‘Nyimbo za Paulendo’


Peter Ong, SIM Malawi's Youth Ministry Co-ordinator

‘Nyimbo za Paulendo’ (Songs for the Journey)

Youth choirs from two Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) congregations near Blantyre recently went into a recording studio to record a CD of original songs written by the choirs themselves. ‘Nyimbo za Paulendo’ (Songs for the Journey) are loosely based around the ‘Songs of Ascent’ - Psalms 120-134 - and reflect the journey that the young people are on in their Christian life.

Fund raising effort

The CD was the idea of Peter Ong, SIM Malawi’s AEC Youth Work Co-ordinator, and came about as a creative way to help raise much needed funds for the youth ministry.

“The youth ministry was running low on funds and so I started to think about how we could put that right,” said Pete.

“Obviously we could just make an appeal for funds but we wanted to do something more creative, something that would engage the young people. As I was thinking about it, I realised that one of the things the youth in the AEC are really good at was music; singing, playing instruments and writing songs. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss.”

Artwork for the CD cover

Why ‘Songs for the Journey?’

 Pete and his co-worker Pastor Chisoni Bridge wrote to the youth groups in the AEC Blantyre Area Council group of churches and two, Bangwe and Chilomoni, answered that they would like to be involved.

But why ‘songs for the journey’ and why based on the Songs of Ascent? Pete explained that the Songs of Ascent were sung by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem as part of major festivals and as well as worship they helped to encourage the pilgrims on their journey.

“The songs that the choirs wrote and chose, reflect the journey that they are on towards the heavenly Jerusalem, and we hope that the songs will inspire and encourage them, and others, on their journey to that place,” said Pete.

The nine songs – six by the Bangwe Choir and three by Chilomoni – were recorded at the Kasupe Studio over a few weekends and the CD was officially launched at Bangwe AEC just before Christmas 2014. As well as producing physical CDs Pete decided to release the CD online to make it available to an international audience (for online details see below).

In the studio

Fun to do

 “It is most young people’s dream to record and cut their own album so there was a lot of excitement in the choirs during this project,” said Pete.

“It was fun to do and may be the first of a number of such projects on which we can work with other groups of choirs from the AEC.

“One of the reasons I thought it would be good to do this was that I felt it was a way for the young people involved to internalise God’s Word through song. Many of the youth groups in the AEC are now starting to get involved with Bible Study and this project is another step in that process.”

Possible programme cuts

 So, if one of the reasons for producing the CD was to help raise funds for the youth ministry, what is the situation like now? Funds are still in short supply and, while the AEC has committed to help fund the youth ministry, more is needed if vital programmes are not to be cut.

“Under the youth ministry we run a number of events such as the neXGen Youth Leadership conferences and youth camps which are central to our work but which cost money,” said Pete.

“We also run a mentoring programme with youth leaders in which we try to model how to build relationships within a youth group. This is an important part of our work but it is the one which is most likely to be cut if we are short of funds.”

The two choirs with presentatin CDs; Bangwe (top) and Chilomini (below)

“Another area we may have to cut back will be the printing of resources for use by the youth leaders. This would also be a shame because they are asking for sound, Bible-based resources in Chichewa that they can use with their groups.”

Confidence for the future

 But Pete, and Pastor Chisoni Bridge, are still looking to the future with a measure of confidence. Indeed, a Prayer and Planning Retreat was run in January with the Youth Co-ordinators from the 12 Area Councils within the AEC across Malawi.

The purpose of the retreat was to pray and seek God’s vision for youth work in the AEC for the next year, to build on the relationships with the 12 co-ordinators and to work through the topic of ‘Christian leadership’ while practically helping them to draw up their plans and a budget for youth work in the their area for the next year. These plans and budgets will then be taken back to the individual Area Councils for consideration and funding.

This level of planning will be important as Pete, Jo and the family will be returning to Australia on Home Assignment in July for about seven months.

A lot happening

 “There is a lot happening in this year, some of which I will be involved with and some I won’t,” said Pete.

“We will run another three neXGen Youth Leaders training events in February, March and April, one in each of the three regions of Malawi. The subject will be ‘The Gospel and African Traditional Religions (ATRs). This is a topic which has come up several times when we have met with young people. They want to know things like how to respond to aspects of ATR, such as initiation ceremonies and marriage, in the light of the Gospel, and how to handle the two.

“We will also be running youth camps, two in August and one in December, on the topic of ‘The Mission of God in the World’. We want to build a vision for the young people about what God is doing in the world and how they can be a part of it.

“There are very exciting times ahead for the youth ministry and I am certain that Chisoni will take things forward really well, so I am confident that things will have moved on significantly when I come back from Home Assignment in 2016!”

To buy and download or to listen to Nyimbo za Paulendo please follow this link.

The AEC Youth Ministry work is supported by SIM Malawi project

MW96658 ‘Youth Ministry Capacity Building’