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Called: Paul Mawaya

By Mercy Kambura

In July 1876, after a revival in South Africa, four young men from the Xhosa tribe set out as pioneer missionaries to Malawi. The Ngoni, a people group in Malawi, were a bloodthirsty, menacing people, whose conquests were known far and wide. Any stranger daring to go among them was signing his death certificate.

One Xhosa man fell sick en route and turned back. Another died months after arrival. The other two stayed on and preached Christ.

Paul Mawaya, an Ngoni, began his role as a mission mobilizer in Malawi in April 2020. He is a spiritual descendant of these Xhosa missionaries, and an example of what happens when we obey God’s call to reach the unreached, even if we do not see the fruit in our lifetime.

Paul’s story

5.3 mawayaI have a cross-cultural background; both my maternal grandparents are Ngoni. My mother is from Mzimba District in northern Malawi. My paternal grandmother was a Mang’anja while my paternal grandfather was Lhomwe.

My grandmothers taught us Ngoni and Tumbuka songs and created a family altar. They encouraged us to memorize scripture from an early age. But I was not born again.

Around 1985, I had a dream of the glorious Jesus who suddenly appeared on a powerfully dazzling throne in the sitting room of my parents’ farmhouse.

In that dream, I was outside and it was very dark. Suddenly a bright light shone through the edges of the closed wooden door of the house.

I opened the door and fell facedown. The description of Isaiah 6:1 fits well with what I saw. Just like Isaiah, I said, “Forgive me because I am a sinner.”

The next day, I shared this dream with my mother. But being against a vocal Christianity, she advised me to keep it to myself.

Journey to ministry

I came to Christ through a personal crisis immediately after secondary school in 1995.

At that time, there was one state university whose selection process was very rigorous. Try as I did, I did not secure a slot. I was depressed and suicidal.

Mr. Mound Chombo, a family friend working with Trans World Radio, shared Christ with me. I resolved to ‘test’ God’s genuine intentions for me by asking Him to enable me to read the entire Bible. God gave me the grace to accomplish this in three months. So I went back to Mr. Chombo, who led me to Jesus Christ in 1995.

This new life changed my direction. My quest to deepen my understanding of his Word led me to African Bible College in Lilongwe.


I have so far ministered to 19 congregations, 33 prayer houses, and 11 mission schools.  I also pioneered Blantyre Synod Radio, a national Christian broadcaster.

God used my attendance at a SIM Pastors Book Set Conference to catalyze a leap from my ministry as a Presbyterian minister to become a full-time missionary. I struggled with this at first because I had never met a missionary to show me how to become one. But God has guided me.

The language of my Ngoni people — who first received the Gospel 145 years ago — is dying out, but the Gospel never will! Working with SIM Malawi and Malawi Mission Initiative, I am at the centre not only of spreading the Gospel, but of mobilizing others to cross borders and cultures to do the same.

5.3 xhosa

Left to right: William Koyi, Mapassa Ntintili, Shadrach Mngunana, Isaac Wauchope. Four Xhosa missionaries who volunteered to serve in present-day Malawi.

Pioneer Xhosa missionary opens doors in Malawi: https://afrigo.org/articles/pioneer-xhosa-missionary-opens-doors-in-malawi/

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