After learning the gospel through the Glasgow Kelvin website, the first baptism took place during a
visit in January. Our new brother now faces many challenges. He is in complete isolation in a
country where open preaching is not welcome and conversion for Muslims can cause many
difficulties. Our support for him spiritually and practically will be very important.
There was less than usual activity, this was largely due to civil unrest which led to the authorities
looking with suspicion on gatherings in certain towns. A state of emergency was declared, and it
was possible to make a visit in February, during the period of calm that resulted. However, a
preaching school had been held in 2016 and this began to bear fruit as one or two areas began to
hold Bible classes for contacts, structuring their sessions around the 40 lesson course. This has
continued and has great potential.
There have been tough challenges for our brothers and sisters, both practically and politically.
Extremes of weather conditions with drought and then floods affected the crops and shortage of local grain and maize meant price rises and shortages. Funds were sent to relieve the famine pressures. Additionally, the Presidential elections due to be completed in August were protracted until November. Daily life was disrupted by protest and rioting, particularly in politically sensitive areas such as Nyanza and Nairobi; the annual visit by UK brothers and sisters was postponed.
Despite this, each of the 7 Areas was able to hold Bible Schools during the year and these were usually accompanied by baptisms. Importantly, at short notice, the Annual National Youth Camp was held at the Nalondo School in Western Area attended by representatives from many ecclesias. A major work in the completion of translated Sunday School Lessons has taken place, a collaboration
led by sis Tania Hughes with Kenyan sisters. With the growth of the ecclesias continuing, several building projects were completed. These ranged from repairing the kibanda for the ecclesia in the Kakuma Refugee camp, blown down in the storms in December 2016, to a major full build commissioned in 2016 to accommodate over 300 brothers and sisters and young people at Kamukuywa in Rift Valley. Project Aid continues to be a really practical way to provide much needed support; from water tanks and guttering to loudspeaker systems.
No activities were possible; however, the CBM is planning face to face contact with our 3 sisters there during 2018 when we will assemble a French speaking team to visit.
The CBM visit in June focused on the northern ecclesias and the Mbomba nursery project which is PA funded. This meant a great deal of travelling, but also gave us the opportunity to assess the character and capabilities of Bro Nicholas Kachulu, the new editor. The trip was a very positive one and the CBM representatives left much happier with the knowledge that fraternal gatherings are arranged throughout Malawi on a regular basis, some with Zambian brethren and sisters in the north. They also started collating OS co-ordinates for ecclesias which we hope will help us with planning trips in the future.
The best harvests for 40 years were being celebrated in-country during the CBM visit – really positive news after the recent devastating famine – truly an answer to all our prayers!
The community continues to grow, with almost 300 baptisms through the year, swelling the number of over 7,000 in 156 ecclesias. We have distributed more Bibles and hymnbooks, including those in Tembuka – a request from the northern ecclesias as most speak this language there. Money for iron sheets and buildings requests has also been distributed. Army worms are now reported to be doing extensive damage to current maize crops, which is a great concern for the viability of the harvest in April.
Prayers are needed once again that this will not lead to further hunger and distress for our brothers and sisters.
This is a mature area of the mission field which is moving towards independence from the need for regular visits. Brethren and sisters from Europe, Africa and South East Asia have visited the island on vacation and reported back that the ecclesia remains a vibrant group, actively involved in spreading the gospel messages to friends and families. The number of brethren and sisters is currently 43 and regular preaching activities are organised for contacts, family and friends. A pastoral visit planned for the end of the year had to be cancelled due to illness and work commitments.
Two visits were made, in April focusing on Zambezia province, and in August on Niasa, Nampula and Tete provinces. We were unable to visit ecclesias in Sofala and Manica provinces. There have been over 1,000 baptisms during the year and the number of brethren and sisters at the end of the year totaled over 11,500, with almost 8,000 Sunday School children and over 2,500 contacts attending 379 ecclesias. At almost every ecclesia on our visits there was a tremendous response.
Reports of a visit made by the CBM secretary told of between 500-600 contacts present; he had to climb a mango tree to be seen and heard. Famine affected part of the country during the year due to lack of rain and the Welfare Fund supplied funds to purchase food for over 3,100 brethren and sisters and almost 1,900 children. We have made further progress during the year in raising money through the help of CMaD and Project Aid to dig wells to provide clean water. As the truth grows we increasingly move into different tribal areas and are having to translate and print hymn books is various tribal
languages and buy Bibles also in those languages. We continue to be dependent upon Project Aid for the purchase of benches, tables, chairs, and Bible reading tables in different languages. In view of the size of the country the CBM is progressing plans to split the country into 3 areas. A private visit was made in October to ecclesias isolated on the banks of Lake Malawi where contact can only be made by boat.
There is little progress to report; we have 5 members on the island of Praslin but now only one brother on the island of Mahé. One brother has returned to Kenya at the end of his contract working in a hotel. We have 230 contacts in the islands, but communication is now mainly by post in view of only one CBM visit per annum. Letters have been sent to all contacts, but little response has been received so far. The visit made in June focused on the same Bible talks in different community centres around the island of Mahe. The talks were advertised on the Radio and in the press, and all contacts were advised of the talks, but the response was not very great, the maximum interested friends that came to a centre was 5. A private visit was made in December to meet brothers and sisters, share the Daily Readings and talk about signs that the return of the Lord Jesus is near.
There was one trip by Ugandan brothers in to South Sudan, with a second bringing some of the brothers there into Uganda as it is unsafe for foreigners to travel. This tribal unrest makes contact very difficult. There are now 41 brothers and sisters in Juba, the capital, at Gudele and Shirikat districts, where our 2 ecclesias are located. There are now upwards of 50 serious students who are keen to learn more about Jesus. We have continued to support the brothers, sisters and students there with Bibles, we purchase these in Uganda. Although CBM did gain registration as a church, which enabled our brothers and sisters to legally meet and to open a PO Box, the authorities now require them to re-register, a laborious process, but progress is being made.
Our brothers in Uganda continue to be the link to help our community mature. The security situation means that visits into the
country are further restricted for 2018 and plans are being made for the elders there to meet one of the UK visits to Uganda.
In March and September there were visits for meetings with the trustees; to provide training for the trustees and to plan the AGM and Youth Conference. The trustees also benefited from a trip to Uganda, to join with Ugandan brothers and sisters, together with visitors from the UK, who provided very valuable Elder training focused on preaching. Some of our young people benefited from attending a youth camp in Uganda in July. This was very well organized with subjects such as prayer, faith and fasting being studied. In May, we had a visit to the Northern ecclesias of Musoma, Mwanza, Usagara and Shirati. In December, the CBM had another visit to the north of Tanzania which included visits to Arusha and Moshi.
During the December visit, the CBM representatives were joined by two of the UK CBM trustees who paid a visit to Moshi, Usagara, Geita and Musoma. In addition, the CBM held their combined AGM and Youth Conference at Morogoro. Over 50 young people from Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi attended and spent time thinking about ‘Fellowship in Christ’. Around 50 brethren and sisters attended the AGM. There have been several baptisms this year.
There was one CBM visit, plus one privately sponsored one. Despite the disappointment over the redirection of youth and sisters’ workshop funding into famine assistance, the highlights included the annual Youth camp and sisters’ workshops in January, the continued development of the widows’ list, the distribution of Bibles, the youth supporting preaching and repairs to homes and halls, the Kenyan/Tanzanian/Ugandan youth leaders meeting and elders’ training. The Ugandan brothers and
sisters continue to be the link to South Sudan. Continued focus is being made on Christian living with further workshops also being planned along with a continuation of the first principle teaching at the youth camp. The focus of one visit was to the Western area where the usual elders training took place, Tanzanian trustees also joined in this event. CBM have continued the building of new permanent halls throughout the country with there now being 29 permanent properties, and 29 temporary ones. We continue to work with ‘Agape in Action’ to support the two nursery schools in the Mt Elgon area and CMaD has again supported water projects. Water harvesting projects are supported via cycle ride sponsorships. There are now 1350 active brothers and sisters, with 1839 in total baptised since 1986, with about 61 baptised during the year. There are approximately 54 active correspondence students (but also a great number of locally taught students).
The truth has continued to grow in Zambia due to the work carried out by brothers and sisters in country. This consists of preaching and pastoral visits, and also local language correspondence courses. These local language courses have allowed contacts with no English to benefit from the 40 lesson course. It also mitigates some of the problems with the local postal service. A visit was undertaken from the UK in May, covering the South of the country and a regional fraternal gathering
at Daphan, which was wonderful to join. 3 Baptisms were carried out on this trip, a total of 10 in the year. No youth conference was held, as it was not believed that there were sufficient funds, and the lack of this was felt keenly. A youth conference is now planned for May 2018. Thanks, must go to the CBM(Zambia) committee for all their hard work and support.
There were two fellowship weekends and two youth camps (north and south), some timed to coincide with a visit. Eldership workshops were provided in three different locations during the visit.
Three substantial additions to the CBM Zimbabwe handbook were provided. Ecclesias are very scattered in this large country so two area committees were set up to take over some of the responsibilities of the countrywide elders’ committee (CBMZ). Bus fares (usually monthly) were provided for many who are isolated, and CIL continued its support for these members. For several months Kariba Ecclesia had a weekly slot on local radio, attracting significant interest.
A preaching initiative using ‘WhatsApp’ provided many new correspondence course students, but overcoming postal problems is a constant challenge. There were 19 baptisms during the year.