“I’ve learned through CAPA that inasmuch as you need to be doing well academically, you have also to do well spiritually.”

Samson Cholokoto

Program Master of Divinity ('18)
Age 37
Ministering in Thyolo
Family Wife and two children

Samson has seen a difference in how he spends his time as a result of attending CAPA. After graduating, he wants to spend more time with his family, continue preaching, and perhaps write books based on what he learned at CAPA.

$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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Samson talks about how his church's congregation responded to the use of expository preaching.

Samson talks about how his education at CAPA has changed his way of doing ministry and his way of preaching.

Samson shares the most important lesson he's learned during his time at CAPA.


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Interview with Samson Cholokoto

2017 2016 2015

Q1

Which class have you liked the most, and why?

Q2

How have you seen your preaching change over these past few years at CAPA?

Q3

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

Q4

What has been your biggest challenge during your time at CAPA?

Q5

In this final year, what do you look forward to learning the most?

Q6

How has it been for you, balancing the duties of a full-time student as well as the duties that come with pastoring a church?

Q7

Do you have any plans for ministry?

Q8

Do you have any prayer requests?

Q1

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

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

How did you learn about CAPA?

Q6

What is your favorite memory at CAPA so far?

Q7

What are your friendships like at CAPA?

Q8

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

Q9

How has CAPA influenced your family life?

Q10

What challenges have you faced in ministry so far?

Q11

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? How did you decide to become a pastor?

Q2

How did you come to believe in Christ?

Q3

What are your plans for future ministry?

Q4

You’ve been pastoring for a while now, you said nine years. What are some of the challenges you have faced in ministry? What has the Lord taught you through these challenges?

Q5

You attended CAPA for your Advanced Diploma. Did coming to CAPA change the way you did ministry, or the way you preached?

Q6

What did your congregation think when you started using expository preaching?

Q7

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Q8

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

Q9

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Q1

Which class have you liked the most, and why?

I think I’ve liked most the Greek subject. Yeah. Sure. Greek exegesis and the introduction to Greek. Yeah.

Why have you liked the Greek classes the most?

Yeah, I think it has enhanced my understanding of the Scripture because previously, I just used to read the Scripture in my native language and second language, which is English. But now, going into the Greek text, I will find things that you wouldn’t find normally in the English text.

How would you say the Chichewa Bible is doing in terms of a translation?

I think the people that did the translation of the Chichewa Bible did a good job. But my observation is that they did it through the King James Version, which is a translation as well, and it’s not an original text. So they took it from the King James Version. But now, reading for myself in Greek language, I see things that you don’t get—even through the King James Version—because in the translation process, there are things that are lost; but when you get to the original, you get the most. Sure.

Q2

How have you seen your preaching change over these past few years at CAPA?

Yeah, my preaching has changed tremendously. And it’s been a blessing because, I think, apart from studying the Greek, there is also the part where we study on how to preach and do all sorts of things. But in terms of the actual preaching, I would say there is a lot that my preaching carries now than it was before. Because now that I’ve got all the Greek tools that I need to go into the original manuscripts, I’m able to do the word studies and get to know as to what it meant at that particular moment in time and how I could apply that in our modern-day preaching. Sure.

Could you remember back when you first started preaching and give a few examples of how they were different than how they are now?

Yeah. The difference is on the time that I was spending on preparing my sermons. It has changed because right now, I have to do a lot—I have to do a lot—and I’ve got better tools now to use. Whereas back in time, I had no tools to use, so I would preach the truth of God’s Word, but maybe on the surface. But now the tools that I have after going through CAPA, I’m able to dig in the Scripture and get to the core of God’s Word.

Q3

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

Yeah. I’ve learned through CAPA that inasmuch as you need to be doing well academically, you have also to do well spiritually. And being at CAPA, I’ve learned that this college is structured in such a way that ministers to your academic part but also your spiritual part where you evaluate yourself—how you are living each and every day of your life because most of the time, I’ve attended some seminaries before, but the emphasis would be on biblical academics. But CAPA is designed to minister to you spiritually and also at the same time [give you] academic work.

Q4

What has been your biggest challenge during your time at CAPA?

I think the biggest challenge has been time. Yeah. Time has been the biggest challenge because I now have less time with my family. I have less time to do other things that I would want to do on another normal day. Right now, I have got less time because I have lots of assignments that I need to do—I’ve got ministry to do, a family to be with. So right now, I do not have that much time.

Q5

In this final year, what do you look forward to learning the most?

I think I’m excited to finish and go and do what I have learned because right now, I’m learning, and I’m doing the things that I’m learning, but maybe at a minimum level. But when I go now, now that I will not be having assignments, I will have to now execute what I have learned here. So I’m looking forward to doing what I have learned here. That’s the greatest joy that I’m looking forward. Also spending as much time as I can with my family so, yeah.

Q6

How has it been for you, balancing the duties of a full-time student as well as the duties that come with pastoring a church?

All of those, I think, are important areas of life. Of course, God is the most important amongst all of the things you have to do. So the priority, first, goes to God; and then you look also after your family well, and also to your academics and to ministry. So, I think all those items are important, but then it just matters how to portion the time—just how you can be effective even with the little time that you have. And the priority goes to God, family, ministry. Yeah, sure.

Q7

Do you have any plans for ministry?

Yeah, I’ll continue pastoring; I’ll continue pastoring. But I’m planning to be writing some theological books, just to pass on the knowledge that I have gotten from CAPA. There are other audiences that you wouldn’t get to, apart from those you have in church. I think through books and other ways and means that I could reach to other people; I think I will pursue that line as well. Yeah. Sure.

Q8

Do you have any prayer requests?

Yes, I have! [laughs] I have. My prayer request is that—I need prayers, like, in the area of strength: the Lord just to strengthen me as I minister, as I study, as I am with my family. I need God’s guidance even in this final year. I’ve got a lot of work to do; I just need God’s grace. My prayer request would be God’s grace, just to finish what I’m doing now. Yeah.

Q1

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

More of His love is what I have come to understand more. Going through the book of Romans. How He has justified us through Jesus Christ. Yes, sure. Yeah, Romans 5, 8, chapter 4, as well. Justification by faith.

Q2

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

I think He has grown me a lot in terms of prayer, and also in the area of looking well after my family. Yes, as per the instructions of Scripture. Especially the kids, the instructions, raising them up in the instruction of the Lord. Sure. I think that the kids are behaving well now. I also go through the Scriptures with them. They now understand what the Lord requires for them as children, and what the Lord requires of us as human beings as well.

Q3

What are you looking forward to this year?

This year, I'm looking forward to know more about God, especially this time around when we have just studied Hebrew, beginning Hebrew. I'm looking forward to understand more of the Old Testament, the truth, the foundational truth that is coming from the Old Testament, and marrying that with New Testament theology, which I'm more familiar [with] than the Old Testament.

Q4

What wisdom from wise men has benefited your ministry?

Yes, yes, a lot. One of the leaders in our church. We call him Pastor Ndovi. He has been of great help. He is mentoring us in the Lord. How to live as man as through the teaching of the Bible as well. How we need to have patience, how we need to suffer a lot, with a love for Him. Not really as an outward thing, but as something that is coming from truly inside of us. Sure.

Q5

How did you learn about CAPA?

I just got a brochure from my senior pastor actually. And I looked at the brochure itself and what CAPA is trying to do, I thought I should really come and study, because [my pastor] has really been of great help to me.

It has really opened my eyes a lot. We have done hermeneutics, and still doing it, but I should think that previously, I used to go into Scripture with so many presuppositions, which are not true. But looking at all the hermeneutics class, it has given us looking at the Greek text. I am now able to get to the meaning of the text and what the original author intended to say and how it applies to our lives today. Sure.

What are some presuppositions that you had before?
Yeah, there’s so many examples. Um, like, previously, um, I’d say during prayers, you just quoting of Matthew 18, you’d be saying whatever I bind here on earth is bound in heaven. And you know, you used to pray like binding demons with that Scripture. Those were just presupposition because we now after learning hermeneutics, studying the text, you know it’s not talking about such things. It’s actually talking about discipline. So such presuppositions are now gone. Sure.

Q6

What is your favorite memory at CAPA so far?

Yes, my favorite memory is actually studying Greek. Yes. It's a favorite memory going through it and looking at the original text. It's so rich and so precise as well, more than the English version that we use now, so it's very helpful to learn Greek. Sure.

Q7

What are your friendships like at CAPA?

Yeah, at CAPA, we live like family. The students live like family. And our professors are kind. We're able to mix up with them. They eat what we eat. We sit together. We mix up. We really have a good relationship and friendship with the students and the teaching faculty.

Q8

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

Yes. Idols of the Heart [by Elyse Fitzpatrick]. Yeah. Idols of the Heart really have formed a really big impact upon my life. Because previously, you used to have demands on God that I really want this, God, and if you don't do it, it's like maybe God is weak or He's not willing to bless, et cetera. But I have realized that those things are just idols of the heart. What matters the most is to have God whether in suffering or in riches, God must be central. Yeah.

Q9

How has CAPA influenced your family life?

Yes, I think… [it] has brought me and my wife very close, because there are times that we have assignments. Those assignments, I have to do with my wife. Mainly from marriage and counseling, but also from pastoral ministry. So doing those assignments together, she discovered some areas that according to the Bible, I’m not doing well. So she’s able to come through to me oftenly ‘cause she knows the Scripture’s authority, whereas previously we wouldn’t do that. But it also impacts on our life as well because the things that are required of me, it’s also an instruction even to her. So there’s a bit of a accountability. [laughs]

What is one example of an assignment you had to do with your wife?
Like the elders’ evaluation qualifications, yeah, so you go through all the qualifications. The elder should be a man of one wife, able to instruct his children, not a novice, and several of that things, being able to even take care of his family. So going through all those things has been so helpful. Patient… and so many things in there. Sure.

Q10

What challenges have you faced in ministry so far?

If I would say a challenge, maybe in terms of ministry, I'll talk about time. Because school demands time. There are assignments and also you have to be in class, and at the same time there are demands of ministry as well, which has to be met, so the challenge is how to push your time for both to move well. So if there has been a challenge, I think it's time for ministry, time for school, but I know both comes from the Lord.

Q11

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

If I give an encouragement to Malawians, I will encourage them to really study the Bible in its context, because when we miss the context of the Bible, our interpretation will always be wrong. And once you miss God's meaning, you miss God's Word. So, my encouragement to Malawians is that we should be able to study. I really wish everyone, every person in ministry will have the ministry that we have now of learning here at CAPA. If everyone was here to learn, so that we can teach the truth out there. I know people are trying to teach the truth but when you don't have the tools, it doesn't work out well. So here, we're getting truths, so I hope that everyone has the same tools so we can really preach the word of truth.

Q1

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

Yes, I am currently an associate pastor. I’ve been an associate pastor for the past 4 years, but I’ve been a pastor for 9 years now. I decided to become a pastor when I felt that it was the will of God for me to do that—I felt the urge and the conviction inside of me that there is nothing else I could do apart from serving the Lord. So, I pursued that conviction and became a pastor...about 2 years after I was saved, yes.

Q2

How did you come to believe in Christ?

I was at college then, so a friend of mine came to me and asked me if I could go to his church, so he invited me. So I went there and attended the service, and when the preacher preached, I felt convicted, and I realized that I was a sinner, I realized I needed Jesus. And when it was time to make decisions, when an altar call was made, I gave up my life to Jesus Christ. Basically he was preaching about the salvation that Jesus Christ gave us from Romans 5.

How did your life change after you believed in Christ?

After I believed in Christ, I think my life changed completely. Completely. Because I used to be misbehaved at home, I used to do all sorts of things, I was a sinner in general—I think that changed my character. Christ started to reign in my life and to direct me.

Q3

What are your plans for future ministry?

For the future ministry, the plans are that I will be pastoring a church, and also I’ve got, I think, the zeal to be a Bible college lecturer as well.

Do you know where you would like to pastor?

Mainly, I would like to be here in the central region of Malawi. But for the future, I think I’ve had a conviction to pastor in sessions [a group of local churches in the denomination]. It just come into my heart—I’ve got a heart for the country, yes.

Q4

You’ve been pastoring for a while now, you said nine years. What are some of the challenges you have faced in ministry? What has the Lord taught you through these challenges?

Yeah, there are so many challenges that comes in ministry. The major one being resources that we need. The other challenge is, pastor a church is more challenging—you’ve got to have, you have always a tight schedules. Lots of things to do—visiting people, preparing sermons, preside over funerals, etc. Then you have family at [the same] time.

The Lord has taught me through these challenges that His presence is sufficient. His grace is sufficient whether you’re working under pressure or you’ve got less work, His grace is sufficient, and He is the one that strengthens us. So that has taught me to rely upon Him, no matter how much is on the schedule.

Q5

You attended CAPA for your Advanced Diploma. Did coming to CAPA change the way you did ministry, or the way you preached?

Yes, yes, it really helped me to change the way I do ministry, the way I preach, the way I approach the Word of God. I think it’s different right now, because many times before you just go into one Scripture, pick it, then you preach it without doing a proper observation as we are taught here.

And also, I used to preach [topical] messages; they were all [topical] sermons, but now I am doing exposition, book to book, verse to verse. So, yeah, it has been so helpful—I think it has brought out enlightenment in my life and in my ministry, sure.

Q6

What did your congregation think when you started using expository preaching?

They like the expository preaching so much. It’s like you’re preaching another Bible altogether when it’s the same Bible, so they would be asking to say, “Where were all these things, how are you getting these things? We are being blessed and our lives are being transformed.” So it’s very transforming, yeah.

Q7

What are some ways we can be praying for you?

Pray for us, for ministry—for God to continue using us for His glory. And also, so that the Holy Spirit can open our eyes so that we can see more treasure that is contained in His word.

Q8

What is your favorite thing about Malawi?

[smiling] My favorite thing about Malawi is that… Malawi is a beautiful country, and the people are very friendly.

Q9

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes, maybe I would like to just, thank the Lord for the coming of CAPA. I really wish a lot more people would join at CAPA to learn how to expose the Scriptures. And I also want to appreciate the work that the lecturers are doing—they are doing a very good job with the materials that they are giving us.And also the sponsors, those people that are sponsoring us—we’ve got good materials, good lecturers—so a combination of that is very helpful. So, may the Lord bless them all!