Mala is pastoring Antioch Baptist Church in Blantyre, Malawi, where he has been laboring since 2008. ABC began as a Bible study with the help of an American missionary and has since developed into the only reformed Baptist church in Blantyre. Mala was married on June 15, 2013 and is now joined with his wife Rachel in Blantyre.
Testimony of Conversion
I find it such a great privilege to testify about the grace of God in my life because it brings me back to the day when the Lord stooped down from above, looked upon me and my wayward ways, and pitied me. Just at the right time, He took a hold of me and delivered me from what I now know as the way to the city of destruction (Romans 5:6).
Born into a family of six children, five boys and one girl, I attended boarding schools for most of my early years. During this time, I started to heavily pursue the things of the world while striving to find real joy in all the wrongs places; in things like alcohol, weed, pre-marital sex, and other things. Even though I continued for some time living this way, the Lord had mercy on me while studying engineering and during my third year in college, He allowed a situation that was the first-fruits of my awakening. A group of fourteen to fifteen young men, mostly in their twenties and thirties, attacked me in broad daylight and got away with everything on me. They left me wounded and in a pool of blood and I was gripped by the fear that I was going to die due to the wounds I had sustained and the blood I had lost.
I knew that my life was not where it was supposed to be. I had heard the Gospel message in bits, having the knowledge that God was one who hated sin and took no pleasure in it. I also knew that He was the one who gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for sinners if they repented of their sins and believed in Him (John 3:16). I knew that all who died in their sins went to hell without any negotiations. All these were just facts in my head that had not reached my heart. With this knowledge, it left my heart restless for some time during my recovery from the wounds. I kept pondering my actions and my ways; that I was not living right and that I was a sinner before God (Romans 3:10-18). In my mind, it was not a question of where I was going if I died. The verdict was clear that I had sinned against God. I knew that God was not pleased with my ways and that He would be justified in sending me to hell. I was convinced that my life was wrong on every point and God was righteous in every way.
Three months passed of strong depression and thoughts of surrendering to God. Begging for forgiveness kept on ringing in my head and finally at the end of 2003 and beginning 2004, I came to a full realization that the only way was Christ and Him alone. I then cried out to the Lord in repentance. After that incident I was convinced that I was given a second chance; otherwise my life was supposed to end as early as the day I was mugged. The Lord had mercy on me and gave me a new opportunity to live.
Call to Ministry
Upon completing my engineering course and finding a job with a telecommunication company, I worked for some time while teaching a men’s Bible study that was meeting in my room. Eventually, we had to move to the nearby Southern Baptist church that we attended to also accommodate a group of young ladies that the Lord was saving at that time.
In 2005 as time passed, the Bible study had grown and I found myself with quite a busy schedule. I continued to teach and preach the Word, not only in the Bible study but in other places where we would often go for evangelism. Work then started becoming a burden upon the ministry of the Word that I was carrying out. It came to the point where I would be at work physically but my heart and mind would be away on visitation, or preaching somewhere, or just visiting believers and encouraging others. By this time, I had developed a strong sense that I needed to be at a place where I could serve the Lord in ministry unhindered and my job, which I loved, was slowly becoming a great hindrance due with its demands.
A number of people, including my pastor in the Southern Baptist church, would testify that I had a call to preach. Every now and then, they would give me opportunities to preach in the church (Blantyre Baptist Church with about 400 members). At the end of the same year, I felt the Lord was pressing upon my heart the same thing every body was saying. I obeyed the heavenly call (Acts 26:19) that during my second chance to live the only thing I would do was serve the Lord full-time. I resigned from my job to the surprise of most my family, friends, and classmates. I had such a difficult time in explaining to those I loved, including my parents, the thing that was happening in my heart. I could not put it into words, but I was very convinced and it was very clear for me, that the Lord wanted me to serve Him by serving His people.
I spent the years 2006–2007, serving in Blantyre Baptist Church voluntarily. Those were the hardest years and brought a lot of questions from people around me: my parents and other close relations and even from my mind as well. Everybody wondered if I was really called to minister God’s word and I felt I was being tested by my Lord. It was in 2006 that I came in contact with reformed theology, which was foreign and alien to my church and many of my peers. Even though I had read “Here I Stand” by Martin Luther and a few other books, I didn’t understand that there was a world of people who believed in the ancient truths and their Christianity was shaped by a true understanding of God’s word. By the end of 2007, the Lord brought a lot of solid and reformed Christian material my way and I saw quite a picture of what the reformed faith is like. Discovering E-sword was such a paradigm shift and it has been a treasure up to this point.
I began sharing these books and other internet articles with my friends and the people I was ministering to and it was like fire broke into the hearts of a couple of young people. This did not go well with the elders of the church and I was labeled a heretic and confusion. I went from discussion to discussion with the leaders, (five deacons and the pastor) about the beliefs and practices in our church that resulted in a lot of immorality among those who professed to know the Lord. This is what grieved me the most and compelled me to continue preaching the way I did. At the end of 2007, it was evident that I was no longer accepted in my church and the pulpit was taken away from me. I was never called to preach again. By this time it was clear to me that my time had come to an end at this church, so I left even though not knowing where I was going.
I took some time away for a month with my parents during which I prayed that the Lord would open a door for me and show me where He would have me serve Him. This was at the beginning of 2008 when the Maxsons, a missionary family from USA, invited me to serve with them in Zomba alongside Percy Chisenga, a missionary from Zambia connected to HeartCry. Serving in Zomba for almost a year with these men was a great learning experience for me. We kept praying for the group of believers I had left behind in Blantyre who were facing similar struggles and praying that the Lord would open a door for a new church plant. In the middle of 2008, the Lord gave some of us a burden to move to Blantyre and plant this church. We moved in August and by September 7, 2008 we had our first service. It was a blessing for me and many to see what the Lord had done.