Pressure mounts as churches refuse ban

President Lazarus Chakwera with members of the clergy in this file photo

The debate on government’s restriction on church services rages on as members of the clergy view it as a measure aimed at destroying the corporate fellowship of the saints which is core to the growth and enormity of the church.

Senior Pastor of the Pentecost International Christian Church (PICC) Esau Banda observed that the devil is always afraid of numbers as he knows that when believers cannot meet in their large numbers, they will be weakened.

Quoting the Biblical Proverbs 14:28: “in the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince”, he said it is an honour to God when saints gather in their multitudes to worship and celebrate Him.

“In this regard, we should never be swayed by those who say that we want to continue gathering for offerings sake. That's cheap talk. We want to continue meeting, and doing so, in our large numbers, because that's part of the "core" of our relationship with God. That's what the church is all about”

“And going by what is happening, it is abundantly clear that the evil one wants to use the pandemic to stifle the worship and honour of God which is achieved by both meeting in small groups and in large corporate gatherings. One cannot replace the other,” said Banda.

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Banda: Its clear that the enemies of the cross want to suffocate the church through whatever means. Picture courtesy of PICC media

He explicitly stated that when the law stifles God’s will and the church is convinced about the same, Christians can choose to defy it as was the case with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego who refused to worship and serve gods of King Nebuchadnezzar.

Banda also quoted Acts 4:18, where Peter and John were commanded by the government not to preach again in the name of Jesus Christ and this was a gazetted and published directive duly approved by the authorities.

He called on believers not to be timid but stand up for their right of freedom of worship.

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Members of PICC keenly following a service of worship

“So, where it is clear that the enemies of the cross want to suffocate the church through whatever means, including, the passing of toxic laws against the church, laws that don't make sense; there is a place where the church can actually say, enough is enough and act in defiance!

In an update, Reverend Francis Mkandawire, General Secretary of the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) said the concerns from the churches have been presented the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 during a meeting held on Thursday.

He indicated that government has agreed to review its position on the new rules and will make a statement to the nation as soon as possible.

Mkandawire acknowledged the anxiety the gazetted rules brought to the religious community.