By Richard Folokiya:
On January 15 every year, members of the African Baptist Assembly (ABA) of the Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) Church and other people from all walks of life come together at Mbombwe in Chiradzulu to remember and reflect on the life of Reverend John Chilembwe.
It is one of those events which do not look at gender, racial, ethnic and religious affiliations despite that sometimes politics still come into play.
But that is immaterial in as far as the real essence of the day is concerned.
Chilembwe founded the church on December 12, 1900 with the first 800 converts and courageously rebelled against Nyasaland’ s British colonial rule on Saturday, January 23, 1915, attempting to free Africans from ill-treatment by the whites.
The ABA initiated by the Reverend John Chilembwe was organized in 1945 by the local leadership to create a supportive environment for the promotion of an effective and constructive Christian work, educational and social services.
His vision was to spread the Gospel of Christ and uplift the African people. He fostered the spirit of hard work, dignity and self-help to the church members in order to improve people’s lives for better families.
Chilembwe wanted Africa to be for Africans. It is for this reason that former Head of State, Bakili Muluzi, set aside 15 January as a public holiday so that Malawians should commemorate and celebrate the fallen hero, his life and strenuous attempt to bring freedom and liberty to the country.
So, today multitudes will be flocking to Chiradzulu to attend commemoration prayers where Vice-President Everton Chimulirenji is expected to represent President Peter Mutharika.
PIM Church has set this year’s Chilembwe Commemoration Day Prayers as the time to promote and proclaim love and unity among Malawians for “God to bless the nation abundantly”.
In an interview last Sunday at Mbombwe PIM Church in the district, church president, Reverend Wilson Morikhomo Mitambo, highlighted that pastors and members held prayers at the church to ask for God’s interventions in sundry activities that would transform lives of many Malawians.
Reverend Mitambo further said the renovation of the church structures was underway and that the public was invited to attend the prayers. He also reminded Malawians that this year, the church and the nation would be celebrating the life of Chilembwe 105 years after he died.
He said people should love one another and understand that God in His eternal purpose has appointed a day of judgement, a day in which He will judge all mankind in righteousness by Jesus Christ where every human being who has ever lived will appear before Christ to give an account of his or her life and to receive everlasting life in the presence of God or everlasting torment in hell.
The cleric, however, thanked God for blessing the church’s endeavours and the nation at large in the advancement of moral, physical, spiritual, social and economic development.
“These prayers are conducted to signify our unity because Malawi is one. The church believes in oneness in our endeavours for we all come together regardless of denominations, races and political differences. We always stand and sing together with one voice and that God is ready to heal our nation,” he said.
Mitambo also challenged Christians and all political party leaders to stand firm and enhance peace, discipline and human dignity because the country belongs to all citizens.
He encouraged Malawians to keep calm and avoid inciting violence towards innocent souls especially during these critical times where the nation awaits a court ruling in the presidential elections case because “God is pleased with people who are peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”.
The church leader also challenged Malawians that they should focus on being agents of peace and tranquillity for development initiatives to prevail.
He further said the church has spread the Gospel far and wide to hard-to-reach areas within and outside Malawi. The PIM president reiterated the need for the church to put much emphasis on agriculture, health and education to advance the youths to entrepreneurial skills that would eventually help them support their families.
He also stressed that the youth should also work with church authorities to foster Bible training and evangelism in all churches. So, PIM has promoted the training of pastors, organising biblical seminars and training in all churches among the youth, women and men, he said.
“Reverend John Chilembwe was a visionary, patriotic and caring pastor to the church and the nation at large. He was also a human rights activist and a man of action.
“He endeavoured to encourage and assist young people who had demonstrated some talents, skills or gifts in education, ministry, art and sciences for future usefulness in Africa. The church therefore works and seeks, in a spirit of charity, to alleviate human suffering,” Reverend Mitambo said.
He also disclosed that PIM Church has advanced God’s ministry to other neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, The Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
According to PIM administration, it has 22 pastors ministering in Mozambique, five pastors in Zimbabwe, 13 ministers of the Gospel in Zambia, one pastor in the Republic of South Africa and 67 pastors in Malawi.
Currently, the mission has 20 evangelists who are being trained at the church’s theological college. In Malawi, the church has spread to several parts in various districts with structures and branches intensifying evangelism to every reach for many souls.
The leadership says this is what Chilembwe would have loved to see happening and even more.
According to the church’s vice general secretary, Reverend Nacheya Mukitiha, PIM insists on caring for orphans and the elderly.
Reverend Mukitiha stressed that the church also promotes quality education aimed at moulding responsible and productive youths who can withstand various challenges in their lives and that it emulates Chilembwe’s visions.
This year’s commemoration theme centres on Matthew 5:9 which states: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).