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From despair to deliverance

December 2021 | by Phebby Muwowo

Phebby Muwowo
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Before I trusted Christ

My name is Phebby Muwowo, nee Muyooma. I was born and raised in Mumbwa, a semi-rural community in the Central Province of Zambia.

My earliest recollection of church life was occasional church attendance at Nambala Mission Primary School, run by the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).

Despite having no understanding of God’s message of hope for mankind, I continued my not-so-regular attendance at church.

Some years later I went to Chipembi in Chisamba, a boarding secondary school for girls also run by UCZ.

Each day started with corporate devotions before class. I soon found myself joining many clubs within the school. Notable in my religious pursuits was my membership in the Zambia Student Christian Movement (ZSCM). I was baptised by sprinkling by the then school chaplain Mr Lumbama.

A few years later at the Mufulira School of Nursing on the Copperbelt, I quickly joined a local congregation of the UCZ at St John’s Church. I also started a prayer meeting on a Wednesday with some of my new friends at the school of nursing.

I was also an ardent member of Mrs Betty McColl’s Christian nurses’ meeting every Thursday evening. Mrs McColl gave lifts on Sunday evenings to nurses who wanted to attend the church service at Pax Hall. Pax Hall was a Scout hall that was rented out for other activities like church services.

Dr Edward McColl, our consultant gynaecologist/obstetrician at the two mine hospitals (Malcolm Watson and Ronald Ross Hospitals), was also one of the elders at the Pax Hall meeting (Christian Missions in Many Lands – CMML).

With this level of religious activity, I had no idea I was headed in the wrong direction spiritually. And so it was rather unsettling, as I continued attending these meetings at Pax Hall, to hear that all my righteousness was as filthy rags before God, and that it is appointed for men to die once, but after this comes judgment.

I was rather troubled at the fact of not knowing while still alive where I would spend eternity when I die. I was feeling the pressure of these big questions of life, but did not know how to resolve them.

How I surrendered to Christ

One of my student nurse friends called Sinai invited me to an annual Nurses’ Christian Fellowship (NCF) conference in Lusaka.

For some strange reason I was quite reluctant to travel, much to my friend’s surprise. Then, to my great relief, I noticed that my turn to work a night shift coincided with the days of the conference. It was a done deal that I would not travel – or so I thought.

However, when the matron, who was not privy to our discussion about the conference, did the final rota, I was allocated to do my night shift a week earlier, and so I was automatically free on the days of the conference.

Lusaka, Zambia SOURCE Pixabay
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I found myself in the company of people who had truly experienced spiritual rebirth at the campsite at Yielding Tree Farm in Lusaka West. It affected me, as I had never before experienced such nervousness and sorrow over my own spiritual condition as when I was in their company.

There was also a certain joy, love, and unity in their midst which somehow both alienated me and also left me longing for what they had.

On the second day of the conference we were put into Bible study groups. We had to answer questions based on the text that was preached on by our main speaker, Michael Eaton, who was an elder at Lusaka Baptist Church. The passage was Ephesians 2, particularly verses 1-10.

Each one of us had to try and answer a question. I was asked to describe the state of someone who has not come alive spiritually, according to the passage of Scripture we were looking at.

And what is their state when they have been delivered from a life of despair? With all the turmoil in my mind at this stage, I did not even try to offer an answer. Instead, it was a desperate cry for help I uttered publicly and unashamedly. I said I could not waste their time by trying to explain anything, as I felt it was much more important for me to work out my own position – meaning I did not even know how to describe my own state. Was I spiritually alive or not?

I did not have much sleep that last night of camp as I thought I would go away with unresolved questions. Though religious, I had no peace within. I had no power to keep myself from going my own way with no thought of God.

I had no appetite for breakfast the following morning. I joined the queue several times and would go to the end of it each time I drew closer to the front.

Unknown to me, a dear sister called Josephine had taken a keen interest in me from day one. She later told me she had been praying for me as soon as she had sensed my need for spiritual help. Like others, she had listened to me give a report on the group in Mufulira; she had noted how I answered during the Bible study and how unsettled and restless I was in the queue for breakfast.

She asked me if she could have a chat with me. We stepped aside from the queue, and Josephine asked me a key question which I just needed to be asked in order to be helped. She asked me how long I had been a Christian. This helped me to open the floodgates of admission that I had never been a Christian and that by nature I was a child of wrath just as the others who were separated from God. I confessed that I did not know what to do to find hope for my life.

Josephine explained God’s message of hope for the world – for me. She explained how, by putting my trust in Jesus who died on the cross for my sins, I could be set free. I could know God personally. We prayed together under a shrub. It felt so good to be able to pray and experience that peace that was beyond description. Indeed, my burdens were lifted off me at Calvary. It was indeed a move from despair to deliverance.

Changes in my life since I started walking with Jesus

My life is in the hands of God, just like it was before I knew him. I am now at peace with God and with myself, and on my way to heaven once this life is done.

Trials and temptations still come my way, but I have round-the-clock access to my heavenly Father through prayer and the prayers of others for me.

I have a new family, my local church and the church universal. I look at the past and praise God for how he guided and protected me. I look at the present time and commit myself to him every day and trust him to perform his plans and purposes in my life.

I look to God to give me the grace to follow him whatever happens. I trust him for the future that will extend into an eternity with him. I thank God for the church family, and I pray and long for more people to have spiritual renewal and those already so enlightened to be encouraged to run the race set before them and finish it well by God’s power and grace.