James Chimpweya talks to Bishop Bestford Masautso, founding member of the Seventh Day Evangelical Church (SDEC), which was born from the Come to Jesus Evangelical Fellowship in Ndirande on what the church stands for
How did the church start?
At first, people used to know us as Come to Jesus Evangelical Fellowship ministering in the country with evangelistic messages of converting people to Jesus Christ as Saviour. The church began 1982 following a call from members of the fellowship, mainly from Dedza, who did not want to go back to their churches after receiving the message of salvation. It was difficult for some of us to accept the idea. It took us the whole night discussing it.
How many were you who debated the idea of turning the fellowship into a church?
There were 32 members then, but some left the church and others passed away. Now there are 17 of us from the original group. We have members in Ntcheuâ€”Makwangwala and Bwanjeâ€”Lunzu, Chiradzulu and Mozambique where we have two branches.
What is it that prompted new converts not to go back to their original churches?
As a fellowship, we were preaching against polygamy, smoking, drinking and witchcraft, among other issues. Some of the churches where these members were coming from do not preach against these vices, so after people heard the dangers of such practices they made a bold decision not to go back to their original churches.
Now, why did you give the church this name?
It is difficult to give a convincing answer because most of the members were from Sunday churches, but after examining the scriptures we thought of having Saturday as our day of worship. We did not want to remove the word evangelical because it was in our original name. Our message follows the evangelical type of preaching. Saturday (Sabbath) was the day Jehovah set aside to be the day of rest which should be treated as a holy day.
How do you observe the Sabbath?
We observe the Sabbath from Friday evening by holding prayers to open the day of worship. Then on the actual day we start our service at 9:30 in the morning, followed other prayers in the evening.
What is your message as a church?
Our message is repentance and not prosperity. We need people to repent and inherit the Kingdom of God. As a church, we use the Jewish calendar, so every April we hold our annual convention where we develop plans for the year.
What is your stand on taking medicine or going to hospital?
Our church does not stop members from taking medicine when they fall sick.