Namikango Mission

Our News Articles

The Heart of our Work

Jan 2, 2014

By Ben Hayes

At the end of each year, we have a review of the Village Bible Schools. This is where representatives from each VBS area come in to present their reports for the year. We look at their statistics to see just how many students there have been, how many classes were held, and what support was provided by the local churches. We also discuss any problems that were encountered. This year we had 43 representatives come to the meeting. The atmosphere was friendly and joyful. In years past this was not always the case, so we were indeed thankful for an excellent meeting. Usually the Administrator (Rodrick) and Assistant Director (Bisani) do the majority of the work in the meeting. But this year some of that work was passed to younger members of staff. One example was our accountant in training – Stanley Mkwanda. He gave us all a good picture showing graphs of how each Bible School has progressed over the last five years. It was an excellent presentation. It is encouraging to see other staff members taking on more responsibility.

In 2012, we had a total of 853 students enrolled in classes during the six months of study. Last year a goal was given to this same group of men at our meeting, challenging them to have 1,000 students in 2013. Well, in Chichewa they say, "Zatheka." "It has been possible – it has happened." Praise God, when the numbers came in, we had a total of 1,228 students attend class this year. Of the students that attend class, the majority are men, though the number of women attending is also increasing. This year we had 271 women (almost 100% increase from 152 of last year) and we had 957 men. In 2012 we had 18 active Village Bible School Centres and increased to 21 Centres this year.

A Centre is where several villages will agree to host a Bible School for from one to six months where students from that region can attend. Malawi is divided into districts and some districts are very large (two to three hours to drive across). Thus, some students in the region may have to travel far to attend class. To accommodate them, an area within that district may hold classes for one month, then move next month to another community within the district.

With this increase of students and Study Centres, there is also a need for more teachers. Thus, we used over 100 former graduates from Namikango Bible School to be out in these Centres teaching classes on: The Books of Prophecy, Hermeneutics, Revelation, and others. These Village Bible Centres are the very heart of our work!

As a means of celebrating the achievements of the committees’ efforts this year, we gave awards (along with a bicycle) for four categories. By using statistics from the last five years we gave awards for: The Most Improved Centre, the Largest Enrollment, the Largest Enrollment of Women, and the Most Self-Sustainable School. This last one is really a great prize, as it means that the School has encouraged the community around to help support them and keep it going even when there may be famine in the land or other difficulties. This award ceremony was a surprise to the representatives, and livened up the meeting, ending the year's work in a great way.

The highlight of the day though, is that we had representatives from this year's new schools in central region, Kasungu, and from the northern region, Rumphi.

In addition, we had a representative from still another northern region area, Mzimba, who wants to start a Bible School there next year. I had a chance to visit with each of these men at the end of the day and they are very excited about beginning to work with us. They asked, and asked, and asked, for us to visit them in the near future. In addition, the men from Rumphi were talking about wanting to learn ways of becoming self-sustainable as a church and as a Bible school, and wanting teaching material or assistance or anything we could give them. We had mentioned earlier in the meeting the possibility of holding a few courses in English here at the Mission, and these gentlemen from Rumphi were so excited they told me they would pay money to attend such a course. It was so encouraging to see such enthusiasm from men in a region where Namikango has not had much influence or work in the past.

In addition, I see God affirming our prayers about the future of Namikango, as we include training in trades, agriculture, micro-finance and other ways to help people support themselves. This is a large part of what Ryan and Justine Hayes will be leading us in when they arrive. This is the second recent meeting (preacher's seminar a month ago, being the first) to have people voice an openness to such things. Praise God for opening these doors!

We look forward to next year and to see what doors God will lead us through. We are going to seriously plan how we can meet the request of our northern and central brothers and sisters in making a visit to their regions. This is an exciting time. Thank you all for your continued prayers.