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Andrew Kingston retired from his career as a chartered accountant in 2013, and lives in a quiet Oxfordshire village with his wife, Rosemary. Yet, for this man, retirement is a busy season in life, thanks to his love for the people of Malawi, and a bond of faith and friendship that has endured across the waters for over three decades.
In 1974, Andrew was engaged to Rosemary, a young teacher from a missionary family background in Northern Ireland, who had taken up a teaching post in Livingstonia, Malawi. On a visit there in the 1970s, Andrew was significantly impacted by the abject poverty he witnessed and, upon his return to England, began exploring opportunities to use his accountancy training for Christian advancement in East Africa.
By 1976, the Kingstons, now married, were living and working in Kampala, at a time when President Idi Amin’s policies were undermining Uganda’s stability and inciting global outrage. Already challenged with food shortages and a fuel embargo and, in the aftermath of an Israeli-led counter-terrorist mission to free 102 hostages from an Air France plane held by President Amin at Entebbe Airport, the couple were forced to dramatically flee Uganda with their one-week-old baby son – just as the UK severed links with the country.
By the early 1980s, now settled back in Buckinghamshire, the young family took up God’s call to return to East Africa, where Andrew joined a Malawi-based firm to open their regional office in Lilongwe. Each Sunday, the couple and their friends would listen to tape recordings of sermons posted from their home church in England. As these informal front room gatherings grew, a challenge emerged to open the meetings up, in particular to local Malawians seeking English-speaking Bible teaching and worship.
Accepting an offer to use a local college for their Sunday meetings, the first public service was attended by 14 people in September 1983, with the formation service of Capital City Baptist Church (CCBC) held two months later. Attendance of local people grew apace and, by God’s grace, the new church was gifted a sizeable plot of land. However, this was conditional upon CCBC paying for an access road, with funding needing to be in place within just six weeks. Despite limited means, and whilst still relatively small in numbers, the church prayerfully hit target with 48 hours to spare. Soon after, CCBC was conducting its first full immersion water baptism in a borrowed builders trough!
By 1986, CCBC had constructed a church building on the new site, with capacity for 250 people. Situated near Malawi’s parliament, the church subsequently built its Christian Heritage Primary School, now educating around 350 children (85 on scholarships). Then came Adziwa, a ministry initiated to support a community struggling with the spread of HIV. Initially, this was a social housing project accommodating AIDS orphans and their foster carers. A partnership with Church of the City in Nashville, led to the development of a second school, now educating over 700 primary and secondary school pupils, with HIV orphans being educated free of charge.
By 2000, the Kingstons had settled near Oxford, where Andrew worked at the University until retiring four years ago. Despite over 7,000 miles between them, Andrew has continued championing the work of his African church family and, in 2014, he and Rosemary returned to Lilongwe for the 30th anniversary church celebrations.
Now ministering to a congregation of over 800, CCBC has long since outgrown its building, and more than three decades on, it has implemented plans to expand its infrastructure. Faced with a growing urban youth population – over 50% aged under 26 – and the ongoing HIV problem, the church’s priority is to construct a modern youth centre and offices, with a new auditorium planned at a later stage, to expand its community and education work for the next generation.
Having spent further time in Malawi exploring the veracity of these plans, Andrew launched ‘Friends of CCBC’ in 2016 – a small band of volunteers committed to raising awareness and funding for the building project from outside Malawi. Andrew’s goal is undoubtedly ambitious. Whilst the Lilongwe church membership has raised 50% of the building costs from its own resources and gifting, £400,000 is still needed. It is Andrew’s work on this appeal that keeps him busy and, with construction work well under way, ‘Friends’ aim to help CCBC realise this goal and further God’s work in Lilongwe for the next generation and beyond.
For more information, visit www.fccbc.faith.
Anne Baden, wife, mother of three young boys, Oxfordshire businesswoman and supporter of Capital City Baptist Church, Malawi
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