Preach the Word!

Preacher

Ever since we first visited Malawi, Myles has been captivated by the challenge of how to develop a truly contextual, scalable and sustainable way to equip and release ZEC’s grass-roots preachers to better expose the original meaning of Scripture, and better communicate that meaning to today’s Malawians within their rural oral culture.

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Indeed one of the initial attractions of Malawi for Myles was that ZEC‘s leadership share this passion. And later Myles was equally encouraged when he found the leadership of Disciple the Nations in Malawi shared his vision and were willing to partner in developing a training program that would last beyond our stay in Malawi.

The long development process, that started with a few 1 hour slots within the ZM Book Set Conferences in 2015, and progressed to a series of two-day seminars in the North of Malawi in 2016, has now fully launched as a two module program run by Myles and three experienced trainers from Disciple the Nations who are also ZEC Pastors: Pastor Sekeya, Pastor Amigu and Pastor Kalima. Indeed Abusa Sekeya gave invaluable support to Myles in helping to further contextualise the course during its development and ensure a full set of Chichewa notes were available for those being trained.

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Liwonde ZEC down on the banks of the Shire River in Machinga Quarterly (ie Presbytery) was the location for the first run-through of the new ‘Module 1: We Preach the Word’ on 26/27 May and, although turnout was lower than hoped, the 23 pastors, elders, women’s leaders and youth leaders got really engaged and obviously gained a lot from the experience.

“I pray that this initiative will flourish so that step-by-step Zambezi Evangelical Church leaders will excel in preaching the Good News of God’s Word throughout the world.” (Preacher, Machinga Kotale)

“We have really learned how to be good preachers: how to understand the Bible passage and to preach the Word of God well … I would recommend it to my preacher friends so we have many people who really preach the Truth in our church.” (Preacher, Machinga Kotale)

Last weekend (9/10 June) was the second occurrence of Module 1, this time at Mwanza ZEC in Mwanza Quarterly up in the mountains on the eastern border of Malawi with Mozambique . This time we were pleased to have over 60 ZEC leaders attend and over 50 received the much-prized attendance certificate. Despite the numbers, once again there was intense engagement by those who attended, a real openness to learn, and a commitment to go away and practice, practice, practice before attending Module 2 (‘We Preach the Whole Word of God’) in November.

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So far Myles has been ‘modelling’ how best to train the grass-roots preachers with Abusa Sekeya masterfully translating his English into Chichewa, and Abusa Amigu received the training. However – in line with our M.A.W.L. approach to coaching – at the next instance of Module 1 in Zomba Quarterly on 23/24 June it will be Abusa Sekeya who will train the group in Chichewa, with Myles ‘assisting’ while Abusa Amigu whispers an English translation into Myles’ ear, and Abusa Kalima receives the training. The idea is that the three ZEC pastors – with supplementary coaching from Myles on a Tuesday – will then all be ready to lead the training with Myles only ‘watching’ from the back of the class before he ‘leaves’ in November.

IMG_2691Myles and the DtN team have no doubt that there is going to be a lot of lessons learned from actually running the course, and further iterative refinement of the training material before it can be thought of as fit for purpose, but initial results are encouraging. Leaders are turning out despite the challenges of taking time off work, finding money for travel and money for food; they are enthusiastically engaging with the material and enjoying its unusually (for Malawi) interactive and  skills oriented approach; and Pastors appear really motivated to go away and act as coaches to further develop their local preachers.

Perhaps there is even something in all this that Myles can take back for use in the UK. For, despite the larger number of expository preachers to learn from in the West, and the greater availability of higher education and quality books on preaching, the priority of preaching in Christ’s Church is still under threat in Europe and beyond. This is critically important, for as Paul said so many years ago …

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 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 10:13-14)

 

 

Love teaching, hate marking!

img_6217-3Since 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! Continue reading

Back to Muesli….

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After 5 weeks of egg and chips for breakfast (standard breakfast in Malawian motels!) it was good to be back to muesli and fruit juice yesterday morning! We returned to our home in Blantyre on Monday evening after 5 weeks of living out of a suitcase and moving from one motel to another. The biggest shock has been the weather. Our last stop was Dwangwa, by the lake-shore, where we enjoyed temperatures in the high 20s, with the accompanying mosquito bites. But we have returned to Blantyre’s cold season – 17 degrees which seems very chilly now we are fully acclimatised to Malawi weather. So we have put on a few extra layers of clothing– but we are glad to escape the mosquitoes. Continue reading

If it’s Wednesday it must be… Karonga

IMG_1303 (1280x342)We’ve been trendy and “off-grid” for a few days, but now (Wed) we have finally reached Karonga, and in a guest house that not only has electricity – but air-conditioning as well – a first for us!! This is our most northerly base for this trip, though one of our planned day-trips will be to visit the church at Chitipa, which is almost at the Tanzanian/Zambian border. We will then be able to say we have been at the most southerly and the most northerly points in Malawi during our stay. Continue reading

The tour so far

IMG_1069 (1201x275)Today is exactly 2 weeks since we left Blantyre for our mission trip to the Northern region of Malawi. We have already travelled almost 1500km, and have completed training in the first 2 locations, Mzimba and Mzuzu. On the days when we have not been training, we have visited some of the more remote churches and prayer houses, experiencing some very bumpy roads, and enjoying a very different landscape from the one we have got used to in the South. Continue reading

Preach the Word!

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Grass-roots training in a grass-walled church

Last week Myles had a great time getting out of his Blantyre study to help with the first of three ‘Pastors Bookset Conferences’ by Zambesi Mission this July/August. He felt energised to be back working so closely with such a great team, and also to be putting into practice some of the output of his research and reading for his dissertation. Continue reading