Stephanie Darling always knew learning Chichewa would be vital to her ministry in Malawi.
But only now, more than seven years after first going there, has she grasped the full importance.
Serving In Mission member Stephanie is back at home after spending more than three years in Malawi, where she is teaching at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi. Throughout that time, her ability to speak Chichewa has grown, thanks to some dedicated study and the help of Malawian friends.
Stephanie said: “I first went to Malawi back in 2003 and stayed for five weeks. I then went back in 2008 for nearly two years.
“At that time, I was only a short-term associate so I only had one language lesson a week. That wasn’t really enough to learn Chichewa.”
Stephanie, who is supported by churches in Warrington and Christchurch, thought God was calling her to work overseas a long time ago but people encouraged her to take small steps, to check whether she could cope with the work, the weather, the culture and the language. Going as a short-term associate for two years was one of those steps.
She always knew that if she returned to Malawi on a long-term basis, she would have to teach in both English and Chichewa.
“English and Chichewa are the two official languages in Malawi,” she explained. “In theory, pupils at school are all taught in English but that does not always work in practice. Chichewa is the language they speak at home and many have little or no English, particularly the older people and women.
“It was really important for me to learn Chichewa and it’s made a huge difference both to my lessons and to the college.
“Some of the courses are only taught in Chichewa so it means I am now able to teach more courses. The Chichewa students really appreciate my speaking their language and even when I get it wrong, they always want me to continue.
“It’s been a really good way for me to understand more of the Malawian culture as well. When you learn a language you really get an insight into the thinking of the people who use it and, of course, you can communicate much better with them.”
Stephanie teaches several courses at the college, known throughout the world as EBCoM, including Bible book studies on Genesis, Deuteronomy, Romans, John’s gospel and Revelation. She also teaches Christian counselling.
She said: “We have about 100-120 students, some part-time, some full-time – most of them are in their 20s or 30s, but we have a few older ones too.
“Our aim is to give them the Bible knowledge and Bible-teaching skills so that they can teach others. That starts with them deepening their relationship with Christ. We are looking to train Christian pastors and leaders, who will know how to pass on their love of Jesus to others.
“That’s another reason why it’s important to teach the students in Chichewa – it is the language they will use to teach others.”
The small staff team at EBCoM – just 10-12 full-time staff – do an amazing job of training up new Bible teachers and Stephanie has seen at first-hand just how important the work is.
She has recently travelled to several remote villages, where some of her former students are now working.
She said: “It’s been fantastic to see the work they are doing at close quarters and to understand a little more of the culture in which they are working. Hopefully, it’s made be a better teacher.”
Stephanie is planning to spend the next few months back in England, going to her supporting churches and catching up with family and friends.
But she is already looking forward to going back to Malawi and seeing what plans God has for her there in the future.
- Pray for God’s help in sustaining both staff and students at EBCoM through 17-week semesters.
- Pray for the students to be Godly and that more and more would want to come to study at EBCoM
- Pray for the Africa Evangelical Church, that its members would be beacons for Christ.
- Pray for all the people affected by the January floods in Malawi, especially for those whose crops were washed away and those still struggling to rebuild their homes.
- Pray for Stephanie as she re-connects with old friends and meets new people while at home, especially at churches which have undergone a lot of change since she lef
Chichewa for beginners
|Bible(s)||Baibulo / Mabaibulo|
|Church (es)||Mpingo / Mipingo; Tchalitchi / matchalitchi|
|Bread||Buledi / Mabuledi|
|How are you?||Muli bwanji?|
|Goodbye||Tsalani bwino (said by the person leaving) |
Pitani bwino (said by the person remaining)
|Tea||Tiyi / -|
|Coffee||Khofi / -|
|Hippopotamus||Mvuu / -|
|Elephant||Njovu / -|
|Hungry||Njala / -|
|Pupil (s) / student (s)||Wophunzira / Ophunzira|
|White Person||Mzungu / Azungu|
|Home (s) / House (s)||Nyumba|