Flowing like a river – not static like a dam

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The work of the KAIROS course is supported by SIM Malawi project MW#96753 Mission Advancement Fund

The first KAIROS course organised by SIM Malawi took place in Blantyre in February 2018. Since then further courses have been held in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu and, most recently, in Liwonde. Add to that Facilitator and Head Facilitator training, and it is easy to see how KAIROS is having a major impact on mission mobilisation.

Salome Namanjas Phiri (pictured right) is well established in the KAIROS culture. She attended a course as participant and in May 2019 she attended Facilitator Training in Blantyre. Just a few days later, she found herself acting as a Facilitator on the first course to be held in Liwonde, in the eastern part of Malawi.

She says that the Facilitator training helped her to review what she had learned as a participant, and now feels the need to move to the next level.

“I was challenged to do the Facilitator training so that I could challenge others who have done KAIROS to take action on what they have learned and for them to take KAIROS to other people,” she said.

“It is very important that we see KAIROS moving across the Church because I see it as a river and not a dam. But if people do not take what they have learned to others then they become a dam and stop the river from flowing.”

This view of follow-up is also echoed by Hans-Jörg Richter who organises the KAIROS courses on behalf of SIM Malawi; he was involved in the recent Facilitator and Head Facilitator training and also the Liwonde course.

“We are looking to develop a strong group of Facilitators and Head Facilitators so that we then can start offering KAIROS in specific denominations or in specific churches,” he said.

Facilitator training:  A trainee facilitator gives a presentation to his colleagues to gain valuable practice in presenting to a group

“We need to build up this group of people so that the courses can be run completely in-country; we then will not have to keep bringing in Head Facilitators from other parts of Africa. So far they have come from South Africa and from Ghana. While SIM Malawi is helping to organise the training, we are looking for our Facilitators and Head Facilitators all to come from within Malawi.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy on the course and immediately after it has finished. We need to keep that going to make sure people put into practice what they learn on the course and as we look to try to get churches to use the material as well.

“What is encouraging is how the KAIROS course is being accepted across denominations. For example, at the course in Lilongwe we had seven Facilitators working there from seven different denominations across the Malawian Church. That was very encouraging, and we hope to continue that in the future. The Gospel came to Malawians and the Malawian Church was equipped to make sure it spread across the people groups within the country. We are now working to make people more sensitive to the needs of those who have not heard the Gospel, and equipping the former to take the Gospel out to them.”

Next stage: Trainee head facilitators study the KAIROS material

Hastings Phale is the first Malawian Head Facilitator to be certified by KAIROS – it is hoped a second, Reuben Kachala, will be appointed soon.

“We will soon have two Head Facilitators in Malawi for KAIROS, but the recent training in Blantyre has seen a further four start work for their accreditation,” Hastings said.

“I heard about KAIROS through SIM Malawi in February 2018 and was a participant in the first course held in Blantyre. Participants on that course were invited to attend Facilitator training and I felt called to do this.  I was involved in training on two courses and then invited to train as a Head Facilitator.

“KAIROS is designed to mobilise the Church into mission and mission awareness. The Malawian Church is very good at evangelism but its focus on mission is lacking. We pray that KAIROS will improve this focus and mobilise people for mission.”

Working together: Liwonde facilitators’ group

But how does KAIROS work? Brian Marrian, a Head Facilitator from South Africa who was recently involved in the Blantyre and Liwonde trainings, explained it was based on a theory that was developed by the English Missionary, William Carey.

“Carey had a four-step approach to mission work, and we have taken this idea and developed it,” he said.

“His plan was that you start with a Pioneer: that is, someone who has the vison and the idea for the work. They then become a Parent – this means they nurture and develop the work. The third element is that they find a Partner – this is someone whom they work alongside and mentor until that person takes the fourth step, which is that they become a Participant – they now have the skills and they are, so to speak, able to drive the bus!

“At all of these stages, teamwork is important, and that is at the heart of KAIROS. This was seen at the KAIROS course in Mzuzu earlier this year. Hans-Jörg, who was organising the course, fell sick. Then one of the Facilitators had to return to Blantyre because his wife fell sick and another had to leave before the end for personal reasons. Despite these problems, the course was able to continue because the rest of the team just pulled closer together.”

Brian says that the need for people to get involved in mission is vital. He cites the story of Hudson Taylor, when he met the Chinese Christian Watchman Nee. Nee asked Taylor: “How long have you had the Gospel in your Country?”

“Hundreds of years,” came the reply.

“So why is it only now we are hearing about it?” asked Nee.

“We want KAIROS to mobilise the Church to see what God is doing and also what He wants to do with and through the Church,” said Brian.

“Mission mobilisers are like the Old Testament Prophets, people who sound an alarm to bring people back into alignment with God and His purposes.”

But what do Malawians think about KAIROS and its potential impact on the Malawian Church. Brian Marrian spoke about a Malawian who had explained how he saw things, at a previous training: “A Malawian said to me that Americans and Europeans come on the mission field but they are carrying so much baggage that they find it difficult, or even impossible, to cross the bridge. He said: ‘We in Malawi have very little, so we are ready to go and cross the bridge!’

“It is great to see God turn the lights on in people and when He does, and they get it, it is really exciting to see how they want to go for Him. People are starting on a journey and sometimes feel shell-shocked about what they are being called to do and also what they are capable of. That is exciting and that is KAIROS!”

Reuben Kachala, (pictured right) also sees the need for Malawians to be guides rather than just a signpost!

“KAIROS is right for Malawi, and I want to see the Church mobilised through it for mission. Bible Colleges in Malawi do not concentrate on mission. They do a very good job training people to become pastors but not missionaries; KAIROS bridges that gap,” he said.

“Personally, being a Head Facilitator is both challenging and inspiring. Challenging: because I am a ‘big picture’ person who finds it hard to get involved in details. There are a lot of details in KAIROS, so this is hard for me! Inspiring: because it is exciting to see my fellow Malawian Christians wanting to go out on mission. We rarely hear about Malawians as missionaries to India or Iran or anywhere but through KAIROS I am sure this will change. I have been praying for 20 years to see Malawians going out on mission and now I am starting to see it become a reality.

“I was in South Asia as a cross-cultural worker among one of the unreached people groups from 2010 to 2014. I am now running Frontier Missions International (FMI) in Lilongwe. I am able to use my experience on the mission field to help mobilise people to go on mission.

“I can also use this experience when I am involved with KAIROS. Without this experience, I would just be a signpost telling people where to go. With this experience, I can be a guide and lead them through what it means to work cross-culturally or cross-border. These are important aspects of KAIROS, so I think my previous experience helps me to teach this, and I hope it helps others to learn about it.”

Breaking new ground: KAIROS held a course in Liwonde for the first time