Partners in partnership

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The work of Sports Friends Malawi is supported by SIM Malawi project MW#96754 Sports Friends Malawi

The work of STUM is supported by SIM Malawi Project MW#96556 Christian Education Resources

 Two of SIM Malawi’s key partners, Sports Friends Malawi and Sunday School Teachers United Movement in Malawi (STUM) have recently come together to form a training partnership to help Sunday School teachers use sports as a vehicle to share the Gospel. But the partnership is not without its challenges.

Sports Friends usually works with individual denominations – Africa Evangelical Church, Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi and the Baptist Convention of Malawi are three of the main denominations which have had training from the organisation. STUM works in Clusters, Zones and Districts, training groups of people from many denominations.

STUM usually uses its own resources to train their teams. Sports Friends Malawi is brought in from outside to deliver their denomination-led training.

Two very different ways of working; but recently the two organisations came together, in Nathenje, south of Lilongwe, for the first of what is hoped to be several sessions to train STUM District Sports Co-ordinators.

Partners in partnership: John Msowoya of STUM and Fostance Mtolo of Sports Friends Malawi

This new link came through discussions with SIM Malawi missionary Jim Young. Jim, who is soon to return to his native New Zealand with wife Diane after 15 years’ service in Malawi, has been working in Sunday School teacher training for all of his time in the country. It was he who suggested to John Msowoya, Director of STUM, that he should approach Sports Friends Malawi to see if STUM could benefit from training Sports Ministers.

“Through Jim we got together with Sports Friends Malawi, and we soon realised that they could help in this new area of training and work,” said John Msowoya.

Quick reactions: STUM Co-ordinators learning a ‘shooting game’ which required fast reactions

“We decided to go with Sports Friends Malawi because we had been looking around for a while at material on offer from different organisations. When we saw their material we realised that it would fit well with the STUM vision and so we started to look how we could work together.”

STUM organises itself in an unique way. There is a national office based in Lilongwe and this oversees several Districts.

The Districts then look after a number of Zones which, in turn, look after Clusters of churches. The Clusters, the foundation on which everything else is built, are made up of several churches from different denominations and backgrounds.

The first training session, held over four days in May, was for people from STUM’s Lilongwe South District - one of five such groupings in and around the city.  In all, 36 people from 18 Zones in Lilongwe South attended the first training session.

They had a mix of theoretical training as well as practical. All of the training is Bible-centred and is aimed at giving would-be coaches a good grounding in the Bible. When Sports Friends Malawi is running a training camp for young people, the Bible is used as much as a football or a netball.

“There are differences in how Sports Friends Malawi is structured and how STUM is structured, but at the base we both want the same thing; to share the Gospel with children and young people in Malawi,” said Fostance Mtolo, Team Leader for Sports Friends Malawi.

“There were some challenges to overcome because of how we are both structured, but we are both happy to overcome challenges! We are confident that this new partnership will do great things for the Gospel and in winning souls in Malawi.”

Two of the delegates at the training, District Co-ordinator Harry Zebron and Sports Co-ordinator Jacqueline Chikadza, shared in the optimism.

“I have come on this training to learn more about Sports Friends Malawi and how we can use sports as a way of reaching out to our children,” said Harry.

Group time: STUM Co-ordinators working in small groups at the Nathenje event

“I am looking to see how I can use sports in outreach. When I get back to my church I want to be able to use it with the children and as a way of being able to share the Gospel with them,” said Jacqueline.

Although the Nathenje event was the first of its kind, both John and Fostance see the new partnership between their two organisations developing into the future.

“For sure I see this partnership developing because we need them!” said John.

“We are seeing the benefit of the Sports Friends Malawi training here at Nathenje and we have many more Districts with which we will want them to get involved. I want to make sure that we have Sports Ministers trained in each every one of our Districts.

“I can see this partnership going from strength to strength and, together, I am sure we can see Malawi turned around because of the Gospel,” said Fostance.

“Our differences will help. STUM works with masses of churches across denominations and we, usually, work within one denomination at a time. But together we can reach many more children and young people with the Gospel than just working on our own. This gives me confidence for the partnership and for the future.”

 

 

 


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