History of Namikango

Mbiri ya Namikango

Prior to 1964 Malaŵi was known as Nyasaland.  About 1950 Garnett Limani, a Malawian Preacher in the Jali Area, Zomba District, received a copy of a magazine from America named Gospel Tidings. We do not know how this magazine reached Malaŵi.  Brother Limani worked with seven or eight congregations under the name “New Testament Church of Christ.”  The editor of the magazine was G.B. Shelburne, Jr., a gospel preacher in Texas, USA.

Brother Limani corresponded with Brother Shelburne for several years and Brother Shelburne occasionally sent small amounts of help to Brother Limani’s churches.  In 1956 W.J. Leach succeeded Shelburne as editor and Brother Limani corresponded with Brother Leach as well.  In about 1957 Brother Limani asked Brother Leach if missionaries could be sent to Malaŵi to help his churches.  In 1958 the Ninth Street Church of Christ in Ballinger, Texas, sent an American preacher, Brother C.B. Head, to Malaŵi to investigate the need for missionaries.  The next year Brother Head returned to the United States recommending that a long term mission be established.

The Ballinger church agreed to sponsor a mission and chose Roland and Wanda Hayes and G.B. Shelburne, III, and his wife Ruth as missionaries to Malaŵi.  The missionaries arrived in 1961 and purchased a 90-acre estate at Namikango near Thondwe in Southern Malaŵi. The estate was converted into a mission station.  A Bible School was immediately opened, offering six courses a year over four years.  Students could graduate on completion of all 24 courses.   The mission also operated a primary school near Jali and later opened a maternity clinic at the mission in 1974.

At the time Namikango Mission was established, there were a number of separate groups of Churches of Christ operating in Southern Malaŵi.  Some of these groups gradually began working together with Namikango.  These included a group of 25 congregations brought to Namikango by George Masangano before his death.  Attendance at the Bible School and at training meetings grew rapidly.

American missionaries who have served at Namikango included:

From its beginning Namikango has worked in close cooperation with Mainline Churches of Christ missionaries in the various regions of Malaŵi, and to some extent with One-Cup Churches of Christ missionaries.  Namikango has also cooperated with missionaries of the Independent Christian Churches, which come from the same roots in the American Restoration Movement.

Though its primary interest has always been the training of church workers in the Bible School, Namikango has continued its educational and medical work and has encouraged local churches in Southern Malaŵi and Mozambique through church visits and special meetings.  In addition to the Bible School classes at Namikango, more than 20 other study centers have been developed.  Study guides for the Bible School courses have been published in Chicheŵa and are available to local churches for their own use.

Over time, more and more functions at Namikango have been turned over to Malaŵians.   The Bible School is now headed by a Malaŵian, Rodrick Maluwa, and most of the teaching is done by Malaŵians.  A Malaŵian, Bisani Mphongolo, heads the business operation of the mission.  Besides Garnett Limani, other key Malaŵians who provided leadership at Namikango in the past are J.H. Chidothe and John Katete.

Besides the Bible School, Namikango Mission operates Namikango Maternity Clinic at the mission and Ntonda Primary School near Jali.  Teachers from the mission also visit and encourage local churches.  Special conferences are held for church leaders, women and youth. Agricultural seminars help church leaders and others get better yields from their farming.