Malawi’s broom – sending together
By Kate Azumah
A lone broom strand can do little, but bound together with other strands, it becomes an effective and unbreakable broom.
Not so many years ago there were no Malawian missionaries, but all that began to change in 2010. Today, 147 churches and denominations are part of the newly formed Malawi Missions Initiative. Nine missionaries have been sent to countries like Thailand, Mozambique and Malawi, with five more heading out soon! By banding together, they are sending better together.
In 2010, mission agency SIM held a series of conferences for church leaders, who were each presented with a set of books to help develop their ministries. By the third conference in 2012, missions had become the strong focus, and participants came together to form a national task team, the forerunner of what would become the Malawi Missions Initiative (MMI).
The MMI officially launched in 2014, with the Evangelical Association of Malawi and SIM in attendance. Rev. Paul Mawaya, SIM mobilizer and now head of the MMI, says, “Once the Church is properly taught about missions, and passionate leaders are on board, there is no problem in raising missionary support.” Flowing from this vision is financial support for sending missionaries.
A few sending models are used across the nation. One missionary is completely supported by his local church. Another missionary has several congregations from one denomination who have banded together to send and support him; he has been in the field for four years.
Other missionaries are supported by individuals. This can be challenging due to the number of people one must interact with to raise the necessary support and the time needed to keep each informed of the work. Missionaries in this situation can be seen as outside the local church structure, presenting another complication to overcome.
Missionaries who are tentmakers can also be sent. A church blesses and prayerfully supports a missionary, but he earns his salary in a foreign place through a business or employment, while doing ministry.
Better understanding produces passion to participate.
Stories like that of Rev. Gusty Makhutcha are incredibly encouraging. He felt called to go but his church did not have a history of supporting missionaries. However, once he declared his intention, a church member gave a huge portion of his retirement savings at great sacrifice. Now Pastor Makhutcha and his wife Ellina are frontier missionaries in Mozambique. Last December, when Gusty and his wife were in Malawi, their church put together for them a packet of maize meal, sugar, cooking oil and some money for Christmas celebrations. Another member gave a gift of money. It is deeply touching to be remembered this way.
Twelve prayer fellowships formed in 2014 in cities across the country still meet monthly to pray for the unreached. Their goals have expanded to engage mission-minded leaders and Christians in cross-cultural missions and to facilitate those who want to go.
The MMI works within the Evangelical Association of Malawi, which provides a natural network of regional committees from which to reach out to churches. Paul Mawaya says, “Leaders wield a lot of influence, so missions sensitization is directed at them.” The MMI uses various strategies to engage leaders right down to secondary school students. Churches often invite them to give missions motivations, and short missions courses have proved useful. These include Interface, the Great Commission Seminar from the Global Missions Initiative, and Understanding World Evangelism, which was developed in Malawi by Rev. Reuben Kachala.
Within churches, Rev. Mawaya has found that when the members understand the Great Commission and everyone sees their role, the vision for reaching the lost becomes a church-wide priority. Rev. Mawaya advises: “The top member to the bottom member should own the mission and be exposed adequately to issues of missions. I believe that better understanding produces a passion to participate.”