“The Spirit breaks boundaries”


The work of Mthenga Wabwino is supported by SIM Malawi project #MW96653 Mthenga Wabwino

In the second of two articles about the work of Mthenga Wabwino we look at recent trips outside of Malawi that National Team Leader Revd Yunusu Mataka has made, one to a Life Challenge Africa conference in Kenya, which is held every four years, and the second to an event organised by Dutch mission organisation GZB. Both events proved to be very inspirational and instructional and could have a major impact on the work of Mthenga Wabwino going forward


Sometimes it is very easy to become somewhat insular and isolationist in our thinking about mission and the ministry in which we are involved. Yunusu Mataka, National Team Leader for Mthenga Wabwino has recently travelled, first to Kenya and then to Holland, to events where he has met organisations and missionaries working in outreach to Muslims from around the world.

Role reversal!  Yunusu Mataka (light suit) addressing the 2,000+ delegates at the GZB conference and being translated into Dutch by former SIM Malawi colleague Nico Bontenbal. Yunusu would often translate Nico’s English into Chichewa when he was in Malawi!

“These events have been very useful just to see how people in different parts of the world are looking at outreach to Muslims,” he said.

“I have learned a lot from the experiences and hope to put some of this learning into practice here in Malawi. For example, we heard from one group who, at first, did not open the Bible when they were working with their Muslims neighbours.

“They showed Christ in their lives, but then they were delighted when the Mayor of the town in which they were working told them they must open the Bible to his people to help them understand things more. Through this, Bible-based teaching in a mainly Muslim area is now taking place.”

The first event Yunusu attended, in February, was held in Kenya. Hosted by Life Challenge Africa (LCA), this was an event which runs every four years. LCA brings together a group of people who are involved in outreach to Muslims and trains and equips them to help develop each person’s work.

Presentation time: Yunusu presenting the work of Mthenga Wabwino to the Life Challenge Africa conference in Kenya

At the event, Yunusu met fellow workers from Nigeria, Togo, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia and India. In all, 29 delegates attended the event and already they are making use of social media and email to network with each other. Regular prayer requests are being exchanged as they look to build on the relationships forged at the event.

“The LCA event in Kenya was helpful because of the people we met and also because of the resources we were able to make use of,” said Yunusu.

“Hearing from fellow Africans about how they work, sometimes in very difficult conditions, was very inspiring.

“One of the main things to come out of this time was the need for more work on discipleship. Here in Malawi we are very good at bringing people to Christ, but we have a lot of work to do on disciple-making. We were introduced to a new discipleship course called ‘Come, follow me’ which we are looking at using here in Malawi.”

The course is based on what is almost a conversation between a Christian and a Muslim. It asks questions and looks for answers in 20 key areas of faith. The hope is that people who have already graduated from the Mthenga Wabwino In-Depth Course, will be trained up to be facilitators to train others in how to use this material.

Ultimately, the hope is that people will be able to use the material on a one-to-one basis with their Muslim friends and neighbours. There is also a desire from Mthenga Wabwino to make the resource available in local languages.

Learning time: One of the training sessions at the Life Challenge Africa conference in Kenya

For some time, Mthenga Wabwino has been producing the ‘King of Glory’ book in Chichewa and Chiyao. A new way of using this resource was also shown at the LCA event.

“Someone has produced King of Glory as a series of laminated pages,” said Yunusu.

“The person using the resource can hold the page up to, say, a group of children with the picture facing the group. The facilitator can then read the story which is on the other side. It is a simple way of telling this story to children. We are going to look at the possibility of taking our versions of King of Glory in Chichewa and Chiyao and turning them into laminated pages to use in this way.”

Delegates to the conference also received a set of 16 books, all looking at different aspects of outreach to Muslims, a resource that will be very valuable as the work of Mthenga Wabwino is developed.

The GZB event, held in March, was a much bigger affair. Some 2,000 or so supporters of and donors to GZB gathered to hear presentations about the work they support around the world, all under the title of “The Spirit Breaks Boundaries” – based on Acts 10.

At the event, Yunusu was able to tell the delegates about the work that Mthenga Wabwino is carrying out in Malawi.

“The GZB event was very big!” said Yunusu.

Somewhere in the crowd is …? Yunusu! He is somewhere in this crowd answering questions during a break at the GZB conference!

“Working under the event title, we were asked to consider the question “How is the spirit breaking boundaries in …?” and insert our own home situation into the question. It was a very helpful way of thinking about or work and how we did it.

“It was a great experience and a great privilege to be able to tell so many people about what we are doing in Malawi. But there was more to that trip than just the GZB conference. I was able to visit a number of churches in the area to speak in services and also to speak to the youth and the children at those churches. It was interesting to see the difference between how churches make use of youth in Holland compared to Malawi.

“In Malawi, members of the youth of the church regularly lead services or preach, we even have a Children’s Day where the service is led by children and a child will preach. In Holland, the youth and children have their services separate from the adult church at which only the Pastor is allowed to preach.

Newspaper man: Yunusu’s visit was included in advance publicity for the conference in Nederlands Dagblat one of Hollands main newspapers

“The youth we met were anxious to find out more about how they can be involved in God’s work and the work of the church. It was very interesting to talk to them and find out the different ways children and young people are used in our churches.”

Back in Malawi after these two great opportunities in quick succession, how does Yunusu feel about the future?

“Three words, Encouraged, Motivated, Empowered!” he said.

“It has been good to find out more about what colleagues in different countries are doing and being able to learn from their experiences. It is also good that I now feel better connected with people in many countries and that we can continue to work together.

“I will need to be able to spend time thinking back over the two visits to really work out what are the good things that we can apply to Mthenga Wabwino.

“I feel confident that the Malawian church will benefit from my experiences and will be motivated in its outreach work. We may still be doing the same jobs as we were before, but there may be a different approach and attitude to how we do them.

“The hospitality we received in Kenya and Holland was amazing. I thought only Malawians were that friendly, but now I have friends all over the world who are supporting Mthenga Wabwino, especially in prayer, and that is a great encouragement to me as we move our work forward!”