Namaguja and Wilson (not their real names) are new converts at Majiga branch of Seventh-day Adventist, Area 49 in Lilongwe. The couple was following the just ended Saturation 2017 evangelistic meetings at a satellite center which was mounted in their vicinity. The two come from a background that should now set the church in thinking and acting mode beyond the usual magniloquence characterized by planning and doing nothing.
Namaguja, 59, is a mother of 7 children all of them girls. In her life, she has been married four times. When her first husband died of AIDS some 15 years ago, Namaguja thought she would never fall in love again. She was mistaken. Two years after the death of the husband, Namaguja went for Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV. Contrary to what she had believed, her HIV test was negative. This encouraged her to look for the next opportunity of marriage.
“I was going through difficult times as a widow. My first husband left behind four children. I could hardly support them, so I got married,” narrated Namaguja.She said her second just like the third marriage never lasted as their problems were beyond the obvious. Breakups by then were the only viable option.
“The man I have been baptized with is the fourth to marry in my life. I love Wilson. He was also a widower for years. We got married 3 years ago and I have his 2 children. It is him who used to encourage me to patronize the satellite center where I met Jesus,” mattered Namaguja
Namaguja never went far with her academic education having dropped out of school in standard 4. She is however proud that she can read the bible and do basic arithmetic. In her day to day life, Namaguja is a traditional beer brewer.
Wilson on the other hand is an industrious farmer in the village. He cultivates tobacco, "Malawi’s green gold". He is excited that after many years of believing in ancestral spirits as a Gule wa Mkulu cult member, finally he has met Jesus
The happy couple who confided in this reporter that they are both HIV positive, is excitedly looking forward to fellowship for the first time with their new found Adventist brothers and sisters in a church setup this Sabbath!
A Test Case of Christian Nurturing
Namaguja and her husband have sacrificed their long time sources of economic well-being at the altar of service for Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The Seventh-day Adventist Church discourages beer brewing and growing of tobacco. The family’s decision to receive Christ and get into the Church is not only inspired but also a show for the vivid acceptance of the Word that was preached in the month of September 2017. But now, they face an economical uncertainty that require both spiritual and personal support.
Bible Worker for Majiga, Misheck Justin shares the fears: "We provoked them with our message. We should strategize how best to accommodate them. Some of them have come with their sicknesses, poverty, hatred others with their sins! They are looking for Jesus in us," warned Justin
"The church needs to be proactive on this approach otherwise we will lose a lot of them," observed Justin
Misheck further suggests that the situation can improve if the church would introduce program aimed at equipping such vulnerable society to transform better such as provision of vocational skills and growing alternative cash crops like ground nuts and soy beans.
Stigma: A hidden toxic against Nurturing
Namaguja and Wilson’s past, smacks one other hidden dangerous force on the failed nurturing in our church. Despite ululating for the decision the duo made during the Saturation 2017, the rebuke through gossip and castigation would likely be perpetrated by the church membership siting Namaguja’s failed marriages, her beer brewing, Wilson’s “Nyau Cult” and all combined with the tobacco farming. Our duty ought to rejoice in their choice and help the family forget about the dark past.
While Saturation 2017 was responding to Christ’s Great Commission to His Church, the phenomenon will amount to nothing but noise and a waste of resources if church members would not welcome and truly love new converts with miserable backgrounds like Namaguja and Wilson.
According to Central Malawi Conference (CMC) President, John Phiri, every church need to plan and implement a workable nurturing program if souls are to be sustained for heaven. He said the Great Commission hints on the solemn prerogative to teach those we baptize so that they can incarnate the teachings of Christ and His Church.
“It’s time Total Member Involvement should take center stage in the church,” Phiri appealed