Victoria Falls, affectionately known as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders,” was the location for the 4th convention of Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) – Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID), May 10-13. Dozens of businesspeople and church leaders converged in Livingstone, the capital city of tourism in Zambia, for the event. Running under the theme Enterprise Unusual, business presentations sought to equip and inspire church members.
SID vice president Jongimpi Papu led the devotional moments.
ASi-SID president Advocate Dengure said he believes the event will become a game changer as members live up to the theme of the convention.
Hopeson Bonya, the SID vice president who oversees ASi affairs in the region, agreed. “As a world church division, we are pleased to see the business community working hand in glove for the mission of the church. If we as a church can continue with this spirit, we will finish the work very soon.”
ASi leaders believe that when businesspeople meet to share ideas, the end product will be an explosion in evangelism. Participants said they enjoyed presentations that sought to instill a spirit of collaboration. One of them was from Onesayi Workington Sithole, who called businesspeople to use their potential for mission.
One of the guest speakers was the first female mayor of the city of Livingstone. Constance Nalishebo Mukelebai thanked the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Zambia for uplifting lives in the fields of education and health. “The government of Zambia is very happy with the work accomplished by churches, especially the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to improve the lives of ordinary people,” she said.
Vanny Munyumbwa, president of the Southern Zambia Union Conference of the Adventist Church, the host church territory, said that the city mayor’s visit to the event was “a sure sign that the church is doing a fantastic job in the country.” Munyumbwa challenged the delegates, adding, “The presence of government shows that we are doing a good job and that the government is watching us, so let us keep up the good work.”
Businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei further challenged delegates, asking them to be united, since, he said, it will be impossible to accomplish the mission of the church while divided. He also called delegates to step up. “As businesspeople, we must make our resources available for God’s work, so that we can hasten His second coming.”
One of the highlights of this convention was the ASi members’ pledge to emulate Jesus Christ’s ministry of love and compassion by raising funds to assist the 23 former sex workers who were baptized after earlier Adventist World Radio evangelistic meetings. The group of former sex workers, now affectionately known as “The Friends of Jesus,” have been given financial support to help them start a new life and support their loved ones now that they are far from the streetlights.
Sister Esther, the spokesperson of the group, thanked the Adventist Church for its support. “We are thankful to the Seventh-day Adventist Church for this good gesture of pointing us to Jesus and taking us away from the streets,” she said. “They have given us cash to look after our families; they have paid our rent for five months and launched a garden, a grinding meal, and a chicken project so we can have meaningful income as we develop our own businesses.”
ASi businesspeople then invited the group for a big Sabbath celebration and worship and raised additional funds that will further support them as they find their way back into the community. SID-ASi projects director Stanely Kondongwe explained the rationale for their actions. “By donating to our dear sisters, we are impacting Livingstone,” he said. “We are showing we are not here just to talk but — as our motto says — share Christ in the marketplace.”
The next SID-ASi Convention is scheduled for May 2024 in Luanda, Angola.