When I first heard about the Malawi Reformation Network (MRN) a few months ago, I was intrigued by its vision for promoting the growth and multiplication of solid Reformed churches in Malawi. During the past dozen years, I’d witnessed first-hand a similar ministry paradigm bear abundant fruit to the north in Uganda. The Church of Uganda benefited from a series of gifted indigenous ministers who earned advanced degrees from a Reformed seminary in Michigan. When they returned to their homeland, the ministries of these young leaders were considerably enhanced. In addition, they positively influenced their Ugandan peers. Some were able to similarly pursue further theological training in North America.
I’m impressed by MRN founder Confex Makhalira’s dedication and commitment to returning to Malawi to support the planting and nurture of confessionally Reformed churches throughout his homeland. His recently completed studies at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and internship at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan have uniquely equipped Confex to serve as a fruitful catalyst to fellow believers in Malawi.
According to Operation World, 76% of Malawi’s people self-identify as Christian. One-fifth of its population is evangelical. Worldwide, more Christians are alive today than ever before. Exponential growth has occurred in the “Global South.” While the Christian population percentage has stagnated in North America and declined in most of Europe since 1970, the worldwide church has flourished in parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. Africa’s growth accelerated dramatically around 1970—shortly after countries gained independence from European colonial powers. Church governance became indigenous, and the stigma of Christianity as a religion imposed by foreign occupiers began to subside. As with the Samaritan woman at the well, localized witnessing boosted response.
According to data from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in Hamilton, Massachusetts, in 1970, 57% of the world’s Christians lived in the Global North; 43% were from the South. Today, the Global South is home to 66% of the world’s Christians, compared to 34% from the North. This is a huge historical shift!
In 2018, Africa surpassed South America as the continent with the largest Christian population:
- 630 million – Africa
- 601 million – Latin America
- 571 million – Europe
- 388 million – Asia
- 277 million – North America
- 29 million – Oceania
Although the total number of African Christians now exceeds that of any other continent, more than half of Africa’s 1.3 billion people remain unreached.
While the number of professing believers continues to increase in Malawi, many congregations there seem to focus more on the prosperity gospel’s unbiblical preoccupation with success. I’m inspired by MRN’s commitment to encouraging Spirit-led adherence to the tenets of fully Biblical Christianity through the faithful preaching of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ as the only genuine, eternal hope for every person in Malawi and beyond!
MRN Board Member