Zambesi Mission

 2015 News Stories
October 2015
A report on the 2015 conferences for Pastors and leaders in Malawi


"He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 1:9)

Paul wrote these words to Titus who was sorting out unfinished tasks on the island of Crete. He was keen to stress the importance of holding firm to the trustworthy message of sound doctrine. Crete was a country affected by false teaching, similar in many ways to the UK and Malawi today. For a number of years zambesi mission has partnered with the Malawian organisation J-Life/Learn2Serve to hold inter-denominational pastors' and elders' training conferences in Malawi and Mozambique.  It is estimated that over 90% of church leaders there have never received any formal Bible training; the need for culturally appropriate Bible training in Malawi is enormous. 

Mchinji Bookset Conference

This year three conferences were held during July and August. There are two types: the first is a "bookset" conference ; so-called because at the end of the conference each delegate receives a set of study books to assist them in their ministry. The second type is called a refresher conference . These are follow-up conferences held usually two or three years after a bookset conference - the aim is to go over and reinforce the original teaching. The team consisted of - Pastor Simon Chikwana (Field Director for zm), Pastor Connex Ijalasi (J-Life Country Director), Pastor Victor Zuze (from Limbe ZEC), Myles MacBean (zm Church Development Partner), Saul Mateyu (EBCOM Lecturer) and Rose Chirwa (zm Projects Officer). The teaching at each conference covered personal discipleship, teaching and preaching, Christlike leadership (including challenges and pitfalls), the Gospel and local culture, and mission and evangelism. Each conference was open to pastors, elders and women's leaders from churches from a wide range of denominations.

This year's conferences were held in the following places:

Bookset conference - Mchinji - between 13th and 17th July. This was attended by 110 people.

Bookset conference - Mulanje, Limbuli - between 27th and 31st July. This was attended by 120 people from 11 different denominations.

Refresher conference - Nchalo - between 10th and 14th August. 225 people attended this conference.

A number of interesting observations were made.

Biblical teaching on marriage made a big impact on the participants. zm's Field Director Simon Chikwana wrote that "the participants saw that stable marriages form strong building blocks of a church".

During the conferences it was found that local cultural practices were having a negative impact on the church in some areas. After one of the conferences Simon wrote that "during group discussions and presentations, it was discovered that some churches are still bowing to the cultural pressures. Some churches reach a point of closing the church on a Sunday in order to give room to initiation ceremonies. Such churches encourage members to still participate in the cultural practices that contradict the gospel. We thank the Lord that by the end of the conference the word of God was clear on how Christians should deal with cultural issues while maintaining Christian values ".

Some participants at the conferences noted that failure to properly preach the Word of God was allowing false teachers and false religions to mislead congregations. Simon Chikwana reported that "proper preaching and exposition of the word of God counters such false teachings".

Mulanje Bookset Conference

During the conference at Mulanje the conference leaders experienced an amazing moment.
Church Development Partner Myles MacBean tells the story -

"Perhaps the biggest encouragement to the team came from Mama Debra's Take Away! As usual, the team was staying at a small local 'rest house' but this time there was no food available. So, each morning and evening the team walked across the beaten red earth road to a small 12'x12' restaurant to be served some surprisingly tasty food by 'Mama Debra' who - despite the title - is a bright young woman. It turned out to be a lovely environment for 'good craic' (as the Irish say) and lively theological discussion over the evening meal, as we were 'serenaded' by competing PA systems blaring out from the neighbouring barbers. Certainly something attracted Mama Debra's interest and on the last evening the senior pastor in the team had the privilege of leading Debra and the restaurant owner to the Lord".

Simon Chikwana concluded: "This year's conferences were done at the right time in the right places. The comments that are coming through since after the conferences are so encouraging. The overall conclusion from every pastor who has commented has been that it has been a rare and real opportunity to get training."

Please pray

~ that the Bible teaching will prove effective as the leaders take it back to their churches;

~ that the books will be well used and helpful to the pastors and their congregations;

~ that resources will be available to continue to hold such events in the future.

 2015 News Stories

Zambesi Mission is a registered charity in England & Wales (1165004) and in Scotland ( SCO46748)