Work expands through new partnerships

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The work of Sports Friends Malawi (SFM) is expanding in exciting new directions, as Team Leader Luke Voight told Malawi Amoto

What do you do when the field in which you are working becomes saturated? Look for new fields! And that is just what Sports Friends Malawi has done in recent months. Set up originally to work with the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC), SFM has been successful in getting sports coaches established in most, if not all, of the AEC throughout Malawi. It would have been easy to think ‘job done’! But that was never an option.

In recent months a new area and a different denomination have opened up and these are offering exciting prospects for the near future.

One of these developments is a link with the Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi (EBCM). Centred in Liwonde, EBCM has over 300 churches in the east of Malawi.

Relationship in place

There was already a relationship with EBCM through joint involvement in EBCOM (Evangelical Bible College of Malawi), and also more personally through the ministry of SFM Training leader Rev Fostance Mtolo, who had pastored an AEC congregation in the Liwonde area. So an existing fledgling sports ministry within the Church took a big step forward in August 2015 when they got in touch with SFM.

“We met with their senior church leadership and outlined the vision for SFM,” said Luke Voight.

“Normally when we do this, we have to go back and share a bit more or do some training so people can see what we are about. Not so with EBCM!

Caught the vision

Peterson Kaipa EBCM National Sports Ministry Co-ordinator with his family - wife Madal and daughters Priscilla and Annie (picture: Daniel Chang)

They caught the vision and we jumped several steps and set up the partnership almost straight away!”

EBCM appointed Peterson Kaipa as its National Co-ordinator for Sports Ministry. He spoke about the speed in which the partnership came about.

“It was quick on one hand but slow on another,” he said.

“We had a verbal agreement very quickly but it took time for the paperwork to be drawn up and agreed to before it was signed, and the partnership between SFM and EBCM became formal.”

SFM has carried out a number of training sessions with EBCM Sports Coaches, so that now there are more than 60 teams already established with the denomination. EBCM has followed the model which SFM has been developing with the AEC so that there are football teams for the boys and netball teams for the girls.

Long-term relationship

Looking ahead, Peterson Kaipa is confident that the partnership with SFM will be beneficial to his Church.

“We have been looking at how we can mobilise our young people, especially young men. We see sports as a way of doing that,” he said.

“We know that young people love coming to church but they also love watching or playing sport. Sometimes the two clash. But now we can show them that sport is in the church and we are seeing them coming to church more regularly and their lives are being changed. This is a development we want to continue to work on with SFM and I am sure it will be good for everyone.”

A very African scene; football in the shade of a Baobab (picture: Daniel Chang)

29 leaders, 19 denominations

Another major step forward for SFM has been its links with the Pastors’ Fraternal (a loose affiliation of Pastors from a number of denominations, who come together to work on projects or for meetings and events).

“We met with 29 church pastors from 19 different denominations in what is a predominantly Muslim part of Malawi. This is the really exciting part of this link because the Fraternal sees using sports as a means of outreach to their Muslim neighbours.

“After the meeting, it was agreed that we would run training sessions for people designated as coaches. This has been done, and we have 27 coaches and more than 50 young people now trained.”

But having so many denominations involved can cause problems not normally associated with dealing with just one at a time, such as with AEC or EBCM. Training the coaches was not a problem but getting the churches to buy into the SFM vision was a little more problematic.

“We were wondering how we could get over this problem, when Berhanu, one of the founders of Sports Friends, and current Sports Friends Ethiopia Director and leader of Sports Friends East Africa, came to visit Malawi,” said Luke.

Bringing unity through sports

“He suggested that we hold a training session with the pastors rather than the coaches. The idea was to fire them up with the vision for how sports ministry can be used. So we did this and the outcome has been amazing. There’s a real desire in Mangochi now for this work to prosper, both within the denominations and as a tool for outreach to their Muslim neighbours.

“And we are seeing results already. We have seen families in Mangochi, some Muslim, some from Traditional African Religions and some from no faith background, coming to the Lord and some of these have stepped forward to be coaches to keep the work going!”

 

Prayer points

Luke would request prayer for the following;

Salvation: that the work of Sports Friends Malawi would result in more people coming into the Kingdom of God

Leaders: Please pray for National Sports Ministry leaders, like Peterson Kaipa, and their famiies

Needs: Please pray for the basic needs of water, power and food for all Malawi, and especially those involved in Sports Ministry

 

The work of Sports Friends Malawi is supported by SIM Malawi project

MW96754 Sports Friends Malawi

 

 

 

 


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