Of the 3.4 million Yao people found in Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, less than 2% are estimated to be Christians. The vast majority of the Yao have been Muslim for over a century, and while they have not been prone historically to Islamic extremism, they also have been one of the most difficult people groups to reach with the gospel in southern Africa. To many of the Yao, to be Yao is to be Muslim.
When we sent two Shepherds Academy students to Mangochi District (the Yao heartland) in June, we honestly had very low expectations, and we were amazed to have 3 baptized believers as a result of their labors.
Since June, we’ve been sending these two young men weekly to disciple this group of young believers. When we went on Tuesday to hold a Gospel School with this young church, we were amazed to meet 30 new believers, each one serious about Christ and sharing him with their families and neighbors.
In the coming weeks, our Shepherds Academy graduates will be leading the church to appoint their own pastor, and the church will begin to stand on its own two feet. William Carey famously said, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” When I reviewed the gospel with these young believers, I felt the rebuke of the Holy Spirit for my low expectations, and what a blessed rebuke it was to be reminded that “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26).
Teaching believers to bear witness
Isaac and I held 4 Gospel Schools this month. For 3 of them, we met up with Michael in the Lower Shire and headed out to our most difficult-to-get-to districts. The final one was the one in Mangochi described above.
Focusing so much on Gospel Schools this month was a great reminder that we never outgrow the fundamentals. It was refreshing to teach the 4 truths of the gospel repeatedly: God is good. You are a sinner. Jesus is your Savior. Confess and believe!
At every location, we received thoughtful questions about genuine faith, assurance of salvation, and perseverance. At this point, we only have one district that we have not visited with a Gospel School, and we pray that we will have the opportunity to visit them before the end of the year.
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Making the gospel known to youth
Our day camp teams will be winding down this week and returning their bikes and supplies. While we still are awaiting the final field reports, so far we know that these 9 teams visited 194 villages, and they report that over 7,000 people heard the gospel through these programs focused on reaching youth.
The majority of the day camp team members are Shepherds Academy students, who will soon be returning to school for their final year of training. We believe that this ministry experience will deepen their desire to learn in the classroom.
Serving the sick
We are excited to have the founders of this ministry, Eric and Stephanie Chapman, returning to Malawi this week for the next couple of months. The Chapmans will be leading our final round of mobile medical clinics for the year during the month of October, and at the end of the month, we will be joining together with the pastors from our partner churches for the Founder’s Conference, which is a celebration of all God has been doing over the past year.
Training more laborers
On Monday, we will be shifting gears as we kick off the third year of Shepherds Academy. We expect to have 13 students returning for their second year of study, and we have accepted 17 students into the freshman class. You can sponsor a student for $30/month or $360/year by giving to our Pastor Training fund, and you will receive a profile of your sponsored student.
As we see what God is doing among the Yao in Mangochi, as well as in several other places, it is clear that we are achieving our goal of creating a training program that will feed directly into evangelism and church planting. We have been encouraged even more to nourish the minds and hearts of these young men, so that we can see God send them out as laborers into his fields, which are already white with harvest.