A grouping of Pentecostal pastors and apostles has warned the Malawi government against implementing lockdown on churches as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
The grouping, which is called Concerned Clergy, argues churches are essential service providers; hence, it would be inappropriate and unreasonable for government to close them down on pretext of controlling the pandemic.
The concerned prophets, pastors and apostles, through statement signed by Apostle Francis Zoe Chituwi of Divine Partakers International Church and Prophet Gift Sibande, say they have noted with concern that the voice of the church has been muted when deciding the proper measures to enforce to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement says while they do appreciate the efforts taken by religious umbrella bodies like Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) and Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), the concerned clergy remains unsatisfied with the outcome from the meetings MCC and EAM held with the Special Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 Response.
The development prompted the concerned clerics to call for a press briefing in Lilongwe on Saturday to voice out their concerned against the planned lockdown.
The briefing was attended by Apostle Stewart Chawinga of Philadelphia Bible Church, Pastor John Chitenje of Acts Ministries, Evangelist Kalem Mphamba of Miracle Church of God and Apostle Joseph Manda of Word Impact Ministries.
In his remarks, Apostle Chituwi said their expectation was that the Church would be given a chance to deal with COVID-19 from a spiritual point of view and that Malawians would be properly considered on the way they would survive during the 21 days lock-Down.
“With this in mind we wish to say that there are errors in the way Government has handled some of the things concerning COVID-19 which need to be corrected. Though there is a common saying that silence is golden, but there comes a time that the same silence is interpreted as agreement towards whatsoever is being done by those in power,” said Chituwi.
“Being aware of the rights granted to us by the supreme laws of the land, we have a right to speak, protest and voice out our concerns in accordance with the laws of the land. This has to be done without fear and intimidation of any sort and in harmony with existing laws of the land,” he added.
He also wondered why government could go ahead to open Agricultural Division and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) and tobacco markets amid measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the season.
“The central markets too have been stopped. Our question is, why can’t the government enforce the same measures it is using at the Auction floors for our markets and religious gatherings?”
“For example Salima supplies almost all the fishes that is sold in Malawi, yet traveling between districts will be banned as per enforcement. Looking at how interrelated our markets are, we feel it may not be practical to implement the lock-Down without putting proper measures in place.
“We advise Government to lift the ban of markets and church gatherings enforce the social distancing, the pre-cautionary measures like disinfecting the markets and the most congested areas in Malawi. Provide the masks for the service providers and subsidize them or offer them for free to Malawian,” stressed Chituwi.
Chawinga reminded authorities at the Capital Hill that the needs of a human being are not just physical; they are also spiritual and psychological.
Chawinga said man needs God in order for him to grow up into a responsible and profitable citizen which we believe both the clergy and the government aims at.
“The Word of God is the sanitizer of the soul. Giving a human being soap to wash his hands but neglecting his soul is not completely solving the problem. A man still needs the Word of God which will minister to him holistically. For this reason we insist that churches and religious gatherings remain open so that they can be part of the solution to combat COVID-19 through prayers,” he said.
Chituwi, on the other hand, added that since pastoring is a profession, enforcing lockdown on churches would disrupt the livelihood of pastors.
He stressed that pastors, prophets and apostles serve to survive just like any other professional.
“The unlearned would contend that all the clergy are doing by calling for offering and tithes is for the financial gains, but that is not true. How many of the people in the world would resign in their working places to accept pastoring? How many people would prefer working as a Pastor and surviving on offerings than working for World Bank?
“Pastors are not in for money, they are in because God called them and God gave them the grace for the work. How will this Pastor survive without pastoring for 21 Days? Over 76 per cent of the clergy in Malawi are NOT on a steady paycheck by their respective churches. How would they feed their families and provide the necessary requirements during the lockdown? Remember that a Pastor is first a human being before becoming a Pastor,” Chituwi stated.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :