Since returning from our post-Christmas trip, Myles has been snowed under as he picked up all his normal activity again, helped organise the distribution of over 60 tons of maize, and – the biggest load of all – assessed the preparation and presentation of 28 sermons by second year bible college students at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM). That’s a lot of video to review!
You may remember that Myles developed a two-day preacher training seminar for our ministry trip in the north of Malawi last May/June. After being invited by EBCoM to take the preaching class for 2nd year diploma students (both residential and extension) he really enjoyed expanding the core ideas and increasing the academic content to produce a 14 x 2hr course for the college.
He found that the practical skills he has built up through the decades of critical business communications and the regular preaching in the chapels of East Anglia, combined with the understanding of Malawi’s oral culture that he has built up through his dissertation research and preaching here in Malawi, allowed him to really enjoy the experience of coaching the next generation of evangelical preachers in Malawi and Mozambique. The students seemed to enjoy it as well – once they had got over the Glaswegian accent, and Myles’ western habit of asking questions that required an answer!
However, as a first time teacher what Myles did not find easy was sitting for hours pouring over manuscripts and video recordings to assess the students end-of-semester performance. He has since heard from many teachers that this love of teaching and aversion to marking is not unique!
Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly rewarding experience for Myles to see many of the students pick up on new techniques and tools, and to preach sermons that both got to the heart of the meaning of a biblical passage while also exploiting traditional oral techniques to appropriately communicate that message to a rural Malawian audience.
With the marking done, and the students off on holiday back to their villages, Myles is now focussing on working with his friends at Disciple the Nations on the next incarnation of Preach the Word as a two module training program that will start to roll out across Zambezi Evangelical Church in April.
Why all this emphasis on preaching, when there are so many other issues facing Malawi? Because we are told to preach (e.g. 2 Timothy 4:1-2), because Jesus taught us to preach by example (e.g. Matthew 5), and because the early disciples gave so much emphasis to preaching (e.g. Acts 6, Romans 10:14-19).
As Christians we are called to ‘regime change’ on a global scale, but it is done one heart at a time. And despite those who have boasted of the death of preaching, the low-tech communication of God’s Truth through the carefully spoken word by one person to many listeners remains one of the most universally effective and culturally acceptable tool that there is for the Kingdom.
Perhaps that is why Paul exclaimed:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)