"In order to serve the Lord, we need to be humble. And even if I graduate here with a master’s degree, I need to be humble because it’s not my effort—it’s God that helped me to attain that."

Alexander Chirwa

Program Master of Divinity ('18)
Age 41
Ministering in Salima
Family Wife, one adopted son (15), one adopted daughter (13)

Alexander is a senior pastor at his church. He has seen God’s providence in his life from any early age: His mother tried to abort him three times, but God still preserved him, allowing him to grow and eventually serve Christ. He hopes to “show love to other people who are looking for people to love them”; he has already done this by adopting one girl and one boy.

$100 a month provides a pastor a scholarship to study at CAPA.

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Interview excerpt from September 2016


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Alexander shares about his dependence on God's grace

Alexander explains why his favorite book of the Bible is Judges.


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Interview with Alexander Chirwa

2017 2016 2015

Q1

Which class have you enjoyed the most and why?

Q2

How has your preaching changed in the last year?

Q3

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from CAPA?

Q4

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve had in school?

Q5

What are you looking forward to learning this year?

Q6

How have you seen God’s providence in your life? Do you have any stories of what God has done?

Q7

What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

Q8

Do you have any prayer requests?

Q1

What do you like to do during your free time?

Q2

In what ways has God grown you this past year and what has He been teaching you?

Q3

What are you looking forward to this year?

Q4

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

Q5

How has CAPA influenced your family life?

Q6

How has one book influenced your thinking and living in the past year?

Q7

What are your friendships at CAPA like?

Q8

What challenges have you faced in ministry overall?

Q9

What are your future plans for ministry?

Q10

If you could give a word of encouragement to your fellow Christians in Malawi, what would you say to them?

Q1

Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

Q2

How did you first hear about Jesus? How did you come to trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

Q3

Why did you decide to attend CAPA?

Q4

What’s your favorite thing about Malawi?

Q5

Any prayer requests you’d like to share?

Q1

Which class have you enjoyed the most and why?

I enjoyed the most the class of [Matt] Floreen—that’s biblical counseling. I enjoyed it very, very much because I feel like we don’t have much more counselors mainly in the line of biblical. A lot of counseling is psychological, yeah, but biblical counseling—it was my best, best subject I enjoyed at CAPA here.

Have you gotten to use that in ministry or in any way since you learned it?

Yeah, because we are dealing with people—every day we are with people and people have got different kinds of problems. Now for giving me that skill, how to counsel a person, not giving advice. Because first, I was giving advice—not counseling. But after I took that course, then I realized that the best way of helping someone who has got a problem is giving him or her a chance to solve his or her own problem, [and] just guiding, giving him guidelines.

Q2

How has your preaching changed in the last year?

Very much. Mainly, you know we use a lot of allegories, eisegesis, not like looking for what the author intended to know for us or to preach. We’ve been looking for what is like—want the Bible should speak what you want, not like learning what the author was in his mind as he was writing the Scriptures.

So, there was a lot of allegories in my preaching. But, since I came here, I started knowing how to study and read some books, and do some research. And yeah, and follow the structures, like introduction, and giving some points and allow the church to follow. I was just studying there in such preaching. I could not even bother whether people are following me or not. For me, it was just a feeling that I stood on the pulpit and I preached. But since I came here, my preaching style has changed and I’m better preacher now.

Q3

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from CAPA?

Humbleness. I see a lot of humbleness starting from our professors. And that has also helped the students to be humble. So, the first thing and most thing which I have learned here is humbleness. That in order to serve the Lord, we need to be humble. And even if I graduate here with a master’s degree, I need to be humble because it’s not my effort—it’s God that helped me to attain that.

Q4

What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve had in school?

To combine school and family and ministry, it has been a challenge. Ah, because I have a church and I pastor around 200 people, then having my family and assignments. During between modules, the professors give us a lot of work that we should do it at home. So, two weeks—10 days—I’m not at home and, you know, a lot of people are waiting for me and I go home and I find there are queues of people waiting for me. At the same time, I need to do my assignments. At the same time, I need to stay also with my family even though I [adopted] two kids. So, we are four in the house. So, I need also to give time to my wife and to the kids we have adopted.

You’ve adopted kids?

We have taken, okay we are keeping them, we are keeping. […] We are keeping them—here in Malawi, it’s not as in American adoption, you don’t [adopt]. But normally, we see someone is having challenges, then we help. Yeah, so I’m paying school fees for two kids. One is 15, the other one is 13. The boy is 15, the girl is 13.

Q5

What are you looking forward to learning this year?

This year… perfection? I’m looking for—I need all the things I’ve been learning here. I need now to be practicing and making perfect.

Q6

How have you seen God’s providence in your life? Do you have any stories of what God has done?

Yeah, on the point of finances, my tuition, my school fees. I’ve seen God because I was doubting I can manage up to this far, because I have some responsibilities, as I said. Here in Africa, we have a lot of, you know, responsibilities from my parents, my siblings, all those people—we depend to one another. So, it’s like you carry around [a] weight. So, I was doubting if I would manage to pay contribution. But God has been so faithful—I’ve been paying. And also because of some challenges, I applied for the study work [work-study]. So, they took me and I’m doing it.

What are you doing?

I’m cleaning the places, sweeping, cleaning the dorms, and cleaning the classes and helping other people at library. Yeah, so that’s—and helping also at the dining—mainly evening because that’s when the caterer doesn’t come for evening, so I help also my friends sharing food.

Q7

What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

Wow, my favorite book of the Bible is the book of Judges. Judges. And why?

There’s a story in the book of Judges that’s close to my story, and that’s the story of Jephthah. Yeah, because my father impregnated the sister-in- law. Then, according to our culture, that is a taboo. The sister of—that’s my auntie. Auntie’s sister—that’s my mother. Then, my mother was staying with her sister, then the husband of auntie impregnated my mother. And that pregnancy is me. And when people realize that—when my mother realize that, she decided to abort me.

So, she tried to abort me for three times. She went to the witch doctor. You know, here in Africa, we use much more, we believe more in witch doctors. So, she went to witch doctor, tried to take concoction to—she took concoction to abort me. But three times, God sustained me, God hold me inside. So, when I was born, my mother hated me so much that my father rejected me. So, it’s like I grew up with my grandparents in the village. So, it’s really in the village. And I suffered a lot. And it was a difficult situation. But by God’s grace, God has kept me, God has been helping me up to what I am today.

So, it’s like when I read the story of Jephthah that was rejected, I feel also that to me it was God that kept me. And today I’m a pastor—I’m pastoring a lot of people, I’m helping a lot of people, and I feel that God kept me for this purpose. So, when I read the book of Judges and many of the stories of Jephthah, I see that God has a purpose for each and every person no matter how you come to the earth—no matter how you are born, God has good plan for each and every person. So that book encouraged me so much.

That is just part of, half of my story. But, I passed through a lot of difficult situation starting from my mother wanting to kill me, my father rejected me. In fact, my father died when I was 17, but I never saw him—I just hear about him. So, it was a difficult situation that we cannot even imagine, but God has kept me. So that when I hear someone has been aborted, or when people are talking about abortion, I start feeling that God has got something for me. Because it was very possible for me to be aborted. But God kept me, and I know that he has got a purpose, and it’s what I’m doing now that I’m a pastor now.

Q8

Do you have any prayer requests?

Pray for me and my wife—as I told you, we don’t have kids. With the situation, the life I’ve passed through, I always am praying that God should give me my own child so that I should show love to that child because I’ve never experienced the word “love” in my life since I was born. Now, I feel like if God can give me a child, I can pour my heart showing that person love. So that, at least. Thank God because I’m alive.

[Also pray for] the growth of ministry. We are expecting that God should give us more responsibility and that we should continue serving Him better. And I’m also thinking that God should give me more responsibility for other kids. In future, I’m thinking about those kids that are just moving around in those streets. I’m feeling that passion, that those people need also to see our love. That’s—I’ve been praying for it, that when I’m settled I should help also those kids, so that they should also see the love of God; that even though they’re in the streets—they’re not cared for—that God cares for them. Sure.

So pray for us. Pray for me and my wife, that God should give us our own kids, and that God should enlarge our ministry, and at the same time, the dreams that I’ve been having, that at least I should show love to other people who are looking for people to love them. That should be fulfilled before I die.

Q1

What do you like to do during your free time?

When I am on free time, I love swimming and…because I stay close to the lake, I like swimming, and I like riding a bicycle. Yeah.

Q2

In what ways has God grown you this past year and what has He been teaching you?

God has been helping me be a servant-leader. I understand that I am in this ministry for the purpose of serving other people. First, [I thought] that people need to serve us as pastors. But when I started coming here at CAPA, and digging the Word in depth, I've realized that I am a servant. I need also to be humble and to serve people.

Q3

What are you looking forward to this year?

Yeah, this year, I'm waiting that I'll grow more deeper in the insight of the Word of God. I am expecting that the area of knowledge, knowing God better should grow. And I expect that at the end of this year, I'll have more knowledge. I'll have more understanding about God.

Q4

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

I’ve realized in this field, there’s a lot of things which you don’t know. You need other people [who] have more knowledge than you to assist you, to help you. So these professors, the visiting professors, has been helping us a lot. Rick Holland. The time he came, I really saw that my life – it was worth it to come here [to CAPA]. It has assisted me in so many areas better to understand the Word of God, and I thank God that I am here and the visiting professors come. And I believe that I will also take this knowledge to other people because as we interact with them my life has never been the same, has been transformed.

In what ways has your life been transformed?
Mainly, it’s how can I preach the Word. At first, I was preaching, but in my preaching, I could not concentrate on the Word of God. It’s like I was just preaching whatever comes in my mind, whether it’s Word of God or not, I could just preach an hour. But when I came here, I realized that I need to preach the Word, not my feelings, not what I want, not what I've heard, maybe from TV or from wherever, but I need to preach the Word of God from the Bible.

Q5

How has CAPA influenced your family life?

Family life – I’m married. I’m married to Ellen. We have been together for 13 years, but when I went to the subject of marriage, I realized that I need to have a agape commitment, whereby I need to go back to my wife and have some things, do some things in agreement.

As a pastor, I need to make my family as an example, so I had a lot of issues as a human being: issues of submission, issues of love, yeah. So, when I attended that course, it changed my life.

Q6

How has one book influenced your thinking and living in the past year?

One other book? The books written by John MacArthur is very sound in doctrine. Wherever I find it on a shelf, I take it and read it because I understand that John MacArthur is [a] person who has vast knowledge in ministry, and he has talked about a lot of the issues which has been problems in our community, and he tried his best to come out with the sound doctrine.

Q7

What are your friendships at CAPA like?

Friendships? With my friends, it has also been very good. It has helped me to realize that I can also live in harmony with friends different denominations – some pastors from Baptist church, and others from Presbyterian, and I'm from Pentecostal. So it has also helped me to have friends with new friends here. I'm not from this town; I'm coming from outside this town, and I've also found friends from this town, that is from Lilongwe, and other parts also who are coming here to study.

Q8

What challenges have you faced in ministry overall?

First is finance. As Malawi, our country is very poor. Yeah, so, for the ministry to become vibrant, you need some financial resources. So the first challenge which we meet is resources, finances, that you can have something which can help you — for you to do ministry better, such as books. To buy books here is expensive, to buy materials like Internet is expensive, and yeah, so that’s the first challenge.

Second challenge is issue of commitment. People are very busy. As I said, our country, things are very hard so people work very hard in order to make [a living]. So that’s again, it’s another challenge to ministry because you find that people are very busy. You want to teach them, but people are busy.

Q9

What are your future plans for ministry?

Wow. My future plans for ministry… I'm a teacher. I feel that my calling is teaching. My future plan is when I finish this study here, I will also try to establish a way I can impart the knowledge of God. Because I've found that a lot of pastors out there, they need the knowledge that I have found here. So I want to teach there.

Q10

If you could give a word of encouragement to your fellow Christians in Malawi, what would you say to them?

A word of encouragement is that knowledge is power. We do better things when we have knowledge. It's not good [to] just rush in the ministry and saying things which looks like it is biblical but is not biblical, because we are accountable to God in the end. So it is better to be trained first and understand the Bible first and let you [be] helped first before you go out and start helping other people.

Q1

Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

Alexander Msolizachirwa. I’m from Salima, about 100 kilometers from Lilongwe. It takes about one and a half hours to come here. My mother was staying with her sister, and my aunt’s husband decided to impregnate his in-law. My mother decided to abort me, she tried three times, but by the God’s grace I survived all those three times. My mother’s parents took my father to court, and he pleaded guilty and he paid me, so my father rejected me, and my mother didn’t want me.

Q2

How did you first hear about Jesus? How did you come to trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

I went to church, but I was doing sins, I was smoking marijuana, because of peer pressure. I realized those were bad things. That’s when I knew my heart needed Christ. I could feel that something is wrong, but I could not know how I could come out from that. Until I was in Form 2, people from Lilongwe came to our school and preached, and I realized I really need to be saved and I accepted Christ. And I even remember the date: 19th December 1984. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. And I started growing in the Lord.

Q3

Why did you decide to attend CAPA?

When I saw this on the Internet and said, “Let me try to apply,” and they accepted to me. And what I am doing in Salima is I am a teacher, I try to organize small group, those who can’t afford to go to Bible school. So I am the principal of that small school, about 25 students. I teach them God’s Word and after they finish their courses, then they will be given to churches and they will be their pastors. So I thought that this is an opportunity to get to come here so that I can further my education, so that I can have more knowledge in order to help more people better.

According to the mission statement of CAPA, it grips my heart. And I want to train minister so that they can train others. And the way they emphasis on spirituality, I thought that this was a good school

Q4

What’s your favorite thing about Malawi?

I am a Malawian and I love my country. I’ve been serving in many countries in Africa and Malawi is my favorite. Where I come from, there is a certain dance which our society dances, we call it Malipenga, that is my favorite dance. When I was young I was participating, I was dancing, but now because I am becoming fat. [laughs] But I love Malawi.

Q5

Any prayer requests you’d like to share?

First thing is that you know three years is a long journey, so my first request for prayers is that God should give me strength to go through [the M.Div program]. I can see it’s not easy, but it’s manageable. I need to rely on the grace of God to go through these 3 years.

On the ministry, we need the grace of God. People are very difficult animals, more than taming dogs, more than taming cats. You know, a human being is a very difficult person to live with. So we need the grace of God, to be sufficient on us, to be good leaders. We are humans, sometimes we can error, Lord should give us patience that we should be patient and that God will help us live a good life each and every day. We are the examples and they expect us to live a high standard life, so to live high standard life, we need God’s grace.

I got married in 2001, and I was expecting that when I was married I would have kids, but up to this time I don’t have a kid. We have been praying to God but we are still hoping that one day God will give us kids. My desire is that if God gives me a child, I will show the love. If God cannot give us biologically, when we reach 50, we will adopt kids.