LUSAKA, Zambia (SWBTS)- The president of Zambia, Levy Mwanawasa, recently received a formal invitation to visit Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where his pastor, Rodney Masona of Twin Palms Baptist Church in Lusaka, is a student. The invitation was hand-delivered June 21 by Southwestern Seminary President and First Lady Paige and Dorothy Patterson and by Mike and Lindy Howard, International Mission Board missionaries serving in Zambia. Mike Howard is a graduate of Southwestern Seminary.

During their one-hour meeting with Mwanasawa, the Pattersons assured him of concerted prayers of many Southern Baptists on his behalf. Mwanawasa is a relatively new believer in Jesus Christ.  Patterson further indicated that Frank Page, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, would be in Zambia in a few weeks and that he hoped there would be an opportunity for the two of them to meet.

President Mwanawasa expressed spiritual concerns he has for the people of Zambia and was interested in how Southern Baptists can be of support to the goals that he has for Zambia. Subjects of discussion included work in churches, orphanages, clean water sources, and the Zambian seminary.

The Pattersons, who have been visitors to Zambia on several occasions, noted the obvious progress that is being made among the Zambian people. “Efforts in the education of every child, in True Love Waits and the fight against AIDS and immorality are clearly making substantial strides. At the same time, the standard of living is rising among Zambians,” Patterson said. Howard added that more than 180 new churches had been established there and baptisms among Zambian Baptists dramatically increased over the past year.

Students enrolled in Southwestern Seminary's 2 + 2 MDiv program for training missionaries will be focusing their efforts this year on Zambia. The program allows Southwestern students to serve in Zambia under the guidance of missionaries like the Howards while having their courses taught on location at the Zambian Theological Seminary. Southwestern has a number of students and graduates who are serving in Zambia already, and more are expected to deploy in the months ahead.