Preachers warn against locking down Malawi churches: ‘We are essential service providers’

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.

Apostle Francis Zoe Chituwi (r) stresses that preachers cannot survive without Sunday collections and tithes from their followers – Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
The news conference of Pentecostal pastors and apostles.- Photo by Watipatso Mzungu – Nyasa Times

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.

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Thipodo
10 months ago

Is a church an essential service provider? Oooh what a gigantic lie!!! What does the church gathering provide? Is entertainment an essential service? By the way, why are you fake pastors not healing covid as you claim to be healers? Shame on you.

Kukonda chopereka basi. Mukhaula chaka chino aneneli onyenga inu.

Zoona zake
Zoona zake
10 months ago

If u are Prophets like self proclaim why dont u fight this corona virus or use ur so called anointed oil as hand sanitizers..anthu okuba inu.

Nana
Nana
10 months ago

Mbava izi. Just wangt people to give offering and tithe so that they can enrich themselves.

lameck
10 months ago

God did not send these people who made themselves men of God. God sends only man Prophet at a time in a generation.
The only Prophet send by God today is Kacou Philippe.
This small preacher tells us the truth about these people.
https://youtu.be/mV4rgA1Ev60

Franc
Franc
10 months ago

The Fight Against Covid-19 requires Corrective efforts from all the stakeholders… Which the Church is part of. Closing the Church doors may breed a challenge worse than Covid-19
be blessed!

Muroma Mmora
Muroma Mmora
10 months ago

So the so called ” men of god” don’t know that they don’t know. Go read history of the Church, during the Roman Empire Christians were conducting prayers in the ir houses.
Church is not the building but the first Church is the heart. If you haven’t taught your congregants to pray on their own then you have failed.
Your actions amounts to the problem and not solution.
The better you remained silent.
Indeed ignorance is expensive.

Joku joku
Joku joku
10 months ago
Reply to  Muroma Mmora

Indeed the 1st church is the heart but outwardly the building is the 1st. You can’t see someone going into his own heart to pray rather you can see one going to church nor mosques.

Tito
Tito
10 months ago

Go and find jobs; no scriptures tells you that; all Jesus christ Apostles worked even the bible teaches ; if you don’t work you don’t eat end of. The Apostles preached and worked . Bible calls you dumb dogs greedy dogs. If you are men of God cast out the demons of coronavirus otherwise you are thieves

Zio ine
Zio ine
10 months ago

The biggest money making enterprise where preachers use bible verses to threaten people to give. Tithe and offering are the only old bible culture that christians of today have adopted.

Chizaso
Chizaso
10 months ago

This is the stupidity of the highest order. you need to consult before you issue such remarks. have well-respected servants of God in Malawi the ; likes of Apostle Ndovie, Apostle Mbewe and many other well-established churches. Who are these boys making noise here? No, the procedure has not been followed. Your concern is immature and you have exposed yourselves how shallow-minded you young men of God can be. The first thing is why come on public why not follow through your concern to the well-established mother bodies we have in Malawi. But you are seeking attention and you go… Read more »

Tembo
Tembo
10 months ago

False prophets who make money from vulnerable people.

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