As Christians were celebrating the rising from the dead of their savior Jesus Christ, on Easter Sunday, Fannie Malemia a woman with hearing impairment was having a celebration of her own, rising to a new challenge.
“I ordain you a pastor of Living Waters Church [LWC] International,” pronounced LWC founder Apostle Stanley Ndovie through a sign language interpreter to Malemia, as she knelt on the pulpit besides her husband Robert ‘The Artist’ Malemia who is himself deaf and paints beautiful murals (story of another day).
The ordination essentially makes her the first with her kind of disability to be installed as a pastor of the Pentecostal church in Malawi. She is probably one of a few if there are any at all in the Southern African country.
Fannie and her husband Robert. Photos courtesy of LWC Media
Malemia could not hide her excitement.
“I’m very happy that the doors are opening. Deaf people have been in hiding but this time are around they are welcoming us in the church, to be preached to through an interpreter.
“I would like to thank Apostle Dr SS Ndovie for his vision to open doors for people with special needs. I would like to reach out to the deaf, the blind, I would like to enter those doors to go and preach,” she said.
Malemia, 31, was ordained after graduating from Living Waters Bible College with a certificate in Theology after a year-long study.
Apostle Ndovie (L) ordains Malemia
“The Bible says the stone that was rejected by the builder became a chief cornerstone. Meaning, everyone whether they are have a disability or not has their own gift and they should be allowed to bring it out,” she said.
Introducing a special needs ministry in LWC was a vision of Apostle Ndovie’s. A couple of years back, the church sent one of its pastors Immanuel Zalira to study sign language and offer interpretation in church. Zalira has since been teaching others how to communication with the deaf.
“What really motivated us was that we noticed when travelling around, we see people with special needs are neglected, many were not even going to churches. We said this is not right, because we are neglecting a people that also need Jesus.
“Today, I’m so happy even for us to be able to ordain Pastor Fannie. She’s been travelling to other places and sharing the word. She’ll be able to reach out to people that others may not be able to reach out to; to some special needs of the people and that is very exciting to us because we are doing what Jesus told us to do,” said Apostle Ndovie.
The church plans through Pastor Fannie and others to extend ministering to people with special needs across Malawi.
The 2018 Malawi Population and Housing Survey estimates that 377,000, 139,619 people have hearing, speaking difficulties, respectively.