Today a large number of Christians in Zambia are Pentecostal or Charismatic. This includes many individuals who belong to local independent churches and others who are members of what are usually non-Pentecostal denominations. This rise in the number of Pentecostals has taken place in the last generation, as Zambia has become a predominantly Christian nation.
Pentecostalism Comes to Southern Africa
Probably the first southern African country to experience Pentecostalism was South Africa. Pentecostal missionaries arriving in 1908 included the Henry Turneys from America, Hannah James from England, and Charles Chawner from Canada. When the Assemblies of God was formed in America in 1914 the Turneys and Hannah James affiliated with them, but the work they had started declined upon the death of Henry Turney.
Eventually the South African Assemblies of God developed out of the work of these and other early missionaries. It became an umbrella organization under which Pentecostal missionaries from several different countries worked. Different works were started among the different racial groups in South Africa, in keeping with the government policies. The largest of these was the work among black Africans under the direction of Nicholas Bhengu. The South African Assemblies of God soon spread to other countries in southern Africa, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe. It seems likely that this Pentecostal influence may have reached Zambia as well, although the South African Assemblies of God did not formally enter the country.
Another Pentecostal pioneer who came to South Africa in 1908 was John G. Lake. During the period of 1908 to 1913 he led a group of five evangelists who spread the Pentecostal message across the nation. Lake had been influenced by John A. Dowie, an Australian healing evangelist in Chicago. Lake left behind two denominations when he returned to America, the Apostolic Faith Mission and the Zion Christian Church.
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC)
Several Pentecostal churches established a presence in Zambia during the middle of the twentieth century. One of these was the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) who sent missionaries to Zambia in 1955. They first established a mission work near Chipata and later in the Copperbelt area. The resulting national church has become known as the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Zambia, or PAOG (Z).
The Assemblies of God, U.S.A.
Though the Assemblies of God, U.S.A. had established national churches in a number of adjoining countries, it did not enter Zambia until 1997. A year before that, in 1996, the A/G U.S.A. established a working relationship with three national churches in Zambia. Those churches were the Assemblies of God in Zambia, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God (Z), and Grace Ministries Mission, Intl. Today all three are members of the World Assemblies of God Alliance and the Assemblies of God Alliance in Africa. Jim and Becky Petersen, who arrived in Zambia in 1997, were the first A/G U.S.A. missionaries to live in Zambia. We (John and Dawn Elliott) were the second, arriving in November 1998. Those joining us in 1999 were Chris and Heidi Ness, Nancy Clark (now Nancy McGlawn), and Paula Mickley (now Paula Ireland).
The Pentecostal Assemblies of God Zambia (PAOG)
Started by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in 1955, the PAOG recenly celebrated its 50th anniversary. Today it is the largest evangelical church body in Zambia, with over 1700 congregations which are to be found in every province of the nation. Most of this growth has taken place in the past fifteen years. Rev. Robertson Nonde is the Chief Bishop of the PAOG. The PAOG operates a residential Bible school in conjunction with the PAOC in Kitwe called Trans-Africa Theological College.
The Assemblies of God in Zambia (AOG)
The Assemblies of God in Zambia began in the early 1980's under the leadership of Rev. Fackson Tembo. He had previously been a part of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God in Africa of Ezekiel Guti, a group with no formal ties to the Assemblies of God, U.S.A. The national church had some problems during its early years, but has been enjoying steady growth recently. It now has more than 80 congregations, with the biggest concentration being around the capital city of Lusaka. It has a pastoral training school called Assemblies of God Bible College in Lusaka. The Bishop of the AOG is currently Rev. Mackson Mando.
Grace Ministries Mission, Intl. (GMMI)
Grace Ministries Mission began in the early 1990's when a Pentecostal outpouring occurred in the United Church of Zambia. Now that they were Pentecostals, a number of pastors and church members felt they had no option but to leave and form a new denomination under Rev. Evans Chibesakunda. GMM currently has well over fifty congregations and a theological college called Grace Theological College. The church is currently being led by Bishop Stanley SImunyola.
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