Quality Bible study aids hitting a wider audience

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The production of Bible Study books in Chichewa is supported by SIM Malawi Project #MW96058 Chichewa Bible Study Books

What started as a solution to a specific need in the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) has led to the production of high-quality Bible Study and devotional books in Chichewa which are reaching a much wider audience across  different denominations

 

Perhaps one of the most important meetings which are regularly held in the AEC is the weekly Women’s Group. Back in the 1990s, SIM Malawi missionary Marilyn Barr saw that there was a need to help the ladies engage with the Bible. To meet that need she wrote a Bible Study book in Chichewa. This led to a desire, if not demand, for more of the same, and so a new ministry was developed in SIM Malawi.

Other ministries have seen the need for good-quality printed material in order to enhance their teaching and training work. The same is now true of the AEC for its women, its youth and its pastors.

Key training:  Family Peer Educator training in Nsanje

“In recent years, there has been a real desire for people in the AEC to be more engaged with the Bible through personal and group study,” said Revd Wadi Chamambala, project leader.

“Marilyn’s books have met this need, and more and more people are using them. But it is not just the AEC. We are regularly seeing people from other churches and denominations visiting our small book shop in the Blantyre office to buy quantities of the titles we have on offer.”

This increase in demand leads to occasional reprints, which has recently been the case for two specific books, one of which is aimed at the family and the other is a wider-appeal Bible Study book which is proving popular with the youth of the church.

Wadi's Prayer Points

Please pray

For the readers to grow in their intimacy with Christ Jesus.

For the reprints to be used effectively.

For wisdom to make these resources easily available to people.

For churches to support their congregations to have access to these resources.”

“‘Banja Langwiro’, roughly translated as Perfect Family, is a book which helps people to understand God’s master plan for marriage,” said Wadi.

“It gives the meaning and purpose of marriage, the required ingredients to fulfil God’s plan for marriage, and advice for wife and husband on how to safeguard their marriage from crumbling.  Women in the AEC have been using it in their weekly meetings to help strengthen their marriages. 

Project Leader: Revd Wadi Chamambala

“‘Mutipatse Ife Lero Chakudya Chathu cha Lero’ is another interesting and very important book aimed at helping people read and reflect on the Bible for a year.  The title of the book comes from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘give us today our daily bread’ depicting the need for a believer to feed on the Word of God on a daily basis. It has lessons covering the whole Bible in just one year. This book is a great tool which can be used in personal devotions or group Bible studies.  Many of the young people in the AEC are using this book to help them understand the Bible on their own. 

The former AEC National Youth Co-ordinator, Evangelist MacDonald Chiutale shared his excitement now that this book is available: “For many years our young people have had difficulties in reading the Bible in its entirety because they lacked a systematic guide to help them do that.  Now with the introduction of this book, I have been encouraging them to use it to guide them as they study the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation.  Some of the young people I have in my Bible study group have confessed that they are finding it easy to read the Bible and their faith has been growing steadily.  We thank God for giving us this book helping our youth to discover God on their own which was a tall-order for many of them.”

Different materials are being used in Christian marriage training, both formally and informally. Strong families who live out godly lifestyles and promote sexual abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within marriage are powerful ambassadors in preventing the spread of HIV.

Revd Wadi reported comments made by Modesta Kafukiza who attended a local church meeting: “Banja Langwiro is the book we normally use when counselling couples before they enter into marriage.  It has vital information on marriage, ranging from relationship with God to roles of each partner.  If a couple desires to have a blessed married life, then they should consider reading this book together.

“Listening to recent feedback from our Christian Marriage and Family Life peer educators after their trainings last year, we were thrilled to hear how the churches’ capacity and commitment to this ministry were going from strength to strength and that it was bringing positive change in many lives.”

Wadi here shares a few examples:

One church had done some local research so they could design a teaching day to meet the ‘real needs’ – this was an encouraging sign of growth in strategic thinking and planning in a very rural church.

There have been all kinds of differing impacts on families and church – after peer educators had carried out some teachings for their church and community, more husbands are now attending church with their wives, some families are being reconciled, and other couples are desiring to show their mutual commitment by having a Christian wedding in church (most have only a village ‘chinkhoswe’ with the families).

We are hearing of increased capacity as new leaders are rising up. God raised up a strong woman leader in one area and then she moved to another where she is now transforming ministry in the new area. Another woman who had been in her shadow has now blossomed as she has stepped up to fill the leadership gap.

There has been a growth in discipling and mentoring, with multiple stories of how ‘role-model’ families are now meeting/mentoring other families in one-on-one relationships over extended periods rather than just relying on training events.

Influence in communities: our peer educators are being asked to train other denominations in their villages to be able to do similar ministries in their churches.

“There is still much to do, and some important changes which will impact how we work to produce these books,” said Wadi.

“The biggest change is that Marilyn Barr has now returned to her home country of Canada where she will spend six months of the year. She will continue to write books for us and we are hoping that her Bible study book on Mark’s Gospel will be ready for print in the near future.

“We also need to reprint a number of books which are out of stock or running low. It is important, if not vital, that we can keep procuring these books as, if we have more books written in Chichewa, we can fill a gap which is there because of limited books in vernacular language. Many rural church leaders who have had minimal education will have an opportunity to understand the Bible and other faith-related issues with the aid of these books.”