Renewal 2027 testimony: Anabaptists today
Renewal 2027 is a 10-year series of events organized by Mennonite World Conference’s Faith and Life Commission to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This series highlights leaders in the movement from history to the present.
He is quiet and unassuming, gentle and humble in disposition. But, when he is addressing the church, he commands attention. He sings and dances with vigour and energy that belies his nearly 60 years.
This is Laston Bissani Mitambo, an evangelist who has planted many churches in the Palombe District in Malawi and in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique.
Bissani was born in Malawi in 1959. While he was in primary school, he enjoyed looking at the tailors creating garments on their machines. When he completed schooling, he immediately went to training as a tailor
He married Eniles in 1979. Eventually, the family moved to Blantyre, where he worked as a tailor.
That is where he received Christ 11 January 1986 during a street-preaching episode. He learned about the love of Jesus, little by little, until he was moved to repentance and salvation.
His brother who attended a Brethren in Christ Church introduced Bissani to this church. He grew in faith there, and served as treasurer.
“But, I was also itching to share the message of God’s love. I shared the gospel whenever and wherever I could.”
In 1990, BICC Malawi appointed Bissani as national evangelist.
“I love for other people to know this same Saviour who gave me a new and beautiful life. I find much joy in bringing people together who have come to know Christ, so that they start worshipping together.”
After Bissani’s studies at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi, BIC Malawi sent the newly ordained reverend to Mozambique in 2003 to grow the Malawian church in the Zambezia Province.
“It is not always easy to reach some of the areas,” says Bissani, who has slept on the streets or in the bush on his evangelistic travels. “I have lost some of my belongings to thieves.”
He travels alone or with an assistant. “We spend three or four days doing door-to-door visits, then a crusade. We leave someone leading the preaching point and follow up whenever we can.”
But one day Malawi BIC had no more funds to support church planting work. What would Bissani do back home? His heart wanted to carry on evangelising in Mozambique.
He remembered that the Apostle Paul was a tent maker. Using his skills as a tailor, Bissani could support his family while he did the work the Lord had called him to do.
Bissani now receives a quarterly allowance from BICWM that complements what he gets from his tailoring business.
Eniles died of cancer in 2009. Bissani married Carlotta, who was with the BICC in Beira, in 2010.
A recent graduate of a four-year Theological Education by Extension (TEE) course, Carlotta “has been a great wife and partner in ministry.” Bissani and Carlotta have one son together in addition to his eight children with Eniles.
Bissani’s dream is to start a Bible school in the northern region in Mozambique to train many leaders “so that it will be easy to pass the baton.”
Currently, with support from the BICC administrator in Mozambique, Bissani trains church leaders who come to Milange for seminars on leadership, salvation, the Holy Spirit, Christian life, evangelism, church planting and ecclesiology.
The spirit of evangelism is a fire shut up in Bissani’s bones. His face in animated when he speaks about his work as an evangelist. After 16 years of sharing the gospel and planting churches in Malawi, and another 15 years in Mozambique, does he have plans for retirement? “I will stop this work when God says, ‘Laston, stop’!”
—A Mennonite World Conference release by Barbara Nkala. Barbara is the MWC regional representative for Southern Africa.
Laston Bissani helped to plant multiple congregations in:
- Zambezia province