Sometimes I think Africa will Never Develop

Africa - faceFirst, let me say this. I am not a pessimist, a fatalist or a racist. I am just an honest guy. I care about Africa as I do the rest of the world. Being a Christian, I cannot reconcile these things with the Christian faith. I raise this issue to provoke us Africans (particularly African Christians) and the rest of the world to think about some of the deep underlying issues which might help explain why Africa hasn’t developed – and why it really doesn’t seem to be developing at a rate proportional to all the aid and investment that has been made in Africa since the end of colonialism.   Continue reading

Malawi before Christian Missionaries

I am working on a new edition of a book entitled, William Murray of Nyasaland which should be released in a couple of months or so, Lord willing.  The book is centered on the Rev. Dr. William Murray of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in South Africa who went to Malawi as a missionary in the late 1800’s.  It’s an interesting read.  One of the most remarkable things in the book is the transformation which the gospel has brought to Malawian life and culture.  It’s quite powerful to see how far we have come as a people because of the gospel.  I share with you this long excerpt from the book.

This was what life was like in Malawi before the arrival of the missionaries as reported by the then Evangelist Namoni Katengeza who became the first ordained minister in the Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (C.C.A.P.):

Maji_majiThe state of affairs was terrible because the Native chiefs were like roaring lions, – I mean the Angoni chiefs who had conquered the inhabitants of this country.  They thought no more of killing people than one would think of killing a fowl and had no idea of the value of a man’s life, such as the Word of God teaches.  The Angoni had conquered the Achewa of this country and looked upon them as slaves without any value.  They showed them no mercy and if a man hated another and wanted him out of the way, he would accuse him of some crime before the headman, even if it was not true.  It was useless for the accused to deny the accusation, – the headman simply had him put to death.  If someone should accuse a man of being a mfiti, that is a sorcerer who eats human flesh, or of being a thief, then a small army, or “war” as they called it, was sent by the headman to seize all in that kraal, men, women and children, and to bring them back as prisoners, – not a soul might escape.  Every man was killed and the women and children were sold as slaves.  If a man had a wife with a pretty or attractive face, the Ngoni-chief would say: “It is not fitting for a slave to have such a pretty wife” and he would take her for himself.  Her husband would be killed so that he might not find a way of recovering her or of poisoning the chief.  Or suppose the headman had married a wife from a far-away kraal.  If she visited her own kraal too frequently or stayed away too long, the headman would say:  “She is insulting me” and he would send for her and her mother and would put them both to death.  All such victims were done to death with assegais. 
 
A Ngoni warriorBut the Angoni-headmen had another custom, namely that of the poison-cup, – Mwabvi.  The chief would say:  “I want to clear my country of mfiti and thieves and adulterers,” and would send for a mwabvi-doctor and his poison bag.  Messengers would then be sent to all the kraals to summon his people to his headkraal to drink the poison-cup.  Everyone had to be there on an appointed day and those who refused or fled were put to death unless they had a  lawful reason for not coming. All present had to drink the poison-cup and if large numbers of them died, the chief and his indunas rejoiced and said that the country had now been cleansed of all its evil inhabitants.  If parents were among those who died of the poison, the headman would give their children to the witchdoctor as payment.  Those who escaped death by being able to vomit the poison were very happy because they could say:  “We are good people who have not practised sorcery or done any other evil.”
 
Another means of testing people was boiling water.  If a woman was accused of adultery and was ordered to appear before the headman and she denied the accusation, he would say:  “Come back to-morrow morning early and we shall see if you are innocent.” On her return the following day, he would order a pot of water to be put on the fire and as soon as the water was very hot, she had to thrust her hand deep down in it.  Should her hand show traces of burns the next day, she would be judged guilty and the man who had shared her sin would be brought and the two be put to death without mercy, as the tribe believed that if such people were allowed to live they would be the cause of an epidemic of small-pox or some other evil.
 
These Angoni customs resulted in the depopulation of the country and to-day there are many people who have lost their families and friends because of it.
 
To obtain clothing was also a reason for going to war.  The first prisoner taken, – woman or child – belonged to the headman, but if more than one was taken, the headman would allow their captor to keep the others so that he could buy clothes for his wife and children.  The Angoni looked upon captives as the money with which they could buy clothes, and the Arab slave-traders, who were the merchants of that time, bought these prisoners as slaves and carried them off to far distant countries.  The currency in which they paid the Angoni for their slaves was clothing. 
 
Such were the dreadful things in this country which were causing the extermination of the people before the Word of God was brought to them.
 
koyi-ngonichiefWhy did the first missionaries encounter such terrific opposition?  Because they wanted to put a stop to these wars and raids and opposed the poison-cup and the ordeal of boiling water.  They told the headmen:  “You must stop making war on each other because you are destroying your own nation.  See how empty of inhabitants your own country has become!”
 
The result was that the Angoni headmen were bent on killing these messengers of God because they forbad these evil deeds and opposed them.  But the Lord softened the hearts of some of the headmen who had influence, and not only they but also their great chief, CHIWERE, became the friend of the messengers of the Lord and did not betray them. (These extracts are taken from a missionary magazine, Die Koningsbode, Feb., 1931).

Look out for the book coming out in a couple of months.  God bless!

What Most Malawians Don’t Know About Scotland

David Livingstone
It is a given fact that most Malawians are fully aware of the wonderful spiritual heritage that Malawi has received from Scotland through Dr. David Livingstone who was the first missionary to come to Malawi.  Later, through his efforts and appeals to Christians back in Scotland, many of them (especially college students), followed his steps to Africa where they laid their lives down for the Lord, His Gospel and His people in Malawi.  As a Malawian I am humbled by this and I give praise, glory and honor for such men as David Livingstone and his colleagues for their passion and commitment to see the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spread to my home country.  Through their sacrifices people like me have received and are now experience salvation from sin and its eternal consequences and have come to know Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our lives.  To Him be all the praise, glory and honor now and forevermore!  Amen!

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Why Africa Will Never Develop!

Africa - faceYou are here reading this post. The title of this post has drawn you in for one reason or another. Perhaps you outraged by the assertion that this title seems to suggest at face value. Perhaps, you are one of those skeptics who has always thought this to be true but have been afraid to say it for fear of being labelled a pessimist, fatalist or worse still a racist, especially for those of you who are not African. Whatever the reason, I am very glad you are here. Get a cup of tea or coffee (or whatever you like), sit down and let’s talk.

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How the LORD Used My Time in Malawi to Bring Me Back To Himself – A Testimony from John Campbell

Yesterday, after our morning worship service, I had the wonderful privilege of talking with John Campbell who is visiting some relatives in town who happen to be members of the congregation that I serve here in New Westminster, British Columbia.  As we talked, he shared with me how the LORD used his time in Malawi in the early 70’s to bring him back to Himself.  John lived in Malawi for two years and worked as an engineer with a Canadian volunteer organization.  Little did he know that the LORD would use his time in Malawi to bring open His heart to the gospel.

I asked John if he would share this wonderful story of God’s redemption in his life with us on camera and he kindly agreed to do so.  Thank you John!

A number of things resonated with me as John and I talked after the morning service.  These are the things that made me think that this story ought to be shared with a broader audience:

1.  How wonderful and amazing is the LORD in His ways – especially with regards to the salvation of sinners and the forgiveness which He offers through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33-36).

2.  The way John talked about Christ as a Friend – a real personal and trusted Friend who is always with him everywhere he goes.

3.  John also said something that resonated with me when I asked him about his hope of glory.  Without missing a beat and with a smile on his face, he said, “I can’t wait to get there!”  He goes on in the video to explain what he means by that, “I certainly don’t fear death…”  How wonderful!

4.  Finally, he shared his concern for Canada which has become so secular and very much against Christianity.  He expressed a strong and passionate desire to see the people of Canada who have turned their backs against the LORD being brought back to Him.  Canada is a wide open mission field indeed and we definitely need help here!

I hope that you will watch the video yourself and get a glimpse of what John and I shared today.  Please pray for us as we continue serving the LORD here!

For more information on this or anything else that might be of interest to you, please contact me at:  pastor@newwestminsterchapel.org or visit our website at:  http://www.newwestminsterchapel.org.  God bless you!