The church in Africa is growing faster than anywhere else but training leaders for the new churches isn’t keeping up. The vast majority of rural church leaders have never had even a single day of formal training. In Malawi, Patrick Steven Mateketa is finding eVitabu to be an invaluable tool to support his vital training work with village church leadership teams.
My name is Patrick Steven Mateketa. I am a Malawian from the Central Region, District of Kasungu but I was born and have lived most of my life in the southern region. For ten years now, I am living in Balaka District.
I joined African Pastors Fellowship in the year 2020 and was introduced to the eVitabu app. I am a pastor and teacher by calling. Teachers need to be very resourceful so that they can better communicate hidden meanings of the Word of God, so I wanted to see how eVitabu could help me.
By the time I was joining APF, I was running village discipleship training workshops with rural pastors and leaders not far from where I live. I had prepared three lessons from the books given to me by an American pastor from California which I translated into Chichewa. That was the beginning of my village discipleship ministry programme.
In our villages, most of church pastors and leaders are handpicked. They don’t have any training or even basic knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. You find a pastor leading a big congregation but lacking both theological understanding and the resources to guide them.
After six months of village discipleship training, the American funding ended. I was also concerned about a training focus that seemed to me to be about personal gain. Nevertheless, other pastors and leaders in villages also called me, asking for training. This made me realise exactly what office God set for me in my calling.
I now started searching for resources to use to train and coach village pastors in depth. Among them, I found the eVitabu app from APF which I use regularly. In eVitabu, there are resources touching almost every area of ministry. For example, when I am teaching on discipleship, I look for discipleship books. When I am teaching on pastoral formation, I look for resources focused on theology, the art of preaching, eschatology, and the like.
eVitabu is simple to use and very handy. Once, a pastor from the UK bought me a laptop but it was not safe to carry it on the bicycle I use to cycle very long distances. I ended up breaking it, soaked in the rain. With eVitabu, I have many powerful resources just there on my phone, but it is easy to carry and protect.
Sometimes, a learner asks me a question from a topic that I don’t have much knowledge about. When this happens, I ask them to let me finish the current teaching point and say I will come back to that question later. I can then get my phone, open eVitabu, search for that topic and I have this great support. This is only a problem when I am in areas where the network is weak.
Many of the resources on eVitabu are in English but I teach in our own languages. One of the things I do is to choose a portion of a relevant resource and translate it either while I am preparing or even while I am teaching. I would love to see more resources on eVitabu in Chichewa, Tumbuka and other languages spoken in Malawi.
Another thing that would be a great help is for supporters of APF to support my training by donating data bundles for my phone. Data bundles are a problem to most of us here.
In our monthly APF discussions on Zoom, I heard APF staff Dave and Geoff talk about a future development of doing formal Bible school training by extension learning through the eVitabu app. This idea must be promoted, encouraged and marketed with a catchy advertisement.
I like the eVitabu app because it does not only teach about the spiritual things but also covers agriculture, economics, the environment, our society and other people. Christian leaders are agents for change and positive change should be seen across all aspects of our lives.
In the village where I borrow a piece of land to grow my crops, people do not believe they can harvest good crops without first securing the farm with magic. But of all the village farms this year, my small field has better crops than any other fields. Villagers are now beginning to trust God in their farming.
God bless you!
Patrick Steven Mateketa