It’s God first for the Zulus

A CHANCE meeting in 1996 at a youth fellowship at Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) in Chipata led Esnart Sakala and her husband Ephraim Zulu to the altar two years later.
The two met when Esnart started attending the youth fellowship to strengthen her spiritual life as her churchmate used to encourage her to be committed to the things of God while pushing her to teach in Sunday school.
Their relationship was only platonic but soon other church members began to raise questions over it.
Some members of the youth fellowship felt she was wasting her time if she thought Ephraim would marry her but because her friendship was still purely platonic, she did not mind the gossip.
Though she thought he was a decent man, he had not said anything to indicate that he was interested in more than a friendship with her.
On an unexpected day, as he escorted her home after a prayer meeting, he popped up the question.
It left her with nothing to say because it was the last thing she expected at that time.
Though it took her months to respond to his request, their friendship continued smoothly. But unbeknown to him, she decided to start praying about his proposal before giving him an answer. This she says was to ensure that she was making a right decision.
“My confirmation came in form of a dream I had about him. I dreamed that I had a list of names on a white paper but all the names were blurred except his. Later, a scripture was revealed to me Luke 3:13 that says ‘collect no more what you have been given,” she says.
For Esnart, the dream and the scripture were a confirmation from God to accept the marriage proposal.
And after all, her husband was everything she desired in a man.
“He was and still is a God-fearing man. For me, that was one of the most important requirements in a life partner. He is on the quiet side but a nice and kind man,” she says with a smile.
But the preparations for their wedding were not without hiccups as her father insisted that the bride price be paid in full before the wedding. Additionally, some of her friends from church who were eyeing Ephraim tried discouraging her.
Ephraim obliged and paid in full, paving way for the wedding on June 27, 1998. The couple, who celebrated their 20th anniversary in June, have four children.
“So far so good, marriage is not without challenges and as Christians, God has been faithful in sustaining our union. We have also learnt the power of communication as a couple. Communication is key because supressing your feelings towards your partner can be destructive,” she says.
She says it is also important to seek God as the foundation of marriage and trust His will to prevail in the marriage. According to Esnart, it is also vital to apologise to a spouse when one is wrong.
“It has been 20 years five months since we got married but it feels like we only just got married. We are still in love with each other. I love him, he is my husband. We text each other during the day and we have continued doing those small things that we know make us happy,” she says.
She says with the coming of children over the years, the couple has made a conscious decision to find time to be together.
Ephraim is of the view that God directed him to her because they met at a time when he was considering marriage and praying for a wife.
“There was an elderly couple at our church that time who inspired me to marry and when I prayed for a life partner, I prayed for a woman with certain characteristics and she fit the bill. Even when she did not respond to my proposal, I was not discouraged,” he says.
He says she was a perfect life partner for him because besides her beauty, she was committed to the things of God and that was important for him.
“When she accepted my proposal, I took it as a confirmation from God because I did not want regrets later in life. But I knew she was the one,” he says.
According to Ephraim, one of the ingredients of a successful marriage is communication. He does not agree that marriage is shipikisha club and discourages the use of the phrase because it can be discouraging especially to young couples.
His wife is of the view that God intended marriage to be enjoyed and if it is shipikisha club as people say, she would not have lasted 20 years and counting.
“My advice to other couples is to put God first and He will build their marriage. When a marriage is built on a strong foundation, it will not fail and that strong, firm foundation is God,” she says.
She says couples should also learn to communicate effectively and resolve their differences amicably without involving third parties. She also advises against rebuking spouses in front of their children.
Her husband advises men to never stop loving their wives because it is the responsibility of a husband to ensure that he provides everything that he desires in a wife instead of going outside his home to fulfil his pleasures.
He says it is only when husbands love their wives that their wives will fully submit to them.
He also advises men against abusing their wives.
The couple look up to Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) Overseer Apostle Peter Ndhlovu and his wife as their inspiration for a happy marriage.

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