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Children’s showdown in Blantyre

Children are sidelined in most areas including the church where they are given little attention to sing songs from a hymn book.

Most of the hymns on the ground have songs that are targeted at the older folks.

But it is always said that teach them while they are young if you want them to excel and that applies to children’s ministry through music.

And thanks to a partnership of two women – Ruth MacBean from United Kingdom and Etiny Thole from the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)— who, after noticing a gap, decided to come together, compiling a hymn book titled Ananu Ziimbani.

Just as the title says, children should indeed sing for the Lord.

The hymn has been published by Claim Mabuku and has 146 hymns tapped from, among others, Nyimbo za Mulungu and Sumu za Ukhristu and has been translated to three languages of English, Tumbuka and Chichewa.

“ I have been involved in children’s ministry for the past two years here in Malawi and I realised there was a big need for repertoire of songs particularly spiritual ones and, with my colleague, we started planning, compiling old songs while others have been newly created,” MacBean, who is a pianist, said.

She added:

“It’s been a long journey but we thank God the hymn book is ready and hopefully this will spread through the country. The project worked well because we all had the same desire.”

Thole said through CEF, she is a full-time children’s worker and that she trains Sunday school teachers across the country.

“Through these teachings, I have been asking teachers to sing songs they usually sing with children but I realised most of them were failing and so, with the desire to do more for the children, I met Ruth,” Thole said.

She said, throughout the project, they have had to run workshops interacting with teachers and children from different denominations.

“We compiled all the songs and I translated and then we also had to consult for editing,” Thole said describing themselves as young at heart.

Thole said children have to start learning spiritual songs early.

“For instance I started early and I used to sing with my grandmother and family when I was six and so I have grown up singing. There is a gap as teachers are not doing much in teaching children to sing spiritual songs. Music is part of ministering the word of God,” she said.

During the launch, children from different denominations performed, with MacBean on the keyboard.

“It was great to work with over 200 children and for most of them it was the first time to be on such a platform but they did well,” MacBean said.

The groups that performed include Blantyre Baptist Church, Chirimba CCAP, Jesus Outreach Church, Bible Faith Ministries and Ndirande Zambezi Evangelical Church.

The climax of it all saw a massed choir that drew all the groups together as they performed three songs ‘Ananu Ziimbani’ ‘Ana Tipite’ and ‘Kanyali Kanga Kakang’ono’.

There was also a solo performance from Tigan-Myra Kapesa, who offered a popular song performed in Sunday school titled ‘A Little Tiny Bird’.

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