20 Years of Children for Christ Ministry

Elevate Mizinga was one of the founding members of Children for Christ Ministry in 2003, and 20 years on she is still leading the ministry. We asked her about the early days of CFCM, how things have changed, and what particular lessons she has learned over the years.

CFCM-UK: What made you first get involved with children’s ministry?

Elevate: When I was a teenager, I saw many young girls were dropping out of school and choosing to get pregnant as their way of finding help and hope in life. For me, I had Jesus in my life, and I knew that He was the only true way of finding help and hope in life. This gave me the desire to start teaching in Sunday school, to help my young friends know about the new life they could have through Jesus Christ if they would take Him as their personal Saviour.

When I started Bible college I found some of my fellow students were also concerned about the need for Sunday school teachers to be trained. We witnessed teachers who did not know how to teach children the Word of God – they didn’t even have a Bible, they arrived late, they just sang a song with the children, took up the Sunday collection and sent the children home.

There were four of us who decided to start going out on our weekends to carry out training. We asked the local CEF worker to guide us on how to train teachers, and we set off, using our own pocket money for transport and food. One of our lecturers, the late Annette Mapleson, joined us and encouraged us. She helped us with transport costs whenever we conducted a training, and eventually she helped us establish Children for Christ Ministry.

From a Zambesi Mission publication in 2003

CFCM-UK: What memories do you have of those early days of CFCM?

Elevate: I remember that when we were conducting a seminar we also had to cook the food for the participants. We could not afford to pay a cook, so while one person was teaching, the rest of us were in the kitchen. I remember how difficult it was to get teachers to come to the training. Often there were fewer than 20 teachers, even though the need was so great. And they were never able to contribute anything to help with the expenses.

Where once the trainers had to cook the food for the trainees, now local church members help with this task

CFCM-UK: Do you think the need for Sunday school teacher training in Malawi is as important now as it was 20 years ago?

Elevate: The need for training is still as important as ever because there are always new teachers being appointed in churches, and they still do not know how to teach children without guidance. The good thing is that we are seeing more pastors acknowledge the need for Sunday school teacher training, and there is more encouragement for teachers to attend.

Elevate training Sunday school teachers on Chizumulu Island in 2022

CFCM-UK: Have the needs of children altered over 20 years?

Elevate: The need for salvation has not changed, and it is great that more children are now able to hear the Gospel explained well to them and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. We are seeing more and more children living in real poverty and try to do a little to help them – I feel we must care for the children physically as well as spiritually. Another trend I see is that more children are dropping out of school because of lack of parental care or because families find school fees unaffordable. Child abuse is an increasing problem, especially among the large number of orphans. Sadly people take advantage of these vulnerable ones. It is good that CFCM is now helping to make people aware of this problem and to act to protect children.

CFCM-UK: What have been the greatest encouragements for CFCM over the past few years?

Elevate: The greatest encouragement for CFCM is to see hundreds of Sunday school teachers being trained every year, and to see some of these teachers going on to become trainers. It is also encouraging to see more and more children reached with the gospel through effective teaching in Sunday schools and in CFCM Bible clubs. We are so encouraged by the interest, love, prayers and financial support of our many followers in the UK. The help that has come through Zambesi Mission, and now through CFCM-UK, has allowed the ministry to grow, and CFCM is having an impact all over the country of Malawi.

Passing on the baton, Pastor Tembo now trains others in rural Rumphi

CFCM-UK: What are your hopes for CFCM for the next 10 years?

Elevate: I am excited to think of how many more Sunday school teachers can be trained in the next 10 years, and many more children reached with the Gospel. I hope that in the next 10 years we will grow the number of trainers so that the work is multiplying throughout Malawi. I hope that more pastors will want to work hand in hand with CFCM so that the children in their churches are well taught.

I hope that the safeguarding training given by CFCM will start to have a big effect, as Christians take on their responsibility of standing up for the children and protecting them.

I hope that in 10 years’ time CFCM will have its own land and offices, and a model nursery school.

CFCM-UK: What have you personally learned from 20 years in children’s ministry in Malawi?

Elevate: Over 20 years working with CFCM, I have learnt a lot about children and how to reach them with the gospel. I find that children are open and friendly and really want to learn.

I have also discovered why so few people want to be involved in children’s ministry in Malawi. Too many people want to receive respect and rewards for their ministry. But children’s ministry is not rewarded in this way, nor is the role of Sunday school teacher seen as worthy of respect. Those who stick with children’s ministry are those who have a true heart for children and are ready to strive without much reward. Many of our volunteer trainers show this passion – men like Namalenga from Phalombe and Pastor Tembo in Rumphi who were greatly impacted by CFCM training many years ago and have been instrumental in seeing great expansion in children’s ministry in their regions.

Thank God for the testimony and dedication of Elevate Mizinga. Pray for her as she leads the work of CFCM. Recently she has taken over more of the administration responsibilities, as well as running the full programme of Bible clubs and teacher training seminars.

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