Photo Credit: Jan Butter/ACNS
by ACNS staff
The secret to interfaith harmony in the Lake Malawi diocese is gracious behaviour towards Muslims and sharing the Good News of Christ, according to the Dean of All Saint's Cathedral in Nkhotakota, Malawi.
The Ven. Baird Mponda told ACNS in an interview today that Malawi has a relatively high number of Muslims compared to other countries in Central Africa - around one fifth of the national population.
This is because Arabs brought the religion with them many years ago when they came to the area to trade first ivory and then slaves.
However, Fr Mponda said, unlike other parts of the continent, Muslims and Christians generally co-exist peacefully.
"I hear about lots happening in the world in places where Muslims and Christians don't get on," he said, "but the Lake Malawi diocese is one place where Muslims and Christians do. They even intermarry but still keep their own faiths. Both go to their own places of worship.
"Husbands will say, 'I am allowing my wife to go and pray with you.' They release their children to get baptised."
The Ven. Mponda said it was the long history of both Muslim and Christian heritage in the area that was part of the reason for the peace in the region.
"I go to Muslim funerals and they thank me for coming. I preach in public and Muslims come to me afterwards and thank me for the sermon."
He explained he was careful not to attack Muslims' beliefs, but never shied away from speaking about Jesus.
"You don't attack their religion, but you preach the Gospel," he said. "You have to be sensitive. You don't argue with people or stir them up. That's not going to transform them. It's God who is going to convict their hearts."