Being a ‘Mthenga Wabwino’ to reach the unreached



The Yao people group is important to the work of Mthenga Wabwino

An increasing challenge for the Church in Malawi, as it is with many countries, is how to address the increasing challenge of unreached people groups.The challenge can come from other major world religions, from traditional religions or from people with no religious affiliation or seemingly no interest in the spiritual at all.

So how do we meet this challenge? The answer, certainly in Malawi, is through the local churches and through partnering through the SIM Malawi ministry Mthenga Wabwino (Chichewa for ‘Good Messenger’).

“Unreached people groups in Malawi at present account for around four or five million people, about a quarter of the total population,” said Mthenga Wabwino’s Co-ordinator, Nico Bontembal.

“We have people groups such as a Yao, those involved with other major religions and the Gule Wamkulu animist sect which is prevalent in the country. All of these present their own challenges and we have to work to overcome these.”

Set up in 2005, Mthenga Wabwino looks to support and encourage local churches to reach out to their unreached neighbours. It does this by organising training seminars, producing and translating good-quality educational materials and also by holding meetings where pastors and other church leaders can come together to share ideas and benefit from mutual support.

One of the main areas of work for Mthenga Wabwino is known as ‘Training of Trainers’, a seminar for pastors from different geographic areas across Malawi who will then go back to the area in which they live to pass on their new knowledge to others in that region.

“Training of Trainers is a good example of how the organisation seeks to work,” said the Nico.

The animist group Gule Wamkulu roam the countryside

“We bring together a group of pastors who have been nominated for training by a groups of churches in a number of areas. They come together for anything from two to five days and we provide training, encouragement, and access to resources to give them a better understanding of the challenges to be faced and how Christians can engage with, and minister to, unreached people.

“At the end of the workshop they go back to help to their pastors and church leaders around where they live to take part in local training sessions which they run,”

So while, in many ways, the challenge of unreached groups seem insurmountable, Mthenga Wabwino is proving that there are creative ways to engage with them and is seeing some success in people being brought into God’s Kingdom though its work of encouraging local churches to meet that challenge.


Supported by Project 96653 ‘Mthenga Wabwino’