By Richard Folokiya:
One hundred and twenty-six years have gone since freedom fighter John Chilembwe went to be with the Lord but his name lives on among others.
Every year on January 15, multitudes of people flock to Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) Church headquarters in Chiradzulu District to celebrate the life of Chilembwe who stood against the colonial masters with “enough is enough”.
He was against the cruelty and dehumanisation that Africans faced that time at the hand of the Nyasaland colonial rulers.
The day is graced with activities including speeches and prayers which prop those living today to emulate the courage that Chilembwe showed more than a century ago.
It is also a time of remembering others who stood up against the colonial regime.
Essentially, Chilembwe lost his life as he attempted to liberate native Africans in Nyasaland from oppression.
This year, the traditional high-profile commemoration will not take place due to the raging Covid-19 which has significantly altered the way we live—and die— surrounded by our loved ones.
President of the African Baptist Assembly of PIM Reverend William Mitambo implores Malawians to be humble always as the nation struggles with the virus.
He supports the idea that Chilembwe Day commemorations can he held at a later day due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is spreading exponentially.
Mitambo says the decision has been arrived at by the church’s top leadership, government officials, national public events committee, health officials and Chiradzulu District Commissioner.
“This year’s theme is ‘Malawi, Turn Away from Sin’ and it is derived from 2 Timothy 3:1-7. We should remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. But let us all demonstrate unity and solidarity by joining hands in seeking God’s favours.
“It is really painful that the pandemic continues claiming lives of our brothers and sisters. I, therefore, ask everyone to obey and trust the Lord forever because he protects us and is our refuge. Let us continue observing measures prescribed by health experts such as washing hands frequently, observing social distance, avoiding hand shaking and always wearing a face mask,” Mitambo says.
He adds that Chilembwe envisioned African countries being independent from the colonial administration to ably transform and improve their own livelihoods.
“It is for this reason that engaging citizens to access quality education would emancipate the nation from poverty to prosperity. We need to draw significant lessons from what Chilembwe did,” the religious leader says.
PIM is said to have made tangible strides towards the advancement of its works in Africa despite some setbacks that hinder effective and efficient progress of the work.
It has strengthened evangelism in many parts of Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. The leaders have held evangelism crusades in some districts in Malawi.
More church evangelists have also joined pastoral training at PIM Theological College.
Mitambo says: “The church has managed to train 19 pastors within three years and, by God’s grace, they were ordained on July 26 last year. Out of the 19 pastors, 17 were from Malawi and two from Mozambique.”
On his part, Reverend John Mukitiha, who is the church’s executive secretary, says PIM Christians are bonded together by their faith in Christ and that they plays an active role in propagating the gospel under Baptist doctrines.
Mukitiha says youth through Baptist Young People’s Union (BYPU), are strongly united as members of Christ’s body.
“Over the years, BYPU youths have been engaged in evangelism, prayer, fellowship and charity work. It is currently led by a pastor to help mould the youths into responsible and productive future citizens.
“This has also assisted them to have a vibrant ministry and follow guidelines that the church offers for the smooth running of the ministry,” he adds.