…whether cattle ranger or lawyer – Fr Thomas

By Kombe Mataka

GOD teaches us never to write off anybody, says Cathedral of the Holy Cross dean Reverend Canon Charley Thomas.

During the State funeral church service for late Rupiah Banda, who was put to rest yesterday at Embassy Park, Fr Thomas said only God decides when it is over.

“The reason for the life that God gives us is so that that someone else not under our obligation but someone else can benefit from our lives. That is the essence of the Christian faith. The reason why God blesses us with wealth is so that we can enjoy it but it is because someone else can can benefit from it,” he said.

Fr Thomas narrated that his first prophet meeting with Banda was at the baptism of his son Henry’s daughter Mwansa.

“And there at the end of the service, I found myself praying in tears. At our first meeting ever, none of us knew what was going on. It was a few months later, that he became transition president and later president of the nation under very challenging circumstances. He came from retirement with a new set of tyres. Tyres of great quality,” he said.

“God teaches us never to write off anybody. There is a testimony from RB’s (Rupiah Banda) life. Never write off anybody at any given time. Whether as a watermelon farmer or a cattle ranger or a lawyer. Never write off anybody. Only God decides when it is over. There are people sitting here today who were told that their political life is over and their businesses will fall down. We were told that the pandemic would paralyse out economy. Only God decides when it is over. Our seasons of life are for a purpose. Notice yours and mine, the current season of life and the next season of life and when we transition, can we learn to do it in style like RB.”

Fr Thomas called for learning to transition no matter the circumstances.

“Our reasons for life is to run our race, keeping to our track. That is doing the best that we can and our loving God and allowing God to do the rest – doing the right thing and allowing God to do the rest. There is word in the English language that is not popular today. It is faithfulness. The word that has over taken faithfulness is success. Everybody is running after success,” he said.

“However, God teaches us that he is only calling us to be faithful. Success is God’s gift to us. Do not reverse the order. Be faithful with what God has entrusted you no matter what the task is, what the gift is. What the opportunity is. Be faithful with it and God will reward you. It will follow. Success will follow you. The chief purpose of the life that God gives us is to worship him. To give God his worth through our thoughts, words and actions, that is how you worship him. It does not end in this building. It doesn’t end in this service. It is a lifelong activity. You give God his worth by just being who you are, through your words, thoughts and action.”

Fr Thomas said one worships God by helping other God’s people enlarge their purpose and potential.

“We worship God by helping others. President Rupiah Banda has reminded us several times that he is what he is because of the opportunities he was given by president [Kenneth] Kaunda and indeed by president [Levy] Mwanawasa. President Banda’s shadow Dickson Jere…he has justified that he is what he is because president Banda would push him to exploit the hidden potential within him,” he said. “The youth football team from the village that he saw playing one day, and identified them and began to nurture them – to give them hope. To give them training, to give them potential will testify to their new life and dreams.”

And President Hakainde Hichilema said it was important for the country to override things that divide the nation with the issues that unite it “as we learned from late former president Rupiah Banda”.

Banda, 85, succumbed to colon cancer on March 11, 2022.

President Hichilema said Banda would be remembered for his humility and ability to give attention to everyone even if he did not agree with their point of view.

“In a country where sometimes some of us try to drive more issues of divisions, yet there are a lot of things that unite us, the things that unite us must override the things that may divide us. We must learn it as it will help us put that glue all the time amongst our people when we need it most,” he told mourners at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

“He will be remembered for his humility. He gave each one of us a deserving attention even when we had a different point of view. I think this is important; even when we had a different point of view, he still gave us his ear. He still gave us his attention because if we had time to listen to each other, and just pick something that is amiss, which may help resolve the challenge that we are faced with at that particular time.”

He thanked all stakeholders including foreign delegates for the support rendered in mourning and celebrating Banda’s life.
President Hichilema urged Banda’s family to look to God for strength and comfort.
“We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Banda family for allowing us to mourn RB together. We thank you for opening your home to us when president Banda was alive. We further thank you for working closely with the government in ensuring that we give RB a befitting send-off. That which he commanded, deserved simply because he delivered service to us,” he said

“So, we have an obligation to send him away to the Lord in this manner. We are grateful for your presence and I mean the presence of leaders even outside of our country. Like president [Joaquim] Chisano who I believe continues to represent the many presidents and former presidents who were at the funeral service yesterday (Thursday) in the show grounds.”

He urged Zambians to celebrate Banda’s life instead of mourning forever.

“To the Banda family we encourage you to look to God for strength, for comfort, during this difficult time but a wonderful message was given by our preacher here that ‘we celebrate’. We don’t just mourn; we celebrate him as a well,” said President Hichilema.

“One aspect of the same coin: one we are mourning, the other side is celebrating. I think it must be taken as package. I think we mourn RB but we celebrate him. The things we have been saying since he passed on is why we should be celebrating. We will eternally be grateful to God for blessing us with such a selfless loving elder, indeed family member. I’m talking about the entire Zambian filmily. His is a life well lived.”


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