“I think being here is God’s providence; it’s a good blessing to be here. I think that what I’ve learned here are great treasures to me personally. These are long life-lasting treasures. So I think the greatest treasure is being here.”

Martin Thom

Program Master of Divinity ('18)
Age 42
Ministering in Lilongwe
Family Wife, one son (15), and one daughter (11)

Martin is the founder of his church and has helped to plant over 50 other churches. At those church plants, he helps to train pastors. In his last year at CAPA, he is excited to continue growing both academically and spiritually.

$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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Martin shares a personal prayer request for wisdom.


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Interview with Martin Thom

2017 2016 2015

Q1

Which class have you enjoyed the most at CAPA and why?

Q2

How has your preaching changed in the past year?

Q3

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

Q4

What’s been your biggest challenge in school?

Q5

How are you involved in ministry?

Q6

What are you looking forward to learning this year?

Q7

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

Q8

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

Q9

How can we be praying for you?

Q1

How has CAPA changed your pastoring at your church?

Q2

Can you give an example of something that you preached before that wasn't like the sermons you preach today after coming to CAPA?

Q3

Have you seen a lot of change in the members of your congregation?

Q4

What's one thing that you studied at CAPA that's been extremely impactful for you?

Q5

How has the material being taught at CAPA impacted your family life?

Q6

Can you give an example of how your relationship with your wife and children has changed?

Q7

How else has God grown you this year

Q8

What's one thing that you hope to study in the future at CAPA?

Q9

Is there one specific topic that you'd like to study?

Q10

What's one book that has influenced you a lot?

Q11

What are your future plans for ministry?

Q12

What are some challenges in Malawi living as a Christian?

Q13

If you could offer a word of encouragement to all the Christians in Malawi, what would you say to them?

Q1

Why did you decide to become a pastor?

Q2

Why did you decide to come to CAPA? What is one thing you hope to learn at CAPA?

Q3

What is your current ministry? What are your future ministry plans?

Q4

What are challenges you’ve faced in ministry, and what have you learned from them?

Q5

How did you first hear about Jesus? How did you come to believe He died for your sins?

Q6

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Q7

What is one of your favorite verses and why?

Q8

What are ways we can be praying for you?

Q1

Which class have you enjoyed the most at CAPA and why?

The class I have enjoyed the most, I think Greek. It gives an insight and depth of understanding into the New Testament and interpretation and applications.

Q2

How has your preaching changed in the past year?

It’s changed in the sense that understanding of the Scriptures and being able to paraphrase with the original meaning.

What do you mean being able to paraphrase?

Well I think because my knowledge has been unhinged so it gives me a broad understanding of the Scriptures but grounds, meaning, all that stuff.

Q3

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

Well, I think humility. Humility. Humble. Being humble.

How have you learned that?

Well, I think I’ve learned it because most of our professors, they show that humility. So that’s one of the ingredients.

Does this change how you shepherd people? How you do ministry?

It’s a process.

Q4

What’s been your biggest challenge in school?

Biggest challenge, assignments… too much work. Sometimes I feel like I should give up.

Has that been because you’re balancing ministry?

Yeah, family, ministry, churches, and I do a lot of evangelism, and getting food for the house, and all that stuff.

Q5

How are you involved in ministry?

Well I’m the founder of our church; we’ve planted over 50 churches. But I’m also involved in evangelism, another ministry I do. But again, I’m also involved in politics in a major way, so all these things with the studies is a big challenge.

With all those churches, how are you pushing those pastors to preach the Word?

We teach them; we do training.

Have any of the other pastors gone to CAPA?

No, but they’re intending to.

Q6

What are you looking forward to learning this year?

In school, I think I’m opened up to any kind of a lesson—yeah, I’ll learn anything. Probably encourage my interests in Hebrew. I think it’s one of the lessons, well, I’m not so curious about. I’m praying the Lord give me that grace that I go for it.

Q7

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

Well, I think being here is God’s providence; it’s a good blessing to be here. I think that what I’ve learned here are great treasures to me personally. These are long life-lasting treasures. So I think the greatest treasure is being here.

Q8

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

Favorite book—well, I think it’s the book of John. John is my favorite book in the Bible because it talks about the divinity of Christ. Yeah so, I’ve fallen in love with the book of John.

Q9

How can we be praying for you?

Pray so that God can enable me to fulfill my assignment on earth. If Jesus tells us the time that He’ll take me, I should have finished my assignments; or else, if He comes sooner than expected, then He’ll find me doing His will.

Right now, what do you think that assignment is?

Well, reaching out to the lost, give them an opportunity to make amends with Christ, to make peace with God.

Q1

How has CAPA changed your pastoring at your church?

Yeah, I've been a pastor for a while, but I think CAPA has greatly improved my skills to preach and understanding of the Scriptures. Yeah, I'm a better person, I'm a better preacher, I'm a better man because of what God has done to me through CAPA.

Q2

Can you give an example of something that you preached before that wasn't like the sermons you preach today after coming to CAPA?

Well, I think I've been at CAPA for a year now, but I think, looking back, once again listening to the members of the church, everybody testifies that my preaching so far is [richer], full of Scriptures and life. And there are a number of instances which time will not allow me to explain. But other than that, suffice it to say that personally, I see that there is a great change, in the richness of the text of the Scriptures, the preaching, the confidence and all that stuff, so it's all because of what God has done through CAPA.

Q3

Have you seen a lot of change in the members of your congregation?

Yes, there is a great change. There is a great change. I think there is a lot of desire to hear the Word of God, to know Christ more, so there is a great change in my personal life as well as the lives of the members of the church.

Q4

What's one thing that you studied at CAPA that's been extremely impactful for you?

I think with Pastor Brian [Biedebach], we did quite a lot of homiletics, and that has really transformed my life. But with Pastor Tony [McCracken], on pastoral ministry, that again has been such a great wealth. Again, with Pastor Jim [Ayres], just understanding the Bible from the Greek concept, again that has really helped me. But again if you talk of family and counseling, these are some of the subjects that have really impacted my life. But again, the visiting professors have been such a great, good blessing. So most each and every subject has been life-transforming. We go there with the mind to embrace the truth, to be impacted and changed. So yeah, almost all the subjects have been such a great treasure.

Q5

How has the material being taught at CAPA impacted your family life?

I think, more specially, it has enlightened my eyes in terms of understanding the Scriptures, how to apply the truth to your personal life, and again be able to be the kind of father that God would want you to be to your children, the kind of husband God would want you to be to your spouse. So that has really helped me quite a lot.

Q6

Can you give an example of how your relationship with your wife and children has changed?

You know, [in] the African culture, the man is like a king. That is basically the African concept. But then you come to CAPA, you learn about God has made a man to be the head of the family, but not the boss of the family. So these are some of the things that have really helped me to change, to understand that my wife – she is my spouse, she is my helpmate, not necessarily being boss over her, but at the end of the day, a colleague.

Q7

How else has God grown you this year

I think God has grown me in terms of humility. Greek really humbles you. The deception may be thinking you know everything, but then coming to CAPA, you sit down with your friends and colleagues, and see people who can do better than you, and then you are challenged by the professors when they stand in front and preach the Word of God and then you find out that you are not yet there [at that level]. So, I think humility has been quite a challenge – to be more humble and to know Christ better.

Q8

What's one thing that you hope to study in the future at CAPA?

I think God willing, Ph.D. Yeah, Ph.D. It's easier doing it here because the church is here, the family is here, so it's easier studying here than going abroad.

Q9

Is there one specific topic that you'd like to study?

Well, I think, just looking at people that are also servants of God...by the way they explain the Scriptures and their understanding of the Scriptures, just having the grace of having the in-depth understanding of Scriptures – this is one of the areas that I would really love to be exposed more.

Q10

What's one book that has influenced you a lot?

I think one of the books that has really, well, helped me a lot, is a book of the Old Testament: The Word and the World [by Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti]. Yeah, it's one of the books that's really helped me just to understand God dealing with His people and what He expects of us today.

Q11

What are your future plans for ministry?

Well, my future plans is to develop more leaders and plant more churches. This nation is not yet evangelized, you know there are still a lot of people – 13% of the population is Muslim, and most of the people don't go to church, most of the people just nominal Christians but they don't have faith in Christ. So my desire is to evangelize more, to plant more churches, as well as develop more leaders.

Q12

What are some challenges in Malawi living as a Christian?

Poverty. I'd say the greatest challenge is poverty. You have a people that are willing to go forth, preach the gospel. Like now, we have planted churches. The challenge is to maintain those churches, and basically it's because of how to support the pastors – you know, so that they can be able to put food on their tables, send their kids to school, so that they can stand boldly to proclaim the gospel of Christ, so this is the major problem.

Q13

If you could offer a word of encouragement to all the Christians in Malawi, what would you say to them?

Love Christ, obey His word, and He will be true to His Word.

Q1

Why did you decide to become a pastor?

After giving my life to Christ, I served in church and grow up in the Lord, and the Lord called me into the ministry. Prior to being a pastor, I used to witness man to man, leading souls to Christ. I used to preach in market places and prisons, leading souls to Christ. That’s when I came into the full time ministry. Before I thought I wasn’t having ample time to serve the Lord, so I thought like if I give myself to the Lord, that would be a great benefit to Him, as well as to the ministry.

Q2

Why did you decide to come to CAPA? What is one thing you hope to learn at CAPA?

I decided to come to CAPA because of the capacity that CAPA has to produce able people to preach the gospel. It’s such a great opportunity because people travel to the States, and to the UK, to other countries, to learn ministry, but 80% of those who go abroad to learn to minister, they never come back. So the nation, Africa at large, doesn’t benefit. So when I learn that CAPA is here, the same stuff that people learn in the States, I thought it was a great blessing. So instead of traveling all the way to the States, and having the temptation to not come back, it would be such a great honor and opportunity to learn here, and be of a blessing to the people in Africa here.

One of the things I would really love to learn is Greek and Hebrew. These are the things I have been desiring, and it is an opportunity to learn, we have already studied learning, and I know it’s hard. It take commitment and dedication but God will give us the grace to understand the Bible and to preach it as it is through Greek and Hebrew.

Q3

What is your current ministry? What are your future ministry plans?

It is based here in Lilongwe. So far we have planted over 50 churches and so the ministry is growing. It is at the rightful time to be taught so I can become a better preacher. I’m the founding pastor, overseer.

My future ministry plan is to evangelize globally beginning in Malawi, we have a population of 17 million people and those souls have never been reached. Most of these people live in rural areas, so the plan is to train and raise pastors and send them into the rural places and preach the gospel, but again evangelize the globe, in all continents. Go everywhere and preach the gospel, evangelize to the nations. I plan to start a Bible school. We started doing it at a smaller scale. With all this knowledge coming up, I think we can do a better job.

Q4

What are challenges you’ve faced in ministry, and what have you learned from them?

Well I think a challenge we face in this country is doctrinal issues. With the coming in of the false prophet movement, and all religions, the challenge is to ground the people in the Word of God, so they should know what the truth is. So basically, that’s the personal challenge, but as well as the challenge of the church. People are flocking in to false doctrines, so this is the challenge. If we can well be trained, we can learn to train others.

From the challenges, what I’ve learned is that if we can be well grounded, just like what we’re doing here, we should be able to ground people in the Word of God, and they’ll be able to stay.

Q5

How did you first hear about Jesus? How did you come to believe He died for your sins?

I’ve been hearing about Jesus from when I was an infant. I used to go to Sunday School. I wasn’t yet a Christian until the age of 12. I heard through Nazarene preacher from America. He was preaching about Jesus. Well, I came to believe because the Spirit of God convicted me. So I was convinced when I heard that Jesus died for my sins, I was convicted and I believed. When the word was preached, I could definitely hear the words that were said about God and the gospel. I was convicted. I knew I was a sinner.

Q6

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

The gospel is easy to preach because people are not as busy as they are in the developed countries. You can interrupt anybody, anywhere, anytime, and they will be ready to hear the gospel. Where as in the States, it’s different altogether. It is easy to preach the gospel. You cannot be victimized. There is no laws. There is freedom of worship. It is unlike the Muslim countries. Here, we have Islam, yes, but it’s free for all. You can preach the gospel anytime, anywhere.

Q7

What is one of your favorite verses and why?

Acts 10:34. Through the Scripture, I have learned to believe in myself. God has no favoritism, but if you love Him, and do His will, He can use you, just like He can use anybody else that you have looked to them as models.

Q8

What are ways we can be praying for you?

Pray that God can give me more wisdom. God can enable me to obey Him more. I could talk of resources and finances, but the key issue is wisdom and obedience. If I can have more of His wisdom, and if I can obey Him more, then all these other things will not be an issue as far as being tools to preach the gospel.