"Malihambe!" - How it all began
A vision is given
Several years ago a Local Preacher in the Trinity Society of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa was visiting one of the ministers, Rev Janet Verrier, when she picked up a commentary lying on the dining room table. Mrs Agnes Ntlakane asked what the book was for, and Janet explained how a commentary was a vital part of a preacher's preparation. Then came the "million dollar" question - "Is there such a book available in my own language?"
The next day Janet asked that question of Rev Dr Neil Oosthuizen, the senior minister at Trinity. After much searching and phoning around it became apparent that the answer to Ma Agnes' question was a resounding "No!" And so the vision of "Malihambe!" was born...
"I don't use this language comfortably," says Neil, "but it was like a light coming on. I knew that God had just given me my life's work... a "preacher's toolbox" that is appropriate for my context within the MCSA, readable, affordable, and accessible."
Within two days he had outlined 51 books and settled on the title: The Malihambe! Bible Series. "Malihambe!" is an isiXhosa word meaning "Let it spread!"
The vision begins to take shape
Neil had just published a Bible study In the beginning... Allowing Genesis 1 - 11 to address our lives today (Johannesburg: Chris van Rensburg Publications, 2006, available from Malihambe Publishers), and so was ready to start work on another book. He finished volume 1 Malihambe! Reading the Bible in Southern Africa today, and approached the Presiding Bishop of the MCSA, Rev Ivan Abrahams, to write the Foreword. Having agreed to do so, Ivan asked who was publishing the book. Neil had to admit that he had a file full of rejection letters from publishers across the country. "Why don't you try Africa Upper Room Ministries?" Ivan asked. He had received a phone call from Upper Room Ministries in Nashville, USA, the previous evening, asking him to encourage Methodists to write, as they were keen that AURM begin publishing African authors!
It just so happened that one of Neil's colleagues at Trinity, Rev Ike Moloabi, was a director of AURM. Neil met with Father Ike and Roland Rink, CEO of AURM two days later. Both were excited by the vision, and undertook to clear it with Upper Room in Nashville. Late the next day Roland phone: "Nashville have given the green light!"
The vision is born
Roland "found" a young Christian typesetter, Tracy Spalding, who gave the book a fresh and innovative look. She recommended the now-familiar cover - primary colours with an "African" silhouette, and the animal skin in the corner denoting the language of the book. The book was published in September 2008, and launched at the annual Methodist Conference in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
The vision spreads
Over the next four years AURM published the first three commentaries in the Malihambe! Bible Series, as well as various translations:
~ September 2009 - The Book of Good News - A commentary on the Gospel of Mark (volume 33, Neil T Oosthuizen)
~ September 2009 - seTswana translation of Malihambe! Reading the Bible (vol 1)
~ September 2010 - isiZulu translation of Malihambe! Reading the Bible (vol 1)
~ July 2011 - Afrikaans translation of Malihambe! Reading the Bible (vol 1)
~ July 2011 - isiZulu translation of The Book of Good News (vol 33)
~ September 2011 - The Book of Hymns (1) - A commentary on Psalms 1 - 72 (vol 19, Neil T Oosthuizen)
~ June 2012 - The Books of Living in Jesus - A commentary on the Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (vol 40, Charles Perry and Neil T Oosthuizen)
The vision grows
Early on in the life of the Malihambe! Bible Series it became clear that there was a desparate need for a simple, text-based small-group Bible study on the various books of the Bible. And so the Malihambe! Bible Studies were born, a study for Home Groups and Class Meetings to be published as a companion to each commentary:
~ September 2009 - Living the Good News - A small-group Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark
~ February 2012 - isiZulu translation of Living the Good News
However, it soon became apparent that there was also a huge need for Malihambe-type books on spiritual growth and the devotional life. And so, with the encouragement of Upper Room in Nashville, the Malihambe! Living Spiritually Series was given life:
~ September 2010 - A Simple Rule for Life (book 1, Neil T Oosthuizen)
~ April 2011 - isiZulu translation of A Simple Rule for Life (book 1)
Of course, as preachers, teachers and "normal" members within the MCSA embraced the Malihambe! Bible Series so the need was expressed for books specific to Methodism and the MCSA. The Malihambe! Wesley Series was launched late in 2012:
~ August 2012 - John Wesley's Sermons, For Today in contemporary English (Book 1, Neil T Oosthuzien)
And it continues to spread - Malihambe!