Malawi: Prophets in Malawi Want Churches to Be Recognised As 'Essential Service'

12 August 2020

Prophetic Ministries Association of Malawi (Promam) is calling on governemt to recognise churches as essential services during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic measures.

Prophet David Mbewe and Senior Prophet Justice Hara argues that churches can provide spiritual and social relief for Malawians.

Government gazetted new Covid-19 rules which limits public gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, including places of worship to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

But Promam statement urges the Ministry of Health to revisit the 10-limit measure on gatherings and conduct adequate consultations with institutions directly affected.

The organisation has described the recent restrictions as seriously wanting in fairness despite the church being one of the institutions which has so far embraced and observed a commendable level of strictness in adhering to COVID-19 prevention measures such as hand-washing, wearing of masks and observing the 100 people gathering.

It acknowledged the economic impact of the restriction as most churches depend on offerings that are made during prayers for them to fulfill their role in supporting the spiritual, social and emotional demands of human beings.

The statement said preventive measures that are being imposed on gatherings have seriously affected the in-flow of resources that faith institutions rely on for their functions.

"At the moment some faith institutions are utilising online facilities and faith media outlets such as radios, online applications and TVs for the most of their communications.

"However, such means of communication require resources to operate which in most cases are obtained from congregational offerings which at the moment are already compromised," read the statement.

The statement follows a study which was recently conducted by the Malawi Interfaith Aids Association (MIAA) and Act Alliance which has indicated that 53.8 percent of religious institutions in the country are experiencing significant decrease in member attendance.

It stated that this has resulted in subsequent decrease in members' financial contributions and has relatively affected the church's ability to support its operations including paying staff.

Meanwhile, Promama found it strange that while markets are still left to transact their activities in a manner as if there was no Coronavirus such as mask-free and social distance free, the church is being targeted.

"Government has chosen to excuse such by being unclear regarding such community boroughs. Or could it be that churches are easier prey for politicians as never has it been heard of believers marching in protest or causing disturbance?

"The 10 limit gathering measure is so unclear because for once it is not being advanced in relative terms to space. 10 people in a small room is not the same as 10 in a hall and or Church.

"How about 10 people in a super-market where air circulation is with limited ability than a Church?" queried the religious body.

The statement noted that when people are going through a disaster, there is need for leaders to find ways of sustaining the operations of faith organisations because among others, all hardships people face, manifest through mental health turbulences of which churches are well placed and equipped to assist.

"As a nation we need to remember that the power of prayer can never diminish and we must strive to make praying a possibility at any situation when it is in our hands to do so because times do come when praying is needed but never a possibility"

Prophetic ministries challenged the authorities to apply comprehensive, fair and balanced approach to prevention in the nation efforts of defeating the pandemic.

Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes small droplets - packed with the virus - into the air. These can be breathed in, or cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, then your eyes, nose or mouth.

So, coughing and sneezing into tissues, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with infected people are important.

People will be most infectious when they have symptoms, but some may spread the virus even before they are sick.

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