Moving Malawi mission mobilisation beyond its borders


The work of the Malawi Mission Initiative is supported by SIM Malawi project #96753 Mission Advancement Fund

Since it was set up in 2013, the Malawi Mission Initiative has been developing strategies to mobilise the Malawian Church to take heed of the Great Commission and prepare members for overseas missionary work. Now MMI itself could be on the verge of being ‘exported’ to another part of Southern Africa.

The SIM Malawi Pastors’ Book Set Conference 2013, held in Lilongwe, included a call for people with a heart for mission to make a commitment. An outcome, as a response to that call, was the establishment of the Malawi Mission Initiative (MMI).

For the first few years, a lot of ground work needed to be put in; a Constitution for MMI, its Operating Policy and a Strategic Plan needed to be developed and ratified. The strategic Plan remains MMI’s outstanding work.  A National Missions Assessment is being made between October and December, 2018 in order to appreciate missions work by stakeholders and construct five-year Strategic Plan for MMI in order to give a clear direction. A Mission Seminar Series was developed and presented. These have now been completed, and the new five-year Strategic Plan gives the organisation clear direction and goals to be achieved.

Since its inception, MMI has looked at how to mobilise the Malawian Church to develop home-grown missionaries and, in March 2018, the first missionary sent through SIM Malawi by the Africa Evangelical Church went to Mozambique. MMI had a significant part to play in that. There are few more candidates seriously considering cross-cultural and cross border missions.

Angola Event:  Red robes of a choral group from Lubango Churches form a dramatic contrast to the sober clothing of the audience

“At the moment we have one missionary family working in Mozambique, we have three candidates who are going through the testing process and, following a recent training event, we have another 20 who have expressed an interest in being trained for cross-cultural mission,” said Revd Paul Mawaya, National Chairperson of MMI.

“The last year or so has been very exciting as we have seen the Malawian Church become more focused on developing missionaries and being ready to send them. If mobilisation is our primary goal, then close behind it is capacity-building in the Malawian Church.

“In this area we have been ‘vision casting’ with denominational leaders across Malawi to look at how they can mobilise their people to look at cross-border/cross-cultural missions. We have also been looking at how we develop Christ-centred and Bible-centred disciples to enable them to reach out to unreached people groups.”

Underpinning all of this work is prayer, and one of the developments by MMI has been the setting up of the Malawi Mission Prayer Fellowship (MMPF). Each MMPF is made up of church leaders who meet regularly to pray about missions and about people in their congregations/denominations who are showing interest in this work.

Key contact: Revd Paul Mawaya with Dr Sheila Fabiano, Country Director, SIM Angola

“We originally set up three MMPFs; one each in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu,” sad Revd Mawaya.

“These have been meeting faithfully for a couple of years and are starting to see results in terms of people coming forward enquiring about cross-border mission. But we wanted more and so, in August 2018, we set up the fourth MMPF in Liwonde town of Machinga District, and we are progressing well for a fifth to be set up soon in Mulanje District.”

But perhaps one of the most exciting recent developments is that of the possible ‘exporting’ of the MMI template to another part of Southern Africa, namely Angola. At a regional meeting in Johannesburg in 2017, Paul Mawaya gave a presentation outlining the background, development and future plans of MMI. One of the delegates at the conference was the Country Director of SIM Angola. She spoke to Revd Mawaya and determined to set up a meeting in Angola so that the vision could be shared there; this meeting took place in August 2018.

“The meeting was part of an event set up by the main Bible College in Angola, and supported by SIM Angola and the Evangelical Alliance of Angola, which is similar to the Evangelical Association of Malawi,” said Revd Mawaya.

“There was a lot of positive feedback from people at the meeting and there was also action. A team has been set up there to start developing an Angolan equivalent of MMI and they are already looking at strategic planning, policies and a framework on which this can all hang.

“This is exciting because I am sure that, as and when they set up their organisation, we and they will be able to work together to share ideas and solve problems. I can see them being a mirror held up to us, and this will challenge us to go further to mobilise Malawian missionaries.”

Looking to the future development of MMI, Paul Mawaya has three areas he would like to see develop. The first is prayer, the second is training and the third is encouraging Bible Colleges to take a fresh look at how they can develop mission-minded courses.

“We have developed a training programme based on the ‘Student Volunteer Missions’ (SVM) concept which has been used for a while in American colleges and universities. We have ‘SVM2’ which we have developed, and it is proving to be very successful; for example, at a recent training session using this programme we had 20 people out of a group of 100 who came forward with a desire to go into cross-cultural mission work. We see this as a major asset in our development work,” he said.

“I also want to see more MMPFs. Ideally, I should like to see one in every district of Malawi and even some in sub-districts as well. Prayer is the very bedrock for our work and we need to make sure that Malawi is flooded with prayer if it is truly to be a sending country.

“The third area in which I would like to see progress is in the ministry of our Bible Colleges. Many of them, at the moment, have missions as a minor subject in their curriculum. What I would like to see is that they develop courses in mission that in future they not only train and equip pastors for the Malawian Church, but also play a critical role in equipping Malawian missionaries for world missions.”

“There are some long-term hopes here, but I feel that, with God’s help and blessing, we can achieve these and we can see a significant number of Malawian Christians responding to the Great Commission, and working outside of our borders as cross-cultural missionaries.”

City at his feet!: Revd Mawaya overlooking the Angolan city of Lubango where the event took place