AND MANY OF THEM BELIEVED
Community transformation can only have a lasting effect when the hearts and minds of the people have been transformed. Though schools may be built, boreholes drilled, income-generating activities initiated, and crops grown, none of it has meaning unless the love of God is so evident, that it compels people into a loving relationship with Jesus. Spiritual development is Visionledd’s first and foremost priority, and we were thrilled when our Malawian partner, Somebody Cares, provided an update about the Bible training program we support amongst chiefs in communities.
Berean classes, as they are known, are taking place across the communities we work in Malawi and are led by spiritually gifted and mature Somebody Cares staff. Named after the Bereans in the Book of Acts who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, and many of them believed” (17:11), the classes are open to chiefs, community leaders, youth, widows and anyone else who has a yearning for God. They offer an essential biblical education – from understanding how to study the Bible, the context of various books, to the overall implications of the Gospel into daily life. For the majority, these classes provide the very first personal Bible these leaders have ever owned.
CHRIST-FOLLOWING CHIEFS CHANGE COMMUNITIES
The impact of these classes is phenomenal. Whenever we visit these communities, the key movers and shakers of the villages almost always tell us that it was that first initial step in taking a Berean class that ultimately led them to commit their lives to Jesus and work for the vulnerable in their community. What is even more promising, is that many influential chiefs are attending the Berean classes and committing themselves, and their villages, to following God’s path. Chief Chiluzi said “I have known about Somebody Cares since 2006, but my life got transformed when I started attending Berean classes and had the opportunity of learning more of the treasures of Gods kingdom.”
The ministry’s holistic and inclusive approach is the key to drawing these community leaders together. They are respected, included, and acknowledged as essential persons for bringing hope and help to the vulnerable in their communities. In taking the Berean classes, they are changed from the inside out, choosing to adopt a new leadership style of servanthood, using Jesus as the centre and standard. The chiefs’ presence in these classes strengthens and deepens the impact of all the programs implemented in their community. In cultures where traditional leadership carries great weight, the impact of a chief’s own commitment to Jesus cannot be underestimated.
Chief Tchele of Chilombo said, “The Berean class has been a great tool in the hands of God in reaching out and training pastors and leaders who have never been to a bible college or did not attain any basic education. The impact of the ministry through the Berean classes cannot be denied as it is witnessed by the transformation of communities due to the transformation of leaders of the communities.”