Saturday, December 17, 2011

Modern Day Circuit Riding

By  John Nyadaufe

Malawi UMC Publications Coordinator

Rev. Teddy Crum, his wife Sylvia and daughter Lily are again riding the Circuits of the Malawi United Methodist Church. On Sunday, 20th November, 2011 they made a visit to the Nsanje Circuit where they accomplished several ministerial assignments. 98 people were baptised including 76 members at Bangula UMC and 22 members at Tengani UMC.

A highlight of this busy day was the baptism of a local chief. He committed his life to Christ as his Lord and Saviour even though he had reached a very old age before making this decision. The visit to the Nsanje Circuit is the Crum’s seventh Circuit visitation in the Malawi Missionary Conference since they arrived in the country in June 2011.

Hesten Mbuzi, the pastor-in-charge for Nsanje Circuit, did not mince words regarding how the missionaries’ visit to his Circuit was an inspiration and a source of encouragement to the Circuit which has had many un-baptised members still in need of teachings in order to grow spiritually in the Lord.

Commenting on the same note, the Circuit Lay Leader, Mpota Sandram, was quick to say that the missionaries’ visit gave hope and encouragement to the members. He hoped that their presence would bring other developmental changes to the Nsanje Circuit in terms of ministry programs such as water and sanitation and other health related ministries of the Church. “The local church at Zwaki had already moulded bricks for the construction of a church building for worship and help would be needed for other building materials and roofing resources to be made available,” explained Sandram. Adding to this, the Lay Leader said that Nsanje Circuit is facing a food crisis. It is located in a drought prone area. He believes that irrigation programs would ensure food security for some of the areas in the community.

The health coordinator of the Malawi Missionary Conference, Mrs. Mercy Nyirongo, makes regular visits to the Nsanje Circuit as part of her work developing the health ministry in local communities throughout the Nsanje Circuit. She is already working with members of local churches in the Nsanje Circuit to help them improve the community’s health.

When called on to respond, Reverend Teddy Crum explained to the church members that his work in the Missionary Conference is to help members receive the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion. He is also working to advance the education of the local pastors so that Circuit members can better learn from them about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The larger connection within the United Methodist Church can occasionally offer assistance within areas of development and crisis prevention, and the Nsanje Circuit has received significant assistance from the Church to help cope with their challenges. Crum explained later that the issues of irrigation and food insecurity are crucial in the Nsanje area, and require a concerted effort by the Malawi government in order to address these concerns in a sustainable manner.

Rev. Crum listened carefully to the challenges faced by the members in the Circuit and assured the members that their concerns would be shared with the Conference Leadership so that the Leadership can consider additional programs that could empower members to gain sustainability.

He encouraged Nsanje Circuit members to think creatively amongst themselves so that local support could achieve God’s ministry in these very difficult times. Local challenges are often overcome with local solutions. Crum noted that the Missionary Conference does not have the financial resources to conduct these sorts of development projects. He pointed out that the reason why so few visits are made to this and other circuits is that funds are not available for transportation. However, he said that God often makes a way where there appears to be no clear path.

And so the Circuit riding continues. As the Crums visit more circuits around the Conference they get a better understanding of what God is doing in the Malawi United Methodist Church. The Crums hope to walk alongside the people of the MUMC to help enhance effective ministry and transform lives. They frequently point out that they are not the ones with the solutions, but are here to work with the local leadership of the Malawi UMC to develop effective ministries.

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