Zambezi Evangelical celebrates 125 years of service
3rd September, 2017
The past 125 years, Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC) has been rooted in its mission to disciple nations for Christ. On 3rd September, 2017, the church celebrated this milestone by honouring its rich history and God for the grace he has shown through the years.
Proudly explaining its history, Synod Chairman Pastor Tsokalida said that Joseph Booth founded the church which was then called Zambezi Industrial Mission.
“By the grace of God, in 1893 the church began to expand and spread into the southern and central regions. In 1894, there were three stations in Chiole, Ntonda, and Dombole in Ntcheu and in 1895 another station was established at Muluma in Ntcheu,” he explained.
The church was called Zambezi Industrial Mission because of its industrial nature. Booth encouraged industrial work such as craftsmanship and agriculture in order to create a self-supporting mission providing members with the educational, technical, and economic skills.
However, in 1939 the name of the church changed to Zambezi Mission and later to Zambezi Evangelical Church in 1964 to reflect its mission for sharing and spreading the gospel.
Adding to the historical background of the church, General Secretary Pastor L. Mtima explained the set up of the early days of the church and the inter-relatedness of Zambezi Evangelical Church's history and the history of Malawi.
He explained: “Our first mission stations had a church, a school and a health center and the first school in Malawi was established in 1893 in Mitsidi. In fact in the early days of our church, people were taught to become pastors. As the church became more established, government noticed that the church encouraged people to get an education. As a result, 53 schools were handed over to government in 1965 and 1966."
“It is interesting to note that the first member of Zambezi Industrial Mission was the father of John Chilembwe who was Joseph Booth’s cook. It is through his father’s association with Joseph Booth that John Chilembwe was sponsored to America for studies. When he came back he formed Providence Industrial Mission (PIM)," he said.
“When talking about the history of ZEC, you find that its not so different from the history of Malawi. As you can see, our history is linked to John Chilembwe and Joseph Booth who are renowned figures in Malawi’s history," he added.
"It is also interesting to note that the church was originally stationed where Sanjika palace is now. But in 1971, government asked the church to move to where Lumbila Health Center is now stationed. That is why we find that this place is special. It is symbolic of the birth of this church and health center which was established in 1892. Health facilities were later built in other areas and today we have a health center in Matanda in Ntcheu, Muluma in Ntcheu, Ntonda in Ntcheu, and Nthorowa in Machinga," he explained.
“We have also expanded our area of focus to include relief work where we help those affected by natural disasters and other negative occurrences with relief items such as food, clothes, medicine and other essential supplies. We also encourage women girls and youth to thrive in various aspects of personal and community development as is evident in the performances shown during this celebration.” said Pastor L. Mtima.
Also speaking during the event, Minister of Local Government Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa, M.P. commended the church for its resilience and commitment to growth and development.
He said: “I am humbled by the journey you have gone through. There were hardships, thorns and stones. Genesis 13:1-11 talks about Abram’s separation from Lot. Lot chose a very good land while Abram did not. However, Abram still thrived and was a very successful man. Likewise, you have gone through difficult times but you have overcome those difficulties and today we stand here celebrating all those challenges and successes."
“As you continue in your journey, you will meet many hurdles and face disappointing situations. But you must continue to persevere and do the good work that you have started," he said.
There are many things that the church is proud of. The first Printing Press was under ZEC. The first Coffee Plantation was also under ZEC. Today, the church has grown tremendously reaching the whole country with over 300 stations across Malawi. It has also expanded beyond the country’s borders to Zambia, South Africa, and Mozambique with immediate plans to extend to Likoma Island and Tanzania. Adding spice to the celebration President Peter Mutharika contributed MK500, 000 to the church.