“After studying CAPA, I have come to understand that my experiences mean nothing. What matters most is the teaching of the Bible. The Bible must inform my experiences, and not my experiences informing the Word of God.”

Dennis Banda

Program Master of Divinity ('18)
Age 36
Ministering in Chinsapo, Lilongwe
Family Parents, sisters, two brothers

Dennis is a full-time pastor at a new church in a community saturated with other religions. Through his changed lifestyle and consistent Bible studies, he led most of his family to know the Lord. Dennis desires to be used powerfully by God in his community.

$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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Dennis shares about the challenges of ministry.

Dennis shares about his recent church plant.


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Interview with Dennis Banda

2017 2016 2015

Q1

Which class have you liked the best, and why?

Q2

How has your preaching changed in the past year?

Q3

What is the most important lesson you have learned from CAPA?

Q4

What has been your biggest challenge in school?

Q5

What are you looking forward to learning this year?

Q6

What are some ways you have seen God’s providence in your life?

Q7

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

Q8

Do you have any prayer requests that you would like to share?

Q9

Do you have any other prayer requests?

Q10

You grew up going to church, but you were not saved then. How were you saved?

Q1

What do you like to do during your free time?

Q2

In what ways has the Lord grown you this past year?

Q3

What are you looking forward to this year?

Q4

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

Q5

What is your favorite memory at CAPA so far?

Q6

What are your friendships at CAPA like?

Q7

What is one book from this past year that has impacted you?

Q8

What challenges have you faced in ministry so far?

Q9

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

Q1

Are you pastoring a church right now?

Q2

Was that your first time being a pastor? How did you first decide you wanted to become a pastor?

Q3

What are some challenges you have faced in ministry?

Q4

Do you have any future ministry plans?

Q5

How did you first come to believe that Jesus died for your sins?

Q6

How did you see your life change after [becoming a Christian]?

Q7

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Q8

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Q1

Which class have you liked the best, and why?

[laughs] I would say I like all the classes, but the class that have challenged me a lot, I would say, is theology class because it has changed my theology. Yeah, and I really appreciate my coming to CAPA because, before coming here, I thought I knew the Bible; but the moment I started attending the theology class is [laughs] when I understood that I do not know the Bible. Yeah.

Can you give some examples of what you used to think about God and what has changed since then?

Oh, yeah… many issues. For instance, I was much more into experiences, yeah. My experiences—not what the Bible teaches. But now, after studying CAPA, I have come to understand that my experiences mean nothing. What matters most is the teaching of the Bible. The Bible must inform my experiences, and not my experiences informing the Word of God. Yeah.

Q2

How has your preaching changed in the past year?

Oh, [laughs] my preaching has changed tremendously because, before coming to CAPA, I used to preach without even bringing the Bible, [laughs] yeah. But now, you know what? Before Sunday, I take—I invest a lot of time in studying the Word of God, praying. And when it comes Sunday, I am sure that I have done my part, and I expect the Spirit of God to help me to expose the Word to the people—and I’ve seen even my life growing spiritually. As I spend time studying the Word of God, praying, my life is growing spiritually. And even the church as well—I can see and, even, there are people who comes to me; they tell me about the messages that I preach on Sunday, that they are exposing even the idols that are in their hearts. People—they are changing, they are growing spiritually.

Q3

What is the most important lesson you have learned from CAPA?

Oh! I would say, at the moment, I would say—integrity. CAPA has taught me integrity—that as a servant of God, that as Christians, we must have integrity. At first, it was hard when doing assignments. Yeah, there were times that I would even write that I’ve read, while I didn’t read anything. But I have come to appreciate that integrity is very important; it’s a Christian value. So yeah, it’s something that I appreciate a lot, integrity. And also, submitting even to those who are in authority; submitting to leaders is also another thing that I’ve also learned from CAPA. As leaders, we ought to submit to other leaders as well. Yeah.

Q4

What has been your biggest challenge in school?

I would say [laughs] the biggest challenge…um…I’m not sure what is the biggest challenge that I’ve met here.

You can list a few if you do not want to try to think of the biggest.

[laughs] Okay, yeah, yeah. Um…yeah, some of the challenges that I’ve met…yeah, that is why I am slow to say that it’s the biggest challenge. CAPA is heavy subsidized, yeah, but you see, as students, we come from different backgrounds, yeah. And for me, even it is heavy subsidized, but I am still struggling somehow, yeah—so that would be a challenge. But I thank God because CAPA has given us an opportunity to work, so it’s not—I wouldn’t say that is the biggest challenge because I am on work-study. Yeah.

Q5

What are you looking forward to learning this year?

Oh! This year, we are, we have a new course: apologetics. Yeah, so I’m looking forward to learn from this class, apologetics. We are being taught that it is about defending our faith. Yeah, so it’s something that I’m excited, and I’m looking forward to it because where I’m staying, we have Jehovah Witnesses, we have Catholics, we have even Muslims, yeah. We have also some who believe in ancestral spirits, so I hope this class will help me a lot, how to defend our faith in the community where I’m currently serving as a pastor. Yes.

Q6

What are some ways you have seen God’s providence in your life?

[sighs] Yeah, I would say, like, coming to CAPA, there was a point that I wanted to stop my studies, but because of the work-study that I’ve been given, yeah, to me, it’s providence.

Q7

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

The favorite book of the Bible, I would say, is Ephesians, yeah, because it talks about who I was and who I am—I was dead in sin, but by God’s grace, through faith alone, I’m saved. Yes.

Q8

Do you have any prayer requests that you would like to share?

Oh! Yeah, yeah. This is concerning the work that I am doing in Chinsapo, Lilongwe. Yeah, as I indicated earlier on, […] I am planting a church, and it is upon my heart that I see people coming to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, being saved, and also to see people who are coming to church growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yeah, that community is upon my heart, and it is my prayer that the time that I’ll be in that community, God by His grace, that He should use my presence there, He should use me to bring a lot of people into His kingdom, as I faithfully preach and teach His Word.

You said this is in a community with Jehovah’s Witness and Muslims and people who follow ancestral worship—what is it like working in that type of community?

Yeah, it’s scary. Those who are in ancestral worship—when I’m, like, preaching in public, I can’t preach the way I can preach in other places. What I mean is that I can’t mention that what they are doing is sin; what I do is that I just preach the Word without mentioning the sin that they are doing. Yeah, so…that is another challenge. And the people, they are not friendly because they consider me as someone who would like to destroy their system, what they have believed for so long, yeah.

And for the Muslims, it’s also scary because I remember there was this other time that I was visiting house-to- house, sharing the gospel, and I remember this other time that I got to this house, and the man just chased me away. He told me that, “I don’t want to hear what you have brought. We are Muslims!” So yeah. So it’s hard sometimes; it’s hard sometimes. Yeah.

Q9

Do you have any other prayer requests?

Another prayer request is concerning my dad because my mom is saved, but my dad is not yet saved. Yeah, and it is my prayer that, by God’s grace, that he come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because he is not yet saved.

Was your mom saved before you were?

No, [smiles] I was saved, and God used me to save—to lead her to Jesus. Yes. When I was saved, by that time, even my mom and dad, they used to go to church. Even myself, [although] I used to go to church, I was not born again. So…when I told them that I’m saved, they didn’t understand because they were going to church, I was also going to church, so they didn’t understand the meaning of being born again. So they were angry at me, and they even told me that I should leave the house.

In the church that I was going at that particular moment, they didn’t believe in second birth. Yeah, so once they heard that you are born again, they considered you as someone who has lost his mind, and they would even excommunicate you from the church. Yeah, so it’s what happened; and my parents, they were angry, and they didn’t want even me to be staying in their house. But I started praying for them.

After a year, then they accepted that I was born again because they have also seen a change even in my speech, even in my lifestyle. Then I proposed if we could have a Bible study, which they accepted. We started that Bible study in their home. Then my mom and dad, and even brother and sisters, they were attending that Bible study, and it was through that Bible study that my mother, my brothers, and my sisters got born again. Yeah.

What is your current relationship with your dad? Do you still have those Bible studies?

Yeah; at the moment, because he stays up in the North, and I’m here in the central region, we just communicate on the phone. Yeah, he’s in the northern part of Malawi—it’s where he’s working at the moment.

Q10

You grew up going to church, but you were not saved then. How were you saved?

Yeah, [laughs] it’s very interesting. I was saved when I was at secondary school in my Form 3. What happened: At our school, there was a group of Christian students who used to evangelize on campus. So these people kept coming to me, sharing the gospel. At first, I kept on resisting them because I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t believe even that the Bible is the Word of God. And even the good news that they were sharing to me—it didn’t make any sense to me, and I thought these guys, they were just out of their mind. I had nothing to do with what they were telling me.

But after some time—I remember I was alone—I was in the hostel, and I had a great conviction of sin. I believed those messages that I’d been hearing in the past started to make sense. I knew that I was a sinner, and I knew that the solution was to make a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then I remember it was 1 P.M. I went out of my bed. I knew one of the born-again Christians on campus. I went to him, I explained what I was going through, and asked him if [he] could lead me to Christ. And because at our school, there was bullying a lot, and he was in Form 2, I was in Form 3, and he was thinking that I just wanted to tease him, bully him. So he took me to a Form 4 guy. […] He’s the one who led me to Christ. Yes, it was around 1 A.M. Yes.

Q1

What do you like to do during your free time?

A lot of things that I like to do. During my free time, I’ll say watching movies. Yeah, especially Christian movies. Yeah, films. Like, after studying, yeah sometimes I also like to listen to songs. Yeah.

What type of music?
I like local music. Yeah, Malawian local music. And also, hymns, yeah. It also reminds me my college days. Yeah, when I was at college, we used to sing in chapel, yeah, every morning. So it reminds me of my college days. Yeah.

We heard you guys singing in chapel yesterday. It was beautiful.
Thank you. Yeah, it is what we like, and it is part of the Malawian culture. Yeah, wherever you go, you find people singing. At funeral, we sing; during weddings, we sing; so in church, we like to sing. And not only to sing, but also to dance. Yeah, it’s what we like. [laughs]

Q2

In what ways has the Lord grown you this past year?

Oh, yeah, especially in the area of preaching. Yeah, I feel I'm getting better and better, yeah, I can see the way I'm preaching these days is not the way I used to be. Yeah, I'm getting better and better, because of the skills I'm receiving here at CAPA. I mean the truths here, the material, the teachings, yeah, that I'm receiving here at CAPA. Even my church is also benefiting a lot, yeah, because I'm giving them Bible-based messages.

Q3

What are you looking forward to this year?

We have to study Hebrew, yeah, and it's a language which I wanted also to learn. Yeah, last year, we studied the Greek, and we are told that next year, [which] is this year, we'll start Hebrew, and we're looking forward to learning this language. Because by learning this language, it will help me to preach, especially Old Testament, yeah. So I'm looking forward to this year.

Q4

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

Yeah. I'll say Pastor Matt Floreen. Yeah, he's a pastor at IBF [International Bible Fellowship] Church, and also, he's also taught a class at CAPA. I remember last module he's teaching us marriage and family counseling. Yeah, so, he's the one who I'll see. He's my mentor, because we will meet almost every month. We meet, going to his house. Yeah, we spend hours talking issues. Yeah, challenges, things I am going through.

Q5

What is your favorite memory at CAPA so far?

Oh, yeah. There are many favorite memories here at CAPA. One of them I'll say is taking homiletics class with pastor Brian [Biedebach]. After [we] preach, he will show us what we did well and what we did not do well. Yeah, so that was my very memorable time I experienced at CAPA, yeah, having a class with Pastor Brian Biedebach, though he is in the States. Yeah, I miss him a lot.

Q6

What are your friendships at CAPA like?

Yeah, my friendship with professors and fellow students — I'd say it is growing. Because we are kind of people from different regions, families, and even backgrounds. At first, it was tough. But now, I'm getting to know these professors, and even my fellow students. Yeah, so I would say my relationship with professors and the students is growing. Yeah, getting better.

Q7

What is one book from this past year that has impacted you?

Oh yeah, there are many books that I’ve read this year. Especially, um, I’ve just forgotten the the title of the book. [pause] I remember… it is Sweetheart for the Lifetime.

By Wayne Mack?
Yeah, yeah by Mack. I like that book, and it has challenged my life in many ways. It speaks about marriage. Honestly speaking, I had like wrong views of marriage, but that book has helped me a lot to have a biblical view of marriage.

Q8

What challenges have you faced in ministry so far?

Oh, yeah,, the challenges that we face that, especially the area that where we are ministering, there are other churches which they don't preach the gospel, the true gospel. They preach prosperity gospel, social gospel, yeah, and there are also false prophets, and… that environment is difficult. And for people to come to a church where you're preaching the true gospel, um, it's not easy. But I think God, it is Him who brings the light to people.

Q9

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

I'll say it's good to know the Word of God, because many people, they are trusting more people. They're trusting so-called "man of God" [the pastor], not the Word of God. So it's very important to trust in the Word of God, not so-called the "man of God." Because God has made Himself known to us through His Word, so it's good to know His Word and also to stay in the Word.

Q1

Are you pastoring a church right now?

Yes, in fact, I planted the church this year in March, yes…within Lilongwe—in Chizapo. I have just planted it myself, just when I was about to graduate from Africa Bible College. I did my Bachelor’s degree there in biblical studies.

It’s when I was attending Pastor Brian Biedebach’s class [in my Advanced Diploma] that I decided to take the challenge of planting a church, because I discovered that in the area, there is not many people who are exposing the word of God, yeah.

I saw a need in Chizapo, so that is why I decided to plant the church so that should reach to the people, and also be able to expose the word of God to the people.

Q2

Was that your first time being a pastor? How did you first decide you wanted to become a pastor?

Yeah, since 2004 up to 2011, I was in Mzuzu. Yes, I was pastoring a church, but before that I had no Bible training. So, it was very hard to pastor a church without a Bible trainer.

Well, I… I would say, God just gave me a desire, because I received Jesus Christ when I was at Sunday school, and when I received Jesus Christ as my Savior, I had a desire to preach the Good News, and that desire started growing, yeah.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a pastor?

I would say I was around 17.

Q3

What are some challenges you have faced in ministry?

The first challenge that I faced… I would say a lack of training, yes. It was a very big challenge because it was hard for me to prepare a sermon, yeah. It’s hard, you have a passion, but to prepare a sermon was very hard, and how to go to church, and how to find it hard to expose the word of God to the people whom I love.

Yeah, so that was like… breaking my heart, yeah. Really. And the other thing, here in Malawi, lack of financial support. Because we have a lot of people who have the passion to share the word of God, but they have limited resources. So I would say, yeah, resources, yes.

Q4

Do you have any future ministry plans?

At the moment, I have dedicated my life to planting the church, and also to see that church grow. I’m also involved in other ministries—IBF Church [where Brian Biedebach, Jim Ayres, and Gideon Manda attend and serve] has also a children’s ministry in Chizapo. So I do go there on Thursdays to help teaching the kids, yeah.

Q5

How did you first come to believe that Jesus died for your sins?

I first came to believe that Jesus died for my sins when I was at secondary school. There was an organization by the name, [Student Christian] Organization of Malawi, and they used to meet at school and they were also zealous to share their faith and some of the guys kept on coming to me to share the word of God. They used to tell me that Jesus died for me—not only me, but the whole world. And at first, [smiling] it didn’t make any sense, until one day that I was convinced in my heart that surely Jesus died for my sins. And that day, I made a decision to surrender my life to Christ.

Q6

How did you see your life change after [becoming a Christian]?

Yeah… on that very same day that I received Jesus Christ, I realized that Jesus really died for my sins. I had peace in my heart, and I had assurance within me that if I die today, [smiling] I am going to heaven. Yeah, I have met a lot of things, trials… but God has been seeing me through those trials.

Q7

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

1) Well… [laughs] That’s good, because, as I told you that I’m planting a church—I would say I’ve already planted it, and it is still small—at the moment 10 [people]—and… it’s not easy. It’s hard, but it is possible, by the grace of God, yeah. So, you can assist me praying for the church that I am planting, that I remain focused, yeah.

2) And, you can also praying for some people who can stand with me and giving me advice, yeah. Because at the moment, I would say… there is one pastor who is standing with me. I meet with him almost every month, yeah. But now he is out of the country—he is Pastor Matt [Floreen, a missionary pastor at IBF Church]. Yeah, so… you can also be praying for him, that he would continue standing with me. Yes, helping me as he’s doing at the moment, yes.

Q8

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

The favorite thing about Malawi… [laughs] Peace! I like the peace that we have in Malawi. Yeah, we have never experienced war.