A Bible study for the guardians of the pupils in Chiyembekezo School in Ntaja, Malawi, is bringing freedom to the women who attend.
Meaning “hope” in Chichewa, Chiyembekezo School is bringing hope to the orphans and vulnerable children of Ntaja, Malawi.
But it doesn't stop at the pupils.
“We thought that we could start something to bring hope to the women,” explained Catherine Phiri, a teacher at the school. “Where we could discuss how to raise children the godly way, and for those that desire to have a relationship with Jesus, that they could come to the saving knowledge of Christ.
“The Lord put it on our hearts to start [a Bible study] with the guardians,” Catherine continued. “We told [the ladies] that the purpose of the group is to share whatever we are passing through, pray for each other and learn different skills like cooking and sewing.”
The 20-30 women who attend the Bible study are a mix of Christians and Muslims. When the group first started the ladies came because it was part of the school programme; now it is a place to share their hearts.
The Muslims go for prayers at the mosque at certain times and requested that the Bible study start earlier in the day so that they could still attend and not miss part of the Bible study.
Women are not permitted to touch the Qur'an, the holy book of Muslims. When the ladies go to the mosque, a man reads the Qur'an and another man interprets it in Arabic. Most people in Malawi don't know Arabic, however, so they can't understand.
“Most women [here] are illiterate. It was amazing to see how joyful [the women] were when they received an AudiBible,” Catherine remembered. “It was good for them to hear the Bible spoken in their own language and understand it, rather than listening to the Qur'an in a language they don't understand.”
“The Bible study has started opening the eyes of the women and changing their perspectives of what they believe in from the culture, to the truth,” said Catherine. “I remember one lady had a question about white people and black people. At the time we were learning about Adam and Eve and what they did and how it came that God cursed them. The culture said that the white people were blessed, and black people cursed because of what Adam and Eve did. She learnt the truth that God created us the same, and it was everyone who was cursed, and we are only blessed through Christ.”
“Every time a lady grasps the truth, it's a blessing to be a part of that. To see bondages and burdens removed from the ladies; it's very encouraging,” said OM worker Eleanor du Plessis.
Esther, a mother of seven, complained of pain every time she urinated. Describing the pain as something heavy pressing on her back, she tried going to the hospital and witch doctors, but no one knew what the problem was.
It wasn't only Esther who was experiencing issues in her house.
Her 11-year-old daughter saw snakes and would start screaming before collapsing. These episodes had occurred for many years, and no one could figure out what was wrong with her. As a result, she could not go far from home in case of an episode.
Esther's older daughter had problems as well. She would be at school when suddenly she would stop concentrating and become “mad”, running wild and taking off her clothes. The witch doctor told Esther that “the demons what your daughter has, they are powerful. We need to stay together, we need to train [your daughter] so she can become a witch doctor in the future.”
The daughter refused, saying she was too young to become a witch doctor, but Esther did not know what to do, thinking that becoming a witch doctor might be the only way her daughter could be healed.
Catherine urged Esther to trust God, as only God could deliver her two daughters from the demons. Encouraged to attend the women's Bible study to meet and connect with other women, Esther and her family were prayed for by the group. From that day on, Esther and her two daughters have been living normal lives. No pain, no snakes, no madness.
Esther said she feels much lighter now. She testifies to the other women in the village about what God has done for her and her family.
“[The Bible study] has built trust,” said Catherine. “The women testify to other people who don't know anything about us. They are our witnesses to other people.”
Pray that the women of Malawi would continue experiencing freedom from cultural and spiritual bondage, healing and revelations from God.