Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ministry to the Orphans in Zomba

Yesterday was another glorious day of seeing God move in a powerful way.

First thing in the day, we traveled out to the orphanage near Zomba to visit the new work that the pastors are undertaking there.

We turned down a very rutty path and passed through rows of newly planted coffee plants clinging to the side of the mountain. Our car, a small Toyota 4wd similar to a Camry, bottomed out frequently as we slowly crept toward our destination – the orphanage site.

We arrived to find a large crowd assembled and waiting for our arrival. There were perhaps as many as 150 men, women and children sitting patiently under the shady trees.

After we debarked, we were greeted by the village headmen and offered a seat. The bishops and headmen spoke briefly (Well, as briefly as can be expected in Africa) and welcomed us to the site of the orphanage. Currently, there is only a building standing there which is used as a classroom. The orphans stay with the mothers and fathers who have taken them into their homes to care for them.

Practically all of these orphans are without parents due the every present HIV/AIDS problem in Malawi. I saw no shoes on these children and mostly ragged, dirty clothing. There were however, many beautiful smiles in the crowd.

I stood to present the gospel to the crowd. The children were very patient – much more so than American children. I may have spoken a little too long for the children, but I believe that the Holy Spirit was directing my message and I trust Him. In the end, perhaps as many as 50 people indicated their desire to receive Christ. (It was very difficult to tell and I am trusting God that their commitment will endure).

A slight cultural misunderstanding occurred when the villagers saw the size of the gift that we brought with us. You will remember that I mentioned the fact that Africans are receivers from my previous update. Bryan and I had purchased a 50 kilo bag (About 110 lbs) of rice and a 50 kilo bag of sugar.

Had we known that our gift was only a token, and, had we been better prepared for our visit, we could have done more. In fact, our gift probably only helped a handful of the children at best seeing as there are only 600 orphans in the village.

After leaving, we returned to the guest house for lunch and to prepare for the evening service. Sampson, our house helper, had prepared a very nice and tasty spaghetti meal for us.

About 3:30, the bishops came to pick us up for the service at one of Bishop Tangwe’s churches. We again journeyed down some very poor paths to get to the place where the church was located.

Upon arrival, we discovered that our bumpy ride had punctured the gas tank on the car.

We continued on foot to the church. Children were coming out of the woodwork like little ants shouting, “Azunga, Azungu!” This is typical.

When we arrived in the church, the congregation was worshipping and praising God. Their joyful singing brought much needed light to that dimly lit little church. The floor of the church was dirt and the pews were mounds of dirt that were shaped and compacted like the adobe bricks that you see frequently here. The pews were “padded” with old burlap maize bags so as to avoid getting dirt on the parishioners clothing.

I preached a message on How to Share Jesus from Acts 8 with Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. It was very well received and the people seemed excited about the challenge of sharing Jesus with their friends.

Today, we will be at Bishop Khula’s church for worship, and we will tie up loose ends with the committee in a planning meeting.

Please continue to pray for us here in Malawi. The journey home is very long and tiring. I hope to get a few days rest upon returning home.

Darrel – From Blantyre, Malawi

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Miracle in Mpemba

Miracle in Mpemba

I wanted to update you on our work here in Malawi and the progress toward the 2008 crusade. We had a wonderful vision meeting with over 40 pastors and bishops in attendance. I brought a message from Acts 17 on God’s Heart for the City based on Paul’s visit to Athens and Mars Hill. It was well received.

Please pray for these pastors as they decide whether to participate in the 2008 crusade. I have presented a new way of thinking to them – namely that their churches are going to have to contribute financially to the local budget cost.

One young pastor stood and said that he was challenged because the Azunga (whites) had paid for everything in the past; that the whites only saw African churches as receivers. He said, “This is why God is not blessing our churches – because we are only receiving and not giving!”

We want to empower them so that they can see God do great and mighty things.

Now, for an update on yesterday’s adventure and God’s providencial appointment…

Bishop Khula and Bishop Edward graciously offered to take Bryan and me to a game reserve to see some animals. Usually, I am so busy on these trips that I never have time to see any of the local scenery so I was glad for the privilege.

When we arrived at the game preserve, Bishop Edward’s car started having problems with the battery. That should have been a sign from God for us…

After we pushed the car to get it started, we proceeded to drive down the rutty paths that they called roads. We saw a few animals including some monkeys, springbucks and other unusual species. We even saw some huge cape buffaloes.

As we drove further in the park we took some lesser traveled paths in the reserve. Soon, we ran out of path! (I think we may have even stumbled into Mozambique!)This was fine until the car stalled out again in the middle of nowhere. By that time, Bryan and I started to get a little concerned.

We had only a half liter of water each and I had a few energy bars. The pastors had no water at all. This game preserve was huge and we were so far in, it would have taken days for anyone to find us. We had no map either as the ranger was fresh out.

Brian said that he figured he could pretty much out run me and that I could keep the pride (of lions) busy for a while! Thanks brother!

After praying we finally found on of the main paths, and more importantly the road signs pointing the way back to base camp. After about another 45 minutes of driving, we made it to the front gate alive and well.

As we left there and passed through the Shire highlands, the car started acting up again. This time, it was the spark plugs. We nursed the car through the mountains to within about 5km of Blantyre coming to rest near a roadside stand in Mpemba.

As Bishop Edward phoned for another car to fetch us, we began to notice some children walking down the road. Bryan pulled out his instant Polaroid camera and offered to take their picture but they kept going. Soon, they came back again and passed us.

The next thing we knew, people from the village started showing up. Bryan snapped a few photos and gave them to the people. We all realized that this was a divine appointment and the good news needed to be proclaimed.

So I went back to my pack and got out the evangecube. I began to share the gospel while Bishop Edward translated. There were about 30 people or so and a few children in the crowd. Nearly all prayed to receive Jesus Christ!

God’s timing is incredible! We went from being lion bait to preaching the gospel in the space of a few short hours. Praise God for his work.

Today, we are traveling to Zomba to visit an orphanage and will return to preach at Bishop Tangwe’s church. Please keep us in pray for the remainder of the journey.

Darrel – from Blantyre, Malawi

P.S., There really were no lions on the preserve, only hyenas and leopards! J

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Power Failure

Recently, I received a well meaning, but sad e-mail from a missionary couple with a particular organization which dismissed proclaimation evangelism and advocated a long term approach to preparing people before presenting the gospel. Their concerns stemmed from the difficulty of following up on people who made decisions during the harvest event. Furthermore, they claimed that mass evangelists were the exception in the New Testament.

Well, here we go again! I can't tell you how many times I have heard the argument that proclaimation evangelism doesn't work these days, or never worked at all. I often wonder if they have actually read the New Testament.

The Apostle Paul said, "For since, in God's wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message PREACHED." [Emphasis added] 1Co 1:21

They have somehow missed the fact that the church, on the day of Pentecost, was birthed out of mass evangelism through the preaching of Peter. They have missed the preaching of Paul, Steven and Phillip the Evangelist in Acts.

I try to imagine Paul, as he approached Athens and was provoked by the spiritual condition of the city, thinking,"I really need to build a relationship with these people, share some Old Testament stories with them, and maybe, just maybe I'll get to tell them about Jesus!"

One of the greatest needs in the church today is a revival of the confidence in the Gospel to save whosever, wherever whenever it is proclaimed. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Salvation is God's business. Our business is to proclaim the message of salvation and believe that God will honor that by saving the person who responds to the invitation.

let us renew our confidence in God's message to save.