I HAVE met Jesus Christ today, President Levy Mwanawasa said yesterday.
Testifying before he was baptised at Lusaka's Twin Palm Baptist Church yesterday, President Mwanawasa said his life has been a circle.
He quoted Romans 13 verse 1 to 6 from the Bible, which talks about respecting the local authority as a way of obeying God.
He said he was congregating with the Baptist Church, when he was at Mpongwe Mission School, before joining the Catholic Church. Later he joined United Church of Zambia (UCZ), went to Jehovah's Witnesses and that now he is back in the Baptist Church.
President Mwanawasa said when he was Republican vice-president, he was congregating with UCZ. He said he was later disappointed with what the government leaders were doing.
He said when he campaigned in 1991 together with his colleagues, they promised good governance to the people but it shortly appeared that they had abandoned their promises.
President Mwanawasa said he did not want to be part of a system of lies and decided to resign from the position of Republican vice-president.
He said he felt that if he remained in UCZ, he would one day be persuaded to join politics and that was the time he joined the Jehovah's Witnesses.
"I was disappointed with my colleagues and so I decided that I should join a church which does not participate in politics," President Mwanawasa said. "That is how I became a member of the Watch Tower Church (Jehovah's Witnesses)."
He said during the six years with Jehovah's Witnesses, the church had a lot of influence on him.
He said later on, he decided to question himself after seeing that the situation in the nation was going from bad to worse.
President Mwanawasa said he then decided that it was wrong for people that feared God like him to keep outside when things were going wrong in the nation.
He said although he was baptised in UCZ, the Jehovah's Witnesses also told him that he needed to be baptised again.
President Mwanawasa said after he was nominated MMD presidential candidate, his wife, Maureen, who was already baptised, was visited by a number of church elders that were questioning their involvement in politics.
"But my wife said, I am not a politician but I am only married to a politician," he said.
He said Jehovah's Witnesses leaders then decided to disfellowship his wife.
"I felt that that was a bit harsh on my wife and it appeared the church was giving my wife choices between continuing with me or divorce to continue going to church," he said.
President Mwanawasa said afterwards he spent six months without choosing which church to join, but later decided to go back to the Baptist Church.
He thanked leaders of Twin Palm Baptist Church for praying with him at his house and giving him spiritual encouragement.
President Mwanawasa said his purpose in life was to provide leadership and that his three years in government had been successful but punctuated by discouragements and attacks.
However, President Mwanawasa said things could not always be smooth.
"There are times when I get disappointed, but through the mercy of God, I am able to provide leadership."
"I am a human being and I can't always do things right or what people want," he said. "At times, I say things I shouldn't have said. I said something about the Catholic Church and the founding father of the nation. When I looked at myself in the video, I said I should not have said what I said and I decided to apologise. That apology came from the bottom of my heart."
President Mwanawasa urged Twin Palm Baptist Church members to continue praying for him in order for God to continue blessing him and give him enough wisdom to provide the leadership that the people want.
He said it would not be all smooth sailing and that his style of leadership would be condemned.
"But I know that if they can't condemn me, where can they take their grievances?" President Mwanawasa asked. "I have met Jesus Christ today. He has struck me. My ministers who are here can see me, but they don't know what the Lord is saying to me. I feel this is a new life for me."
He quoted Acts 9 verse 1 to 6 in the Bible, which narrates how Saul was converted after he met God and later changed his name to Paul.
Pastor Rodney Masona who baptised President Mwanawasa read Matthews 28 verse 16 to 20, which quotes Jesus Christ telling his disciples to share the Good News.
Pastor Masona said Jesus had all authority on earth and heaven in order to complete his mission.
He said Zambia would never be a Christian nation until people started obeying the commands of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Masona said there were many churches that were teaching the doctrines of men and departed from the teachings of Jesus Christ.
He said those that were baptised died with Christ and resurrected with him from the dead and that baptism was an act of worship.
Pastor Masona said no one would go to heaven with earthly wealth and that what was important was to seek spiritual guidance.
He urged believers that were in Parliament and Cabinet not to fear the majority non-believers, saying they should have faith in God in all that they were doing.
President Mwanawasa's baptism in a pool of water was witnessed by a few of his cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, diplomats and family members.
Zambia's High Commissioner to South Africa, Leslie Mbula, who is a deacon at Twin Palm Baptist Church, offered a prayer of thanksgiving while his wife read a passage from the Bible before President Mwanawasa's baptism.
First lady, Maureen, hugged President Mwanawasa and presented him with a flower immediately after he was baptised.