The arm of the Lord has not grown shorter’, says Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre, in Malawi, ‘for there are still miracles, even today’. He can speak with authority, as he experienced one himself .

That was 11 years ago, on the day of his consecration as bishop. Suddenly, his Muslim father knelt before him and asked him for baptism. For many years his father, who was the Imam in his village, had tried to bring his son back to Islam. And for as many years his son had prayed for him in turn.

Anyone who knows just how much power and authority the father wields in a Muslim family can imagine just how difficult the relationship of a son with his family had been, ever since he had converted to the Catholic faith as a youth and joined the Montfort Missionaries. They had taken him in when his mother died.

He was five years old at the time. By the age of 12 he wanted to become a priest. He attended school, studied, took his permanent religious vows, sought his father’s blessing – and received the response, ‘Go to hell! You are destroying our culture.’ Even his sister and his two brothers wanted nothing more to do with him. At the age of 34 he was ordained to the priesthood, and nearly 8 years later he became Bishop of the diocese of Zomba.

The young bishop, as he was then, lifted his father to his feet and embraced him silently. Tears flowed. His father said: ‘God has touched me, I want to be baptised.’ So then his son explained that he, the trained Imam, would have to learn the Catholic faith as a catechumen, just as the learned scholar Saul had done 2,000 years before.

Today his father is baptised – and the rest of the family is as well, because the bishop prayed for them for many long years. And the Imam’s son, who is now Archbishop of the financial metropolis of Blantyre and chairman of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, is also a key figure in the dialogue with Muslims and the other religions of the country. Their problems are not with the traditional Muslims of Africa, but with the fundamentalists from abroad, who threaten the Church with destruction.

We are supporting Archbishop Thomas with many projects for the New Evangelisation, including support for marriage counselling, the family apostolate and above all the training of catechists. Archbishop Thomas prays a great deal for ACN, as he believes in the power of prayer!

This article can be found in Mirror 0415.