President of Malawi helps churches celebrate 100 years of evangelism
Eventually Kundago fell away from his newfound faith, but three men he converted — George Masangano, Frederick Khonde and Ronald Kaundo — continued the work, even when Churches of Christ were banned after a political uprising and ministers had to baptize quietly at night.
As a result, Malawi is home to more than 4,100 congregations, according to church researchers Mark Berryman and Wendell Broom. The landlocked southern African nation, about the size of Pennsylvania, has the highest membership per capita in the world. An estimated one out of every 50 Malawians is a member of a Church of Christ.
That’s a fact worth celebrating, said longtime missionary Mark Thiesen. Recently about 1,200 church members gathered at Chancellor College in Zomba to mark 100 years of evangelism in the nation of about 12 million people.
The president of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, attended Sunday worship and addressed the church members, praising their efforts in ministry and education during the past century.
“Wherever we live and work … we must establish a network for everyone to realize that God exists,” Mutharika said, according to Malawi’s Daily Times. “Practice peace and show unity and harmony as you live.”
Church members presented Bibles to Mutharika and his wife. The president read a passage from Pslams and gave a check for 1 million kwacha (about $7,200) to Churches of Christ.
Tebogo Ramatsui, a minister in South Africa, called on church members and all Malawians to develop a spirit of sharing, even when they have little, according to the Daily Times. He added that the church has an obligation to serve people’s spiritual and physical needs.
Other visiting speakers included Newman Kanchefu of Zimbabwe and Lynn Nelson, an American church member who lives in Cambodia.
“I believe that the celebration will prove to be a great blessing to the future,” Thiesen said, “possibly a watershed event that will remind the church of its purpose and energize it to serve the Lord with more direction in the coming years.”
About 1,500 miles northwest of Malawi, church members celebrated the 50th anniversary of Churches of Christ in the West African nation of Cameroon.
More than 700 members, representing 137 of the 190 churches in Cameroon, met during an annual church lectureship to mark the milestone, missionary Doyle Kee said.
Conversions among Cameroon’s French speakers began in 1967 as the result of Bible correspondence courses sent from Paris, Kee said.
About the same time, the Biafra War in Nigeria forced hundreds of refugees, including church members, across the border into Cameroon. The church members evangelized Cameoon’s English speakers.
Kee’s brother and sister-in-law, Windle and Barbara Kee, attended the celebration. The couple was among the country’s first missionaries, including Gaston and Janet Tarbet.
Windle and Barbara Kee’s son, Paul, and his wife, Janet, continue the work.
The celebration included a three-day evangelistic campaign that resulted in 24 baptisms. The Banso congregation also installed three elders during the events.
“It was a great culmination to our work there — a sight to behold,” Barbara Kee said.