to move the printery. When the city council raised objections to our using an available site, a brother stepped forward and offered some land. The building was completed in 1984. For three decades Kitwe served as the spiritual hub of the preaching work in Zambia.

During the difficult years following the deportation of the missionaries, the number of workers at the branch office increased to the point that 14 members of the Bethel family were living outside of Bethel with their families. Adjustments were needed to care properly for the work that lay ahead. In time, two houses were bought and another was rented, making it possible to increase the size of the family. Obviously, though, new facilities were needed. Happily, circumstances were soon to improve dramatically. In 1986, brothers in key locations were assigned to search for land for a new branch. A 270-acre [110 ha] farm became available some nine miles [15 km] west of the capital. This proved to be a wise choice since the area has large reserves of groundwater. Dayrell Sharp commented, “I think that Jehovah guided us to this lovely spot.”

Dedication and Growth

On Saturday, April 24, 1993, hundreds of longtime servants of Jehovah gathered for the dedication of the new facilities. Among the 4,000 local brothers and sisters were more than 160 international guests, including missionaries who had had to leave some 20 years earlier. Theodore Jaracz, one of the two members of the Governing Body present, spoke on the theme “Recommending Ourselves as God’s Ministers.” He reminded those who had served faithfully for many years that if they had not endured, there would not have been a need to build. Referring to Paul’s words to the Corinthians, he emphasized that a true minister cultivates the fruitage of the spirit, which enables one to endure difficulties, trials, and tribulations. “You have recommended yourselves as God’s ministers,” he noted. “We have had to build this new branch because of the expansion of the work.”

In 2004 a four-story, 32-room new residence building was completed. Almost 11,000 square feet [1,000 sq m] of printery space has been upgraded to accommodate 47 translation offices with additional areas for file storage, conference rooms, and a library.

Despite economic hardships and other difficulties, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zambia have been enriched in their service of God, and they count it a privilege to share their spiritual riches with others.​—2 Cor. 6:10.

Recommending the Truth to All

Zambia’s family-oriented society has through the years provided opportunity for many to be raised in the way of the truth. A traditional saying from Zambia’s Western Province is, A cow does not find its horns heavy. In other words, the duty of looking after one’s family should not be considered a burden. Christian parents recognize their accountability before God and prove to be a positive influence on their children, recommending the Christian ministry by word and by deed. Today, many Witnesses are the zealous offspring of such loyal ones.​—Ps. 128:1-4.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zambia rejoice at what has been achieved with Jehovah’s patience and support. (2 Pet. 3:14, 15) In the early days, “truthful,” Bible-based beliefs brought them through a period of uncertainty. An active “love free from hypocrisy” continues to be a bond among people drawn from diverse tribes and has steadily brought spiritual growth without unnecessary pain. Using “weapons of righteousness” to defend and inform with “kindness,” they have opened the minds of many, including those in authority, often resulting in a “good report.” Now more than 2,100 congregations are being firmly established “by knowledge” as capable graduates of the Ministerial Training School contribute needed oversight. Though greater “tribulations” may yet unfold, Jehovah’s Witnesses can be confident of “ever rejoicing” as they gather together.​—2 Cor. 6:4-10.

During the 1940 service year, about 5,000 heeded Jesus’ command to commemorate his death. That was 1 in 200 or so of the population. In recent years, more than half a million​—indeed 569,891 in 2005—​representing approximately 1 out of every 20 persons honored Jehovah that special evening. (Luke 22:19) Why have Jehovah’s people met with such success? Credit belongs to Jehovah God, the one responsible for spiritual growth.​—1 Cor. 3:7.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zambia, however, have done their part. “We are not embarrassed to talk about the good news; to us it is a privilege,” comments a member of the Branch Committee. It is evident to visitors that Jehovah’s Witnesses approach their ministry with a courteous determination. No wonder they enjoy a ratio of about 1 publisher to 90 of the population! Yet, there is more to be done.

“The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” (Prov. 18:10) There remains an urgent need for rightly disposed ones to run to Jehovah’s side now. The almost 200,000 Bible studies presently conducted in Zambia each month will help many more to dedicate themselves to Jehovah and become his zealous ministers. More than 125,000 active Witnesses in Zambia have every reason to recommend that course.

[Box on page 168]

An Overview of Zambia

The land: A flat, landlocked country with an abundance of trees, Zambia lies on a plateau some 4,000 feet [1,200 m] above sea level. The Zambezi River defines much of the southern border.

The people: Most Zambians are literate and profess to be Christian. In rural areas, people live in grass-roofed homes and grow food nearby.

The language: English is the official language, though more than 70 indigenous languages are also spoken.

The livelihood: Major industries include copper mining and processing. Among the agricultural products are maize, sorghum, rice, and peanuts.

The food: Maize is popular. Among the favorite dishes is nshima, a thick maize-meal porridge.

The climate: Because of the country’s elevation, the climate is milder than one might expect for a country in south-central Africa. Periodically, there is drought.

[Box/​Picture on page 173-175]

I Was Given 17 Months and 24 Lashes

Kosamu Mwanza

Born: 1886

Baptized: 1918

Profile: Endured persecution and false brothers. Faithfully served as a pioneer and an elder until he finished his earthly course in 1989.

I enlisted in the army and served as a medical orderly in the Northern Rhodesia Regiment during the early part of the first world war. In December 1917 while on leave, I met two men from Southern Rhodesia who were associated with the Bible Students. They gave me six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. For three days I devoured the information in these books. I did not return to the war.

Correspondence with the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses was difficult, and I and the brothers with me worked without direction. We went from village to village, gathering people around us, giving a sermon, and entertaining questions from listeners. In time, we chose a central point of meeting called Galilee in the north of the country. From there we invited interested ones to come and listen to explanations of the Bible. I was appointed to oversee matters. Sadly, many false brothers arose and spread confusion.

We were eager to preach, but our efforts disrupted the pastures of Catholic and Protestant missionaries in the area. We continued to hold large meetings, and I recall how in January 1919, about 600 gathered in the hills near Isoka. Unsure of our intentions, police and soldiers arrived, destroyed our Bibles and books, and arrested many of us. Some were imprisoned near Kasama, others in Mbala, and others as far south as Livingstone. Some received sentences of three years. I was given 17 months in prison and 24 lashes on the buttocks.

Upon release, I went back to my home village and resumed the preaching work. Later I was again arrested and imprisoned after receiving more lashes. Opposition continued. The local chief decided to expel the brothers from the village. All of us moved to another village, where the chief welcomed us. We settled there, and with his permission, we built our own village, which we called Nazareth. We were allowed to stay there on the condition that our activity did not disrupt the peace. The chief was pleased with our conduct.

Toward the end of 1924, I returned north to Isoka where a sympathetic district commissioner helped me to understand English better. During that time some self-styled leaders arose, teaching twisted things and misleading many. However, we continued to meet discreetly in private homes. Several years later, I received an invitation to meet in Lusaka with Llewelyn Phillips, who assigned me to visit congregations along the border between Zambia and Tanzania. I went as far as Mbeya in Tanzania, strengthening the brothers. After each round, I would return to my local congregation. I did this until the 1940’s when circuit overseers were assigned.

[Box/​Pictures on page 184-186]

Help to Northern Neighbors

In 1948 the newly formed Northern Rhodesia branch took oversight of the Kingdom-preaching work in most of what was called British East Africa. At that time, a few publishers were to be found in the highlands of Zambia’s northern neighbors. With the authorities of the day largely resistant to the entry of foreign missionaries, who would help humble ones learn the truth?

When Happy Chisenga offered to serve as a regular pioneer in Zambia’s Central Province, he was surprised to receive an invitation to serve in isolated territory near Njombe, Tanzania. “When my wife and I saw the word ‘isolated,’ we thought that we would be working along with publishers in a remote area. We soon learned that we were the first to preach in that place. When we directed people’s attention to the name Jehovah and such expressions as Armageddon in their copies of the Bible, people began to wonder. They soon nicknamed my wife Armageddon and me Jehovah. When we eventually transferred to Arusha, we left a group of stable publishers.”

In 1957, William Lamp Chisenga received an assignment to serve as a special pioneer in the mountains around Mbeya, Tanzania. “My wife, Mary, and our two children arrived in November, and we spent the whole night in the bus terminal since the local hotels were full. Though the night was cold and rainy, we looked forward to seeing how Jehovah would direct matters. The following morning, I left my family at the terminal to search for accommodations. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I took with me copies of The Watchtower. Reaching the post office, I had placed several magazines when I met a man named Johnson. ‘Where do you come from, and where are you going?’ he asked. I told him that I had come to preach the good news. After hearing that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he said that he was originally from Lundazi in Zambia’s Eastern Province and that he was a baptized Witness who had become inactive. We arranged to transport my family and our possessions to his home. In time, Johnson and his wife regained their spiritual strength and helped us to learn Swahili. Eventually, he returned to Zambia and became an active preacher of the good news. The experience taught me never to underestimate Jehovah’s ability to help us and never to undervalue opportunities to help others.”

Bernard Musinga’s full-time service took him and his wife, Pauline, and their young family to areas as diverse as Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Regarding a visit to the Seychelles, Bernard relates: “In 1976, I was assigned to visit a group on beautiful Praslin Island. The people were staunch Catholics, and misunderstandings had arisen. For example, the young son of a new publisher had refused to use the plus sign in his math lessons, explaining: ‘It is a cross, and I don’t believe in the cross.’ At that, religious leaders had leveled the bizarre accusation: ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses do not let their children study mathematics.’ In a meeting with the minister of education, we respectfully explained our beliefs and resolved that misunderstanding. The rapport we developed with the minister opened the way for missionaries to enter.”


Happy Mwaba Chisenga


William Lamp Chisenga


Bernard and Pauline Musinga

[Box/​Picture on page 191, 192]

“You Are Losing Your Future!”

Mukosiku Sinaali

Born: 1928

Baptized: 1951

Profile: A Gilead graduate and a former translator, he currently serves as a congregation elder.

On the day of my baptism, missionary Harry Arnott spoke with me. There was a need for Silozi translators. “Can you help?” he asked. I soon received a letter of assignment and a copy of the Watchtower magazine. I eagerly started work that evening. The translation work was difficult, involving long hours of writing with an old ink pen. There was no Silozi dictionary available. I worked by day at the post office and by night as a translator. Sometimes I would receive a reminder from the branch office: “Please mail translation immediately.” I often thought, ‘Why can’t I enter the full-time service?’ Eventually, I resigned from the post office. Though I was trusted by the authorities, my resignation raised suspicions. Had I misappropriated funds? The post office sent two European inspectors to see. Their thorough inspection revealed no problems. They could not understand why I was resigning. My employers offered me a promotion to stay on, and when I refused, they warned: “You are losing your future!”

That wasn’t true. In 1960, I was invited to Bethel. Soon afterward came an invitation to attend Gilead School. I felt apprehensive. Flying for the first time​—to Paris, on to Amsterdam, and then to New York—​I remember thinking, ‘Is this how the anointed feel when they go to heaven?’ The loving reception that I received at world headquarters was overwhelming​—the brothers showed such humility and a complete lack of prejudice. I was assigned to return to Zambia, where I continued to help with translation.

[Box/​Picture on page 194]

Faster Than Eagles

Katuku Nkobongo is disabled; he cannot walk. One Sunday during the visit of the circuit overseer, news broke that rebel forces were advancing toward the village where he lived. Everyone fled. One of the last to leave was the circuit overseer, Mianga Mabosho. As he got on his bicycle to ride to safety, he heard a voice cry out from a nearby hut, “My brother, are you going to leave me here?” It was Katuku. The circuit overseer quickly helped him get on his bicycle and out of the village.

Their route southward to Zambia took them across difficult terrain. Brother Nkobongo had to crawl up the steep hills. The circuit overseer recalls: “Although I was climbing with my two legs, he reached the top of the hills before I did! I said, ‘This man is lame, but it is as though he has wings!’ When we finally reached a safer place and were given a meal, I asked the brother to pray. His heartfelt expressions brought tears to my eyes. Referring to Isaiah, chapter 40, he prayed: ‘Your words are true, Jehovah. Boys will both tire out and grow weary, and young men themselves will without fail stumble, but those hoping in you will regain power. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out.’ He added, ‘Thank you, Jehovah, for making me move faster than the eagles of the heavens.’”

[Box/​Picture on page 204, 205]

Khaki Shorts and Brown Tennis Shoes

Philemon Kasipoh

Born: 1948

Baptized: 1966

Profile: Serves as a traveling overseer and an instructor and the coordinator of the MTS in Zambia.

My grandfather trained me in the ministry. Many times he took me to my schoolmates and asked me to witness to them. Grandfather used to conduct a regular family study, and no one was allowed to doze! I always looked forward to the family study.

I was baptized in a river near our home. A month later I gave my first talk in the congregation. I remember that I wore new khaki shorts and brown tennis shoes that day. Unfortunately, I tied the laces on my shoes so tight that I felt uncomfortable. The congregation servant noticed this. He kindly came to the platform and loosened them while I remained silent. The talk went well, and I learned from that act of kindness. I can see that Jehovah has given me much training.

With my own eyes, I have seen the fulfillment of Isaiah 60:22. The increase in the number of congregations calls for more elders and ministerial servants who are well equipped to handle responsibility. The MTS is filling this need. It is truly a source of joy to teach these young men. I have learned that when Jehovah gives you a job to do, he is sure to give you his holy spirit.

[Box/​Pictures on page 207-209]

“Oh, That’s Nothing”

Edward and Linda Finch

Born: 1951

Baptized: 1969 and 1966 respectively

Profile: Graduates of the 69th class of Gilead. Edward serves as the Branch Committee coordinator for Zambia.

During one convention period, we drove through the north of the country. There are few roads, just tracks. Several miles outside a village, we saw people walking toward us. One was an old man bent double and using a walking stick. His boots were tied together and hanging over his back along with a small bag of belongings. Getting closer, we saw that he and the others wore convention badges. We stopped to inquire where they were from. The elderly brother straightened up a little and said: “You have forgotten already. We were together at Chansa for the convention. We are now nearing home.”

“So when did you leave the convention?” we asked.

“When the program ended on Sunday.”

“But it is now Wednesday afternoon. Have you walked for three days?”

“Yes, and last night we heard lions.”

“You are all to be commended for the wonderful spirit you show and the sacrifice you make to attend conventions.”

The elderly brother simply picked up his things and started walking. “Oh, that’s nothing,” he said. “You go and thank the branch office for the new convention location. Last year we had to walk five days, but this year​—only three days.”

Most remember 1992 as a drought year in Zambia. We were at a convention on the banks of the Zambezi River, about 120 miles [200 km] upstream from Victoria Falls. During the evening, we visited families, most of whom were huddled around a fire in front of their small booth. One group of about 20 was singing Kingdom songs. We learned that they had walked eight days to get to the convention. They did not feel that they had done anything special. They traveled by loading their animals with small children, food, cooking utensils, and other necessities and slept wherever night found them.

The next day it was announced that the drought had affected many and that those in need were being given help. That evening three brothers came to our hut. None wore shoes, and their clothes were old. We were expecting them to tell us how the drought had affected them. Rather, they started to tell us how sad they were to learn of the suffering of some of the brothers. One pulled an envelope stuffed full of money out of his jacket pocket and said: “Please do not let them go hungry. Here, buy them some food.” Choked with emotion, we were unable even to thank them, and they were gone before we recovered. They had not come to the convention prepared for this, so their donation represented a big sacrifice on their part. Experiences like these draw us ever closer to the brothers.


Despite hardships, many travel great distances to attend assemblies and conventions

Above: Cooking supper at the convention site

Left: Baking rolls in an outdoor oven

[Box/​Picture on page 211-213]

Determined to Assemble

Aaron Mapulanga

Born: 1938

Baptized: 1955

Profile: Formerly a Bethel volunteer, a translator, and a Branch Committee member. Now a family man serving as a congregation elder.

It was 1974, and our convention was six miles [10 km] east of Kasama. Though permission for the gathering was given by the local chief, the police insisted that we disperse. Soon the commanding officer, a large man, arrived with about a hundred paramilitary officers, who surrounded our camp. We kept the program moving while in a grass office, there was an animated discussion about permits and about whether the national anthem would be played.

When the time arrived for my part on the program, the commanding officer followed me onto the platform in an attempt to stop me from delivering the keynote address. The audience wondered what was next. He stood for a while gazing at the audience of about 12,000 and then stormed off. After my talk, I found him waiting behind the platform, very annoyed. He ordered his men to disperse the gathering, but a dispute arose between the senior officers, and they drove off. Shortly afterward, they returned, this time carrying a large book. The commanding officer laid it on the table in front of me and asked me to read a marked section. I read the paragraph silently.

“This book is correct,” I said. “It says: ‘The officer is empowered to disperse any gathering if it threatens peace.’” Looking at his belt and revolvers, I continued: “The only threat we have here is your presence and your men, who are armed. For our part, we have Bibles.”

He immediately turned to an intelligence officer and said: “Did I not tell you? Let us go!” Off we went to the police station.

On arrival at his office, he reached for the telephone and began talking to another officer. Up to that time, we had conversed in English. Now he spoke in Silozi. Little did he know that this was my language too! They talked about me. I just sat quietly and avoided giving the impression that I understood. Putting the receiver down, he said, “Now listen!”

I responded in Silozi, “Eni sha na teeleza!” meaning “Yes sir, I am listening!” Obviously surprised, he just sat and looked at me for a good while. He then stood up, walked over to a large refrigerator in the corner of his office, and got me a cold drink. The atmosphere became more relaxed.

Later a brother who was a well-respected businessman in the area also arrived. We made practical suggestions that alleviated the officer’s fears, and the tense situation ended. With Jehovah’s backing, convention arrangements became easier.

[Box/​Picture on page 221]

Thin Like a Finger

Michael Mukanu

Born: 1928

Baptized: 1954

Profile: Served as a traveling overseer and now serves at Zambia Bethel.

My circuit extended down into a valley behind an escarpment. I was often troubled by tsetse flies. To avoid insects and the heat of the day, I would wake up at 1:00 a.m. and head off, climbing hills and mountains to reach the next congregation. Because of so much walking, I carried very few items. I had little food to eat, so I was thin, like a finger. The brothers thought about writing to the branch office to request a change of assignment for me because they thought that, sooner or later, I was going to die. When they told me this, I said: “That is a kind suggestion, but you should remember that my assignment came from Jehovah, and he can change it. If I die, will I be the first to be buried here? Just let me continue. If I die, just notify the branch office.”

Three weeks later, I received a change of assignment. True, serving Jehovah can be a challenge, but you have to continue. Jehovah is the happy God; if his servants are not happy, he can do something so that they continue joyful in his service.

[Box/​Picture on page 223, 224]

We Do Not Support Superstition

Harkins Mukinga

Born: 1954

Baptized: 1970

Profile: Along with his wife, served as a traveling overseer and is now at Zambia Bethel.

When traveling, my wife, Idah, and I took with us our only son, a two-year-old boy. Arriving at one congregation, we were warmly welcomed by the brothers. On Thursday morning our son started crying and didn’t stop. At 8:00 a.m., I left him in Idah’s fine care and went to the meeting for field service. An hour later, while I was conducting a Bible study, news reached my ears that our son had died. Added to our distress was learning that a number of the brothers concluded that someone had bewitched him. We tried to help them reason against this common fear, but the news burst out like a petrol fire all over the territory. I explained that Satan is powerful but cannot overpower Jehovah and His loyal servants. “Time and unforeseen occurrence” befall us all, but we shouldn’t be hasty to draw conclusions based on fear.​—Eccl. 9:11.

Our son was buried the following day, and after the funeral, we held the meeting. The brothers learned some lessons from this: We neither fear wicked spirits nor support superstition. Though deeply pained by our loss, we continued with our special week of activity and left for another congregation. Instead of the congregations’ comforting us for what we had experienced, we comforted and encouraged them that in the near future, death will be a thing of the past.

[Box/​Picture on page 228, 229]

We Mustered Up Boldness

Lennard Musonda

Born: 1955

Baptized: 1974

Profile: In full-time service since 1976. He spent six years in the traveling work and now serves at Zambia Bethel.

I recall visiting congregations in about 1985 in the far north of the country. In previous years, political opposition there was intense. I was a newly appointed circuit overseer, and an opportunity presented itself for me to show faith and courage. Just after our meeting for field service one day, we were poised to visit a nearby village. Then a brother said that he had heard that if Jehovah’s Witnesses attempted to preach there, they would face a beating from the entire village. Though there had been mob attacks in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, I could not imagine that we would face violence from an entire community at this time.

Nevertheless, at hearing this report, some publishers became fainthearted and remained behind. Others of us​—a good number—​mustered up boldness and set off for the village. What we found amazed us. We placed many magazines and had friendly discussions with those we met. However, some who saw us enter the village ran away. We saw abandoned pots boiling over and houses left open. So instead of experiencing a confrontation, we witnessed a retreat.

[Box/​Picture on page 232, 233]

I Had to Run for My Life

Darlington Sefuka

Born: 1945

Baptized: 1963

Profile: Served as a special pioneer, a traveling overseer, and a Zambia Bethel volunteer.

It was 1963, and times were turbulent. Often, as we went into the field ministry, gangs of politically motivated youths would go ahead of us, warning people not to listen and threatening that if they did, someone would come and break their windows and doors.

One evening barely two days after my baptism, I was badly beaten by a group of 15 youths. Blood streamed from my mouth and nose. On another evening, a brother and I were assaulted by a group of about 40 who had followed us to where I stayed. Recalling the experiences of the Lord Jesus strengthened me. The talk delivered by John Jason at my baptism had made it clear that a Christian’s life would not be problem-free. When these things happened, they came, not as a surprise, but as an encouragement.

At the time, politicians wanted support in their fight for independence, and our neutral position was seen as aligning ourselves with Europeans and Americans. Religious leaders who supported political groups made sure that they fueled any negative talk about us. Things were difficult before independence, and they remained challenging afterward. Many brothers lost their businesses because they would not obtain party cards. Some moved from urban areas back to their home villages and took up low-income jobs to avoid requests for donations to support political activities.

When I was a teenager, my cousin, who wasn’t a Witness, cared for me. My neutral stand led to intimidation and threats against his family. They were afraid. One day, before leaving for work, my cousin said, “When I come back in the evening, I want you gone.” At first I thought he was joking, since I had no other relative in the town. I had nowhere to go. I soon realized that he was serious. When he returned home and found me there, he was furious. He picked up stones and began to chase me. “Go to your fellow dogs!” he screamed. I had to run for my life.

My father heard reports and sent a message: “If you continue to stick to your neutral position, never step in my house.” That was difficult. I was 18. Who would take me in? The congregation did. Often I meditate on King David’s words: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Ps. 27:10) Let me tell you, Jehovah is true to his promise.

[Box/​Picture on page 236, 237]

My Conduct Won the Respect of Many Teachers

Jackson Kapobe

Born: 1957

Baptized: 1971

Profile: Serves as a congregation elder.

In 1964 the first expulsions from schools began. The branch office helped parents to see that they should prepare their children. I remember Father sitting down with me after school and discussing Exodus 20:4, 5.

At school assemblies, I stood toward the back to avoid confrontation. Those found not singing the national anthem would be called to the front. When the headmaster asked why I refused to sing, I answered using the Bible. “You read, but you do not sing!” the teacher exclaimed. He reasoned that I owed loyalty to the government for providing a school that taught me to read.

Finally, in February 1967, I was expelled. I was disappointed because I enjoyed learning and was a good student. Despite pressure from workmates and unbelieving family members, my father reassured me that I was doing the right thing. My mother too was under pressure. As I accompanied her into the fields to work, other women would ridicule us, “Why is this one not in school?”

My education, however, was not abandoned. In 1972 greater emphasis began to be put on literacy classes within the congregation. As time went on, the situation in schools eased. Our house was across the road from the school. The headmaster would often call to get cold water to drink or to borrow brooms used to sweep classrooms. Once he even came to borrow money! My family’s acts of kindness must have touched him, for one day he asked, “Does your son want to continue school?” Dad reminded him that I was still one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “No problem,” said the headmaster. “What grade do you want to start?” he asked me. I chose grade six. Same school, same headmaster, same classmates​—except my reading skills were better than most because of the literacy classes held at the Kingdom Hall.

My hard work and good conduct won the respect of many teachers, which made school life easier. I studied hard and took some examinations, which allowed me to accept a responsible position in the mines and later to support a family. I am happy that I never sang in compromise.

[Box/​Picture on page 241, 242]

“How Can We Stop Preaching?”

Jonas Manjoni

Born: 1922

Baptized: 1950

Profile: Served at Zambia Bethel for over 20 years. Currently an elder and a regular pioneer.

In the middle of the second world war, my brother returned from Tanzania with a Bible and several books including Government and Reconciliation. With publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses still under ban, I was interested to see what all the fuss was about. I read Reconciliation but found it hard to understand. Some years later, I visited my brother and went with him to a congregation meeting. There was no Kingdom Hall; the meeting place was a cleared area, fenced off with bamboo. No printed outline was used, but how satisfying it was to hear a lecture taken directly from the Scriptures! The explanation of the Bible was quite different from that presented at the church I went to, where those attending were eager to salute the flag and to beat drums. Why, in church, squabbles arose over tribal differences and in what language they should sing! At this meeting, however, I heard beautiful songs giving praise to Jehovah and saw whole families seated, taking in spiritual food.

I got baptized and continued my secular work as a medical orderly, which took me from town to town in the mining areas. In 1951, I took two weeks’ leave and spent the time helping at the branch office in Lusaka. Soon afterward, I was invited to serve at Bethel. At first I worked in shipping, and later when the office moved to Luanshya, I helped in correspondence and translation. Though political change began brewing in the early 1960’s, the brothers continued to produce good fruitage and to maintain their neutrality amid political upheaval.

March 1963 was one of several occasions when I met with Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who was soon to become president of Zambia. I explained why we refused to join political parties or to purchase party cards. We requested his assistance in ending intimidation from political opposers, and he requested more information. Some years later, Dr. Kaunda invited us to the State House where we were privileged to speak to the president and his principal ministers. The meeting lasted late into the evening. While not objecting to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious group, the president asked if we could just meet like other religions, without preaching. “How can we stop preaching?” we replied. “Jesus preached. He did not simply build a temple alongside the Pharisees.”

Despite our appeals, a ban was imposed on features of our ministry. Nevertheless, as always we found ways to give credit and honor to Jehovah, who uses his servants to accomplish his purpose.

[Box/​Picture on page 245, 246]

I Had a Strong Desire to Learn

Daniel Sakala

Born: 1964

Baptized: 1996

Profile: Serves as a congregation elder.

I was a member of the Zion Spirit Church when I received a copy of the booklet Learn to Read and Write. Though illiterate, I had a strong desire to learn. So after obtaining the publication, I devoted much time to it. I would ask people to help me understand new words. In this way, though having no teacher, I made progress and within a short time learned the basics of reading and writing.

I could now read the Bible! However, I discovered several things that conflicted with practices in my church. My brother-in-law, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, sent me the brochure Spirits of the Dead​—Can They Help You or Harm You? Do They Really Exist? What I read prompted me to ask my pastor some questions. While in church one day, I read Deuteronomy 18:10, 11 and asked, “Why do we do things that the Bible condemns?”

“We have our own part to play,” answered the pastor. I didn’t understand that comment.

I then read Ecclesiastes 9:5 and asked, “Why do we encourage people to honor the dead when the Bible says the dead ‘are conscious of nothing’?” Neither the pastor nor the audience said anything in reply.

Later, some church members approached me. They said, “We are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, so why should we stop respecting the dead and not follow our customs?” This puzzled me. Though I had used only the Bible in the discussion, the congregation had concluded that I was associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses! From then on, I began to attend the Kingdom Hall with two associates from my former church. Within the first three months, I successfully encouraged several close relatives to attend Christian meetings. Three of them are now baptized, including my wife.

[Chart/​Graph on page 176, 177]



1911: Studies in the Scriptures reach Zambia.

1919: Kosamu Mwanza and about 150 others are flogged and imprisoned.

1925: Cape Town office of the Bible Students curtails preaching and baptisms.

1935: Government restricts literature imports. Twenty publications are banned.

1936: Depot opens in Lusaka under oversight of Llewelyn Phillips.


1940: Government bans importation and distribution of our literature. Baptisms begin again.

1948: First Gilead graduates arrive.

1949: Government lifts ban on The Watchtower.

1954: Branch office moves to Luanshya.

1962: Branch office moves to Kitwe.

1969: Government bans our public preaching.


1975: Missionaries are deported.

1986: Missionaries are again allowed to enter the country.

1993: Present branch facilities in Lusaka are dedicated.


2004: Branch extension in Lusaka is dedicated.

2005: 127,151 publishers are active in Zambia.


(See publication)

Total Publishers

Total Pioneers



1910 1940 1970 2000

[Maps on page 169]

(For fully formatted text, see publication)
















Zambezi River






[Full-page picture on page 162]

[Picture on page 167]

Thomson Kangale

[Picture on page 170]

Llewelyn Phillips

[Picture on page 178]

Harry Arnott, Nathan Knorr, Kay and John Jason, and Ian Fergusson, 1952

[Picture on page 193]

Right: Manda Ntompa and his family in the Mwange refugee camp, 2001

[Picture on page 193]

Below: A typical refugee camp

[Picture on page 201]

The first class of the Ministerial Training School in Zambia, 1993

[Picture on page 202]

MTS instructors Richard Frudd and Philemon Kasipoh meet with a student

[Picture on page 206]

Convention facilities were built using mud, grass, or other local materials

[Picture on page 215]

Left: Full-costume Bible drama, 1991

[Picture on page 215]

Below: Candidates for immersion at the “Messengers of Godly Peace” District Convention, 1996

[Picture on page 235]

Mr. Richmond Smith with Feliya Kachasu and her father, Paul

[Pictures on page 251]

Joyful workers share in the construction of the current branch in Lusaka

[Pictures on page 252, 253]

(1, 2) Recently built Kingdom Halls

(3, 4) Zambia branch, Lusaka

(5) Stephen Lett at the dedication of the branch extension, December 2004

[Picture on page 254]

Branch Committee, from left to right: Albert Musonda, Alfred Kyhe, Edward Finch, Cyrus Nyangu, and Dayrell Sharp