Tim and Rachel Stone
About Tim and Rachel Stone’s ministry
Zomba Theological College, a ministry of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), is Malawi’s biggest theological college and the only one training Presbyterian pastors in this central African country. Its graduates mostly serve congregations in four CCAP synods, Blantyre, Nkhoma, Harare, and Livingstonia, and in the Anglican Council of Malawi. Malawi churches are experiencing a severe clergy shortage, which Zomba seeks to address. The school has requested a mission co-worker to teach Old Testament and Hebrew, and Tim Stone has been selected for this position. He will be supported in this role by his wife, Rachel.
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Located in southeast Africa, Malawi is land-locked and one of the most densely populated nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity is the dominant religion (55 percent are Protestant, 20 percent are Catholic, 20 percent are Muslim and 3 percent practice indigenous religions). A mostly agricultural country, Malawi’s main industries include tobacco, tea and sugar. Poverty is pervasive, and some 73 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Most Malawians are subsistence farmers, but consistent droughts and floods hamper their ability to produce adequate food supplies. In addition to population growth and difficulty with agricultural production, corruption in government and leadership, poor access to education, endemic malaria, malnutrition, extremely high maternal mortality, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.
About Tim and Rachel Stone
When students enter Tim Stone’s classroom at Zomba Theological College they will encounter a professor eager to teach and committed to preparing biblical interpreters to serve Malawi’s congregations.
“From the time I was very young, I have always wanted to study the Bible and to help people understand what is often a very confusing text—the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible,” Tim says. “When Rachel and I learned that Malawi was home to a thriving church but that there were few resources for theological education, we were excited about the possibility of serving alongside our brothers and sisters there.”
“We have always hoped to serve God’s church,” Rachel says. She wants to use her gifts as a writer and teacher in the service of Christ’s church. Her literary heroine is Harriet Beecher Stowe, a 19th-century writer best known for the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe, she explains, is “a writer who used her words to change the world.”
As a Bible scholar Tim says one of his challenges will be to probe Scripture for its relevance to Malawi’s situation. “How do you preach the good news of peace in Christ in a country with fresh memories of famine, regular seasons of hunger, and high rates of disease and childhood mortality?” Tim asks. “Does the Hebrew Bible have any salience to these kinds of issues? Rachel and I think s' and are eager to explore this with our Malawian friends.”
Both Tim and Rachel cite Isaiah 55 as a key Scripture that guides their lives. It’s a passage they will rely on in Malawi, they say. “We love Isaiah 55 for its invitation to everyone—even people with no money—to ‘come to the waters’ and its peaceful vision of God’s renewed creation,” Rachel says. “It reflects God’s ideal that everyone be fed—both with literal bread and with the Bread of Life.”
Rachel, a native of New York, and Tim, who was born in California and raised in Montana, met while in college in Philadelphia. Both hold degrees in biblical studies. In addition Tim earned a master’s degree in biblical studies from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and completed doctoral studies in Old Testament at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Rachel received a master’s in English at Loyola University in Chicago. She also trained to be a doula (childbirth assistant) and received certification.
The Stones are accompanied in Malawi by their two sons, Aidan and Graeme.
Rachel – September 30
Tim – October 27
Aidan – October 4
Graeme – April 20