“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:13-14). This little boy on Chizumulu Island had probably never heard the Gospel explained to him in a way he could understand – until CFCM visited his island this summer.
In Lake Malawi (known as the “Calendar Lake” because it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide) are two large islands – Likoma (pop. 10,500) and Chizumulu (pop. 4000). They are actually in Mozambican waters but were assigned to Malawi because of the presence of British missionaries at the time the borders were established. There are still many churches on these islands, and many children attending Sunday school, but until this summer, the Sunday school teachers had received no training and the children were not being taught the Gospel. Then the CFCM team arrived on 23rd August!
It may sound like a glamorous location – but the journey to get to the islands was not luxurious. The very long car journey from Blantyre, delayed by the car breaking down, was followed by a rough and sleepless night on the oldest ship on Lake Malawi, the Ilala. Accommodation on the ship is very limited – most people grab a space on the metal deck and hunker down for a cold night under the stars as the boat makes its course across the lake. Most of the places where the Ilala stops do not have any piers, so travellers have to wade to shore or jump in little boats, with their luggage tossed after them! This cultural experience was well captured by the photography of Tim Lawrence, a Zambesi Mission guest from the UK, who bravely accompanied the CFCM team on this exceptional trip, and we are thankful to him for letting us use his pictures here.
Despite a sleepless night, the Likoma Island training started immediately the team arrived, as 26 Sunday school teachers from 9 different churches, and also some pastors, were ready and waiting. The team consisted of Elevate Mizinga and Joseph Jeke, CFCM staff from Blantyre, Samson Kapangalika, CFCM volunteer trainer from Nkhata Bay, and Tim Lawrence. On day two of training, the teachers had a chance to put what they had learnt into practice. They all visited a local school and divided into groups to teach the children the Gospel, using the Wordless Book.
After the training finished on Likoma, the team boarded a small boat to take them to the beautiful nearby island of Chizumulu. Training followed the same pattern on Chizumulu, where 19 Sunday school teachers attended from 5 different churches. They were keen to have this unique opportunity to learn how to be effective ministers to children.
As on Likoma Island, the second day of training involved a practical session. The trainers and the trainees visited a local school where the CFCM team ran a Bible club for the school children, the trainees sitting among the children and learning from example.
There followed a day of much needed relaxation – because the team had to wait for the Ilala to return to Chizumulu to take travellers back to Nkhata Bay. There was time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation – and some of the local fishy delicacies!
The training on both islands was very well received. The bishop of the Anglican church on Chizumulu attended both days of training because he recognized how important the lessons were. And one teacher on Likoma expressed the desire of many when she said “Please come again, we want to finish all lessons because now we know how to teach children the Word of God”. So CFCM are already drawing up plans to return next August with more trainers so that they can complete level 2 and level 3 on both islands simultaneously. Then they will select a couple of teachers from each island to do the “Training of Trainers” module so that both islands have their own trainers to carry on the work of training Sunday school teachers in how to effectively teach the Gospel to the children of the islands.
(All photographs in this post courtesy of Tim Lawrence)