Alum Spotlight: Lameck Banda

Proverbs 16:9 reads, "The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps," an idea that Lameck Banda (MATS'03) surely understands. His walk in ministry has taken him around the world from his home in Africa to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas, and back to Zambia, where he now serves as dean of Justo Mwale Theological University College. He is married to Catherine Shane-Banda and they have three children; nineteen-year-old son, Naphtali, seventeen-year-old daughter, Florence, and twelve-year-old daughter, Chimwemwe. 

Banda was serving a congregation in the eastern part of Zambia when he learned he was about to become a world traveler. "In December 2001 I received a letter from Dr. D.T. Banda, then principal of Justo Mwale Theological University College, indicating that I had been picked among the many JMTUC alumni to pursue an MATS degree at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary," said Banda. "I guess this came as a result of the students-exchange agreement between Austin Seminary and JMTUC. I consider myself as one of the blessed people to study at Austin Seminary because I was exposed to a new world with new perspectives (the American culture, language, types of food, approach to studies, technology, theological training system, and generally new life altogether). I gained a lot of skills, knowledge, insights and a new way of thinking which are actually bearing fruits now."

As is to be expected, Banda found it initially challenging to grow accustomed to his new surroundings. 

"Being away from my family for ten months was a mixture of growing pains on one hand where I missed the people I love most; and on the other hand, especially toward the end of my stay at Austin Seminary, I was full of joy, peace, and sharing love and life with new friends —a new family that God had provided for me to enjoy and relate with," said Banda. "But then, I was equally excited to go back to my church and country and apply the theological knowledge I had acquired from Austin Seminary in a foreign country. To be honest, I enjoyed my stay at Austin Seminary: it was full of fun, touring places, and enjoying the American food and culture. I love spending time at Austin Seminary—my personal life-history is obviously incomplete without the mention of Austin Seminary."

While the foundations of theological education are similar, Banda has observed the following differences between theological education in the U.S. and Zambia. 

"Theological education in the U.S. creates more room for interaction and innovation than in Zambia. Obviously, this form of education in the U.S. becomes easier than in Zambia due to the availability of facilities, technological gadgets, and research materials. With that said, theological education in Zambia is more applicable to the church than in the U.S. because students in Zambia are introduced to more practical work in local congregations like preaching, counselling, participation in church projects and fundraising ventures, attending and chairing elders’ council meetings, burying the dead, and many more, than in the U.S. And overall, I would say that lecturer/professors are more engaged in pastoral ministry in Zambia than in the U.S."

Banda recently returned to Austin Seminary to take part in the Frierson Distinguished Scholars Conference, where he took the chance to "share from my African perspective what it means to be Reformed in my specific Zambian context in terms of motifs, challenges, and prospects. The flow of thoughts in the general discussions created an environment for thinking, mutuality, and respect for others people’s views which made me learn a lot."

Upon his return home, Banda counts serving his God in theological training, the church, and society, becoming a full professor of Systematic Theology, and continuing to be a good husband, father, and pastor as three of his many goals for the future. 

As Banda's journey continues to move him, he wants the current Seminary community to know that God's work will do the same for them. "They should know that—as it happened to Abraham and myself—God can take and make them serve in places they never thought about, in line with God’s will and plan in order to fulfill God’s purposes in this world," said Banda.

Above: Lameck Banda
Lameck joined scholars from five other countres to discuss the nature of Reformed theology.
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Jerry Shetler congratulates Lameck upon his graduation from Austin Seminary, May 2003.