The ‘Good Messenger’ is spreading its wings

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

The end of 2019 and first part of 2020 have been exciting times for Mthenga Wabwino, as it sees its influence in training churches and church members how to reach out to their Muslim neighbours expand to new areas and new denominations

 

Mthenga Wabwino has used a tried-and-tested method for a number of years in its work, the better to equip people to reach out to their Muslim neighbours. The clue is in its name. Mthenga Wabwino in Chichewa means ‘Good Messenger’ and its message is the Good News of Jesus.

Breaking new ground: Zambezi Evangelical Church Planters after Missions class by Mthenga Wabwino

Trying to get a handle on the scope of the work can be difficult. Official figures say that there are around four million Muslims in Malawi. Figures from Islamic organisations put this figure up to as high as 5.5 million. Whatever the correct figure, Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:37 are very apt: “Then He told His disciples ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’”

National Head: Revd Yunusu Mataka

Mthenga Wabwino is looking to increase the number of workers in this rich harvest field, through raising awareness of, and training people in, outreach to their Muslim neighbours. It does this through various types of training, producing high-quality books and, more recently, videos in a number of local languages. But perhaps its biggest area of work is the nine-month in-depth course it runs each year, which concentrates on giving its students a deeper knowledge of the Islamic religion and its important books.

“The In-Depth Course continues to grow in terms of numbers and also the impact it is having on outreach to Muslims,” said Mthenga Wabwino National Leader Revd Yunusu Mataka.

“The last two courses in particular have been very important in terms of where they were held. For example, in 2018, for the first time, we held our course in the Northern Region, based in Mzuzu. This is not just important for Mthenga Wabwino in terms of its own spread but also because Islam is becoming stronger in the Northern Region.

“The last course we completed was in the Central Region. This is an area which, for various reasons, has been difficult for us to break into. The last course was a great success, and close to 30 students graduated from it.”

Joy to the eye: One of the many exquisite illustrations in King of Glory

One of the things which Yunusu and his team stress is that the course is not just an end in itself. They do not want people simply to come, get some books and a piece of paper at the end of it; they want the students to go out and practise what they have learned for the benefit of their churches and their communities.

“It is exciting to see so many of our students now putting what they learned on the course into practice,” said Yunusu.

“People are encountering their Muslim neighbours and are sharing the Gospel with them. They still face many challenges as they do this, but we believe the training we deliver is helping them to recognise these and helping them overcome them.

“We are particularly excited by the number of women who have been attending the In-Depth Course. Their numbers have been rising, and we recognise that they have such an important role to play as they are better able to engage with Muslim women in a way which men simply cannot.”

The next course is planned and ready to roll out when COVID-19 allows. As with the course in the North, this next course is also in a very strategic position.

“This year we are ready to conduct yet another In-Depth Course, this time in the mainly Yao, Eastern, Region,” said Yunusu.

“This is the area where Islam is the majority religion.  We expect to conduct the training in two places, at Ntaja and Liwonde, each accommodating around 30 people. We are having to work across two sites because of the rise in numbers wanting to attend.”

Yunusu’s Prayer Points

Please pray

For the office team, our Regional Co-ordinators and their families, that they would be kept safe from attack

For our media programmes, that they continue being useful tools in reaching out.

For better planning for next year’s programmes and provision for resources.

As more of our direct contact activities are reduced because of the pandemic, that the Lord may lead and guide us in the best way we can be able to continue.

For better understanding of the situation at hand and that our partners are not discouraged in anyway but continue praying with us.

That, as we continue making preparation for the In-depth Course in the Eastern Region, they may go smoothly and that we may start very soon.

Another important and exciting area of Mthenga Wabwino’s work is the production of high-quality media: books and videos. Traditionally, over many years, these have been produced in English and Chichewa. Now the range is increasing to include Chiyao and Chitumbuka, the languages of two major Malawian people groups along with the Chewa people.

Central to this work in other languages is the book and video ‘King of Glory’. We reported two or three years ago that this book, which takes the reader from Genesis to Revelation in around 70 stories, had been translated for the first time into Chichewa. Now there is also a Chiyao version of the book and video.

“Having this wonderful book and video available in Chiyao is so important for our work,” said Yunusu.

“We are all certain that this will prove to be a mighty tool which people can use in reaching out to their Muslim neighbours. Although the book is accessible to everyone, it was written with Muslims specifically in mind. This is what makes it so powerful.

“So we now have a book and film available in the languages of two of the major people groups in Malawi. We have also translated the book into Chitumbuka and we are working on preparing the video in this language. Work is well underway on this part of the project.”

But the firsts keep coming. For the first time, Mthenga Wabwino held a training session which included delegates from outside of Malawi. 20 church planters from the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC) attended a week-long Mission to Muslims training course in Blantyre. Nine of the group were from Malawi but 11 were from across the border in neighbouring Mozambique.

Now the real work starts: In-depth Course graduating team together with invited guests

“The group was greatly inspired, equipped and overwhelmed having heard the wonderful teaching which they described as a ‘rare treasure of kingdom impact’,” said Yunusu.

“They made many comments of appreciation and asked many helpful questions.  It was lively because of their zeal to learn and their interactions with each other and the trainers. At the end of the week, Mthenga Wabwino gave two books to each church planter for further learning and reference. 

“Immediately after the Mission-to-Muslim equipping training in the classroom, they went to a village in the Southern Region to do practical evangelism the same weekend.  There they had times of ministry to many, including to four Muslims who confessed and accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour. 

“Among the converts there is a single woman who pleaded for continued prayers of encouragement for growth in faith, and God's blessing of a Christian man to get married to for her encouragement in her faith walk and support in a godly family.”

All of this work is carried out by an office staff of two, backed up by a small band of four Regional Co-ordinators.   These are all busy in their own right and helping to spread awareness of the need for outreach to Muslims in their communities.

In the Northern Region, for example, the Co-ordinator there has been invited to speak to a number of Secondary Schools, telling young people about the importance of their character and conduct. He also spoke of the need for Christ in their lives and the importance of ‘doing’ mission even while still in school.

In the Eastern Region, the Co-ordinator there has held meetings with around 180 church leaders to speak about the importance of training for mission to Muslims, especially in this predominantly Yao area. It is through this work that Mthenga Wabwino is expecting around 60 delegates to its next In-Depth Course and why it will be delivered in two locations.

“The last 12 or so months have been busy and exciting in equal measure, but I don’t think it will let up any time soon,” said Yunusu.