“[CAPA] has helped my preaching because, prior to my coming to CAPA, I could just speak any verse from anywhere. I would just speak my mind by using that verse. But this time around, I allow the text to speak itself to me.”

Patrick Tsiga

Program Master of Divinity ('18)
Age 38
Ministering in Lilongwe
Family Wife and two daughters (16, 4)

Patrick is a father of two and serves as the pastor of his church. He appreciates and enjoys the opportunity to study at CAPA, which has greatly impacted his preaching. Though balancing being a good husband and father with also pastoring and studying has been difficult, he has learned to divide his time in a manner where he has enough for everything.

$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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Patrick shares how his trials lead to a glorious trust in Christ.

Patrick explains how his preaching has changed since he first came to CAPA.


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Interview with Patrick Tsiga

2017 2016 2015

Q1

What's your family background?

Q2

Is there a class that you have liked the best so far?

Q3

How has your preaching changed since you’ve been here?

Q4

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

Q5

What has been your biggest challenge in school?

Q6

How has balancing all the responsibilities that you have with family, church, and school looked so far?

Q7

What are you looking forward to this year?

Q8

How has your preaching changed since you’ve been at CAPA?

Q9

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

Q10

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

Q11

Do you have any prayer requests?

Q1

What is your hometown like? How is it different from Lilongwe?

Q2

What do you like to do during your free time?

Q3

What is your favorite memory at CAPA?

Q4

Do you have a favorite textbook that you used at CAPA?

Q5

What has been your favorite class at CAPA so far and why?

Q6

What is one attribute of God that you have personally experienced this past year?

Q7

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

Q8

How has CAPA influenced your family life?

Q9

In what ways has the Lord grown you this past year? What has he been teaching you?

Q10

What are you looking forward to this year?

Q11

What challenges have you faced in ministry this past year?

Q12

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

Q1

Are you pastoring a church right now? How did you decide to become a pastor?

Q2

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

Q3

What are some challenges you have come across in ministry?What has the Lord taught you in these challenges?

Q4

You did your diploma at CAPA also. How did that change the way you did ministry or the way you look at the Bible?

Q5

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Q6

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Q1

What's your family background?

I have a beautiful and godly wife—her name is Rachel. And we have two beautiful daughters.

How old are your children?

One is 16 and one is 5—or she will turn 5 on second December. Yes. […] You know, it’s quite challenging to raise a teenager. But God is good. By the grace of God, we are trying to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. Yes.

How has that been so far?

Not easy. You know—girls. But, because we always pray for them, and we always teach them the Word of God, and we always tell them what is right and what is wrong, and who to follow—either God, which is the best choice, or to follow the other path, which is so destructive and deadly. But they have chosen to follow what their parents are following. Yeah, sure.

Both girls have professed faith in Christ?

That’s right, that’s right. Yeah, because I do have some time with my family. I put aside my base schedules as a pastor, but also half time for my family, and I always also want to have time with my daughters and tell them—share [with] them the gospel. […] Every evening we come together as a family and we have family prayers. We share the Word of God. And I’m the leading person as the father of the house, definitely.

Q2

Is there a class that you have liked the best so far?

I like Greek because Greek has helped me to see the Scriptures the way they were given originally, because most of the translations we are using—the English versions, different versions—they are different. But when you are going to the Greek, there are certain things that they don’t show up in English versions, but you see them when you’re doing Greek. So it has helped me when I’m preparing my sermons that I do check every word. So, what is this word being used like in Greek? And because I’m able to read Greek, I am able to also know this word has been used like this because I’ve studied the Greek.

So Greek is one of my favorite subjects—apart from church history, apart from theology classes, apart from Hebrew. Hebrew is tough, and I don’t like it. [laughs] But I’ve got no choice. I don’t like it because it’s wearing me down. But it’s a good class as well, and I thank God for the lecturers that we have heard. We had Sam Cogburn, who introduced Hebrew to us, and now we have Chris Mullins. But these guys have done a good job. Hebrew is tough. So because I find it tough, I lose interest; but I like Greek.

Greek is hard but is manageable, unlike Hebrew. Yes, Hebrew is hard… But I thank God because it’s one of the mountain that we are supposed to climb. Yeah, much as it’s hard, much as I don’t like it, it’s a mountain that we have to climb, because it will help us whenever we are preaching from the Old Testament. Having a knowledge of how Hebrew works, it’s setting us a good path to preach sermons that are quite informed, and you know what you are saying because you have studied Hebrew. Sure, sure.

Q3

How has your preaching changed since you’ve been here?

Tremendously, my preaching has changed. I’ve been saying, and I will continue to say, that I thank God because of the tools, the equipments, the things that we’ve been given in this school, CAPA. CAPA has helped us a lot, and we thank God for that. And continually, we will remain grateful to what CAPA has done and all the people that [are] supporting us, are sponsoring us, to continue to study the Word of God.

[CAPA] has helped my preaching because, prior to my coming to CAPA, I could just speak any verse from anywhere. I would just speak my mind by using that verse. But this time around, I allow the text to speak itself to me. So, when I do my exegesis, when I’m studying, and I’m exegeting my passage, it is the passage that speaks to me what I should speak to the congregation. I don’t speak—I don’t take my own thoughts and paste them on the text—but I allow the text to lead me to drive my interpretation of the meaning of the text. So this is what has changed.

And prior to my coming to CAPA, my messages were man-centered. I was focusing on people instead of focusing on what God was doing in the lives of those people. So it was more to do with man and lesser with God. But this time around, it’s what is God doing. So this time around, it’s God-centered preaching, God-centered sermons, not man-centered. Yes, I wish you could come to our church one of the days, the church which I am pastoring, so you can look at what I’m doing. And maybe there you can appreciate.

Q4

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

The most important lesson that I have learned so far… We talked about Greek, yeah. […] The most important lesson I have learnt is how to diagram the text in Greek. Yes.

[…] We have learned a lot. Actually, by interacting with the professors, we have learned what humility is. Seems like sometimes the more you are acquire knowledge to puff up, to be proud, sometimes is a big challenge. But we are learning from our lecturers, our professors—they have got a lot of stuff they know, but they are humble, even in the way they let you know what they know. It’s in a humble way.

So apart from just learning what is in the text, we also learning from the life of our professors, and that alone has helped me a lot. Because sometimes, you are learning Greek and when you go out, the expectation of most of the people is that every time you are preaching, you have to use some Greek words—but they get surprised if I will go through the whole sermon, not even mentioning a single Greek word, though I know a lot of Greek words. But that is for me when I’m preparing my sermon, not for the church. So I’ve learned that. Yes.

Q5

What has been your biggest challenge in school?

The biggest challenge has been managing several things. I’m a father, I’m a husband to my wife, a father to my children—in short, I’m a married man. I’m a family man. At the same time, I have a church to pastor. At the same time, I have school to mind. So managing these three institutions… it has been quite a challenge. But we thank God for the grace […] God knows why we’re here, so God has given us the grace. No wonder we are going through even the three years, and even the church has been so supportive, even my family has been so supportive. So it has been challenge but manageable. Yes.

Q6

How has balancing all the responsibilities that you have with family, church, and school looked so far?

[I’ve heavily relied on] managing my time. Dividing my time. At this time, I need to be with my family, and be a husband, and be a father to my children. At this time, I have to be a pastor minding the flock of God that God has entrusted me with. At this time, let me study. So it’s just a matter of how you divide your time. Yes. I have time for my family. I have time for studies. I have time for the church. Yes.

Q7

What are you looking forward to this year?

My heart is in seeing the time when we are through with school work. Now we are putting the resources that we have acquired for the past three years into good use. So that is my goal. If only I will graduate, I will go back to... I will revisit all the things we have been studying and now put them into practice full throttle. Yes, yes. Sure, sure.

And then after you finish here, what are you planning to do?

I’m a pastor. I will continue to pastor my church. And I’m a preacher. I will continue to preach. But now it will be different. Because prior to CAPA, I didn’t know what expository preaching is all about until I came here, and I have been taught how to preach expository and God-centered messages. So after this, this is what I want to intensify. I want to preach more Christ-centered messages; I want to expose the Word of God like nobody’s business. Sure, sure.

Q8

How has your preaching changed since you’ve been at CAPA?

Yes, yes tremendously. Tremendously it has changed. And it helps a lot when interacting with people like John MacArthur. We interact with him through his books. And from there, we also learning some things, okay. So this is what good expositors do when they are studying their texts and whenever they are exposing the Word of God. So this is what they do. So it helps a lot.

After interacting with him through his books and then sometimes I listen to the program Grace to You that comes almost [on a] daily basis on one of the radio stations here in Malawi, so I always listen to him. Now, when I listen to him and when I listen to people like Jim Ayres, our president—but at the same time one is preaching, one is ministering at the chapel service—when I listen to different men of God that we are having even in our own class, it helps me to improve my sermons on [a] daily basis. Yeah, sure.

Q9

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

I will not beat around the bush. I will just hit on the on the head. See… I never expected, not even in a single [moment], that I can acquire a high level of education that we are having here at CAPA. And looking at how expensive most of the schools are, but the main fact that I’m here, I say, “This is God,” because I could not have afforded to acquire such kind of education. I never even dreamt of having an M.Div, but I have seen God in that He was or He is able to provide such a kind of education to a person like me who could not have afforded it. But God had His own ways. And the coming in of CAPA to Malawi—to some of us, we see God at work. We see God providing, we see God making it possible that some of us, we could acquire what we are acquiring right now.

Q10

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

My favorite book is the book of Romans. I love the book of Romans because, of certain things that Paul was addressing—especially when you want to look at the doctrine of justification—how Paul expounded and explained justification and how I see myself fitting in that book. So the best, one of my favorite, is the book of Romans. Yes.

Is there anything about this book that has changed your heart or your life recently?

The book of Romans? Yes—how I view salvation. Because, you know, prior to studying the book of Romans, I used to condemn a lot. I used to condemn myself a lot. Why do I do this? I mean, why? So, I was not so free; and even the thought of thinking if maybe I do this, I lose my salvation.

So when I entered into the journey of studying the book of Romans, I understood one thing: Even Paul was struggling in Romans chapter 7. There were things that he was struggling with. What he did not want to do, those were things he was doing. So when you interact with Paul in his theology, in his doctrine in the book of Romans, you find yourself saying, “O God, thank you that you allow this man to bring out this issue, to bring out this stuff.”

And sometimes, because of not knowing how the law versus grace, the law versus salvation—sometimes you may think that if I do this, God will approve me, and I will be saved. But when you are studying the book of Romans, you realize that it has got nothing to do with—our salvation has got nothing to do with what we do or, in short, with the law. So that’s all about the book of Romans. After studying it, after going through it several times, I have come to enjoy the book of Romans. Yes.

Q11

Do you have any prayer requests?

Yeah. I have several things on my heart. But my most outstanding prayer request is that God should use me to His glory, to impart the lives that are struggling with sin—just like the way I used to—and to help me to open the eyes of many people whose eyes are still blind. They have never known the truth, so that’s my most outstanding prayer request—that God should use me to His glory. In that, after everything, I should go back and faithfully preach the Word of God. Yes.

Apart from other things, like the ministry—praying for the ministry—at our church, we got so many things that we are doing. We have a building project that we are undertaking. […] We are praying for God’s intervention in terms of finances, in terms of materials for us to finish the building. But the most outstanding one is the one I have just shared with you. Yes.

Q1

What is your hometown like? How is it different from Lilongwe?

My hometown is Salima. This is the central part of the central region of Malawi and the difference between Salima and Lilongwe…we are based in Lilongwe, that’s where I’m pastoring but my hometown is Salima and the difference is that Salima is a lakeshore district. But Lilongwe is just a city where there’s too many activities. Sure, sure. That’s it.

So what is it like there in your hometown?
Uh, it’s too hot. It’s too hot with a lot of fish. And a lot of freshwater body and… Wow! If I compare Lilongwe and Salima, these two places are different. Sure, sure.

Q2

What do you like to do during your free time?

In my free time, I like hanging out with my family because as a pastor, always I’m on the call to minister to the flock of God. But, in my free time, I like going out with my family. Just relaxing somewhere, watching soccer. I love soccer. And reading. Yeah, Christian magazines and Christian books. Sure.

Did you play soccer a lot when you were younger?
Yeah, but not really. Not really. I used to play hockey. Yes, but soccer, yes, but I love soccer. But I was not a good footballer. Yeah, but I used to play hockey and some other games like chess and the like. Sure.

INTERVIEWER: Are you teaching your kids to how to be great soccer players in the future?
I only have two girls, and my girls they--yeah, they also like soccer because they follow what I like sometimes. Yeah, sure.

Q3

What is your favorite memory at CAPA?

My favorite memory at CAPA is that when I came here, I did not know what good exegesis is all about. I didn’t, but when I came to CAPA and I started learning how to exegete a passage and how to focus on the word of God and how to preach God’s message… oh, wow! Those are my favorite memories. CAPA has brought a lot of eye-opening things to me. Also, the books we get from CAPA. We appreciate all those that are supporting CAPA because one thing I know: when you give somebody knowledge, you have given something powerful to someone because knowledge is power. Sure.

Q4

Do you have a favorite textbook that you used at CAPA?

Yes, we received some books by Ted [Tripp] and it’s how to shepherd a child’s heart, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. So that book and the books that we get from here, they are good, good books. Yes, that’s it.

Q5

What has been your favorite class at CAPA so far and why?

My favorite class has been hermeneutics as well as homiletics, because it is in hermeneutics that we know how to diagram, how we do exegesis. And then in homiletics, that’s when now we do the expositions that we are learning because the emphasis here is to study God’s word and preach God’s word through expository preaching, yeah.

Who was the teacher?
My hermeneutics teacher is Pastor Jim [Ayres] and in homiletics we used to have Brian Biedebach.

Q6

What is one attribute of God that you have personally experienced this past year?

One attribute that I have experienced, love. I have learned how God loves us and I also want to love others just the same way God loves us, sure.

And was it through classes you learned that, or through reading the Word, or was it something in your life that revealed that?
Several sources. We study the word of God and we know what love is, but then [also] as we interact — the staff, the professors interacting with us because CAPA is not just a matter of dishing out information, but even we learn from the professors’ lifestyles. How we relate with the professors, how we relate with others. So all of these, the environment, what we are learning from the classroom, and what we are practicing even as we interact. Again, those have been the sources of inspiration. This is how we are to love others; this is what it means to be a corporate body of Christ — of Jesus.

Q7

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

We learn from what they are saying and their experiences and how they are doing their ministry.

In family and marriage, where you have somebody who is sharing their experience — how long he has been in marriage and the things he has gone through. And even as you study through the books that they give you and you learn something because it’s not easy to be married. And especially having that view that these two people that are in marriage, they are not perfect people. We are all sinners saved by grace. So understanding your spouse, knowing how you can handle certain issues -- these are some of the things that maybe we sometimes overlook or sometimes neglect.

When you see the one who is sharing with you is not just sharing something that is head knowledge, but is sharing something that is experiential — what they have gone through after studying the Word of God and practicing the Word of God. So what they tell you… this man is telling the truth because he practices what he studies. Sure, yes.

Q8

How has CAPA influenced your family life?

The way I used to be, even as a minister, you know sometimes maybe you could focus much on the ministry, forgetting your family because you just want to serve. But we are encouraged to have quality time with our families, especially our wives and children so that we should balance our things. And that’s one of the things that I have said, “This is how much I have gotten from CAPA!” Yes, yes.

Is there one point from Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp that really stood out?
Yes, especially chapter one where it is talking about the center of all behavior activities is the heart. Most of the times, a lot of parents will miss out this area because we just look at what the child is doing without knowing that all what the child is doing is coming from the heart. So, if you deal with that, then you are dealing with the behavior.

And this book has got good chapters. 19 chapters! [laughs] 19 chapters that are still fresh in my mind even as I’m talking now! 19 chapters that are tackling good and relevant issues. Though the focus was concerning American society, but because the Word of God is [global], so you find that almost most of the information from that book can be applicable even in our society because it’s dealing with the Word of God and the sinful heart. Sure.

Q9

In what ways has the Lord grown you this past year? What has he been teaching you?

My preaching has changed. Before coming to CAPA, I could just speak a verse and blow it out of context. I’ll just talk whatever I think, whatever I thought the passage was saying. But after now studying the Word of God, after now doing exegesis and block diagramming and the like, I have come to realize, “Ah! I think I was doing a lot of injustice to the text.” But now I’m focusing much on the Word of God and I want to preach the Word of God and expound the Word of God and do a lot exegesis until I hit the crown of the text. Sure.

Q10

What are you looking forward to this year?

You know, I’m doing M.Div and we have got languages like Greek and Hebrew. My heart is in doing exegesis in Greek text. At the same time, doing exegesis in Hebrew text. That’s my goal because that’s what I want to do. If I study the Word of God and understand the Word of God from the Greek text and from the Hebrew text, I know for sure I’ll be able to help others who are struggling because they don’t know, or they have got limited knowledge concerning the Word of God.

Q11

What challenges have you faced in ministry this past year?

To balance out school and doing ministry, because we are studying at the same time we are pastoring churches and at the same time we have got families to look after. So you’re talking of three things — we are studying, we are pastoring, and at the same time we are family men. So to balance out these things sometimes is a challenge. But we sacrifice certain things simply because we want to achieve the goals that God has for us during this time that we are studying.

Q12

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

I would say that the body of Christ in Malawi needs a serious study of the Word of God because most of the times, a lot of Christians, they don’t know how to study the Bible. But we thank God because I think that is the reason why God brought us here so that we can study and we can teach others. So my word of encouragement is that: keep on studying! And as we study together we will see the Word of God, God glorifying Himself through His Word.

Q1

Are you pastoring a church right now? How did you decide to become a pastor?

I am pastoring a church in one of the outskirts within the city, yes. I’ve been pastoring that church for 5 years.

Um, actually because pastoral work, it’s about calling. And when I was growing up… by the way, I’m coming from a Catholic background. When I was growing up, that never crossed my mind, that one of the days I would be a priest, because that’s within Catholicism, eh? Never thought of that.

But when I came to the Lord in 1998, and… that feeling of serving the Lord, conviction to serve the Lord… I sensed it upon my heart. And I knew that one day, I will be serving the Lord, sure.

Q2

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

Like I said early on, that I was a Catholic. And you know Catholics—I don’t have to speak a lot on that because as Catholics… few can tell you who Christ is. I just lived like that. To be precise, I was just a nominal Christian, just a churchgoer; but no serious relationship with Christ.

And it was in 1998 when I was in Zomba, the former capital city of Malawi, and as I was there, I don’t know the last time I visited church. There I was just doing whatever I was doing, and drinking and all that. So it was one of the days that I had an encounter with the Lord, especially through His Word when somebody was preaching.

And that message, when the man was preaching… all the stuff that was talking, it was as if he was talking about me! And it was as if he knew that somebody who possessed those kinds of traits was there.

And after hearing that message, I went home, and I was convicted. And it wasn’t long [before] I came to the Lord in the same month, that was in 1998 in August, yes, in Zomba. And I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior in one of the Assemblies of God churches.

After that, you decided you wanted to be a pastor?

Ah, it was not immediately. Yeah, because when I came to the Lord, I sensed that one day, I would preach. So because as I was just a [spiritual] baby and I was growing up, I was learning the word of God and learning the things about God, and as I was going through that process, a desire to serve the Lord kept on coming, and I felt that one day, I would preach.

So it was up until 2000, that’s when I started ministering like an evangelist—meeting people, encouraging others, leading others to Christ, and all that.

Q3

What are some challenges you have come across in ministry?What has the Lord taught you in these challenges?

Ay, lots of them. But the Lord has been faithful and has been good. One of the challenges is, you’re looking at somebody because… I’m 37 now, but the time I was coming to the Lord, I was a teenager, 19 or somewhere.

And to seriously be a follower of Christ at that time, and you’re breaking link with your peers, that was a difficult thing to do. But because my heart was set for Christ, I said, “I am going.” And we’ve been encountering so many things. We’ll go to some place to preach the gospel and there people will not receive the gospel, and they’ll be telling all sorts of things… so many things! So many things.

And at the same time you’ll be tempted, you see, meeting the old peers, the old friends that you used to hang around with. And you meet them and they mock at you, they laugh at you, they think you have made a wrong decision, they think you have gone crazy simply because you have given your life to Christ—all those things!

And the most difficult one was now breaking the links with Catholicism, because my whole family was Catholic. And I was the only one who had come to the Lord, and I was attending a different fellowship, a different church. That didn’t go well with most of my family members—my mother, my brothers and my sisters, they were all against my decision to move out of Catholic. So I said, “Please. It’s my life. It’s my life, and I have decided to follow Christ. So whatever you do, whatever you say, that won’t change my mind.” So I’ve gone through some persecutions, because they wanted to force me back to Catholic. And I said, “No. I can’t go back.”

So, those are some of the things that I have come across. And if I talk about some other issues, well, it’s just part of pastoring the ministry, yes.

One thing I can boldly say, the Lord has taught me is to put my trust in Him, and in Him alone. Because several times, when you put your focus on the wrong things, when you focus on people—people, they change. People, they can disappoint you; people have let me down. So, I’ve learned in all the things I have gone through, I have learned, put my focus on Christ and Christ alone. And He has never disappointed me—He never fails.

Q4

You did your diploma at CAPA also. How did that change the way you did ministry or the way you look at the Bible?

Oh yeah—very, very, very good question. Before I came here, before I did Advanced Diploma, I was… I was just a preacher who just begin from nowhere and end nowhere, if you may understand what I mean.

I was not organized in my sermons, and to some extent, I was more into allegorical preaching because I didn’t know what it means to exegete a passage and to stay to the passage, and to focus on what the text says, not to add or not to put your own ideas, and this is one of the best things that I have learned from CAPA here.

I have learned to diagram your text, to get the meaning from the text and not adding a meaning to the text. So previously, I used to preach like that. I would get a topic, then I would just go to the Bible to find some texts that could compound my message. But then! In the process, I found that most of the verses I was quoting, I was quoting them out of context, yes.

So then after that, you started going through the Bible verse by verse?

Yes! When I came here and we started practicing how to preaching God’s message and not to focus on man, or man’s needs, but just to preach God’s Word, I started practicing it. I started practicing it—I saw that I was missing a lot. Even if sometimes I could pick a text, but if I was preaching, I could not touch everything that was in the text.

But now, I have learned a good way of bringing out the truth from the text is doing expository. So this time around, I am sticking to my text. I’m allowing the text to determine, the text to speak, not me speaking on behalf of the text. Because this is God’s Word! I must allow God to speak through His Word.

Q5

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Well, since we are doing M.Div, and we are doing languages, Greek and Hebrew, of course we have started with Greek, and as we are advancing, we are also doing Hebrew. But challenge is, these are different languages! We are not accustomed to them, we are not used to them. And it’s tough!

But, if you can pray for us, pray that the grace of God should be sufficient enough for us to go through the course. Because the training that we are getting here, because we are being trained to preach, this is not just about academical work alone, but we are also talking about preaching God’s message.

So, if you want to pray for us, if you can pray for me, pray that the grace of God should be there, that whatever our lecturers are teaching us, we have to grasp the truth, and go out there, proclaim the truth. Because, that’s the central thing in CAPA, yes.

Q6

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Um… as you know, Malawi is called “The Warm Heart of Africa.” Friendly people! We don’t like violence. We are peaceful people. I’ve gone to several countries—I’ve seen the atmosphere, and when I come back home, I always thank God for our nation Malawi.

It’s a blessed nation, and it’s a peaceful country, and we are not people who like violence. I’m sure you’ve also experienced that—wherever you go, people will be smiling. Not given to violence—that’s one good thing I thank God for this land, yes.