JOHN MWAFULIWA, COACH FOR SANI
John Mwafulirwa is one of the Local leaders in the Anglican church, which is one of the first Churches that were introduced in Nkhotakota which is one of strongholds of the Islamic religion here in Malawi. This Church was formed by the U.M.C.A (University Mission to Central Africa). We had the privilege in 2020 when we were visiting Nkhotakota on our discipleship program to step foot into the first Anglican Church that was planted in the 1800s. We talk about Nkhotakota as being one of the strongholds of the Islamic religion, Nkhotakota also has a great percentages of Christian people compared to Muslims. But we discovered the Islamic religion is having more impact than the Christian religion because the Islamic people have dominated most parts of Nkhotakota: the strategic business areas, they dominate villages that have influential chieftainships and they take advantage of these meeting and influential areas to spread their religion. Then they build mosques in the villages where churches already are, but not active (not preaching the true Gospel of Salvation). This has caused them to have no impact in the region. The Islamic religion has also taken the lead because they distribute handouts to the people in the communities they are. The history of this region is that Nkhotakota has been much influenced by the Swahili people who came to do slave trade through Jumbe. They would buy slaves by giving some items to the Traditional Chiefs in the area. That attitude is still being passed on from one generation to another. This is what causes people to sell out to the Islamic religion and follow it, due to the material things they get from the Muslims. We have witnessed this a number of times as we work in this region. We see people lining up to receive gifts from the mosques and then are asked to join Islam. This is one of the reasons Islam has gained influence over people in the region and it becoming one of the Islamic strong holds. However, Nkhotakota is one of the regions in Malawi where people still worship evil spirits, and there is a lot of witchcraft happening in this region. So Nkhotakota has Christian communities, Islam and ancestor worshipers.
Back to John Mwafulirwa who is one of the Anglican local leaders at Sani, And Sani is one of the areas where there are many Muslims and witches. Before the D.C.I Team came to Sani John was just a traditional, religious leader. He was in a Christian Church, but they were not preaching the true Gospel of salvation. After John was reached by Raphael Hara, who was one of the people we trained in Baula, John caught the vision of discipleship and started to bring this new idea into his church and other leaders started to be trained. John became one of the coaches that Raphael Hara trained through the DCI materials. We first met John in 2018 and saw that he was one of the most committed leaders Raphael has trained in the region.
John became the main Coach in 2020 after Raphael Hara was transferred back to Mzuzu. Since the time he took over John has been training people all over the region of Nkhotakota and has even gone as far as Salima, Dwangwa and other far places. As John was going about teaching people in the Islamic region the news got out and the Islamic leaders didn’t like it. Their Islamic followers where turning back from Islam and are turning to Christ, who John was preaching. They got together and assaulted John. John was physical beaten and persecuted because he was preaching strange things in their community. More of their followers started to follower John, just like in the Jesus’ day. After the beating they threatened him and told him to never preach again in the name of the Lord. One of the old people that was among the group that was beating John, who was also believed to be a witch, told John in openly that, because he was wiped by his magic stick, he would die within one year. People who heard this felt sorry for John knowing the kind of an old man he was (a witchdoctor), believed John will soon die. But John didn’t believe what this old witchdoctor said, due to the promises found in the word of God that no weapon fashioned against us will prosper and other promises. John went back home and didn’t stop the discipleship. The work grew even more because the people that were present the day he was beaten and cursed by this witchdoctor saw that John was not moved but kept his faith. This led to many following him to learn more about his faith in God. From that moment the news spread even to far distances that John had stood his ground. More doors of opportunities for John to go and do more discipleship opened. John got connected to a number of leaders from different denominations and these leaders started coming to learn from him. They then went back to their churches and communities teaching the things they have heard from John. They went from house to house and began forming Life Groups in their areas. This has caused the word of God to grow mightily and prevail in this Islamic region. Many dormant churches are awaked to the true Gospel and are making a great impact is the region now through practicing the discipleship principles they are learning. Churches like the Anglican church, Last Church, Apostolic, African Abraham Church, Afriacan Yakobe, and African Church are now making an impact by teaching their followers the true Gospel. This is helping these new believers to stand their ground and not be bought by Islam with their handouts. These churches have also learnt how to do door to door evangelism using the one-to-one approach. This has also helped to win more Muslims for Christ. Establishing multiplying Life Groups has helped a lot in discipling Muslim converts, among whom some are now beginning to openly confess their new-found faith in Christ. They are not afraid of being persecuted or even killed. The Gospel is now really making an impact in the region through underground approach. (Muslim believers are at first afraid of persecution, but as they learn to trust the Lord in faith, they openly begin confessing Christ to their neighbours, ed.)
During our recent trip to Nkhotakota, we took time to encourage John by teaching on the subject Trials and Temptations, realizing that what John went through was not easy and he needed some encouragement. We also shared with him our experiences as the DCI Team of being persecuted because of the Gospel. We shared with him how we could have been stoned to death by an angry mob at Jenda who accused us that we were of the devil. We shared with him that the news was even broadcast on Malawi Television how we escaped the angry mob. We told him that despite this trial we still went back to Jenda after some months past and still continued the discipleship program, which is now growing even faster than before and has reached part of Zambia from the same place we were chased. Not only at Jenda but in some other places we have been threatened that we will be witched and die if we continue to preach the Gospel in such areas. But we have never stopped preaching the Gospel in such areas. We realise that it is due to the real impact the ministry has that we carried there that irritates these people. Satan tries his very best to stop the progress of the Gospel. But like the Scriptures say, “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world”. We will never be afraid or stop preaching this truth. These are just some examples of the persecuted Christians (Missionaries) here in Malawi in these present times. Many preachers are persecuted in one way or the other for their faith in Christ, so keep us in your prayers at all times as you always do.
DCI Malawi team member, John.