Village Chiefs turning to Christ by the Thousands
It’s winter in Malawi, yet sunlight is saturating this South African country. Some say that Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, but some of its villages are becoming quite rich in Christ. Last week, I was there as part of a team of African and American pastors following up on events currently impacting this country of 18 million. The events we witnessed were wonderful and, quite frankly, strange.
As far as African nations go, Malawi is small, barely showing up on any map. However, Malawi shows large statistics in most of the negative categories – poverty, health, life expectancy, and even HIV – with 10% of the population testing positive.
Malawi is a nation of children. Nearly half of the population is under the age of fourteen. It is a land of villages, each governed by a hierarchy of chiefs who rule the villages with almost absolute authority. It was because of these chiefs, and the recent events impacting them, that we were in Malawi.
In 2016, a team of Malawi pastors joined with leaders from Texas-based Woodsedge Community Church in response to a request from a government-level Malawi chief. He asked us to share God’s Word with the village chiefs of Malawi. The team, led by Malawi Pastor Charles Tsukuluza and Woodsedge Missions Pastor Tim Martin, agreed to conduct a village-level meeting just outside of the capital city, Lilongwe. The intent was to share testimonies of transformation and the hope found in Jesus Christ.
They were expecting to share with a few hundred chiefs, but over two thousand showed up – some traveling by bicycle, some by foot. They stood for hours listening to the message. And, to everyone’s surprise, over a thousand chiefs pledged to surrender their lives to the Lordship of Christ.
The chiefs were later given a demonstration of an Audio Bible playing in their native language, Chichewa. And, when they heard Christ’s command “to go into all the world and make disciples” these thousand chiefs committed themselves to the task of bringing the Word of God to their villages.
It was an amazing event, especially when you consider that for centuries these chiefs have been deeply embedded in witchcraft and in the most heinous of pagan rituals. A person cannot become a chief in Malawi without being initiated through a number of rituals so dark that people dare not speak of them. Once initiated, village chiefs become lifelong kings in their villages, ruling as tyrants over the land and the people through the use of power, respect, and fear. Villagers fear them and do their best to avoid them – especially when they gather for meetings. And, historically, chiefs are not welcomed in any churches. But now, that appears to be changing. It seems that Christ has come to Malawi to seek and save the lost.
The Need for Audio Bibles
What started in 2016 is now spreading from village to village. Just last week, our team conducted five full-day sessions in five different villages. The message was direct — Chief Amos gave his testimony, Pastor Charles preached, and Tim Martin inspired discipleship using “Discovery Bible Study”.
Teaching Discovery Bible Studies, In total, 416 chiefs, men and women, were in attendance throughout the week (representing over 500,000 villagers). Nearly all of them surrendered their lives to Christ and pledged to promote God’s Word in their villages. Two hundred solar-powered Audio Bible players were handed out. (Each player can be set loud enough for 60 villagers to clearly hear God’s Word.) Chiefs are now meeting together in about forty different Bible-listening groups where they are preparing to bring God’s Word to their villages.
Now, I need to tell you about Amos. Senior Group Chief Amos is a high-level chief (with but one level between him and the president of Malawi). In 2009, he experienced a powerful conversion to Christ. He renounced the witchcraft traditional to his country and turned away from corruption. Now, Amos’s village appears to be experiencing transformation and its people are among the happiest we have ever seen. Churches have sprouted in his village, and the economy seems to be flourishing. Our team was able to visit Amos’ village and witnessed first-hand where dens of witchcraft have been replaced by houses of worship. Sites once known for human sacrifice have now become playgrounds filled with happy children. And I must remark that the people clearly love their chief Amos, who is becoming an apostle to the Malawi chiefs and has led many to Christ.
God is visiting Malawi in the most unexpected of ways. But precious few people in Malawi are “functionally literate” – including the chiefs. Therefore, Bibles are almost non-existent. And while most of these chiefs have now agreed to conduct public Bible studies in their villages, they are relying entirely upon the delivery of Audio Bible players to share God’s Word.
Plans are now underway to deliver as many Bible Players as possible over the next twelve months (or sooner!). But we need your help! An Audio Bible player can be loaded and delivered to a Malawi chief for only 40 USD. Leaders are now asking for Bible players for each of the village chiefs coming to Christ – 6,000 more!
Would You Like to Join Us?
Will you join us in praying for the chiefs of Malawi? Will you pray for the provision of needed Bibles? Please pray that God will send laborers to continue training and inspiring the chiefs of Malawi.
One last thing: If you would like to partner with the chiefs of Malawi by sponsoring an audio Bible purchase, please contact the Digital Bible Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 936-494-4442. We would love to hear from you.
- Audio Players Delivered: 500
- Languages Distributed: Chewa , Yao
- Libraries Distributed: 50 Micro SD cards
- Digital Bibles Distributed: 400
- Audio Bibles Distributed: 1100
- Films Distributed: 100
We are grateful for the following ministry partnerships that are making this possible. Audio Bibles players – provided at cost by the Digital Bible Society with Audio Bibles recorded by Faith Comes by Hearing. Players are manufactured