This following comes from the report by Mrs Millie Jumbe on the recent Chiyanjano (Women’s Fellowship) visit to Zambezi Evangelical Churches in the Northern Region. Millie Jumbe is the Chair of the Chiyanjano in Malawi. The aim of the visit was to see how the women’s ministry in the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC) is progressing in northern Malawi. Together with Mrs Jumbe, the visiting team were Mrs Kaumphawi, Mrs Mikundi and Mrs. Phiri. They were accompanied by Pastor Simon Chikwana of zambesi mission and Pastor Gerald Malinda, the Deputy Chair of ZEC. The distance from Blantyre to the furthest point visited (Chitipa) is 950 kilometers (594 miles).
During the visit, the Chiyanjano leaders trained local ZEC women’s group leaders in:
• The objectives of the Chiyanjano ministry
• Living healthy spiritual lives
• Information about Mlozo (the Chiyanjano Guide Book)
• Reports of how the Chiyanjano Ministry is faring
• Family versus Chiyanjano Ministry
• Roles and responsibilities of Christian women
• Fund mobilization and Income Generating Activities (IGA)
They visited churches in Mzimba, Mzuzu, Rumphi, Karonga, Chitipa, Dwangwa, Nkhata Bay and Nkhotokhota.
The key issues and main highlights of the visit were:
• Rumphi ZEC: unfortunately the pastor’s wife (Mrs Kasambala) was bed ridden as she was recovering from a stroke. There was only one woman available so we agreed with the pastor that we should proceed to a nearby church known as Bolero ZEC. This was 40 kilometers away and we found 22 women waiting for us. The women were very eager to learn and practice what they had learnt.
• At Chitipa ZEC we found a very hardworking pastor (Enock Mang’anya) with a membership of six families.
• At Dwangwa ZEC (located by a large sugar cane plantation and processing plant), we found a group of 20 women eagerly waiting for us. The leadership here seemed to really understand the objective of women’s ministry. The training outcome was very positive as they asked a lot of questions, showing that they were motivated and wanted to learn and know more.
• The church at Nkhotakhota is run by the very active young Pastor Kamulira, who is really eager to witness to the Muslim community which is the majority religious group in that area. The pastor reported that they were 115 Sunday school children, with many from Muslim families.
• Overall, the visit highlighted a number of issues that ZEC needs to address:
• Most women do not have Chiyanjano uniforms like their counterparts in the central or southern region churches.
• The women require nurturing and harnessing.
• Most churches do not have adequate membership to support their pastor and the church activities.
• The distances between churches are very great. This is one of the reasons why churches do not grow despite an increase in membership numbers in the north.
• The women’s leaders suggested the following next steps:
• Pastors’ welfare should be given priority: adequate financial help is needed in order to motivate pastors’ physical and spiritual needs.
• The ZEC Synod leaders should positively seek to show their commitment and support to these churches in the north e.g. frequent visits and material help.
• Church buildings should be constructed to give the church families reliable places of worship. This at the moment is missing in many places.
• Apparently, in northern Malawi many churches give handouts to church members. So, sadly, this system motivates people away from faithful churches like ZEC.
In summary, God was with us. He provided travelling mercies and we had a safe journey back home and wherever we went members welcomed us very well. The fellowship was wonderful at the end of each training session by the pastor and women’s ministry as well .
We thank all the churches for their hospitality, zambesi mission for their support for the trip and ZEC Synod office for according us to visit the north churches ”.