Pastor Gideon Mpeni from Crystal Park Baptist Church spent the last month in Zambia and Malawi. While in Malawi he preached in Lilongwe and attended church in Blantyre. On returning back to South Africa I caught up with him and asked him some questions regarding the state of the Church in Malawi.
Gideon, a few days ago you told us about your recent travel experience to Zambia to address a conference in that country. After that you travelled to Malawi and I’m really interested to hear a little bit about how your country is doing?
Politically the country is going to have it’s presidential elections this year. Economically the country seems to be struggling and has gone through recent corruption scandals involving civil servants and some government officials.
So tell me, how long where you there for and where all did you travel?
I was there for three weeks and I travelled to the central and Southern region of Malawi. In the central region I went to the capital city of Lilongwe where my family is from and later I went down to the South to a city called Blantyre to visit my wife’s family.
In Lilongwe I was giving the opportunity to preach at Area 23 Baptist Church and I visited Kiaros Christian Centre, where Felix Nyika is the senior pastor.
In Blantyre I visited St Michael’s and All Angels Presbyterian church and Mark [Gideon's smiling and shaking his head as he says this] you won’t believe it but I there was a woman teaching at the weekly Bible study there.
In South Africa, not so much in the suburban areas, but certainly in our townships, we have a church on every street corner, and very often these small groupings are led by woman. How do things work in Malawi?
There’s a similar trend in Malawi with the coming in of feminism as a world view, gender equality issues. So you’ll find the same influence in the church, woman who’ll feel like they’re being discriminated if they’re not given a leadership role, even when it comes to teaching.
That’s interesting, I’d kinda thought that the church in South Africa was liberal because of Western influence. What do you think is influencing the church in Malawi?
I think it’s the same, we also have a Western influence. With the coming in of media, we have access to Christian television and lots of people watch Joyce Meyer and other woman. So they’ll think this is how church must be run, neglecting how the Bible describes leadership or church eldership.
Maybe describe the Christian landscape in Malawi?
In Malawi we have three mainline churches which are Presbyterian, Anglican and Baptist.
But the one which has the majority is the Presbyterian church because it’s divided into three synods, Livingstonia synod in the North, Nkhoma synod in the Central and Blantyre synod in the South. The Livingstonia synod has a strong influence and origin through David Livingston and the Scottish missionaries. The same applies to the Blantyre synod. Whereas the Nkhoma synod is influenced by the Dutch Reformed Church from South Africa.
The Reformed movement in Malawi is in a minority with the rising up of independent churches who are passionate for the Doctrines of Grace. Two leading lights are the Kairos Christian Centre in Lilongwe and Antioch Baptist Church in Blantyre, where Malamulo Chindongo pastors.
The Charismatic movement is one of the movements which is growing and attracting a huge following from the mainline churches.
In light of the Strange Fire conference and some of the things that Conrad Mbewe highlighted from that platform can you share any observations concerning the influence of the charismatic movement and Word of Faith gospel in Malawi?
Most faithful mainline churches have drifted from God’s Word and have given in to some of the influence of these guys. I’d say because of their fear that they’d lose their members. So you’d find the aspects of Word of Faith and Charismania on display or being practised in those churches.
I guess I’m interested in who the good guys are. What makes the two pastors that you mentioned earlier stand out?
Felix is a graduate of Dallas Seminary and Trinity Bible College in the US and he is now pursuing his Ph.D. He is an excellent expositor of God’s Word and has been given opportunity on Transworld Radio, his sermons are on air every Sunday and his recorded sermons are aired by one of the local radio stations. Another thing that stands out about Felix is that he is a mobiliser – he organises conferences for local pastors on Reformed Theology and Expository Preaching.
Malamulo is the senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church and is also an excellent expositor of God’s Word in Blantyre. He is affiliated with Heart Cry Ministries [Paul Washer] and is one of their missionaries in Malawi.
These are the men who’ve committed themselves to preach the Gospel in and out of season.
Maybe to wrap it up, I know you’ve got a friend named Newton who’s heading to Malawi. I heard him preaching recently at the wedding of Chris Mnguni from Grace Baptist Church, Daveyton. He was well prepared, articulate and preached with zeal. Can you tell me anything about him and what he’s planning to do?
Newton’s father is Malawian and he came to South Africa whilst he was young. After finishing his studies at Christ Seminary the Lord laid upon the heart of Newton and he felt he needed to go back and bring out the message of the Gospel to the people of Malawi.
So he is heading to Blantyre this year.
Thanks Gideon, any last words, or prayer requests for Malawi?
Pray that God will continue to raise faithful men who will preach the message of the cross without compromise. Pray for the nation of Malawi, that the Lord will give us a God-fearing visionary leader.