Malawi is 'The warm heart of Africa', a nickname fitting for the friendly people and gorgeous landscapes of Malawi. A long, narrow strip of land astride the Great Rift Valley, Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) neighbours Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique. From major cities to scattered mud hut villages, the country is punctuated with mountain ranges, beautiful plains, and the sparkle of Lake Malawi. It’s also home to both people passionate about Christ and those who have yet to hear his good news.
Current SIM Ministry
SIM Malawi seeks to build the capacity of the Church by partnering with local congregations to equip believers. Leadership training is provided in Bible study groups and at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi, and Bible study resources in the local language are produced and distributed. There is a growing focus on children and young people within SIM's ministries, as the majority of Malawi’s population is young. SIM Malawi trains Sunday school teachers and youth workers, and contributes to Christian education at the African Bible College (ABC) Academy, a primary school.
SIM Malawi is reaching out to the Muslim Yao people through the translation of the Bible into the Yao language, the provision of skills training and the meeting of practical needs.
SIM Malawi also strives to relieve human suffering and open doors for effective witness through health care provision. The African Bible College Community Clinic meets the medical needs of Malawians and workers both on and off the ABC Campus. Partners in Hope clinic also provides medical care and anti-retroviral medications for those suffering from HIV and AIDS.
SIM Malawi is sensitive to the significant number of Malawians infected and affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. HOPE for AIDS provides community-based support through home-based care and orphan care programmes, while preaching prevention and enabling the local church to address the illness and its effects.
SIM's Partner Church
The Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) began from churches developed through the work of the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (now SIM). Today, this includes 70 organised churches and 50 developing ones. Mission and church together share a vision for bringing the Gospel to yet unreached areas. SIM supports the church through leadership training, Bible school, extension courses, and Bible study groups.
There are many people groups in Malawi, including the Yao (Muslim), Ngonde, Ngoni, Sena, Lomwe, Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, and Tonga.
With a strong and growing Malawian church, some consider this nation most open to the Gospel in central Africa. The Yao, who traditionally practise Islam, are now receptive to other ideas and are a focus for new mission outreach.
History of Christianity
The first missionary outreach in Malawi began with the arrival of Dr. David Livingstone in 1859. His efforts were strengthened by the work of missionaries from the Free Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) in 1875 and The Church of Scotland in 1876. The former focused on Livingstonia station in the north, and the latter on Blantyre station in the south.
The following decades saw the additions of Dutch Reformed (South Africa), Seventh-Day Adventists, Church of Christ (U.S.), Church of Christ (UK), Anglican Church, and several charismatic and Pentecostal groups. Other groups working in Malawi include Zambesi Evangelical Mission, Mission to the World (PCA), Navigators, and Southern Baptists.
Although the Portuguese made contact with Nyasaland in the sixteenth century, they did not remain or send permanent Catholic missionaries. The White Fathers who arrived in 1889 were the first permanent Catholic presence. Catholic churches have grown throughout the country, and schools and hospitals are an important part of the church’s work.
Mission work in the nineteenth century concentrated on Malawi because David Livingstone and others emphasised its needs. The majority of the people now claim to be Christians, though revival is needed among many whose faith is nominal. The church in Malawi continues to grow, creating a vital need for leadership training for Malawians.
The Growth of Islam
Islam has been a dominant force in Malawi, especially among the Yao people. The Yao and Swahili speakers associated with the slave trade brought Islam to Malawi in 1870. The expansion of Islam is also attributed to the trading caravans, which usually had Muslim teachers. Being educated, these teachers joined the nomadic caravans as secretaries to the heads of the caravans, but also helped convey messages that local chiefs might wish to send to each other or to their contacts on the coast.
The Muslim Association of Malawi, headquartered in Blantyre, evolved out of a central board for Muslim education, which was set up in the 1950s to co-ordinate the work and represent the interests of the Muslim community as a whole. The Association has received financial help from Kuwait and other Muslim sources to fund radio programmes, women’s conferences, and youth camps.
The National Church
No official state church is named in Malawi. However, several groups have strong national affiliations. The largest denominations are the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), Seventh-Day Adventist, Anglican, and other evangelical churches like Zambesi Evangelical Church and Africa Evangelical Church.
Please pray for
- growth and development of the AEC’s vision for outreach and discipleship.
- church leadership training to be effective in equipping church leaders with both biblical and ministry knowledge and also Christian character.
- the church’s and mission’s involvement in HIV & AIDS ministries: that Christ’s compassion will be seen; that orphans and people living with AIDS will be cared for physically, emotionally, and spiritually; that prevention will be taught in the church; and that the church will be better equipped and enabled to minister to those affected by and infected with HIV & AIDS.
- the Christian education and witness of the African Bible College Christian Academy, which provides education for a diverse community, including missionary children and also many from non-Christian families.
- the continued good progress of the translation of the Bible into the Yao language and production of Bible study materials in Chichewa.