The public dimension of practical theology: the contribution of the Zambezi Evangelical Church in addressing poverty in Malawi
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The prevalence of poverty in Malawi is one of the challenges that raises questions amongst almost every Malawian. There have been efforts by the government and different religious organisations to fight against poverty. The results have not been so promising considering the rate at which poverty is still increasing in Malawi. Based on previous studies on the church and the poor in Malawi, it is evident that the increase in poverty is caused by ineffective methods of addressing poverty in the country.. In light of the high levels of poverty in Malawi, the researcher was prompted to investigate how the Evangelical Church, particularly the Zambezi Evangelical Church could be improve its contribution to addressing poverty in the country. The objective was to understand and recommend an improvement for the Zambezi Evangelical Church’s contribution to addressing poverty from a holistic point of view. This study used Osmer’s (2008:4) framework for practical theological interpretation to answer the research questions and meet the objectives. Osmer (2008:4) develops a framework for practical theological interpretation in congregations by focusing on four key questions: 1. What is going on in a given context? 2. Why is this going on? 3. What ought to be going on? 4. How might the leader shape the context to better embody Christian witness and mission? Based on the first question of the framework, the researcher assessed what was going on in Malawi in terms of poverty. The study found that poverty in Malawi is pervasive, deep and severe. The country is experiencing chronic poverty considering that most of the poor people lack food and can go to sleep without eating anything. The situation of poverty has been perpetuated by different factors in the country. An empirical study on how the ZEC is addressing the challenge of poverty was conducted. It was found that while the ZEC has a biblical foundation to engage in addressing poverty in Malawi, nevertheless, their involvement is not properly guided to yield the results. The issue of leadership within the ZEC emerged as one of the reasons why the ZEC is challenged in addressing poverty in Malawi. This study proceeded to look into the Bible on what God’s word says about poverty. It has been found from the Bible that God has a concern for the poor. His concern is shown in different legislations in the Pentateuch which were given in order to give directions on how the poor should be treated in societies. The directives that the word of God gives, is that the poor should be empowered to come out of their poverty and also to be cared for by the church. The recommendations were given on how the ZEC can improve the leadership and enhance their engagement in addressing poverty. The ZEC should promote servant leadership within the church, establishing the department/organisation that will specifically deal with poverty issues, assume a prophetic role, fostering true unity and partnering with the government and other stakeholders on more developmental programmes.
- Theology