zambesi mission (zm) aims to nurture “partnerships in the gospel” between Christians and churches in the UK and their counterparts in Malawi and northern Mozambique. One of our objectives is to help the church there to be self-sustaining; to avoid situations where they become dependent on outside support. It is problematic when an outside organisation is really only propping up the local church. It prevents the the church from carrying out its God-ordained role of supporting itself and its pastor. It is also not sustainable: we often ask “what happens if zm dies in the night?” Who will support the initiative tomorrow?
Helping others to help themselves
This has led zm to look for ways to help the local church to help itself. We have recently been implementing a number of pilot income-generating schemes with our church partner the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC). The purpose of these schemes is to provide local churches with a modest project which will pay off the initial investment and then yield a profit which the church can then use.
Each church meets together to work out the best way to support itself. This is vital to ensure that the church “owns” the project. The church works out the cost and the likely benefits of their preferred scheme; then they discuss the project and seek the agreement of the ZEC church leaders. ZEC’s leadership have to ensure that the project is viable and proportionate, so that the various churches are treated with equal fairness. The church makes an agreement to run the project for the benefit of their own pastor, the needs of the local church as well as ZEC as a whole.
A Church helping itself
In one church, Nsanje ZEC, the church has been building a house that they will rent out to raise income to support their pastor and their church’s activities. At Mulanje ZEC, Pastor Synoden Mulamba has been instrumental in leading their income generating project: a pig-farming scheme.
Using funds donated from zm the church has constructed a pig sty with three separate chambers for rearing pigs. Just a couple of weeks ago, one of their church elders carefully brought back three little piglets on the back of his bicycle from distant Phalombe – about 70km away!
A significant day!
zm Projects Officer Rose Chirwa travelled with Church Development Partner Myles MacBean to Mulanje ZEC to witness the arrival of the new piglets. He wrote, ” I remain convinced of the longer term, God-given wisdom of zm’s founder Joseph Booth’s strategic approach of helping people to help themselves. I was encouraged by the spiritual and practical determination of this little church to find a way to stand on their own feet even while they are being battered by the economic storms of the failing harvest; and I felt privileged to be serving the Lord in an organisation like zm that may be small but that has a big heart for the spiritually lost combined with such a practical and strategic way of demonstrating Christ’s love “.
Our prayer is that the ZEC church at Mulanje will be able to successfully rear, tend and breed its pigs; so that they can make a profit. If they can do this, they will generate vital funds that will help them to look after their pastor and carry out the mission of the local church in their community.
Rephrasing the old adage – If you give a church a pig they feed for a day ; if you give a church a sty and help them to rear pigs, then they will look their pastor for life!
Mike Beresford (zm Director)