GENERAL PRESENTATION ON CCAP, HIV/AIDS AND LIFE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.
GENERAL PRESENTATION ON CCAP, HIV/AIDS AND LIFE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.
I have been asked to give a general presentation on the CCAP, HIV/AIDS, and Life in Southern Africa etc.
Before I do that, I bring to you greetings from the leadership in Nkhoma Synod, Rev. Daniel Gunya of Blantyre Synod, and Rev. Matiya Nkhoma of Livingstonia Synod.
Furthermore, I thank the leadership of the Malawi Mission Network for organizing this conference and I feel greatly honored to have been invited to this conference. You may also wish to know that all the three CCAP Synods in Malawi thank the various PC USA General Assembly Agencies, Presbyteries, mission organizations, and congregations engaged in the missionary work. You are doing tremendous work and you may wish to know that you are making a big difference to the communities you are serving. You have helped the people spiritually, physically and socially. Those people will never be the same again. We praise God for using you and may He continue blessing you. We also thank the Malawians living in the USA for identifying yourself with our sister church the PCUSA. We thank the congregations for accepting you and for attending your spiritual and other needs. May God bless the congregations.
I understand that the purpose of this conference and of the Malawi Mission Network is:
It is hoped that these discussions will build up the momentum and enthusiasm, which is mounting up to help the people of God in Malawi.
My presentation will not dwell much on what the various agencies, organizations , Presbyteries and congregation or individuals are doing. That will be taken care by the various presentetions on what these organizations are doing in each Synod. Rather, I will dwell on the challenges the Synods are experiencing which this conference and the Malawi Mission Network should pray for and assist.
As I said earlier on, I have been asked to give a general presentation on the CCAP, HIV/AIDS, and Life in Southern Africa etc. There are many things I can say on this topic. However, I will prioritize my talk on three issues, i.e. political life in Southern Africa, Evangelism and Social services and other administrative issues which are relevant to this forum.
1. Political Life in Southern Africa.
I am pleased to report that after the end of colonial rule in the African nations,, the end of civil war in Mozambique and the end of apartheid in South Africa, political life in Southern Africa is relatively calm. Democracy is slowly taking its root. However, there are two challenges that the PC-USA should pray for.
1.1 The Zimbabwe land issue and the demolition of squatters are causing political instability in this region. A political solution to this problem is needed in order to bring peace in Zimbabwe. In Malawi we are concern with development because apart from being a neighboring African nation, there are thousand if not millions of Malawians who went to Zimbabwe to work in the farms and are now jobless following the removal of the white farmers. However we are pleased with the recent reports that some farmers are being allowed to return to Zimbabwe.
We, therefore, appeal to PC-USA to pray for Zimbabwe.
1.2 Corruption has characterized a number of the governments in Southern Africa. This has affected the economy of a number of African nations in that some donor nations and agencies have withdrawn their support. This has affect the ordinary citizen including members of our church. Fortunately, change of governments has resulted in having new governments dealing with this problem. Some governments are allowing the law to take its course in dealing with the culprits.
We would like the PC-USA to pray for the political leaders in this part of Africa. WE also ask you to pray for the Church involvement in dealing with sum of the political issues through the established Church and Society departments and other church related bodies church as the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) in Malawi.
2.. Evangelism. According to the 1998 population census, 80% of the Malawians are Christians. And according to the US Department of State Affairs report on Malawi 55% of the Christians are Protestant and the CCAP is the largest Protestant Church in Malawi. However, a careful study of the statistics reveals that evangelism has to be intensified in order to reach many people in Malawi. For example, Blantyre Synod has 442 congregations with 600 prayer houses with over 1.2 million members. Yet, according to the 1998 population census the Southern Region where Blantyre Synod is evangelizing ha s over 4 million people. If Blantyre is the largest Church in the region this means that over 2 million people have not been reached yet. Similarly, Nkhoma Synod has 118 congregations with over 1,200 prayer houses and has about 1 million members. Yet according to the 1998 population census, Central Region where Nkhoma Synod is evangelizing, has over 4 million people. If Nkhoma Synod is the largest Church in Central region it means over 2 million people have not yet been reached. We can say the same with Livingstonia Synod.
This may imply that there are many people who still ascribe to the Traditional Religion and Islam. Furthermore, there are reports in most congregations that many members of the Church are disciplined due to practicing traditional religion and thereby failure to live Christian lives , many are nominal Christians.
In this regard, there are two Challenges in Evangelism in Malawi. The first is continued threat of the traditional religion, and secondly the Muslim President encouraged the growing of Islam which during the last ten years.
We would like to appeal to the PC-USA to help the Church in Malawi to accomplish the following evangelism strategies.
2.1 Christian Literature Ministry. During the past 100 years, the Church established schools so that a number of Malawians can read and write. Yet there is no Christian literature in the vernacular languages. In the Malawi Christian book shops one finds English Christian literature. There is need to produce vernacular Christian literature in order to help the Malawians Christians who can read in order for them to grow in there faith. This will also help to evangelize to the Malawians who can read but cannot be reached personally. This can be done by translating some of the English Christian literature into the Malawi languages, or by encouraging the Malawi Christians to write Christian stories. Fortunately Nkhoma Synod has a printing press which can print this literature.
2.2 Christian Radio Broadcasting. Over 40% of the Malawians are illiterate. Due to poverty many Malawians could not go to school and for a long time there has been few schools in many villages. Recently the government introduced free primary education, but only the children can go to these schools, although still more children cannot attend these schools due to poverty since they have to buy learning materials. This is indeed a serious disadvantage to evangelism.
In this regard, Nkhoma Synod and Livingstonia Synod have decided to establish Christian radio stations. The aim for establishing the Christian radio stations is reach those people who cannot read and write. At list they can listen to the Christian messages on the radio. A survey has revealed that although the people are poor, at list a good number of the people in the villages can afford to buy a cheat radio. A survey has also revealed that many people in the homes and even in a village can use one radio. And people do share what they have heard from the radio. Again survey has it that many people in the villages believe whatever they listen on the radio whether it is true or not.
A Christian radio can therefore be a very import means of communicating Christian messages, HIV/AIDS messages, Education issues, Relief, agriculture, Christian Music, etc. There are Christian radio stations in Malawi and the Government Broadcasting Corporation does offer some space to broadcasting messages, but these have their own objectives and policies which may not conducive to our principles and objectives. That is why we would like to establish our own radio stations which we can control.
We, therefore appeal to the PC-USA to support this evangelism strategy. In Nkhoma Synod we have already opened a Nkhoma Synod Radio Account No. 0141849326600 at the National Bank of Malawi, Lilongwe Branch PO Box 132, Lilongwe Malawi. Some members of our Church have already started contributing. At the moment we have K35,000.00 in the account. At the moment we need a technician who should come to establish this station for us.
2.3 Leadership Training. Whereas the Church seem to be growing, there is a problem of lack of leadership both on ministerial training and lay-training
2.3.1 Ministerial Training. In all the three Synods there is a serious shorted of ministers. Many congregations do not have ministers. The few ministers who are there share the congregations who do not have ministers so that one minister may have two or three or more congregations to supervise. This is one norm the reasons why we have many of the Church members who are nominal Christians, they have minister to help them grow spiritually. What we have are amateur ministers.
In order to resolve this problem, Livingstonia Synod and Nkhoma Synod have resolved to establish short intensive theological training of ministers. Although we have Zomba Theological College, it was noted that due to shortage of accommodation the college can admit few students. Therefore, the establishment of these other colleges was to alleviate the shortage of ministers.
We appeal to the PC-USA to help in two ways:
2.3.2 Leadership Training. In view of the shortage of ministers, the Church in Malawi uses the laity to do most of the work a minister in supposed to do except performing sacraments. This means the church elders and deacons can teach, preach and do pastoral work. In this regard there is need to train the lay leaders in order for them to be effective. The three Synods established Lay Training Centers.
WE appeal to the PC-USA to help in providing finds for
Producing teaching and learning materials
Organizing the training
WE also appeal for some personnel to come and facilitate lay training courses using the materials, which are used here in teaching various courses.
2.3.3 Church Projects. The attendance at worship shows that the Church is growing. As a result some congregations have embarked on the construction church building. The problem here is that due inflation the prices of the roofing materials have gone up leaving the congregations not able to complete the projects. In this regard we appeal for financial assistance to help the congregations complete the projects.
3.. SOCIAL SERVICES. The CCAP in Malawi has been involved in a number of social services as follows:
3.1 Education. The first schools in Malawi were established by the CCAP Synods in the three regions of Malawi. The Church continues to establish these schools in the remote rural communities. These schools have done a lot to bring some civilization in the villages. Although the government later started establishing schools the majority of the schools in Malawi are owned by the Church. For example, Nkhoma Synod has over 700 primary and secondary schools. Many of them are government grant Aided or Assisted schools in that while the Church remains the proprietor, the government assists in paying the teachers and provide teaching and learning materials. However, due to the lowering of the stands in the schools due to a number of factors too many to be elaborated here, Nkhoma Synod and Blantyre Synod decided to privatize some of the schools or establish privatize schools. These schools are known as Christian schools. The church recruits the teachers and provide teaching and learning materials. Many parents prefer sending their children to these schools because the emphasis on Christian character.
However, Nkhoma Synod has embarked on two new strategies.
The first is the establishment of nursery schools. It was noted that children who start school at late age, i.e. 7-8 years do not perform well and are not introduced to Christian values. Although some of them may attend Sunday school on Sundays, it was felt that that was not enough because not much of Christian values are dealt with at Sunday schools. Therefore, the Synod decided that nursery schools be established in the communities. This idea was also motivated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic resulting in having over I million orphans in the communities who need spiritual, social and physical care.
WE turn therefore to the PC-USA to assist on this important venture.
Secondly, there is a problem of unemployment in Malawi. This is because many young people cannot be selected for university education due to limited space at the two universities in Malawi. In this regard, Livingstonia Synod and Nkhoma Synod have decided to establish private Christian Universities. The Livingstonia Synod started theirs two years ago. Nkhoma Synod completed the formulation of the University Charter and a University Council has been appointed. The Council has already identified premises to start studies in Theology, Education, Nursing and Business. The Council has also opened the Nkhoma Synod University Account No. 0141142148700 at the National Bank of Malawi, City Center Branch, Capital City Lilongwe 3.
Nkhoma Synod appeals to the PC-USA to kindly provide or identify someone to be appointed the Chancellor of the Nkhoma Synod University who will be the Chief Executive Officer of the University.
3.2 Health Services. Like Education, the CCAP Church was the first to establish health services in Malawi. Later the government established their hospitals. However, the Government through the Christian Hospital Association in Malawi (CHAM) provides grants to the Church hospitals to pay the nurses and doctors. However, we appeal to the PC- USA to help the Synods in Malawi in the following areas.
3.3 Food Shortage. Due to poor rainfall this year Malawi will experience serious food shortage which if not curbed will result in many people dying of hunger as happened three years ago. We appeal for the following to the PC USA.
We therefore appeal to the PC-USA to provided personnel or experts who may study the resources and advise the church on how to utilize them. Fortunately the church has personnel many of who serve as voluntary workers. These can be used in the services. In addition, Malawians are culturally agriculturists. They can easily be motivated to produce enough food if they can be taught modern agricultural methods.
Furthermore, poverty is one of the contributing factors to hunger even to the spread of HIV/AIDS. If the people can be motivated to produce more food for consumption and for commerce the people can have money to buy fertilizer and produce enough food to eat and sell some for their livelihood.
WE, therefore, appeal for funds to enable the people buy fertilizer to produce more food for consumption and for sale.
4 Administrative issues: There are two administrative issues which we feel are relevant for this forum. These issues are the financial management and the border issues between Nkhoma Synod and Livingstonia Synod.
4.1 The Finance Management. Finance management is one of the serious handicaps in some Synods. Moneys have not been well managed. This is deliberate. It is because finance management needs capable people who should make sure that the re is accountability and transparency. Such people need to have sound education in accounting systems. At the same time such people, because of their expertise, will need to be well paid. Since the Church may not have enough money to pay the financial experts, then the church engages unskilled personnel to manage their finances. This results in church money being mismanaged.
Our appeal, particularly in Nkhoma Synod, is that we need the serves of a financial controller who should put in place credible finance management system, stay for some time to see to it that it working, then help to identify a Malawian to take over, stay with the Malawian financial controller, and leave only when satisfied that he is performing well, but still do come at intervals to check if he is indeed performing well.
Women Participation in the Church. Nkhoma Synod is the only Synod in the CCAP that has no women elders and deacons. The matter has always been discussed at the Synod Assemblies during the past 7 Assemblies. No consensus has yet been reached. However, in one of their submissions to this years Assembly the Nkhoma Synod Strategic Committee proposes to discuss To enhance the participation of women in decision making forums of the church, and the ministry of the Word of God. This proposal will be discussed at the next Synod Assembly which meets in October 2005.
We therefore appeal for your prayers on the issue.
4.2 Border issue between Nkhoma Synod and Livingstonia Synod. As you may have heard that the Livingstonia Synod intends to cut ties with Nkhoma Synod due to some border disputes. The General Assembly is now dealing with the matter. We are very confident that the matter will end amicably. The Blantyre Synod has been very instrumental in trying to reconcile us. Three times I have spoken to the General Secretary of Livingstonia Synod who was on leave to Scotland when the issue reached a critical point.
We, therefore, appeal for your prayers on the issue.
Thank you for your attention
Submitted by: Winston Kawale