We started the new academic year at the beginning of February 2016; 22 students for the new Bear Valley Bible Institute study programme and 40 students with the Mzuzu School of Preaching programme. The first three months of the academic programme was focused on classroom teaching – for the new students this involved laying a solid biblical foundation and equipping them for the coming campaign work.
We were also blessed with the visit of a number of brethren from the US: At the start of the term Donnie Estep and Jim Kerns – Donnie is the coordinator for Bear Valley extension schools in Africa and Jim Kerns is a deacon for a congregation in Virginia.These brethren spent two weeks with us, Donnie used all of his time to teach Bible, while Jim provided a massive help in getting some of our vocational training programme moving forward.
During April, Mike Linkous – one of the elders at Thomaston Road church of
Christ (sponsors of this work) also visited us – helping us with teaching, visiting, advice and encouragement. All the staff and students were greatly encouraged and strengthened by the visit of these brethren.
May saw the beginning of campaign work – something I was very pleased to be back doing. The school was involved in two campaigns during the last week of May the students and teachers being divided into two groups.
The first location was a new congregation about 20 minutes’ walk from the College. The congregation was started at the end of 2015 by one of the workers at the College. This brother informed us that he wanted to start a new congregation in the area where he lived and we readily agreed to help him – we provided communion trays, cups, song books, some Bibles and a number of us committed to attend worship on a regular basis (helping with the preaching and teaching). We also scheduled a gospel preaching campaign for May 2016 during which five people were saved and another three restored (folks who had been attending a congregation, but had forsaken worshipping). Christine, myself, two teachers and a number of the students continue to attend this congregation.
Katili church of Christ
The second campaign was with a congregation which has an interesting story. The congregation was started a while back, but because there was no one able to nurture and teach the congregation it ceased. In the meantime, a young man (who formerly had been a drunk) was converted and went through the MSOP programme graduating last year (2015). During his time of
study at College, he returned to his home village (Katili) but
found no church, and was told the story that there was a
congregation at one time, which was no longer meeting.
Determined to see the Lord’s church in his area, our brother (Robert Kumwenda) asked us if we would come and help him once he had graduated – something we were more than willing to do. During the campaign, six souls were saved and seven restored. A final encouraging note from this campaign: One afternoon one of the teaching staff and myself were pulled aside by a man who wanted to talk to us. His problem was that he had three wives. We discussed this with him and what he needed to do to repent of this situation, at the end I explained to the man that this was not going to be an easy road for him, but that he should not pull back from what he knows to be the right thing to do. His answer to me was this: “I have seen the change in Kumwenda; if he can do it, so can I.” Since the campaign a number of people have been added to the Lord’s church in this area.
Reaching out Wherever
Wherever we go, we always try to reach out to the lost with the gospel of Christ. Over the past few months, Christine has been visiting a little nursery school to teach Bible to the little children. While doing so, she reached out with the gospel to the nursery school teacher – last week the nursery teacher was baptised into Christ. Praise the Lord!
New Congregations for July
At the end of this July (2016) we will again be dividing into two groups and heading out on more gospel preaching work. Indeed, we are going to be establishing two new congregations: one of the new congregations will be in an area called Chankhombo - about 2 miles from the College. We scouted the area and found there are a lot of people but no church. The chiefs (one of whom is a lapsed Christian) have also welcomed us. The other new congregation is in an area we have been working in for the past few years and will be the fifth congregation we will have planted in that area.
Our academic year ends at the end of October (2016), before then we have scheduled another two gospel preaching campaigns, during which a further two new congregations will be established. And for 2017, the campaign calendar is already full with still more new congregations to be planted.
Evangelism Plan - Five Year Ideal
Christine and I came to Malawi to preach the gospel and establish new congregations of the Lord’s church; we are thrilled to be continuing this work through the Bible College. We aim at trying to support a preacher to work with a new congregation for 5 years. The congregation is encouraged to seek to send one or two men to the College by the third year, with a view to them returning and helping the congregation once they complete their studies. During the fifth year, we intend that the supported preacher will mentor the graduated student(s) to continue the work. The ideal is that a congregation can stand on its own after five years, freeing the preacher to start again with another new congregation.
Recently, the College was gifted with some funds for the purpose of building a maize mill at the campus. The maize mill has been built and is now running. There are a number of benefits to having a maize mill: 1) previously, the College spent about $25.00 (£19.00) per week on milling Maize – Maize being the main starch food for Malawians, 2) we use the maize mill as part of our vocational training programme. Over the past few years, I have planted a two maize mills funnelling the profits into supporting preachers for new congregations. Currently, these maize mills support five preachers. I have been gifted with further funding for another maize mill, which I will be planting this year in one of the areas where we will be establishing a new congregation (an area called Chisangano). The profits of this maize mill will support the preacher for the Chisangano congregation, and further new congregations in that area that we plan to establish over the next few years.
Evangelism cannot continue...
...like this without the support and prayers that all of you provide. We are really thankful to all of you for all the help that you give to this work. There is still much to do. There are large areas of Malawi (particularly in the Northern Region) where one can travel for 2 hours and not find a congregation of the Lord’s church, yet many denominational churches are seen! This always troubles me. Please continue to help this work: one off gifts, regular support (whatever amount). Maybe you could consider a one-off gift to build a maize mill? All will help us in the preaching of the gospel, establishing new congregations, and committing sound doctrine to “faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). May the Lord continue to bless all of you.
If you would like to see Marc's report with pictures, please click here.
#extensions #malawi #mzuzu