The Establishment of Itawa Gospel Hall Assembly, Ndola, Zambia
Henry Mwenya, Ndola, Zambia
Itawa Township is a low density residential area comprising council, private and company housing. The township is separated from the city centre by the Kafubu River, from which water is supplied for almost half of the city. The township is the closest to the airport.
Kansenji Township is another one of the low density residential areas of Ndola, but on the other side of the city centre, located about five to six kilometres from Itawa. The assembly in Kansenji meets at Kansenji Gospel Hall, which was established in 1958. This was the only English-speaking assembly in Ndola at the time. Therefore, all believers who wanted to attend meetings conducted in English had to travel to Kansenji from all corners of Ndola. There were quite a number of vernacular or Bemba-speaking assemblies in different locations of Ndola. However, it was, and still is, generally believed that better biblical teaching is available in English-speaking assemblies, hence the reason for some believers travelling long distances to go to meetings in Kansenji.
There was concern raised by some brothers that there was need to establish another English-speaking assembly on the other side of Ndola, and Itawa was chosen as being more accessible for south-eastern parts of Ndola. The move was seen as helpful in easing the burden of believers travelling long distances to go to Kansenji. In fact, there were already a few people coming from Itawa who attended meetings at Kansenji.
One Friday in April 1984, after the prayer meeting in the evening, one brother brought up the subject of establishing an assembly in Itawa, reminding others that the idea has been talked about for some time but had not been put into action. From that, fifteen volunteers offered their time and energy to the proposed work, and they decided they would go for door-to-door outreach, starting the following day, which was a Saturday. Having started, the pioneers agreed that the work was to be done every Saturday.
As the work continued, they decided that it was better that they met at some place in Itawa for Sunday services, enabling them to direct people they shared the gospel with where to come for meetings. One brother, who had a house in Itawa and was not part of the group but was believed to be saved, was approached. By God’s providence, he gave them permission to use his home for meetings. They would meet there every Saturday before going for outreach, and also on the Lord’s day. It was in this house where the first breaking of bread in Itawa was held. The meetings continued in this house for a period of one year, before the small company moved to Dzikomo Primary School within Itawa. While at the primary school, the Bible study meeting on Tuesdays was introduced, but could not be held at the school because the pioneers were not sure if the school authorities would allow them another meeting during the week. Therefore, they approached another brother who lived in Itawa, but gathered with the saints at Kansenji, for permission to use his home for Bible study.
By this time, some of the original volunteers had gone back to Kansenji Gospel Hall, leaving only three from the original group. However, there were some believers of like mind in and around Itawa, who gathered with other churches near their homes because of the distance to Kansenji. When they heard that believers of like mind had started meeting in Itawa, they came and joined the company.
The outreach, though very extensive, saw very few converts who were baptized and received in fellowship and who continued steadfastly in the meetings. In most cases the people preached to claimed they were also believers belonging to other denominations. However, as time went on, people got saved and were added to the assembly, while other believers came from other towns by reason of employment and started gathering at Itawa.
There came a time when there were too many Christian groups gathering at the school at the same time, resulting in so much noise that it was difficult to understand what the preacher was saying. At the same time, the school authorities started increasing rents indiscriminately. Therefore, in 1998, it was decided that the assembly should apply for a plot in Itawa so that it could build its own assembly hall. This was done and the plot was given, not on the expected area near the school but on the eastern end of Itawa closer to the airport.
The construction of the hall started around 2000 and the meetings shifted into the new incomplete building in June 2007. Work on the hall and surrounding plot has continued since. There are still some members from the early years of the assembly; none of the pioneers of the work are there but some do visit once in a while. In the goodness of God, the work continues.
By Henry Mwenya Itawa, Zambia
Itawa Gospel Hall