THE BEGINNING OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD
On July 4, 1947, a contingent of four Missionary units of Assemblies of God arrived at Chimbewa Village in Ntcheu. They included one team from Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and another one from South Africa. They joined a host Pentecostal group known as the “Full Gospel Church,” led by Laiton Kalambule. The missionaries included Paul Derr, Ragnar Udds, Morris Williams and Magnus Udds from Tanganyika, while Fredrick Burke, Paul Wright, and Moody Wright came from South Africa.
The Assemblies of God Missionaries discussed with Laiton Kalambule that the “Full Gospel Church should become affiliated with the General Council of the Assemblies of God in United States of America. Kalambule’s group accepted and they formed the Assemblies of God in East Africa.
In the early years, the Assemblies of God in Nyasaland was led by an Executive Council that supervised two fields – Nyasaland and Tanganyika. Later in Nyasaland, three workers Council’s were organized to oversee the work in the three regions of the country.
Missionary Fred Burke acted as the first Chairman of this workers council. Missionary Morris Williams served as Secretary in the beginning. In 1960, H. B. Garlock assumed the leadership role and during that time the Chairmanship was officially called “the General Superintendent” of the Assemblies of God in Nyasaland.”
In 1960, leaders were elected at the Annual Conference of the Assemblies of God at Missi in Dowa. The whole Executive Committee was as follows:
Rev. Harry Downey - General Superintendent
Rev. Gideon Bomba - Assistant General Superintendent
Rev. Morris Williams - General Secretary
Others Members were:
An important leadership change happened when the Missionary Council decided that they no longer needed to carry the Visionary torch of the Church. They further decided that the leadership handover would be meaningful with the giving up of registration of local assemblies (churches) into the hands of the Assemblies of God Church in Malawi.
In 1962, Rev. Gideon Bomba, the first Malawian leader got elected as General Superintendent. The Assemblies of God in Nyasaland was officially registered under the incorporation act on April 27, 1964.
The Assemblies of God believed as it still does today, in following the full gospel of Jesus Christ as Savior, Healer and Baptizer in the Holy Spirit and the soon coming king. Every minister was expected to be Spirit filled and have a demonstrable call of God.
In those early days, the Church experience rejection and persecution form people of other Churches. Sometimes its members were teased as people that weep because of their way of intercessions in the Spirit. However, the powerful preaching and miracles that happened among them on the move and God vindicated them as his witnesses. Many people were getting healed and delivered from demonic possession. Holiness was a central teaching of the Church.
As a Pentecostal Church, an Evangelistic impulse dominated the activities of the Assemblies of God from the earliest years. The leaders believed that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was available to all believers as an endowment of Power with the special purpose of effective witnessing to others, in line with Acts 1:8.
For 28 years (1966 – late 1980’s) the Assemblies of God in Malawi had three districts. The Southern District started in Nsanje to the Shire River. The Central District started from Shire River and ended at Diaphwe River on M1 road. The Northern District started at Diamphwe River and ended at Chitipa. The three districts were administratively run by District Superintends.
Rev. Gideon Bomba led the Assemblies of God for seventeen years. He was successes by Rev. Maxwell Chapola in 1979. Rev. Maxwell Chapola was an ardent Preacher who travelled throughout the country, winning many souls to Christ. He also had a major influence on the beginning of the Assemblies in Zambia. Rev. Chapola went to be with the Lord in 1989 after leading a General Superintendent for ten years.
In 1989 Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera got elected to succeed Rev. M. Chapola. Rev. Dr. L. Chakwera has led the Assemblies of God now for twenty one years. His passion for Missions and his Visionary leadership has seen the Assemblies of God grow to its present state. There are Assemblies of God Churches in all Districts of Malawi, with about 500 trained Pastors. We work in partnership with missionaries from the Assemblies of God USA resident in Malawi. The Assemblies of God believes in providing ministerial training to all people who are called by God into the ministry before recognizing them as Pastors.
Our training institutions include the Assemblies of God School of Theology (AGST) where ministers train for Certificates, Diplomas, and B. A. Degrees in conjunction with Global University in USA. We also have All Nations Theological Seminary where post-graduate studies are offered for Masters of Arts Degrees, also in conjunction with Global University in USA. The Assemblies of God Extension School provides an opportunity who are unable as residential students at our theological institutions to obtain a Certificate in Religious Studies.
In 2004, the General Assembly of the Assemblies of God decided to change the name “Assemblies of God in Malawi” to “Malawi Assemblies of God” and the title “General Superintendent” was changed to “President” because we did not want to argue with the Police service over the title “Superintendent.”
The Malawi Assemblies of God has well trained leaders who are providing leadership training and development in Africa and beyond. Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is the Chairman of both the Africa Assemblies of God Alliance and Southern Africa Assemblies of God Alliance. Two of our Secretary General’s have served as Missions and Evangelism Directors for Southern Africa Assemblies of God Alliance. More is happening in Malawi Assemblies of God than what people hear about. We believe in more action and less noise.
No past evangelistic intervention has ever created a greater impact in the Assemblies of God in Malawi as the Sheaffer Church planting crusades. The Church of Malawi started enjoying these tremendous and unprecedented blessings since 1982 through the involvement of Dr. Daniel T. Sheaffer and his Church – the first Assembly of God Church of Oklahoma City in the United States of America, known as “Crossroads Cathedral.”
Late Dr. Daniel T. Sheaffer had planted many Churches in Malawi including the building of the Sheaffer Complex within which the Assemblies of God School of Theology is located. He had provided funds for roofing many Churches in the rural areas, and has built several good looking Church structures in the cities and towns of Malawi. He had inspired Malawian Pastors to think big and raise up good Church buildings in the country.
Lastly, Malawi Assemblies of God recognizes the fact that God also calls women into ministry and this fact is supported by Scriptures. We have several Women in Leadership positions as ordained Ministers.
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