We are so excited to be serving in Malawi. We invite you to take this journey with us. Keep the beautiful people of Malawi in your prayers, and us too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Effective Evangelism in Malawi

Fostance Mtolo
The Malawian church has been evangelizing for many years. But, to be honest, we have not had much impact because of the methods we’ve used.  Historically, churches in Malawi have invested heavily into evangelism departments within their denominations. This is a good thing.   The short fall is the way in which we have proclaimed the Good News.   It’s almost as if we have taken only one-way of sharing Christ: preaching to large crowds in the marketplace or holding crusades. But very rarely has our evangelism had any relational roots.   We have spent much money setting up big shows and events but have found that we are not actually winning souls.  The evangelists and preachers are happy at the end of these events because their goal is to see people ‘respond’. That usually means someone is raising their hand, praying a prayer, or walking an isle.  This method of evangelism has been adopted from the west. At times, we’ve seen the Lord use this method, but the churches are finding it to be less and less effective.  It is the ‘easy’ way of evangelism without taking the time to make friends and share life with lost people.  But this is not what we see from Jesus.  We see Him not focusing on a one-time decision but on a ‘following’ and He is the one who lives life with His 12 disciples and shows them what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. 
Crusades have been one of the main modes of evangelism

Sadly, most of the time, Malawian evangelism methods of the past have actually done just the opposite of what the preachers have intended. These huge evangelism rallies where quick decisions are prioritized and material blessings are promised have created a lot of hostility to the Gospel.  Even from kids who were raised churchgoers.   Not to mention the many lost people who have become very biased with these ‘Christian’ crusades and evangelism meetings.  They hate them now because they feel they are being forced to embrace faith by a preacher who would never even consider loving them and living among them.   Because of these types of evangelism strategies that many churches have adopted in Malawi, there has been very few new believers coming to saving faith from Christ-less backgrounds. With these realities before us, we prayed and God has answered magnificently!

Since the birth of Sports Friends Malawi in 2012, churches have been trained to use the platform of sports for both evangelism and discipleship. Malawian churches are now able to witness for Christ by proclaiming the Gospel in a relational way regularly as a way of life through sports ministry. New lives are born in the Body of Christ by conversion through sports ministry in Malawi. Many pastors and church leaders are now saying that sports ministry is the most effective tool or weapon that is destroying the kingdom of the devil in Malawi and many lives of young people are being introduced to the Risen Christ. The people are not just being taught about Him by a preacher one weekend at a crusade but they are being shown daily who Jesus is through their trained sports ministry coach.  Because of this, many hopeless and lost Malawian youth have seen a great Light and now have a personal relationship with Christ himself. The best part of all of this is that the evangelism method and strategy of Sports Friends for evangelism are highly accepted and now valued even in Christ-less areas in our country.    Pastors, whom we cannot name for security reasons, whom we partner with and train in these unreached regions are standing up and saying,  “Sports ministry is the way that we will reach these resistant people with the Gospel! We’ve tried many other ways of church-planting here but these people need relationship before their ears will be open.  If a trained coach or 2 from our church goes and lives among them, they will earn their respect and then win their soul for all of eternity.”  
Sports are simply the platform for Gospel proclamation and transformation
Additionally, the National Youth Coordinator of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi was recently trained in sports ministry and he said,   “With the training we received in March 2015, our local church team has begun and is ministering to 50 young people through sports. This is a wonderful achievement and exciting development in a difficult to reach area!”
Glory be to God for the many great things that He is doing among His church through Sports Friends Malawi!  The church is now responding well to the call of the Great Commission through sports and many young people are involved in evangelism who never thought that God could use them.  Pastors and church elders are now happy to see the burning fire from their church-centered sport ministry teams who are going out and reaching the lost world led by well-trained coaches with a kingdom perspective.   In many places we are seeing the local churches grow rapidly in number because of the sports ministry.  God is blessing His people who are committing themselves to His work.  His Spirit is empowering us for bold witness and this country is being set ablaze for the Lord through this.

Lastly, I just wanted to say how encouraged I’ve been through the past few years watching God grow the ministry in His perfect timing.  I’m overwhelmed with the goodness of our great Father when I see the huge, noisy joyful youth from churches across Malawi as they cerebrate new lives coming to Christ through this very simple way of evangelism.

Glory be to the Lord!

Pastor Fostance Mtolo
Pastor Fostance with family in the village
Sports Friends Malawi

Here are a few more testimonies from key church leaders who have seen the power of sports ministry: 

Pastor from Muona (southern region of Malawi) “After seeing how much our church-centered sports team is doing, I recommend this type of outreach as a new way of doing evangelism in a modern world as its magnet attraction to young people. It is changing lives beyond explanation in my area.”

Pastor Banda from Nathenje Lilongwe (central region of Malawi) said,  “With the coming of sports ministry in my church, the Gospel has been shared to many young and old people. It is a very easy way of reaching out and, as a result, many people in my area have surrendered their lives to Christ and joined our church.”
So that they might know Jesus

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