She is one of the first ordained female pastors in Malawi after obtaining a degree in Theology in 1991. But she has faced a lot of resistance from her own church administration (Assemblies of God). She claims she was denied to perform pastoral duties because she is a woman, among others. After serving as a lecturer and registrar of Sheaffer Assemblies of God School of Theology in Lilongwe, she obtained her Master’s degree. She finally started serving as a reverend in the same denomination in 2000. She takes ALBERT SHARRA through her life’s journey.
Where does your life story begin?
I am the last born in a family of six–five girls and a boy. However, it is my sister and I that are remaining. I grew up with both parents. My father was an agriculturist and my mother was a house wife. My father was an active member at the mission where we stayed. I have done all my primary education at Africa Evangelical Mission Primary School, Chididi in Nsanje.
After my Standard Six– which was the final year in primary school then–I went to Blantyre CCAP Mission where I was trained as a nurse. I was only 15 but the admission age was from 17 years. By God’s grace I was admitted.
After qualifying as a nurse, I was posted to Zomba General Hospital from 1959 to 1961. I was married the same year. I worked for three years and quit. I realised that nursing was not for me.
My husband encouraged me to do something different. I went to Zimbabwe to train as an economist at Mutare School of Economics. My husband also left Malawi for the United States of America to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Education.
Unfortunately, after a short stay in Zimbabwe, civil servants went on strike for a long time. I returned home the following year. In 1964, I joined the College of Commerce, now University of Malawi’s Polytechnic, to do my secondary education. I graduated with Malawi Certificate of Education (MCE) in 1966; since I started from Form Two.
Tell us about your immediate family.
I was married in 1961 and divorced in 1974. I don’t have a biological child, but have many which I met while carrying out my pastoral duties.
You are one of the first female ordained pastors in Malawi; share with us the story.
I am also the first female ordained pastor under the Assemblies of God Church. Growing up at the mission’s campus with committed Christian parents, played a big role. I got born again when I was 12 and I was organising youths’ gospel discussions at that age.
Two years later, I was already teaching during Sunday school lessons. When I moved to Blantyre, I joined other groups that were preaching the word of God. Then I got a job at Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC) in Lilongwe as a secretary. I continued with CCAP and I joined Masintha CCAP.
While in Lilongwe, I started to feel as there were gaps in the way I was reaching other people with the word of God. I formed the New Life for All- a grouping of Christians. We used to hold prayers at homes of both members and non- members interested to host us.
In 1982, CCDC was dissolved. I was posted to work as secretary at Capital Hill under the Ministry of Finance. The same year in February, I started another grouping called Women’s Ministry-another Pentecost.
Why a women’s ministry?
My objective was to increase the number of women evangelists. I saw visions where God advised me to go beyond my area. I had groups in area 25,18,12,15 and 49. I was being invited to preach at various churches. People liked my grouping because it accepted people from other denominations. This was the beginning of the mushrooming of Pentecost churches in Malawi. I am proud of achieving this at the time when people were more resistant to new things.
In 1986, I enrolled at Assemblies of God Mcheneka Bible Institute in Dedza. I obtained a diploma in Theology. I later pursued a degree programme and graduated in 1991. I was ordained after obtaining the degree.
What challenges have you met as a pastor?
Upon completion of my degree programme, the church administration delayed my ordination. They said the church does not allow a woman to become a pastor. This is why even after successfully founding Lumbadzi Assemblies of God church as part of my academic work to be awarded the degree; the administration demoted me and made me the deputy to a male pastor.
Again, after planting the Glorious Temple church, the church made me director of children’s ministries. This was to keep me away from conducting pastoral duties. However, I served the position with dignity. I encouraged many churches across the country to reach out to children.
In 1995, I was told to step down as a pastor. I was sent to lecture at Sheaffer Assemblies of God School of Theology in Lilongwe. I was also working as deputy director of children’s ministry, as Chaplin, matron and later on registrar at the school.
I was lucky that I was admitted at the college during the first intake of the first master’s degree cohort. I graduated in 2002 and a few years later, I went back to work as a pastor.
What are some of the highlights of your journey?
I remember the time when I had formed a Women’s Ministry. There was a woman who died and resurrected twice. I was approached to pray for her. I prayed for her and upon reaching home she died and never resurrected. I believe she is in paradise after the prayer.
The other greatest thing I will never forget is about the Assemblies of God churches I have founded. I have founded three of them–Lumbadzi, Grace Temple now Glorious Temple in area 47 and Maranatha Hope of Glory church in Area 3 where I am the pastor.
What do you think makes you stand out?
It is all about hardworking and asking God to be on my side before doing anything. I am blessed with the talent to plant new projects. I can reveal to you here that all the projects that I founded are a success and have contributed a lot to the country in one way or another.
Where do you want to see yourself in the next decade?
My eyes are on writing. I want to write my biography. Secondly, I want to see Malawi churches supporting missionaries. I want our church to intercede; our people should cross the boarders to preach. I am also striving to continue living a decent life. I don’t want to disappoint those that look up to me as a role model and pastor by being unable to financially sustain my family.
During your free time what can we find you doing?
I like reading the Bible and other literary works. I also enjoy preaching and sharing the word of God with people.
Do you have a role Model?
Yes, my role model is Dr Elson Luwesya, the in-charge of Arts at Sheaffer Seminary in Lilongwe.