Success Story: Malawi & Zambia
Most pastors, after teaching the sessions on biblical stewardship, noted a significant increase in congregational giving. When asked what the additional income would go towards, the most common response was either the pastor's house or the church structure, but also many congregations mentioned that they would be giving part of the increased income towards social development programs such as the ones that Rev. Dladla offered. "We are going to pay our debts, start a home care project for the aged and HIV/AIDS victims."
Rev. Dladla responded in this way when asked what the response of others was to the Project Africa (Timothy Institute) material:
"It was received in an amazing way because many accepted that this is a method that is biblical and very user-friendly and creates an atmosphere where all congregation members can meaningfully participate in God's work. So they influence the whole city, province, ultimately the whole nation and the whole world."
Rev. S. I. Chilongodzi of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Nkhoma (Malawi) was asked what the most significant change that he has seen in his congregation because of Project Africa. His response: "1) Spiritual life of elders have changed to a high degree; 2) Elders are able to give more systematic pastoral care than before; 3) Christians have experienced God's blessing through their giving; and 4) Congregation has come to a point of being self-supporting and independent."
Rev. Daniel Tembo of CCAP (Zambia) comments: "This program is an eye opener on the rediscovery of the high stewardship potential hidden in the general membership of the church and with much more commitment to teaching, a lot more could be acheived. May the Lord himself continue to lead us all."
Many pastors, afer returning from Project Africa, faced initial discouragement or even rejection. Rev. Zachariah Pedro Mbewe of the Reformed Church in Mozambique tells of his experience in taking the Project Africa action plan back to his congregation.
"I'm thankful to the Lord because of what he is doing in members' lives even in my life too and my wife. I did not expect that people of that congregation can accept to contribute for development at the congregation. This is because when I gave my action plan to the church council there was a negative response. I myself felt sorry thinking of what I learnt that it was useless. I was unhappy with this.
"I even thought of stopping doing everything there becaue they did not accept my action plan, but although it was like that God spoke to me in another way -- that was the word from Zach. 4:6. I knew the plan of God that he wants us to be serving mercifully. Then from there I started teaching on Sundays instead of normal sermons and at the end there was great achievements.
- We constructed a pastor's house; everyone was eager to contribute.
- We started a program of development fund and everyone is so happy for this.
- Tithing increased up to 100%! We just thank God for this program of Project Africa.
"My comment is that it should not stop because (it) is helping the congregations to know how they can depend on their own."