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Zambian President baptized before hundreds

By March 29, 2005

Zambia (MNN/BP) — The president of Zambia, in acknowledging his faith in Jesus Christ, was baptized recently in a public church service, according to Southern Baptist missionaries with the International Mission Board .

A crowd clapped and cheered as President Levy Mwanawasa rose from the water in an outdoor baptistery behind a Baptist seminary chapel in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. The event drew hundreds of people, including public officials, leaders and pastors from the area and neighboring countries.

On the day of his baptism, Mwanawasa shared his spiritual journey before a packed chapel service. He told listeners he had been “struck” by Jesus — similar to the Apostle Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus. Mwanawasa, a successful lawyer and former vice president, took office in 2002. Respected for his reputation for honesty, he was known as “Mr. Integrity” even by his political opponents before his election. Mwanawasa remembers attending a Baptist school as a boy, but his relationship with Christ began to transform when he started attending Twin Palm Baptist Church in Lusaka in 2003.

The president is just one of many spiritual success stories in Zambia. Last year, 116 Baptist churches were started, bringing the total number of churches to 985 — plus 124 mission congregations. Some missionaries believe Mwanawasa’s baptism is an exclamation point on what God is beginning to do in the country.

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