We continue our Missionary Spotlight by heading to African Bible Colleges and getting to know Dr. Paul Chinchen. Dr. Paul D. Chinchen is the second President of African Bible Colleges, following his Father Rev. Jack Chinchen, founder of African Bible Colleges. Dr. Paul Chinchen received his PHD from Stellenbosch University in 2001. He and his wife, Laura Chinchen have five children: Ashley-Marie, Annabelle, Levi, Bess and Vanndel. Paul and his wife have been missionaries for ABC for nearly 30 years.
Check out more from ABC and Paul Chinchen by subscribing to their Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSW_g6A7GbDaCr8983oNjDA
Before heading there, check out some interesting facts about Paul below:
- What book is currently on your nightstand or by your reading chair right now? I currently have three books on my nightstand right now. One of the books is “The Last Arrow” by Erwin Raphael McManus, a Southern Baptist pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles. It is a great book about being a part of God’s work and in being in God’s army there is no such thing as retirement. When you are doing God’s service you give it all; your time, resources, energy, and life. There is no quitting or giving up in God’s Kingdom. You push through to the very end and you fight until you have that one last arrow. Another book I have is “The Parables of Jesus” by James Montgomery Boice. I am currently preparing a bible study series using this book at our First Presbyterian Church Jackson. Lastly, I have “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a really insightful book about intercultural actions. Malcolm Gladwell’s mother was from Jamaica and his father was from Canada so he had a mixed culture background. Gladwell discusses cross cultural settings and reading people from other places and how different they interpret things that are said, actions, and so forth. It is a fantastic book!
- Tell us one interesting fact about yourself that we don’t know. One interesting fact about me is in 1970 my parents moved to Africa when I was six years old. I grew up without running water in the house, flushing toilets, and we took baths using a cup and a pan with water from the creek. I shared a room with my identical twin brother Palmer. In Between our beds we had a cardboard box for our pet chimpanzee named Sadie Ju which means “queen of the jungle.” We had five chimpanzee pets growing up in Africa.
- Describe an experience you have had on the mission field that has impacted the way you do ministry. An experience that has impacted the way we do ministry in Africa was the relationship I built with Moto. I was coaching our ABC Malawi basketball team and we were playing in a tournament sponsored by a beer company. Our opponent team was Siva, they won the Central Region Championship eight years in a row. Their team player was named Moto and my team was intimidated by him because he had a reputation for being a bully on the court. We had the advantage of our ABC Macon Gymnasium to practice since this was the only gymnasium in the Capital city. We won that tournament and built a relationship with the community and the opposing team.
We became close to Moto which is part of the outreach Macon has helped us with. The Sivo team would practice and train at our gym. Moto began to respect our players and love practicing at our gym. He never attended ABC but he became a close friend of mine and I began to spend time with him. He had been to my home, ate meals with my family, and became a close friend to my two young girls at the time. I witnessed to him multiple times but I was never sure if he was a Christian until I went to visit him in the hospital. This was at the peak of the AIDS epidemic in early 90’s East Africa. I noticed he was losing weight and had HIV and at this time there was absolutely no medication to sustain someone. Within less than a year he was in bad failing health and was dying. Me and the team walked over to the hospital and he was laying on his bed but laying on his chest was a cross. When he saw me walk in with my team he said, ”coach I don’t think I am going to get better. But now I know for sure I am going to Heaven if I do not get better.” He has tremendous peace and I had tremendous peace knowing where he was going.
By participating in the tournament we built an appreciation and an influence in the community and outside our immediate ministry. ABC was there not just to do education and ministry but to be a light to the community. There is a great saying, “the world is run by those who show up.” A lot of Christian colleges would say we are not going to have any part of that basketball tournament that was sponsored by a beer company. But you aren’t going to have an influence to change those things if you do not participate. I was able to kindly ask about other sponsors and we were able to get the coca cola company to pass out fanta and sprite cases of soda instead of cases of beer.
This experience changed my focus that you are not an island, you are a light on a hill that needs to be appreciated and valued and have an impact on society. It has been over thirty years now and ABC has had a tremendous Christianizing effect on the entire country of 18 million people in countless ways because of this commitment in being involved in the community. That is why Jesus came; He fed people when they were sick, He healed people when they were blind, He fed people when they were hungry, He took care of people’s physical needs. Jesus came to spend time with sinners, we have an obligation to do the same.
- What is your favorite food to eat in the country in which you serve or your organization serves? As far as favorite foods, it is not even a close choice. The number one greatest food on the continent of Africa is called palm butter. You have to go to West Africa to find it and particularly in Liberia. Liberia is a huge exporter of palm oil, it is a special palm tree that grows in West Africa with a bright red nut and grows in large bunches. It is a huge process to beat the palm nuts, get the red husk off, they boil it, strain it, and get beautiful red oil. They take the red palm oil to make palm butter adding spices, rice, and either fish, chicken, or goat meat. It is fantastic!
- What are some specific ways prayer request you have for your country and ministry work?
- Prayers specifically for our ABC staff as we finish off the semester in Malawi and Uganda using google classroom. It was a quick transition to distance learning.
- Prayers for our students who were not prepared for electronic distance learning. Very few students come in with their own laptop, This is a tremendous need. Majority of our students have been completing their work using pencil and paper, emailing or taking pictures of their assignments to send to their professors. We are raising funds for laptops in the hands of each ABC undergraduate student, please pray for this process.
- Prayers of protection for our students and staff in Africa. We praise God that Africa has been somewhat slightly affected. West Africa has been more affected by COVID, at least half a dozen countries with over a thousand cases. East Africa where our Malawi and Uganda campus are located have been lightly affected, so we praise God for that.
- Prayers for the opportunity to reopen and bring our students back in August and that God would protect Africa. The education of our students is critical to the church, especially during a time of crisis. We have to press on with education and our seniors must be able to graduate to go and run Christian ministries. There are organizations like World Vision, Feed the Hungry, and many more that are doing humanitarian work in Africa that need well educated Christian African leadership. That is what ABC does, we provide that for our students.
- Pray for our family, we have four of our five kids with us at home during the quarantine time. Pray for our two kids as they finish up high school. Also, Our son who is a student at West Point trying to complete his engineering and physics classes online instead of in a classroom with his professors. His university is in New York which is the US epicenter of Coronavirus so please pray for him as he resumes back in the summer. Prayers for my wife, Laura desperately needs a knee replacement surgery and is quite leery about having the procedure done. Unfortunately, her mother had a knee replacement and it went very badly.
- Prayers for the political situation in Malawi. They are in the middle of a tense time trying to sort out the results of an election done exactly a year ago. Last year in May a president was elected and the results have been contested in court. They are going back to the polls in July. The opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera, is a strong Christian and it would be to ABC’s advantage for him to be elected President. We do not involve ourselves in politics but his daughter is an ABC graduate and a full time teacher at our ABC Academy. His son in law is an ABC graduate and a pastor of a large international church in the capital city that many of our ABC faculty members attend. There would be advantages to Lazarus Chakwera winning the election but we as a mission organization certainly do not involve ourselves in politics, our main concern is for peace in the country and that nothing gets out of control during the revoting in July.