History of Church of Christ Missions in Zambia
Church of Christ mission work was begun in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) about 1920 when Brother John Sherriff began making preaching trips which carried him across the Zambezi River. One of his African workers, Peter Masiya, worked with him and was instrumental in bringing the gospel to Zambia. A few years later missionaries arrived to help in spreading the Gospel. Some of the early missionaries were: the Shorts, Lawyers, Merritts, Scotts, Reeses, Browns, Sister Rowe, Brittells, and the Shewmakers. Three mission sites were opened, and these were: Sinde, Namwianga, and Kabanga. These early missionaries began schools for the African people teaching them to read the Bible and promote the cause of Christianity.
Throughout the ensuing years a vast number of the leaders in the country and church have been taught at these schools. When Zambia gained it's independence in 1964 the Church of Christ operated 26 primary schools. At that time the government decided to nationalize all primary schools but did ask Namwianga to build a secondary school on Namwianga Mission's 7000 acres. Funds were raised and the secondary school was built. From 1964 to 1982 Namwianga Christian Secondary School was staffed and directed by mostly American missionaries. At the beginning of 1980 approximately 211 congregations of the Church of Christ had been established, mostly as a result of the efforts of the missionaries and graduates of the mission schools.
From 1982 to the present a significant expansion program both in facilities and outreach has taken place. We now have 6 elementary schools, 4 junior high schools, 2 high schools, George Benson Christian College, 1 vocational center, 3 medical clinics, and a hospital under construction. Bible is taught in all these schools and the students are trained to become church planters. One of the more significant developments since 1982 is the turning over the running and staffing of the mission to Zambians. At the present time the mission is directed by Thomas Siafwiyo, who serves as Superintendent. All but one of the other administrative roles are filled by Zambians. The teaching staff is now 99% Zambian. At the present time there are just over 1000 congregations of the Church of Christ in Zambia. Since 1990 the more or less 300 that have been planted have been done so mainly by the Zambian brethren. Many of the congregations are started by another congregation in order to reach out to areas where the church does not exist. Roy and Kathi Merritt, along with Namwianga Mission teachers and staff, have recently started a church planting program in the Northern provinces of Zambia. Their efforts have resulted in a number of church plants.
In addition to the work at Namwianga Mission in the Southern Province, a leadership training school was started at Mapepe (just south of Lusaka) in the late 1950’s. This school provided a two-year, leadership training program for about five years until the school closed soon after the departure of the founding missionary who returned to the USA in 1964. This school was restarted in 2005 by David French and SIBI and eventually relocated to its current campus at Daybreak in Shimabala (see history).
Although most of the missionaries from the Church of Christ have lived and worked in the Southern Province, several have served for a few years in the Copperbelt. And, in 2005, a new team of foreign missionaries moved to work in the Northwestern Province to work among the Konde tribe.