“I want to experience something beyond school here. I want the whole process above everything to draw me closer to God so I know Him better, and I can serve Him better.”

Rowlands Kaotcha

Program Master of Divinity ('20)
Age 43
Ministering in Central Malawi
Family Wife, one son (10), one daughter (13)

Rowlands hopes to become a full-time pastor. Currently, he works in agriculture. At the church, he is an assistant pastor and a chairperson for the national advisory council. He has overcome social pressures to renounce the faith. Rowlands does not want to mislead his church, so he is at CAPA to be trained to correctly preach the Word and to be empowered to transition into full-time ministry.

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

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Rowlands describes his first week at CAPA and what he's already begun to learn.


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Interview with Rowlands Kaotcha

2017

Q1

How did you come to know the Lord?

Q2

Have you faced any hardships because of your faith?

Q3

Why did you decide to come to CAPA?

Q4

Is there anything you’re looking forward to learning in CAPA this year?

Q5

How are you involved in your church?

Q6

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

Q7

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Q1

How did you come to know the Lord?

When I was in college, doing my bachelor’s degree in agriculture, there was a student organization movement and they preached, […] so I sort of could hear it but never took it seriously.

And then one day I was alone in my room and something just hit me. The question was like, “If you die, where do you think you are going?” I wrestled with that question the whole of the night. I must admit, I was half drunk, doing things that I thought were fun for me. And the Lord met me in that moment. And I was sure that I didn’t want to go to hell. And then, the next question that came to me that night was, “Where do you think you’re going to go?” And I knew that I wanted to go to heaven, but then the issue was how.

Then I remembered that at one day, one time, a moment in time, somebody was preaching during the student organization movement, and I heard. So when I woke up in the morning, I was actually waiting for the sun to come up. And when it did, I quickly ran to his room and asked him to pray for me. Unfortunately, he was not there. So I was actually hunting for people that were born again, that they should actually pray for me. And one guy believed that I was serious; the others were ignoring, saying, “No, we know what you do.” But one of them took a chance and led me to the Lord and prayed for me and led me in prayer for my salvation.

Q2

Have you faced any hardships because of your faith?

Yeah. In college, when I got born again, when I gave my life to Christ, we had people that could make light of our faith. And what was challenging for me was that I came to this college an unbeliever, and then I found Jesus Christ there. So different people could mock me to say, “You’re not serious,” and, “This is not going to help you,” and all that. And that was really quite a challenge.

Even in the community where I come from—it’s a community where not much believes in the faith I believe in, that salvation is only in Jesus Christ. And so you find people that mock there and even speak to your parents, saying, “What is your son doing?” […]

The background of the village I come from [is] there are so many witch doctors. I recall at one point there was a witch doctor that used to come into our village, in our household to help, for spiritual healing. And then when I came to the Lord, I realized that was wrong. So I went back and confronted him. That was very scary because he said that I was not going to live for the next month. I trusted in the Lord for my life, and surely I lived. But whatever happened, he didn’t live for the next year. (4:15)

What was it like to confront him?

When I discovered that that was not spiritual, and it was misaligned with God’s Word, I went to the village and went to meet him because he used to call me his son, because he was helping my family. He claimed at one point he helped my mother when I was just about to be born. So he used that to claim, “This was my son.”

People used to respect him a lot in that part of my village. So I knew that I am not his son. The only biological father that I have is my father and then my spiritual father, which is my God Almighty.

So I went to tell him that this has to be corrected, [saying] “I am not your son, this is not correct, and you need to believe in Jesus Christ because what you are doing is not aligned with God’s Word.” So I had to confront that because it was not giving me peace.

How did he receive your words?

He was not very happy. He was actually one, very mad, and two, became very scary to me because he challenged and threatened, “You are not going to live for the next thirty days.” He said, “I know what to do and how to do it. I can just press the switch, and you’re gone.”

I had a choice to change my word. When I went to tell my relations in the village, they were all scared that what I did was wrong. But I told them that what I had done was right, that I believed in Jesus Christ, and I was sure that I was going to live. So I told them, “Let’s wait and see.” If what I believed in was not correct, maybe he would have switched off the light. If what I believed in was correct, you never know, he might be switching his own light. And sure enough, a little after that he passed away.

So that also helped my very close family relations to say, “Oh, perhaps this is true.” And true to that, quite a few of my family relations actually came to believe in the Lord that I believe in, although I confess that I didn’t know much at the time. In fact, that’s why I came to CAPA: Because it’s just the zeal and the understanding, just believing that Jesus Christ was my life. That’s all I had at that time. I thank God because the word that I knew was that Jesus Christ has saved me and delivered me from the power of darkness. How? Why? I had no answers. Now I realize that it was God the Holy Spirit that was controlling what I was doing.

Q3

Why did you decide to come to CAPA?

Yes, so after that, when I was in college, when I came to the Lord, I started ministering. I had a passion to minister. I wanted to believe in what I believed entirely, not one leg in and one leg out. If I do it, I have to do it with all my heart or not do it at all. So I started ministering and all that.

Why I came to CAPA was because I realized that I am an agricultural development specialist by training, and I did my bachelor’s, my master’s, MBA—everything. I asked myself a question: I am able [and] I understand what to do and the ways to do it in my secular world because I’ve been empowered academically. I sat under people that trained me and all that.

Now here I am, ministering, but have not sat under any training or any theological school. [There were] challenges in understanding the Bible: Sometimes I could go to the text, and instead of understanding it, it confused me. Sometimes I would find it appears that the Bible is talking against itself. And I was looking for an empowerment process, where I can be empowered in doing what I am doing, to fully understand it, and do it right, for my own sake and people that listen to me.

I don’t want to mislead people. I wouldn’t want to tell people what God is not saying. So I came to CAPA because of that. The school was highly recommended to me by one of the senior elders in our church. And so I came to meet Pastor Gideon [Manda] and explained to him my passion and everything, why I want to come here. I was told that it was tough. Yes, the first week I’ve discovered that it was actually an understatement. It’s not tough—it’s overwhelming and scary.

But you see, I am determined, and it’s not only my determination: I am praying to God to help me to hang on and hang in here, to give me the strength to balance out my work because I am still working, and I need to work to support my family and support me in school.

I stay far from here—360 kilometers from here. I have to travel and find a place to stay while sending my children to school and all that. So I need to job to help me through. So to balance that time, to balance time between that and spending time with the family and for my work here. It’s not easy; it’s overwhelming.

But the first week I can tell you that I’ve seen grace. One thing I’ve seen in myself is that I’m not here just for the certification; I’m here for a transformation of my life. Just one week, sitting under the professors who have been taking me through has completely changed my perception of things, my understanding of the authority of the Bible, and the way I should approach it. I’m actually saying to myself, “If the Lord takes me now, I would say that my one week at CAPA was fulfilling, and I’ve become a better person compared to the way I came.” So it has helped me to elevate my objective of being at CAPA. I’ve experienced a personal transformation, and I’m praying to God to give me strength.

Q4

Is there anything you’re looking forward to learning in CAPA this year?

Yes, there are many things. I know there will be many professors coming to train us. All the people that support us, and the nice meals that we’ve had—all of this has been very helpful to me, and we really appreciate it.

Q5

How are you involved in your church?

I’m assistant pastor in the church, so I do part of my time on church and part of the time on the work that I do—the regular work—and I’m also currently the chairperson of the national executive council. It’s like the council that helps to run the administrative functions of the church. Yeah, so those are currently the two roles that I’m in: pastor—I mean, assistant pastor, and the chairperson of the national advisory council. Yes.

Do you plan on becoming a full-time pastor in the future?

That’s my plan; that’s actually why I’m here at CAPA, because […] I heard the call of God. It’s very clear to me that full-time is what I have to do—it’s just a matter of time—and so why I’m here at CAPA is I want to be empowered, to be prepared, ready for full-time. So this is a process of transition for me, from what I’m doing, and eventually transition into full-time work.

Q6

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

God has been so faithful to my life. You know, when I was in primary school—I mean, I should start from secondary school. I nearly dropped out of school because I couldn’t afford school shoe, and there was a rule in that school that whosoever does not have school shoe should not be in class. That made me cry most of the times. I had an option to blame my parents, I had an option to blame God, an option to blame everybody, but I said, “I don’t blame my parents. I don’t blame God either.” I recall in those days, even before I came to the Lord.

But there are moments which press you, and you remember God, and you say, “God help me,” praying. I went to a student there who had, I think, three, four pairs of shoes. I asked for one; I requested him to share with me one, which was a torn one. Graciously, he gave me that one. He said, “Oh! It’s of no value to me. Take it!” And to me, I saw God in that. And I used that up until I passed my secondary school. I prayed, [and] I said, “God, I don’t want my children to pass through this. I want this to change, we need to draw a line, and this type of life should end at me.”

I’m coming from a background where it was not strange for us to go to bed without eating. Okay, like, instead of eating three good meals in a day, you would choose to eat two or one. That’s the background I come from.

So God has given me the education, [and] I have this privilege today to be here at CAPA, getting one of the excellent education I can say in my life, having great professors, teachers here, and everything we having here. This is very comfortable environment for somebody because the trait of school. And to me, this is God’s grace. So it stretches from when I was young, I still see God continuing up to now. Yeah.

Q7

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Please, I need strength. Number one, the balancing of the school. The school is overwhelming. The balancing of that with my work and all that so that God should give me the strength. I want to finish this, and I don’t want to be overwhelmed and the demands of my job take over and all that. I want to remain on the course and finish it. I stay very far, […] so the two weeks that I’m here it means completely blackout with my family and all that. So I need God’s grace.

And my family, my wife, and the children, that they should understand, and God gives them the grace for these three years that I finish, and then I give them all the time. Of course, in the two week break, I will do my best and give them the best provision for resources that I can make it travel here and back those 360 kilometers.

And also the understanding of my employers, current employers, that they should be able to be flexible with their timing and all that so that they don’t squeeze me and put me on a point where they say, “Choose between this and this.” You know, so that flexibility to be there.

And yeah, above all this, I want more of God. I want more of God because I want to serve Him better, so you can also pray for me […because] I want to experience something beyond school. here. I want the whole process above everything to draw me closer to God so I know Him better, and I can serve Him better.