Life of Pastor Lyson Dzaotpetsa
Drepa Chipoyfa and John Nyadaufe MUMC Publications
He used to beat people, turned to become a member of a singing group but struggled to earn a living for the day, until he dropped out from school to do piece work to pay school fees for his brother and 2 sisters. He had no dream to become a pastor but now leading one of the United Methodist congregation in Balaka as a pastor. Meet Lyson Dzatopetsa.
Born on August 20, 1969 in the family of four children where two were girls, Dzatopetsa lived with his parents in Balaka later the parents moved to Lilongwe and he stayed with his sister.
During his youth days, the Balaka circuit pastor was well known for his violent behavior and fought his fellow children but in a way of bringing peace where there is violence and people in his village used to hire him to maintain peace whenever a fight broke out since he was a very strong boy.
“Although I used to fight others but I was active at my church (Zambezi Evangelical Church) and led my relatives in a church choir called “Ubale Singers” (meaning that all members in the group were related),” said Dzatopetsa.
In 1986 is when he passed his primary school education but with no future as the family was very poor.In an effort to earn money for a living, he moved from Balaka to Blantyre in search for a job in 1987 after failing to proceed with education due to lack of money for school fees to start secondary school education.
Dzatopetsa did not miss any word when he continued that life was difficult in Blantyre because he tried to search for a job but no opportunity was found and ended up in molding bricks at Chileka township where he tested jail for two weeks after being caught collecting firewood in one of the protected animal sites which he wanted to use them for burning the bricks.
“When I was released from prison, I joined the Church of Christ where I worshipped the Lord for three months then a certain woman convinced me to join Seventh Day Adventist Church and I was baptized there,” narrated the now called pastor.
In 2000, Dzatopetsa lost his wife Jenny who left two kids with him.
“At that time, I stopped going to church because I met different calamities that negatively affected my spiritual life,” said Dzatopetsa.
Pastor Dzatopetsa married again in 2005and now he is surviving with a total of 5 children.
JOINING THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (UMC)
In 2000, the pastor’s brother, Philemon became sick from Tuberculosis and he was taken to the hospital for treatment. By this time, Philemon was not a member of any denomination but when his health improved; he discovered the love of God and joined the United Methodist congregation at Chiole Local Church.
After worshiping in the church for three months, he approached the now called pastor to join the church.
He remained stubborn on his brother’s request but after three consecutive weeks he accepted the invitation.
With a sad voice during the telephone interview with MUMC Publications, Dzatopetsa said his brother died after suffering for some time and he continued worshipping the Lord in the church.
This is where Dzatopetsa’s calling was fulfilled when he attended different trainings and learned United Methodist Church culture then accepted to lead the local church as a pastor.
“On March 4, 2008 I was told to be the pastor of Balaka circuit, a development that I experienced God’s presence in my life,” emphasized the pastor.
Challenges faced in the Ministry
Although the work of God seems to go on well, there are some challenges that the pastor and his family together with the entire circuit are facing when doing the work of God.
Dzatopetsa said the cost of living in the circuit is so high and his house which he uses to pay MWK3, 500 ($15) per month is not enough for his family.
“The circuit has no church buildings and we use rented classrooms in schools which also require money on monthly basis,” said the pastor.
The pastor observed that some of these problems can be solved if the members in the circuit are equipped in microeconomic activities for them to do small businesses. He also indicated that the parsonage and church building will also lead to effective ministry in the circuit since his family will live in a church house and they will use the rent money for other things in the house. Meanwhile, people in the community including the pastor depend on subsistence farming to earn their daily living which most of the times does not meet the family needs.
In his academic life, Dzatopetsa said he is happy that he completed the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) through the pastors’ scholarship program from the church and appreciated Reverend Herb Mather of Belmont UMC in the United States of America for the program. He said his plan is to go further with education.
“I am happy and now enrolled for my form 3 program, I will make it at form 4,” concluded pastor Dzatopetsa.
Despite these challenges, Balaka circuit pastor expresses his gratitude to the Malawi UMC Conference Superintendent Reverend Daniel Mhone for his support and encouragement all the times.
Balaka Circuit of the United Methodist Church is situated in the southern region of Malawi. It has 11 local churches with the membership of 634 according to the 2012 statistical report at the Annual Conference in Lilongwe.
The School where Pastor Dzatopetsa went
Pastor Dzatopetsa's wife
Pastor Dzatopetsa's Children