Preparing for a new school year

Renovating the campus. Selecting new students. A new year is around the corner.

Next week, Gospel Life Baptist Church will be holding its first-ever camp for teenage boys. Traditionally, those involved with witchcraft use the break time between the school years (what we would call summer break, but it’s winter here) to take boys and girls around puberty age into the bush for what they call initiation. Initiation involves sexual education, various magical ceremonies, and culminates in circumcisions and encouraging the kids to commit sexual immorality by going out and practicing what they’ve learned.

Young people in villages across the country will be participating in these ceremonies over the next month, and many parents will not see any conflict between their professed Christian faith and their kids’ participation in initiation rites.

This is why we will be offering an alternative option for the boys of GLBC this year, hoping to instill a biblical worldview in our teenagers. We hope that next year we will be able to offer the same opportunity for the girls as well.

But more than what we are doing at GLBC, this situation reminds us why theological education is necessary. Shepherds Academy and College exists to help pastors develop a biblical worldview that will transform their churches and their communities through the word of God. In Malawi, 85% of people profess to be a Christian, but very few have been “transformed by the renewing” of their minds (Rom 12:2).

Selecting new students

During July, the Dean of Shepherds Academy, Isaac Dzimbiri, traveled across southern Malawi to do entrance exams and interviews with potential new students. We are expecting to have about 25 total students in the coming school year, and as soon as they get on campus in September, we will be introducing you to many of their stories.

In August, we will be hosting Pastor Dallas Goebel from Burton Memorial Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He will be leading pastors conferences in Zomba and the Lower Shire.

Then we will be starting the inaugural semester of Shepherds College. I’ll be teaching five hand-selected students two courses: Christian Doctrine I and Greek Prep.

Renovating the campus

Thanks to a generous church, we have spent the month putting some finishing touches on our campus. We’ve renovated both of our classrooms, and we are transforming the grounds around the school building to make our campus a safer and more relaxing place to live and learn.

We were blessed to have Justin and Marshall from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur, Illinois join us for a week to help with the renovations. While everything is still a mess right now, we are excited to share our new, improved campus soon with both you and our students!

Helping churches rebuild

While Justin and Marshall were with us, we spent one day visiting a church in Phalombe district whose building had been destroyed by Cyclone Freddy. We were able to give them ten bags of cement to help with the reconstruction of a new building.

Thanks to generous donations to our disaster relief fund earlier in the year, we will be able to help several more churches rebuild or repair their buildings. Due to a temporary cement factory shutdown in the country, however, cement prices have increased dramatically. But as soon as prices fall back to their normal levels, we will help other churches as well.

Thank you, VBS kids!

We are so thankful for the many churches that used their missions offering at Vacation Bible School this year to help us purchase more Chichewa Bibles. It’s so amazing to me that God used kids across the US to collect over $7,000 for Bibles!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We will be ordering those Bibles soon and will celebrate with you all over again when they arrive.

Picture of Joshua Hutchens

Joshua Hutchens

Joshua Hutchens (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the president of Gospel Life as well as Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Missions at Overland Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. With a heart devoted to spreading the gospel, Joshua, alongside his wife Stacy Leigh and their five children, dedicated six years to serving in Malawi before returning to the United States, where he continues to lead Gospel Life.

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