“One thing that I have learned through the prison ministry is that those are God’s children.”

Lewis Chirwa

Program Master of Divinity ('18)
Age 39
Ministering in Nkhata Bay
Family Wife and two children (8, 1)

Lewis serves in prison ministry and youth ministry. He loves CAPA because it is centered around the Bible, and its courses cause him to examine his own life in accordance with the Bible.

$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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Lewis shares what he has learned from serving in prison ministry.


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Interview with Lewis Chirwa

2017 2016 2015

Q1

How did you hear about CAPA?

Q2

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

Q3

What has been your favorite class at CAPA?

Q4

What have been the most challenging courses?

Q5

What are you looking forward to most in school this coming year?

Q6

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible?

Q7

Do you have any prayer requests?

Q1

What is your hometown like? Did you grow up in Lilongwe?

Q2

What's your favorite memory at CAPA from last year?

Q3

What has been your favorite class so far?

Q4

What's one attribute of God that you personally experienced this year?

Q5

What wisdom has benefited your ministry at church?

Q6

How has CAPA influenced your own family relationships?

Q7

In what ways has the Lord grown you this year?

Q8

What are you looking forward to this year?

Q9

What challenges have you faced in your ministry?

Q10

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

Q1

How did you decide to become a pastor? What is your current ministry?

Q2

What do you think God has taught you through the prison ministry?

Q3

What do you think are some challenges you’ve faced in ministry?

Q4

What are your future ministry plans?

Q5

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

Q6

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Q7

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Q1

How did you hear about CAPA?

I heard it from my professor at [African Bible College], Brian Biedebach.

Q2

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

Something that I like about CAPA is that it’s ground in the Word. I enjoy being taught by my professors in these courses whereby the Bible is the center.

Q3

What has been your favorite class at CAPA?

I like the biblical counseling courses. I especially liked when they talked about anger; it showed me the anger in my heart I didn’t know was there. These courses help you search your own heart.

Q4

What have been the most challenging courses?

Hebrew and Greek have been the most challenging—oh, it’s been very tough.

I’ve been in school without working, and it’s very tough on my family.

Q5

What are you looking forward to most in school this coming year?

I’m looking forward to apologetics. I’ve been looking forward to learning them for a long time.

Q6

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible?

Yes—Matthew. Matthew 6:33 is my favorite verse: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Q7

Do you have any prayer requests?

For my family, for myself, I’m looking forward that when I graduate, I get hired at a church—all things with the ministry. I help out in prison ministry and with the youth.

Q1

What is your hometown like? Did you grow up in Lilongwe?

I would say, yes. Much of my years have been in Lilongwe, that is, the town of Lilongwe, but I come from the northern part of Malawi. And I lived there for the first ten years of my life, and then I moved over to Lilongwe, so from that time, I've been in Lilongwe. There's some differences in terms of food and [clothing].

Q2

What's your favorite memory at CAPA from last year?

One of them is that I like the way the material is being taught at CAPA. I would say it's very rich and so nourishing to me as a student, as well as equipping me so that I am able to relay that information to others. For instance, I will tell you that I will use what I've been taught here to teach at my church.

Q3

What has been your favorite class so far?

Marriage and counseling. Family, marriage, and counseling.

Q4

What's one attribute of God that you personally experienced this year?

I would say I'm so much pursuing holiness – the holiness of the Lord and His mercy and grace because I know that I cannot survive on my own and that there is nothing I can do if I go by myself. So the Lord is at the center of my life.

Q5

What wisdom has benefited your ministry at church?

I teach Sunday school and I do a bit of counseling. I counsel the youth as well as those who are about to get married.

Q6

How has CAPA influenced your own family relationships?

It has changed my relationships so much. There were some things that I took for granted. There were some things I thought could never be changed. But right now with the classes that I am taking, they have changed so much about my perception about myself, my wife, my children, as well as my greater family and my neighbors.

Q7

In what ways has the Lord grown you this year?

I would say the Lord has grown me in wisdom, and how I'm relating with my family and how I'm relating with my church and the members of my church.

Q8

What are you looking forward to this year?

This year, I'm mainly looking forward to serving the Lord in other dimensions. Like, right now I'm working with families because I do young couples ministry. Those who are young in marriage. And right now, we are trying to put up a conference where those couples will come together within our church or within our denomination so that we are able to share experiences and teach one another. So that's one thing I'm looking forward to growing and imparting others as well as learning from others.

Q9

What challenges have you faced in your ministry?

Several challenges. I would say one of them is lack of cooperation from other stakeholders. You know, sometimes when you are teaching things that people are not familiar to, there is a lot of resistance, so that has brought a lot of challenges.

In addition to that, there is a challenge in terms of finances, to get materials and staff and get things running, like another ministry I am involved in where we go about ministering in the prisons – the lack of resources to reach as many prisons as we can. So that’s another challenge.

The other challenge, I would say, in terms of the location that I live in, it is such a location that needs the Lord. It needs intervention from the Lord. So that’s a challenge from within the vicinity.

Q10

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

I would say they should not be relaxed in terms of how we serve the Lord, in terms of how we believe in His word, in terms of how we go about with our everyday business, in terms of serving the Lord. I'll even say we should not be taken away by the teaching that have just come awash whereby there is a lot of things that are said that are most of them are unbiblical. So that should be taken away from our lives. Actually we should go about by saying we should test every spirit.

Q1

How did you decide to become a pastor? What is your current ministry?

Ah, I would say, pastoral work is on my heart. Despite that right now I am not pastoring a church, but pastoral work is on my heart. Ah, for instance, in my church, I lead the youth, which, in your context you say, youth pastor. The youth will range from 14 years to 30. I also teach Sunday school, yes. And I’ve been working with the youth for over 15 years, yes.

So then what do you usually do for the youth ministry? Do you go through a book in the Bible?

Yes, we do Bible studies and counseling, and sporting activities, and ah, there is a lot… traveling around, visiting other churches, and having retreats, yes.

Oh! By the way, right now I am involved in prison ministry. Yeah, I got introduced to prison ministry when I was in college, that is as of 4 years ago, and I do prison ministry at Maula Prison with another friend of mine who is a graduate of ABC [African Bible College] we were together at ABC. So, that’s where my heart is.

How long have you been with the prison ministry?

Ah, 4 years now? Yeah, 4 years—almost 5 years. Yeah, in the prisons we do Bible studies, we preach, ah, we encourage those guys, ah… that is on the spiritual part. But on the physical part, we also help them with the transportation and stuff.

Q2

What do you think God has taught you through the prison ministry?

[smiling] One thing that I have learned through the prison ministry is that those. Are God’s. Children. Because before I was introduced to the prison ministry, I was very afraid. I thought of those people—when I looked anyone who has been in prison, or anyone who is in prison, I thought that was the worst person on earth. So, when I was introduced and as time went by, God began teaching, “My life, that what you see, is what I died for.” And that has brought my love close to those people.

And actually, I have seen many coming out of prison, changed people. One of them we have right here [in CAPA]— he is doing the diploma [program]! Maybe one time I will show you. It’s very amazing indeed, and I am always proud when I see him—I see the Lord at work.

Q3

What do you think are some challenges you’ve faced in ministry?

Ah, one of the major challenges that I would say… it is whereby you are coming to a point where maybe people may not actually understand what you are driving it. Say for instance, ah, I am teaching, and some people don’t really understand what I am talking about. And it is because of their level of spirituality, to such an extent that to me, I feel that I am not reaching that extent where I want the people to comprehend what is being taught and what the Bible is saying.

Ah, the other problem, like, amongst the youth is, I would say, they are like… slackening. Like right now, my youth group, there has been a time where they are slackening in their spiritual life, which, myself together with the other team members, we are trying to rebuild that, whereby we have seen some girls falling pregnant, and some boys dropping out of the system, and stuff. So that’s one major challenge.

And the other challenge is financial issues, whereby I would like to go out and minister, but put things together, or we need to have materials, like I was talking about sports where we need to have balls and uniforms, and we don’t have finances, so that also acts like a hindrance towards ministry.

Why do you think that recently, the youth has been slackening in their spirituality?

I would say, ah, where the church I am right now, I joined the church two years ago—you try to move to a location where you’ll be able to manage—so it was like the previous leaders that were not taking care of their needs. So that’s what we are trying to build right now, that, it’s like we are trying to build a new history out of the old one.

Q4

What are your future ministry plans?

I look forward one day someday, that I will be… a lecturer, at a university or college level, yes. I would like to teach stuff like hermeneutics, yeah? [laughs]

Q5

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

Ah, I would say… I have grown in a church-going family. My parents and my grandparents were those who would teach us the word of God, and in our home, we used to have prayer meetings, within our family—prayer meetings every Wednesday. And of course on Sunday we would go to church—I remember when I was very little, my brothers and sisters and uncles and cousins, they would sing together in the church, like a family choir, something? Yeah, so I came to know some things about the Lord.

But as I was growing, I tended to find my own way. Not necessary in the sense where I would say I was rebellious , but my mind would tell me, “What about this? What about this?” And it came to a time, whereby I realized that what I was thinking… wasn’t what the Lord wanted for my life. So I would hear the sermons in church, but there were at that time whereby, my ears were closed. Yeah.

But, this time, the grace of the Lord opened up my ears, I realized that… I am not just supposed to go to church just because it’s Sunday. But I have to go to church with a purpose. So, I was convicted, I went back to my church, I confessed to my pastor, I got baptized. And, I began praying, that “Lord, give me your direction. Not mine, but your will.”

And I would say that from there, I found the thing that I loved as a person, they were no longer attractive. And I began following the Lord, and the Lord has been leading me since.

Q6

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

1) Ah… be praying for my family. I’m married—my wife and I, we have a daughter who is 6. So be praying for my family. I love family—I love my wife, I love my daughter, and they are a source of inspiration in my life.

2) Be praying for the studies that I am taking right now here, because, as I’ve said, I’m looking forward to this to change my life, so that I may be able to impart the knowledge to other people’s lives and change their lives.

3) And ah… be praying for my… right now I need to go back to my employers and talk to them if they will give me chance, that I will be able to manage both work two weeks, and the other two weeks I am in class. So, I need prayers in those areas, that the grace of the Lord will go before me—even before I speak to them, that the answers will already be there.

4)Yes, and of course, my relationships with my fellow students. Since we are coming from different backgrounds, different churches, and we have just met, that our relationships will always be nice and good and work together.

Q7

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Ah, my favorite thing about Malawi? I would say… Lake Malawi. I love playing along the beaches, and watching the waves, and playing in the water… I just love that!