Death—caused by natural or unusual forces—is believed to be timed and God’s will-but the story about raising dead people in the Bible brings a different thought to this belief. Mathew 9:25 talks about Jesus Christ raising to life the son of the widow in Nain; Lazarus in John 11:43-44 and Jairus’ daughter and Luke 7:13-15.
Within society, some people believe death is a product of the devil through illnesses, horrific accidents or by inspiring someone to kill.
In Malawi, stories of people who triumphed over death are not strange. Some praise herbalists’ charms, while others claim to have returned to life after prayers. Linnly Mbeta, 50, is one such person who walked back into life after a day-long encounter with death in 1985. She is now on a mission to serve God.
She recalls: “I remember resurrecting and finding people weeping. They had already prepared my body for burial.”
This was 30 years ago, and now she is one of the well-known evangelists in the country congregating at Mthawira Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Church in Blantyre.
Apart from preaching, Mbeta reaches out to the youth; since 2013 she has been empowering them with vocational skills through access to training at Chigonjetso Mwa Yesu Ministries Community Development Centres in Mbayani and Machinjiri in Blantyre.
In addition, she has constructed houses for elderly people in Mbayani Township; helped in renovating churches in different areas of the country; and continues to support needy students, among other things. She says her initiatives are christened by God who restored her life.
Mbeta was raised by parents who made it hard for her Christian faith. She recalls sneaking out to attend Sunday school with her friends, only to be reduced to tears by her father when back, as he was against her patronising churches.
“My parents were unbelievers. My late father used to drink and smoke. Whenever they found out that I was at church, my father would beat me up and not let me have food for a week. Often, I would go to our neighbour’s, Mai Betha for refuge and some food,” says Mbeta, adding that despite her father being so ruthless with her, he was so loving and had a good heart.
Any child would quit their faith under such circumstances, but she endured, breaking through to her destiny later in her life.
She continued with Sunday school and got baptized, but that was after months of enduring whips. “I remember struggling with my leg for six months and a damaged eye, but both healed when I awoke,” she says.
After baptism, her parents disowned her for conducting herself contrary to their expectations.
“I went to live with my grandparents in Mulanje. I still loved my parents and continually prayed for them, believing that a day would come when they would be freed,” says the fourth born of eight siblings in the family.
True to her belief, both her mother and father got saved before they died in 1986 and 1990, respectively. She says her father, who was a scientist later accompanied her to prayer sessions and testified about her rising from death.
Things only got better when she started living with her older sister. “I found joy when I went to live with my sister. That was the only time I lived my Christian life freely. She was in the women’s guild and her husband was a session clerk at Mibawa CCAP Church,” says Mbeta, adding this was the time she even joined the choir.
She later fell very ill, and says she always felt better when fellow choir members visited her. At the time, she says prayer, singing and the Word of God were her life.
“During my illness, I had a dream of angels dressed in white. They told me to move back to my parents’ as God was about to do something very astounding. For two weeks I could not tell my sister about it until the angels re-visited me, confirming their word,” she says.
She went back to her parents’, this time she was 18. Despite her father warning against prayers in their home, her mother secretly allowed people to pray with her when the father was at work, and she prayed and sang with her fellow choir members.
As she slept one night, Mbeta says she saw a bright and powerful light again and four angels appeared, singing. They took her in spirit and led her to the brightest and most beautiful city she has ever seen where other angels sang and praised God.
One of the angels gave her a file of her life, and appreciated her love for God. There she had an appreciation of life in heaven and hell as she saw sinners in a furnace crying in pain, but not smoldering, while the righteous sang songs of praise and worship to God.
She was then led out of the beautiful city gates by the angels, with an assignment, to do God’s work. They told her that she would not be going back to school and would never get married. That is how she started evangelising, at only 18.
Mbeta has an all new outlook of salvation, and wherever she goes, she preaches about it and says her heart bleeds at how much preachers these days focus more on prosperity. That is probably reason why every day at the community development centres starts with devotions. n