Malawi gains momentum at workshop
September 8, 2015
By Tony Rinaudo (World Vision Australia)
In August, I had the privilege of participating in the World Vision Malawi (WVM) sponsored “Empowered Biblical Worldview and Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) Conference For Church Leaders”. The workshop, an initiative of Bob Kisyula (WVM National Director) and team, was a follow-up from April’s Beating Famine Conference. Bob was keen to build on the momentum developed by Beating Famine and to get the information out to those who need it, and can use it quickly. Some 170 Church leaders from many denominations and five pastors fraternities across World Vision Malawi Zones (North, Centre, East and South) were oriented on Empowered Biblical Worldview and Farm Managed Natural Resources (FMNR) during a two-and-a-half day workshop, from 11th-13th August, in Milawi’s capital city Lilongwe.
World Vision Australia’s Tony Rinaudo (centre) plants a truncheon while on a field trip with pastors and church leaders, as part of FMNR workshop events in Malawi (photo: Wezzie Banda, World Vision Malawi © 2015)
Bishop Titus Masika from Kenya talked about the need to tackle strongholds, and shared from his very successful experiences in land and people restoration in Yatta, Kenya. He chastised the church for placing too much emphasis on spiritualising everything and pointing people towards heaven, while God’s creation and creatures on earth suffer. He challenged our development thinking, indicating that merely bringing in more capacity building rarely results in transformational development. Mindsets and strongholds need to be challenged first – people will not adopt new technologies if they are scared of upsetting their ancestors, and they will not be keen to make improvements if they fear creating jealousy and bringing curses on themselves. Also, in the places where local beer undermines whole communities, no amount of development input will lift people out of their situation. Bishop challenged the church to first break these strongholds. His Yatta program included digging hundreds of dams, and breaking dependency on aid and relief. It also involved a shift from growing grain crops solely for direct consumption, to including market gardening and irrigation of high value crops, value adding, and exporting high value crops. Johann van der Ham from Crown Financial Ministries shared on God’s Way of Farming, a biblical approach to conservation agriculture and land care. Benjamin Wattie Mughogho shared on year round tree planting without watering, using truncheon planting. A surprising number of tree species can be planted using large cuttings year-round. Norbert Akobila from Ghana and myself presented on FMNR and led a field demonstration.
Practical steps for the future
I felt that this was a very practical conference which could point the way forward for future approaches to WV-church partnerships. Pastors, priests and bishops are very concerned with the physical needs of their congregations but don’t always have the tools to help them. This conference gave a biblical foundation, showing clearly how it is within the church’s mandate to care for the land, and to help congregations become more productive. The conference also gave churches a suite of simple and accessible tools which they can use immediately.
Benjamin Wattie Mughogho shares on year-round tree planting during the Empowered Biblical Worldview and Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) Conference For Church Leaders” held in Malawi in August, 2015. (photo: Charles Kabena, World Vision Malawi © 2015)