By Rev Johnstone Ndogolo, General Secretary, CCM
The name of the denomination is Churches of Christ in Malawi (CCM) which is found in Malawi formerly known as Nyasaland. CCM congregations are known to be industrious, warm and very friendly, accentuating the description of Malawi being the “Warm Heart of Africa”. CCM is mainly rural based and most members are involved in subsistence farming.
Malawi is situated in the south east of the African continent in the sub-Saharan region. CCM as a denomination is mainly located in the southern and central regions of Malawi with a few congregations situated in the northern part. Churches of Christ in Malawi originated from two churches that were established at Gowa Mission Station in Ntcheu District and Namiwawa Mission Station in Zomba District. In 1895, the Baptist Industrial Missionaries established their mission at Gowa which at a later date with the help of the Foreign Missionary Committee (FMC) of Britain joined with the Namiwawa Mission of Churches of Christ.
In 1906, Ellerton Kundago a Malawian national from Zomba District was working in the mines in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. It was here where he was converted to Christianity and joined Churches of Christ through the witness of John Sherriff, a British Churches of Christ missionary. Ellerton Kundago then returned home and together with local church leaders – George Masangano, Ronald Kaunda, and Frederick Khonde (Church of Scotland members), established Churches of Christ mission at Namiwawa Mission Station in Zomba in 1907.
At Sherriff’s request, two British missionaries George Hollis and George Hills traveled from Cape Town to Nyasaland in 1908. Since British colonial law required native churches to have white supervision, the two missionaries joined the leadership of the church with the locals at Namiwawa Station. In 1920, with the help of Foreign Missionary Committee (FMC), the British Churches of Christ missionaries started negotiations with the Baptist Industrial Missionaries at Gowa, to purchase the mission station. The negotiations were completed in 1929 and by that time the British Churches of Christ had two fully established mission centres at Gowa and Namiwawa. With this development, British Churches of Christ Missionaries sent several missionaries to work at the two stations including Ernest and Louie Gray who arrived in 1930 and served until 1956, followed by Wilfred and Elsie Georgeson, who served until 1947.
Missionaries kept coming until the time of independence in 1964 when missionaries started to leave and church leadership was left in the hands of local Malawians. Some of the locals who inherited leadership from British missionaries are Rev Henry Masozo from Namiwawa who served as the Moderator and Rev Davidson Zidana from Gowa who served as the General Secretary. Simply, we cannot talk of CCM without mentioning “Namiwawa and Gowa” mission stations.
In 1982, CCM joined Council for World Mission under the leadership of then General Secretary Rev Letson Kakolo and the help of former leaders of the British Churches of Christ. During this time, some churches had joined other Christian bodies in the UK to form the United Reformed Church (URC). Being in partnership with other CWM churches has been a successful story as far as CCM is concerned.
(Image caption: The reality of being a member of the CWM family came to CCM through the installation of a grinding mill. As part of their search for self-reliance and as a help to the local community, CCM provided a milling service for ten villages. Finance for the mill came from the partnership of churches.)
In sharing resources in mission within the CWM global family, CCM has been able to build Gowa House to sustain its missional work financially.
Missionaries have worked in CCM and other Malawians have also gone outside the country to work. However, the personnel sharing area needs to be developed further. Over the years, CCM has worked closely with the United Church of Zambia who are our closest neighbours. To this effect, a delegation from UCZ visited CCM in July 2016.
Mission Programmes/Ministries of the Church
In the course of its mission programmes development, CCM welcomed mission enablers; namely, Mr. Pravanjan Jena from Church of North India (CNI) and Ms Fiskani Nyirenda a local Malawian who have greatly assisted CCM in areas of finance and programme development respectively. With the help of the mission enablers, CCM has developed a five-year strategic plan which is at implementation stage. Some of the strategic pillars include: improving worship and evangelism, community engagement, finance mobilization and diversification just to mention but a few.
The success in CCM is characterized by the vibrant congregations with a strong youth presence in all congregations, a new concept of “Future Mvano” (young teenage girls ministries) focuses on helping pastors, the sick and the poor is a success story in the life and ministry of CCM. CCM has also fully grasped the Community of Women and Men in Mission (CWMM) in its leadership such that the year 2016 is historic in that two female ministers were ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament. It was at this event that the UCZ delegation came to witness and to share with CCM their story as well. The CWMM concept has also enabled CCM to send three female students who are currently studying a theology degree (Bachelor of Divinity) at Zomba Theological College in Malawi.
The enormous challenge CCM faces is a lack of financial resources in developing its mission and ministry further. Currently, CCM has Gowa House as its only source of income and that means all administrative and mission activities depend solely on the rental income from this facility. As such, all efforts to develop and implement programmes – even the strategic plan – has been shelved due to inadequate funds.
In 2016, CCM with the help of CWM and Churches Action Relief Development (CARD) was involved in a community development project which targeted winter crop irrigation farming in three districts of Balaka, Mangochi and Phalombe in the southern region of Malawi. The three districts where adversely affected by floods of 2014/2015 growing season. In this project, 301 farmers were given 5 kgs maize seeds, 10 kgs basal dressing fertilizers and 10 kgs top dressing fertilizers.
Looking to the future
CCM looks into the future and the lens to be used to see into the future is the five-year strategic plan. Currently, CCM leadership is seriously thinking about the future as far as financial resource mobilization and diversification is concerned.
In this regard, CCM has teamed up with CARD to tackle two of the strategic pillars, namely, Financial Diversification and Community Engagement. CARD has assisted CCM to draft a constitution of Churches of Christ in Malawi Development Commission (CCMDC). Rev Goodwin Zainga has been assigned to take up this issue. CARD is also involved in building the capacity of Rev Zainga in offering skills as far as good governance is concerned to an extent of offering special training of good governance to Rev Zainga in June 2017. So far, the draft constitution of CCMDC is now ready for registration with NGO regulating authorities. The intention is that once approved CARD will introduce CCMDC to a pool of donors who are involved in community development in Malawi.
Therefore, we ask other CWM member churches to help CCM in praying for availability of funds to assist CCM in the process of registration of CCMDC and to hold a special strategic workshop for CCMDC which CARD officials will be facilitators. Having completed these two processes CCM will now be able to write proposals to CARD traditional donors. The establishment of CCMDC will enable CCM to diversify its financial base and at the same time enhancing its community engagement.
This is the CCM story.