What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:13)
Paul wrote these words to encourage Timothy to guard the truth of the gospel – the good news about salvation through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to stress the importance of sound doctrine. In the church in Paul and Timothy’s time, groups of false teachers were leading believers astray.
Sadly, that is similar in many ways to the situation in the UK and Malawi today. To compound the problem, it is estimated that over 90% of church leaders in Malawi have received no Bible training. In order to help address these challenges, zambesi mission has for some years been holding inter-denominational pastors’ and elders’ training conferences. zm partners with the Malawian organisation J-Life to jointly deliver these conferences. They are also always accompanied by a lecturer from the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi, who helps with the teaching and is able to guide delegates if they are considering further theological training.
130 believers from 21 denominations attended the conference at Mangochi, which was held in the ZEC church: another eight came to some sessions. The teaching at each conference covered personal discipleship, teaching and preaching, Christlike leadership (including challenges and pitfalls), understanding Islam, the Gospel and local culture, and mission and evangelism.
zm’s Field Director Simon Chikwana said the conferences were “Such an encouragement to us “. One of his highlights was the distribution of booksets. “Many of the churches in this area have been planted by local people who have never attended Bible College. The only study book they might have is a Bible – but this would not be a complete Bibles; rather the sort that starts at Genesis 12 and is missing Revelation! This was their first time to receive a set of study books “. For zm Church Development worker Myles MacBean, the highlight at Mangochi was the teaching on Islam. Mangochi is a Muslim-dominated area where it is very hard to share the good news about Jesus, our Saviour. Myles said, “For me a real high-spot of that conference was the Blantyre based pastor (Emmanuel Akawu) who presented on Islam. Equipping Malawi’s church leaders to understand Islam better (they are surprisingly ignorant about it) and better understand how to witness to Muslims in their communities is a great step forward “.
The booksets contained the following books, which with the exception of the children’s stories book were all in the vernacular language Chichewa:
- The Bible
- Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Christianity versus tradition
- Childrens story book
- Kukula Mchiyero (Growing in Holiness)
- Ulendo wa Moyo wa Chikhristu (Christian Journey)
- Kukula mu Utsogoleri (Growing in Leadership)
- Thandizani Asilamu (Help the Muslims)
- Kudziwa Mulungu pa Chiyambi (Knowing God in the beginning)
- Kufalitsa Uthenga Wabwino (Proclaiming the Good News)