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theological training in Malawi
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Hi Friends, 

Here's the second installment of reflections on our  wonderful time spent at Nkhoma, Malawi! "Nkhoma" means "totally awesome." Just kidding...
Nkhoma is the headquarters for all things Presbyterian in central Malawi because the Synod Headquarters are there. (A Synod is to a presbytery what a county is various municipalities). As a result the Mission Hospital, and the Synod's Theological training institute are also there. We stayed with our dear friends Dr. David and Rebecca Morton (missionaries from Greenlake Pres. in Seattle) who have been working at Nkhoma Mission Hospital for 7 years now. 

Here are some pictures and a little about the Synod's theology school and Hospital.
Yours in Christ,
Daniel Robbins

Associate Pastor
Christ Church Bellingham
360.543.3434
dfrobbins@gmail.com
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theological
education, pt. 2

the need is staggering
     The Presbyterian Church in Malawi is a giant. But, she's a sleeping giant. Thankfully, every Presbyterian pastor, unlike most other African pastors, must go to a theological school. However their training may or may not be all that good, and they are often overburdened with massive congregations which average 5000 members. Combine this with multiple funerals to conduct every week (a result of Malaria, AIDS, and famine), and you can see the challenge pastors face. More pastors are needed, discipleship in congregations is desperately needed, and current pastors need to be supported.
 
This is what makes the health of theological institutes like 
Josophat Mwale Theological Institute crucial. 
the work is beautiful

Josophat Mwale Theological Institute (JMTI)

NKHOMA, MALAWI
-Shaping a Denomination: To become a Presbyterian pastor in this central region you must go to this school. From over 200 applications every year, the Synod selects 10 students to admit into their fully funded pastoral training program. Upon graduation every one of them will be placed by the Synod into a church. This means that they train almost every single Presbyterian pastor in this central region of Malawi. The quality of the faculty, the instruction, and the culture of the school will have a direct impact on the future of the Church in Malawi.
- Supporting Current Pastors: JMTI also hosts free in-service training retreats for current pastors. These offer a means of encouraging and further forming current pastors and their churches. This is a great doorway for blessing our overworked brothers.
 
- Strengthening A Small Faculty: 
I was able to sit in on a JMTI faculty meeting. While they have some visiting instructors, to my surprise there were only five full-time lecturers (including the Dean and Principal). Each was overloaded with teaching responsibilities.
Additionally, the Synod is already strapped for money, so the lecturers are required to raise funds from local Malawian churches to supplement their income. We could be an enormous help in taking on some of the teaching load and raising our own support from the US.
- An Academic Faculty: The picture above is their library display of all the research papers written by their past and current faculty members. Most of the full-time faculty have research master's degrees, and are looking into doctoral studies. It's clear that they want the best for their seminaries and pastoral training, just like we do. Joining their faculty with a Ph.D in hand would go a long way to bolster the institute itself, as well as honor their desire to become an excellent faculty.
- Truly African Institutions: The Malawian Church of Central Africa Presbyterian has been run by local Malawians for 50 years now. Joining the work here at JMTI would be the opposite of Western Paternalism; we'd be going to work under the authority and oversight of the Malawian Church, doing our best to benefit her on her own terms. Of course working with African institutions brings its own challenges. But here we have a real opportunity to partner with and invest a denomination, and seek its revival.
This is my old friend Blessings Chikakula. We used to work together 10 years ago at a Christian Secondary school in Lilongwe. Imagine my surprise to find he was a student at JMTI preparing to enter ministry! I'm thankful for sincere friendships with brothers like this in Malawi.  
... Oh and yes, that's a collar I'm wearing. Its all the rage among the Malawian clergy.
a huge opportunity is in front of us

A Taste

The faculty of JMTI asked me to take a day of their classes and lead a seminar on the doctrine of Scripture. Thrown into the deep-end, I got a taste of how much I will have to learn in bridging two very different intellectual cultures. Tradition looms much larger there, whereas we value creativity and precision. This is as true for communicating the gospel as it is for teaching theological skills to students with a very different set of assumptions about learning and research. This highlighted to me that value of everything we’ve learned pastoring God’s people in an ordinary context. Thankfully, the students encouraged me that my pace was good, my English easy to understand, and that I wasn’t “like some Americans; you were humble.” Phew!
 

Shape African Pastors,
Shape The Future of Christianity

The growth of the African church is well documented, and has not slowed. Its growth is expected to place the African church as the dominant force in Christianity in the next 50 years, making up 40% of the total church. Historian Philp Jenkins says, "By 2050, Christianity will be chiefly the religion of Africa and the African diaspora." What will that church look like? What will they teach and preach?
     Those questions are answered by looking at the seminaries today. If we can be involved in shaping the next generation of pastors,  this will not only effect the African church but the shape of Christianity in the future.

Look out for our next updates:


3.Potential Ministry for Bethany and the Kids
4.Our Path Forward

 
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dfrobbins@gmail.com
360.543.3434

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Daniel & Bethany Robbins
Christ Church Bellingham
2826 Birchwood Ave
Bellingham, WA 98225

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