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Monday, April 2, 2012

FULL CCAP NKHOMA SYNOD PASTORAL LETTER

CCAP NKHOMA SYNOD 2012 PASTORAL LETTER
“Exercising Our Faith through Prayer, In Our Time, In Our Nation”

Preamble

We, the CCAP Nkhoma Synod Ministers greet you in the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. We celebrate His suffering, death and resurrection during this period of Lent as we appreciate the salvation which He dearly bought for us. It is in this spirit of this celebration that we write you to share with and remind you on a few things pertaining to our Christian responsibility as a church. As a Church, we are concerned with individual Christian lives and the welfare of our nation. Therefore, we have to exercise our faith through prayer, in our time, in our nation. After all, the right to exercise our faith is also enshrined in our Republican Constitution.

This year is a very special one for CCAP Nkhoma Synod because we have clocked 50 years since the Dutch Reformed Church Mission handed over the church to Malawian leadership in 1962. Therefore, let us join hands in thanking God for using our Synod to His glory. We have now grown to 150 congregations in 16 presbyteries. Glory be to God.

Vote of Thanks

We would like to thank all members of the CCAP Nkhoma Synod for the commitment you have shown in the life and work of the church. You have displayed unity and love in the community in line with your calling to be the salt and light of the world (Matt 5:13-16). As your church leaders, we appreciate your dedication to prayer. We encourage all our members to take prayer seriously. Of course the church that prays together stays together.

In a special way we would like to thank all congregations for your faithfulness in contributing your allocations to the Synod’s Central Fund. We therefore encourage all congregations to continue contributing generously to the work of the Lord through this fund as well as other forms of giving.

Further to this, the church continues to purse various projects such as Nkhoma University and Nkhoma Radio. We are determined to fund these projects from our own resources by the grace of God. It has to be made known to you that some of the pledged funds towards the Central Fund include the K10m promised by the State President on 5th June 2011 at Lilongwe Golf Club. In this regard, we would like to appeal to all the people and congregations to honour their pledges.

a. Social Challenges facing the Church today
The CCAP Nkhoma Synod is fully aware that our Christians are living in a society that is riddled with so many social challenges. Needless to say these challenges affect the church as well. Through this letter therefore we take this opportunity to comment on some of these social challenges affecting our society:

(i) The devil and witchcraft: the devil and witchcraft do exist. The Bible is very clear on this. Yet they are not things to dread because they have no power over believers. Our crucified and resurrected Christ is above all powers of witchcraft. The fake powers of witchcraft can only be subdued by the genuine powers of Christ. We condemn all claims of witchcraft and spirit related hebalists that they can terminate witchcraft. Such tricksters are even condemned by the Laws of Malawi and should once discovered be reported to the law enforcement agencies of the land.
(ii) Homosexuality: based on biblical truth the Synod condemns in its totality the practice of homosexuality. It is biblically and culturally an evil that dehumanizes people and provokes God’s wrath. We advise our members to categorically refrain from such a practice and advocate its termination from our society. We stand in solidarity with the majority of Malawians who equally condemn the practice of homosexuality.

b. Food Security
(a) Taking custody of what we have:
We are all aware that the rainfall is erratic these days especially this 2011/2012 season which has failed in many parts of the country. This year maize yields and indeed other crops have been adversely affected. In short, food will not be enough. We therefore ask all our members to take care of the little they will harvest. Let us also be aware of the unscrupulous traders who will be coming in our areas wanting to buy from us the little maize we have this year.
(b) Food crop diversity;
Due to the global climate change which Malawi is experiencing, we should expect erratic rain patterns to continue over the years. We therefore appeal to all of you to diversify the growing of food crops apart from the traditional ones such as maize, rice and others known in your area.
(c) Fairness on Fertiliser Subsidy
As a church we recognise that in recent years steps have been taken to address food security. We have in mind the fertilizer subsidy programme and the Greenbelt initiative which we believe will augment rain fed agriculture. The fertilizer subsidy programme which is aimed at boosting maize production has many challenges which include late distribution, insufficient stocks and corrupt practices. There have been instances where beneficiaries have been requested to pay more than MK500 for a bag of fertilizer
(d) Cash Crop[ Alternatives
Tobacco remains the primary foreign exchange earner for malawi. Unfortunately market prices have fallen. We would like to appeal to government to introduce alternative crops that will replace tobacco. This is light of the current antismoking lobby. Government should endeavour to create a conduicive environment which will attract buyers who may wish to buy Malawian tobacco at profitable prices. We should bear in mind that when farmers do not realise adequate cash from tobacco, they end up selling maize and consequently create food shortages for their families.

c. Praying for our nation
We remind all Christians that as a church we have an obligation to pray for our nation. Whatever affects our country politically, socially and economically will affect us too (Jer 29:7). We give praises to the Lord for the successes of ouir nation but also cry unto Him for mercy because of the various political, social and economic challenges that our country is currently experiencing. With specific reference to political governance, the CCAP Nkhoma Synod identifies both positive and negative issues that we need to pray for.

1. Positive Issues
(a) The multiparty system of government is being sustained in this country
(b) Freedom of worship and that Malawi is a God Fearing Country
(c) Unlike many countries in Africa, Malawi has never been at war
(d) People are free to belong to a political party of their choice
(e) Freedom of expression and the exercise of all other rights are enshrined in the Republican Constitution

2. Issues Pertaining to Governance
(a) Political leaders
We have to pray for the State President and his cabinet for their health to govern this country with sober minds and concern for all Malawians without bias along tribal, regional and political party affiliations. People occupying senior public positions should be appointed only on merit. Similarly the awarding of contracts should be done fairly. It is sad to note that some ruling party leaders are openly declaring that contracts should be awarded only to ruling party members. This cannot be condoned in a democratic environment.
(b) Traditional leaders
We have to pray that the government should not entice traditional leaders with gifts in order to promote the ruling government’s agenda. Chiefs are representatives of all people with different political affiliations.
(c) Corruption
We have to pray against corrupt practices as it is an evil that has ruined our society and needs to be confronted by all Malawians. All Christians must join the fight against corruption
(d) Law makers
We have to pray for our law makers to avoid being influenced by their political party biases when passing laws in parliament. Laws such as the Civil Procedures (Suits by or Against Government or Public Officers) Injunctions, Section 46 of the Penal Code Amendment Act (discretionary control over the media and most parts of the Pensions Act are unpopular and therefore unnecessary and only serve the interests of a few.
(e) Shortage of Fuel and Forex
Let us pray that the continuous shortage of fuel and foreign exchange should come to an end. This has caused the escalation of prices of essential commodities affecting all Malawians particularly the rural poor.
(f) Political Violence
We have to pray against the alleged acts of political violence promoted by the youth wings which is creating fear and instability in the country. We also pray against the unprofessional conduct of some members of the Malawi Police Service in handling recent demonstrations and political unrest. The use of live ammunition on unarmed citizens during the peaceful demonstrations on July 20th is a shameful testimony for Government
(g) Judiciary Strike
Let us pray for divine intervention in the Judiciary Strike which denying access to justice to many innocent people. Nkhoma Synod is deeply concerned with the way in which the Executive is handling issues related to other constitutional arms of government such as the Judiciary and the University of Malawi.
(h) Government working relationship with partners
We have to pray for the Malawi Government’s working relationship with other nations both near and far, the donor community and local NGOs. Our country cannot afford to maintain sour relationships with neighbours like Zambia and our longtime donors like the United Kingdom. We cannot afford to see a deteriorating brotherly relationship between our State President and the Zambian President as well as the souring relationship between Malawi and Britain which was precipitated after we chased the British High Commissioner. It should be remembered that when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers
(i) Relocation of Lilongwe University of Science and Technology (LUSTEC) and Stadium from the Central to the Southern Region
The CCAP Nkhoma Synod noted with sadness the sudden change of mind to relocate two projects without a convincing explanation. We need to pray against such poor and selfish decisions by government. The move of the proposed Lilongwe University of Science and Technology from Lilongwe to Ndata Farm in Thyolo as well as the proposed stadium from the Capital City to Blantyre has left us as a Church very concerned since the projects would have afforded our faithful and other people resident in the central region jobs and business opportunities
(j) Monopoly of trade
Let us pray for the economic injustice that we see in our land in the form of monopoly of trade. There are a few individuals and organisations that are given opportunities to invest in so many businesses and contracts to the disadvantage of small scale business people. Such a practice renders the rich richer and the poor poorer. We would like to reiterate that all Malawians have a right to economic activity.
d. Special appeals on socio-ethical issues
1. Alcoholism
It has come to our attention that there is a great increase in alcoholism in our society. This is due to the introduction and unregulated sale and consumption of alcohol in sachets such as Tyson and Ryder. These are wantonly sold and consumed by people of all ages. We appeal to our church members to refrain from drunkenness because it is an evil condemned by God and has serious long term damaging affects to health. We appeal for the government to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol.
2. Indecent dressing
While we appreciate the freedom of dressing, we would like to appeal to our members to exercise their freedom with responsibility. Freedom of dress should not make people less human by exposing their body structures in a provocative and inviting manner. We appeal especially to our female members not to join the bandwagon of careless dress in the name of freedom. We are made in God’s image and our bodies are God’s temple that deserves honour.
3. Early marriages
We are appealing to all our members to encourage children to remain in school and serious with their education and thus avoid early marriages. As a church, we attach great value to education. Through our schools we shall endeavour to promote the standards of education in Malawi and keep children in school. As partners with government in education and development, we strongly condemn all the cultural and social elements that force boys and girls to drop out of school and marry early.
4. Pornography
We appeal to all our members to guard themselves from this cancerous addition that is promoted by access to the internet. It is an evil that is ruining the minds of people across all age groups.
Conclusion
Our Lord Jesus Christ died for us to set us free so that we can be useful instruments in his hand. He is the Light to the World Jn 8:12 and so are we. While we undergo the pains and afflictions of this life caused by social imbalances and injustices, we are liberated through the suffering death and resurrection of our Master Jesus Christ. As such we can exercise our faith in Jesus Christ in our time in our nation by our commitment to prayer. Our nation may be shaken economically politically and socially but the authority of our head of the church Jesus Christ will never be shaken. Earthly governments come and go but the heavenly government in which we put our faith will never come to an end

We wish our members a wonderful and meaningful Easter

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