“We want to follow people where they are and engage with what they want,” said Simon Mwanamoya. Simon heads up the OM SportsLink ministry in Africa and Edah, his wife, leads a ladies ministry in Makululu, Zambia. Their common goal is to share the Word of God in any way they can, which has led them to ministering through football and sewing.
For the youth roaming the streets of the compound trying to find a day job, going to church is the last thing on their minds. The same goes for many of the ladies selling vegetables along the road, trying to make ends meet and feed their families. These are the people whom the Mwanamoyas want to share God’s love with. “[If] they can’t go to church, then we need to bring the church to them,” explained Simon. He believes that God calls people to go and make disciples, not to stay and wait for people to come into the church.
Many people living under the poverty line see the church as indifferent to their suffering and brokenness and feel that the church will not accept them as they are, shared Simon, remarking that this is a common struggle for many who are marginalised in their society. The couple trusts that God has the power to touch all these souls, so they decided to be the church for them, on the football field and at the market, becoming a football coach and a business trainer in order to spend time with people.
Discovery Bible Study (DBS) is their key method as they reach out, following the principles of 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (NIV). The challenges of the youth living on the street become opportunities for them to testify the power of God, said Simon. The Mwanamoyas open their house for the youth and ladies to visit, showing them how God’s love models a family. They have had the joy to witness many families restored, and youth resume their schooling. “The people who were forgotten by their family can even be light in the family [now],” said Simon.
The couple, both from Zambia, tasted the goodness of God’s Word in their youth. Simon remembered as a young boy sitting around the fire and listening to his grandfather share Bible stories. He said his grandfather lived out the truth that “Jesus is real” in all areas of his life. “Talking about Jesus was his campaign as a sub-chief,” Simon recalled and felt it was natural for him to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.
For Edah, an elder in the church visited her home and shared about Christ. She experienced God’s power as He helped her stay away from the temptations that she struggled with at that time. When the couple met, they both knew their life goal was to share the Word of God with others.
After Bible school, they pastored in a small town for 15 years, hosting many outreaches from ProChristo (now OM in Zambia) and churches. Interacting with teams who shared about the Great Commission and demonstrated creative ways of doing ministry challenged the Mwanamoyas to think outside of their comfort zones. They desired to see people who are not usually found in churches transformed by the Word of God. This passion led the couple from traditional church pastoring to ministry with OM.
“The passion to see God work’s in people who have not heard the gospel grew, and I no longer wanted to be confined in the church building,” shared Simon. In 2010, the couple attended various OM trainings and began to participate in the ministries in Kabwe. Since 2017, Simon has been coordinating sports ministry for the continent of Africa.
Due to the new coronavirus, many sports practices had to stop. Simon, however, could still mentor and coach local leaders throughout Africa via social media. He walks closely with 16 leaders in eight countries to help them reach out through sports in their cultural setting. No matter if it is WhatsApp, Facebook, Teams or Zoom, Simon has learnt to use any platform to journey with the coaches around Africa.
When the pandemic hit Zambia, masks became an essential item for every person stepping outside their home. Edah saw this as an opportunity. While many workers worried about how to continue their ministry, God reminded Edah of the story of the widow giving what she had to Elijah. With the idea of using what she had to bless others, Edah started a sewing project. Gathering the ladies in the community, Edah taught them how to sew face masks to sell or give away. This not only helped increase the income of the ladies but also helped the vulnerable who couldn’t afford masks to have protection.
“When we give out the masks, people will know this is from the love of God,” said Edah.
As of August 2020, Edah and 12 ladies have made approximately 8,000 masks to distribute in poor communities and 2,000 masks to hand out to students. While sewing and giving out the masks, the Mwanamoyas did Bible study with many of the people they met. Edah explained that “the foundation for the project is that salvation is to all and we need to make [the gospel] real in all situation.”