The Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) comprises 12 unions and one attached field and has a membership of over 4 million church members. The country of Zambia has the largest membership in the SID. It is composed of 2 unions: Southern Zambia Union Conference (SZUC) and Northern Zambia Union Conference (NZUC), with a combined membership of over 1.2 million.
Global Youth Day (GYD), the Youth Week of Prayer (YWOP), and Homecoming Sabbath (HS) are important programs in the SID. Annually, all of our unions rally their young people to participate in these events. Notwithstanding the ravaging impact of COVID-19, our young people were actively involved in these programs. The theme for GYD in 2021 was Reaching Out to Colors, Cultures, and Communities. Our assessment of these events’ outcomes in the SID indicates that the youth were intentional in reaching out to all communities, especially those who are marginalized. However, the most impressive fruitage of youth participation in these events was that many young people dedicated their lives to Jesus, and as a result, we witnessed a surge in baptisms in the SID.
Zambia went above and beyond because we saw staggering figures of youth baptisms emerging after the YWOP. The HS was a hive of activity in Zambia as thousands of precious souls were baptized. The Lusaka Conference in SZUC baptized 1,900 souls during the HCS. To date, the total number of baptized youths in SZUC is 2,900. As we celebrated this victory, we were astounded to learn of nothing short of a Pentecostal experience in NZUC. The report we got is that over 12,000 youths were baptized on HS in the NZUC. This is unprecedented in the history of youth ministries in the SID. What is even more shocking is that the reports we got are preliminary as more baptisms are expected to happen.
The two union youth directors in Zambia are Pastors Webster Silungwe (SZUC) and Burton Moonga (NZUC). Together with their Conference colleagues and a host of dedicated youths, these men of God did not allow the pandemic to dampen their spirits. They attribute this baptism explosion to these factors: dedicated young people, committed leaders, prioritizing the young people, and God’s intervention. We recognize that all of our unions are doing their best to prioritize youth participation in the church’s mission. Zimbabwe, with its three unions, is also doing exceptionally well in soul winning. Although we are not encouraging competition, we pray that other unions in our division will take a leaf out of the Zambian story to excel in the service of the Lord, particularly youth evangelism.