Director, Mike Beresford , uses his New Year message to outline the principles and practices of zm.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1: 3-6).
Partnership in the Gospel
At the beginning of a new year, it seems appropriate to take stock of who we are and what we are doing so I want to reiterate some of the foundational principles of zm .
Why does zm even exist, when there seems to be such a proliferation of different mission organisations today? Especially since zm’s main focus is upon Malawi, which has a higher proportion of Christians than the UK! (See operation world ).
zm exists to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and extend and strengthen His Church in Malawi, northern Mozambique and the UK. The mission’s work is effectively a “partnership in the gospel” in which we work together with our African brothers and sisters in Christ to help extend the Kingdom of God – not only in Malawi and northern Mozambique, but also in the UK. But it is zm’s approach to mission that is particularly distinctive.
“Africa for the African”
zm was established in 1892 as a self-supporting, self-propagating mission in Malawi (formerly Nyasaland): a place then described as “beyond the habitation of white men”. The mission’s founder Joseph Booth was years ahead of his time: writing in 1897 in a paper called “Africa for the African”, he shared his views about equal rights for Africans, who he regarded as best placed to spread the Gospel in their lands. The once revolutionary idea of “Africa for the African” is central to the mission’s practice today. Although sending missionaries to Malawi has been a vital part of zm’s history, this is no longer the case today. Instead, the mission relies upon a small team of African workers in Malawi; furthermore, zm is now an enabling mission, working solely through local partners, supporting them in their Gospel ministry. It could therefore be said that zm does mission by proxy.
zm has five partners in Malawi and northern Mozambique:
Two of the mission’s local partners are independent church denominations: the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC) and River of Life Evangelical Church (RoLEC).
zm’s partnership with the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM) is unusual since zm is also a co-owner of the college. Based in Blantyre in southern Malawi, EBCoM is run collaboratively by five different Malawian evangelical church denominations and three overseas missions (SIM, Brethren in Christ US and zm).
zm has a local partnership with J-Life Ministries, who we collaborate with to provide Biblical leadership and discipleship training.
Finally, zm also partners with Children for Christ Ministry (CFCM), who have two focus areas: firstly, running Bible clubs for children; also training Sunday school teachers how to present the truth of the Gospel to children in an exciting and interactive way, particularly recognising the lack of resources available in Malawi. In 2017 CFCM trained over 1,000 Sunday school teachers.
The mission adopts three key principles:
- We aim to work with our partners in a sustainable way – helping them without creating unhelpful dependency.
- Our relationships with our partners will be equitable. We will avoid treating some lavishly, whilst others are ignored.
- Our relationships with our partners will be inter-dependent. Instead of adopting a concept of “Westerners” helping the “needy” in Africa, zm believes that our working partnerships are two-way relationships between equals: those who are “all one in Christ Jesus”. In other words we need the church in Africa, just as much as they need us – we are mutually dependent on each other. As part of this aim, zm has invited Pastor Mvula Mvula from the River of Life Evangelical Church in Malawi, to visit the UK this year to see what God would say to us and our supporting churches through him.
Partnership Focus Areas:
zm’s work with our partners in Malawi and northern Mozambique covers the following primary focus areas:
- Pastor and elder training;
- Increasing access to Scripture;
- Supporting pastors and their churches as they do the work of the church: evangelism, church planting, discipleship and children’s and youth ministry;
- Supporting the church in its education and healthcare activities, regarding these as part of the church’s integral mission;
- Assisting our partners’ leadership with strategic and administrative development support;
- Providing help to the most vulnerable amongst our partners when necessary;