A team consisting mainly of people from two UK partnered churches in Suffolk (Great Blakenham Baptist and Mickfield Evangelical Church) visited Malawi a couple of months ago. Rather than build classrooms or churches, their initial plan was to simply visit and encourage their friends Myles and Ruth MacBean, who are zm’s church development partners, and are also members of their two churches. Their aim was also to:
- Observe the work of the church and mission
- Encourage those they met
- Pray into the situations they experienced
- Consider further the significance of God’s Big Mission to the world
The following is a selection of extracts from their report describing some of the highlights from their visit:
Zambesi Evangelical Church
The headquarters at Mitsidi, Blantyre was our first visit, and there is a buzz of activity. We were shown round the new Mitsidi Mission School , which had just four pupils when it opened in 2014 and currently has 250! Obtaining books and resources for this number is a challenge. But the desire is there to provide Christian Education and help educate the children of pastors.
Gen Secretary Ps Luckwell Mtima shared his appreciation of zm support, through sponsorship of churchplanters, EBCoM students as well as income generating projects, (goats, pigs, bees etc) to help support needy pastors and congregations. He faces two particular challenges:
- Getting the right people in the right places; doing the jobs they are best suited for and upgrading their qualifications as needed. He recognises that not all EBCoM graduates will become pastors, but they can still have a significant ministry in their own churches, or in the businesses they run.
- Caring for retired pastors, who are worn out by the time they retire, but often have nowhere to live.
A morning with Ps Mvula Mvula, from the River of Life Evangelical Church
He took us to see progress on the new church building at Chirimba, Blantyre. He commented that the new bigger church would draw people in and as you get their interest, you can share the gospel with them. Then through a narrow street, and the tightly packed Chirimba Market, to his home – bricks being baked all over this ‘new estate’ in Blantyre, as people build their new homes. His own house is well developed as a small farm, which provides for his immediate and extended family. It also shows the way for other pastors to support themselves using eco-friendly methods. He shared freely his thoughts about the RoLE Churches
Their vision is:
- Leaders who know the Lord
- Members who know their bible and have a personal ministry
- To establish a network of churches all the way from Karonga, a strong & faithful church, to Lilongwe.
Ps Mvula Mvula commented that the River of Life Evangelical Church prays for zm every week!
Children for Christ Ministries (CFCM)
Every one of the team joined Elevate Mzinga or Joseph Jeke in their ministry to Bible Clubs. In each situation Bible stories are told, using simple visual aids, memory verses, songs and games. The children listen to every word and frequently come to the leaders for further prayer and counselling. One group joined Joseph Jeke on a visit to Bible clubs at Chitekale and Maliya Another visited the Bible Club at Mphemba Reformatory centre.
CFCM leaders run 7 Bible clubs, EBCoM students run 6 more, while other leaders trained by CFCM run another 23. 36 Bible clubs in all! In Khombwe district, Elevate lives at one end of a valley which has 10 schools along it. The vision is to see a Bible club run in each school, so far an initial club has been run in 8 of the 10 schools. It takes Elevate two hours to walk to the next school, at Maliya, so it is clear that people need to be trained as Bible Club leaders in each area. And that means training more trainers! In 2015 CFCM trained 6 new trainers and 500 Bible Club leaders and hope to train 1000 in 2016!
(ZEC) Fellowship of Youth
-with Gift Mphongolo Youth Coordinator at Kabula ZEC
150 young people from a number of Blantyre ZEC churches met together for fellowship and fun. Every church represented brought a contribution – singing, praying, games, drama, Bible memory verses (Do you know enough Bible verses, to quote one for each step from the back to the front of your church to claim a prize?).
The message came from Mrs Huwari:
• In Luke 1:5-24 the priests of Abijah were set apart for their time of service in the temple. The challenge was “are you set apart for God to use you?”
ZM Team in Malawi
It was great to be welcomed by the zm team of Simon Chikwana, Rose Chirwa, Mercy Carlos and Myles and Ruth MacBean. We joined them each morning for prayers, and at different times one or other of the team had opportunity for more in depth conversation.
“Get a Grip on Mission”
The group spent time each evening discussing Martin Goldsmith’s book, Get A Grip On Mission. This prompted ongoing wider discussion throughout the visit, about the way in which zm was or was not able to help and support particular people and projects. The question, ‘How come we didn’t know all this before?’ sums up the extent to which team members were exposed to the inter-dependent and sustainable “partnership in the gospel” that zm seeks to foster in Malawi.
Overall this was an extremely positive time, with discussion prompted by day to day experiences round a number of issues –
• Culture and lifestyle,
• How zm operates and works with its partners
• Wider issues of mission
• How mission is carried out/might be carried out in the two home churches.
• How will this affect what I do when I return to England?
• What can I do if/when I come back to Malawi?