A panel discussion that was conducted on Public Affairs and Religious Liberty on Sabbath, 15th January 2022 at Mchesi Seventh day Adventist Church provided a platform for church and civil leaders who were invited to discuss deeply various religious liberty issues that affect Christians.
Pastor Dr Ernest Khonje of Biwi district who was a member of the panel highlighted that since the church functions within the government environment, it is important for the Church to help its members to be good citizens of the land and to submit to authorities as commanded by the Bible.
''God gave man freedom of conscious which we all need to exercise responsibly. The Bible urges us all to submit to authorities regardless of their religion'', he said.
Another panelist, a Member of Parliament for Dedza North, Honourable Savel Kafwafwa who is also chairperson for Social and Community committee of Parliament indicated that Malawi's constitution has laws aimed at protecting freedom of religion.
He cited several sections of the constitution that provide freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of conscious, and freedom of opinion. He also explained the roles of various state organs in upholding the religious freedom. He said it is the duty of his committee to ensure that people enjoy these freedoms and to ensure that vulnerable people are protected too.
Panelist Yohane Juma from Crime Prevention desk at Kawale Police station observed that crime rate among church going people is much lower than among non-church going people. He then appealed to people to refrain from considering suicide a solution to problems.
Other panelists included block leader for Mtambo, Sergeant Grace Chindevu from Victim Support Unit at Kawale police, Principal Human Resource Officer, Sofilina Lijenda, and Shepherdess Elizabeth Khonje of M'bwatalika school and Alice Chisoni, a former student of Ludzi Catholic secondary school.
The discussion was moderated by Khalani Makunje of Mchesi church.
Prior to the panel discussion, former General Conference Director of Children Ministry, Pastor Dr Saustine Mfune preached on the topic, the Fastest of All.
He appealed to the congregants to avoid taking individual prayers casually.
''Spend more time praying on your own. Jesus could pray with the disciples, but whenever he wanted to pray seriously, He would go to pray alone. A cheetah can be fast, light and sound can all be fast, but there is nothing faster than prayer'', he said.
He further urged people to pray in all situations.
''Pray when you are happy. Pray when you are sad. Pray when you have money or are bankrupt. Pray when you are full or hungry. When you are praised or despised, pray. The Spirit comes when you pray'', he said, quoting Mark 1:35-36.
Pastor Dr Mfune further addressed the issues on whether Christians should take part in politics, myths surrounding COVID vaccine, and the mark of the beast.
He appealed to members of the church to always consult the Bible to understand issues better, and not relying on hearsays on social media.
Tama Kapengule spiced the programme with music.
The theme of the programme was, Embracing Religious Freedom
By Yunos Kamba