Monday, July 18, 2011

the blessing to give

I was working on the report for Somebody Cares for this quarter when I stopped at the story of four little girls that has truly changed my life. No, they are not from Malawi. These girls come from Arizona. They are Adoniah(9), Eliana(7), Samara(6) and Tzuiyah(4). These little girls gave their savings for Disneyland and through their generosity we were able to buy shoes for 224 children who had never worn shoes before. I wish I had been there when the shoes were given but I was stuck behind a computer. But I heard the stories; Charmaine said kids peed in her hands, scared because of the shoes. Some cried and some laughed while others tried walking in shoes. I have so many shoes that it is hard to imagine never having worn shoes or even having one pair of shoes. But I heard the stories and I saw the pictures! And they lifted my heart to a place I cannot explain. 
More than the day and more that the pictures what truly changed me though is the story... the story of these little girls. They touched me. I cannot believe what they did right until today. It is still hard to comprehend. It is not hard to imagine but to reconcile, well, that is another affair altogether. Thin about this- saving money for a car, saving thousands and thousands and then one day giving it all people you have never and may never meet. This is what they did. They just responded to a call to help and made a decision. It was all their savings, these little girls and they gave it all. Could you do that? I can honestly say, I probably wouldn’t be able to. 
There is a lot of support that comes to aid our communities and the story of these little sisters has made me so much more appreciative of that support. I know theirs is not the only inspiring story but it is the one that never leaves me. Every friend I have has heard this story because it talks about the childlike heart Jesus wanted and still wants us to have. The one that says, “Yes, we can give all we have because God will take care of us.” That takes trust in God, a trust that growing up ruins, what with its bills and fears and plans. I ask myself, “when was the last time you gave with such reckless abandonment?” I can’t remember...too long. What a blessing it has been to hear and experienced Jesus through these precious little souls. 
I pray that they never lose that in them...that life and people do not rob them of that precious heart of obedience to God and I pray more earnestly that I am changed and that you are touched. 

Monday, February 14, 2011


May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths,
and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor. Amen."

— Craig Groeschel (It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It)

Thursday 10th February, 2011. A ten tonne truck makes its way into area 47 destined for SC. it was meant to be here a few weeks earlier but the fuel crisis in the country has affected a few things. There are 10,544 packets of fortified porridge on it, beans for alternate feeding and bicycles for teachers and patients. It is a very VERY different scene from the earlier days.

Moses and Theresa reminisce as everyone sits and listens. It is a few hours after the staff has toiled and taken every last packet off of the truck into storage, preparing for the following day’s distribution. Arms and legs are weary but hearts are full and expectant. Theresa has a glow... joy that comes from knowing that it was not all a crazy plan, that God had spoken and slowly and surely the vision is coming to pass. She and Moses laugh. They recall the early days when an ox-cart would come down the road and deliver cabbages for the ministry and the neighbours would laugh, “they say it is a ministry they are doing.” But cabbages were the only affordable way to reach out to the hurting, with love and something for the hungry bellies. People everywhere were dying, infected and affected and they did what they could to help.

There were days of walking 7 kilometres to town to meet to talk to NGOs, to try and get anyone to listen and care for the lives that were being wasted away in Tambala, Matanda, Mgona and other communities. As we listen, they bring up a Mr Mkandawire (God bless his soul), who would let them visit his home and make phone calls because they had access to none. And there was that other lady that would allow them to send emails for free so they could let friends and partners know what was happening. It has been a long road but the journey continues. From two people walking and working together to the unit that is the family of SC, to the extended family that is across the oceans; yes, it has been a long road but the journey does continue. That long road, of lives lost and trust gained, the death of lives and yet the birth of hope. It has been a long road of partnership, linking the communities with friends and partners who CARE.

And having seen the truck pull up, it took everyone a moment to regain composure of what God has done because the truck represents lives ... over 6,000 children are being fed, touched with kindness and care. If nothing else let us say that...over 6,000 children don’t have to worry about a meal at such a young age. In a small way we can say together, that we have helped give back to them their childhood, for poverty does not only rob stomachs but dreams and without a dream everything stands still.

Thank you all for the partnership that is established and rooted in love. Thank you for all the years of support where as Moses’ arms were held up, we too have been held up by your love and support. Together we have victory over the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy dreams and through dreams...lives.

And thank you to our Master, Father, Friend and Lover who cares. The plight of the hurting touches His heart and His heart touches ours...then we touch theirs.

Monday, January 31, 2011

raising the bar - a renewed passion

2010 was a year filled with awe. We had a slogan...”WOZA 2010”. Woza, it is a south African term loosely meaning “come forward” or “advance”. And we did see GOD advance and the ministry advance and more than anything, the lives of the people we love in community advance; not advance in our direction but in that of their dreams. More children were fed, more lives saved and more care given to those who would otherwise be a statistic. We ended the year filled with purpose for the next. There was work to be done and we were the labourers. 

2011...the start of this year has already told us what to expect. “Raise the bar – a renewed passion...God is doing a new thing, can you not perceive it?” these are Theresa’s words. God has truly blessed us, confirming to us yet again that HE is the SOMEBODY that CARES. With 10 new feeding centres that have opened up, it means we now have 25 feeding centres, giving a nutritious meal to over 5,000 children! It is a new year and God is doing a new thing!

The energy around the office is one of excitement. There is so much that is “new”. We have new staff this year. Nicole Bunderson has joined us and lends her expertise as a photographer and writer to reporting and helping to keep all our partners and friends up to speed because there is much to be done and we are in this together. Yes...Moses, Edward, Singano, Fatimata, Katherine, Charmaine, Phiri, Steve, Theresa (and the other Theresa), Chipi, Nicole, Mary and me....Together , WE are DOING that new thing that God is doing...we - as in you over the oceans and we in the warm heart of Africa.

With a ‘new thing’ comes progress...change. For one thing, the style of partnership in community has grown. We now have core groups made up of leading members of different ministry components of SC. Support Group, Widows, Youth, Chiefs all make up a part of the group that will speak for their community. This way, they can have ‘more’ of a say in what takes place in their communities. It is EMPOWERING. It means OWNERSHIP. It means RESPONSIBILITY. These are not words easily learnt and it has taken years for communities to begin to take the wheel and steering their way forward. 

This year you will find many voices coming through on this blog. Through it I hope you hear of all that is happening, experience the wonderful works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in. I pray you join us on this journey.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Love and Mercy

The most incredible time of my life...has happened...

This weekend I invited two young ladies to join me in my home as my guests. The first time I met Chifundo, she was at a youth club meeting. We were sharing the vision of SC to the youth and she was so outspoken that when she spoke, the guys were quiet and listened. She commanded a certain authority that is very rarely seen in the village. Hearing her story was even more incredible. The bible says deep calls unto deep...and I know it has a deeper meaning but for me in that moment, her spirit and my spirit recognised each other. I wanted to know her and to spend time with her. She was formidable in a culture that has women docile and unsuspecting. She was ...beyond words. Looking at her you can see that life has taken its toll on her but she has come out fighting. For five years she has lived alone – a single girl struggling to make it. She has tilled gardens and worked for others just to put food on the table. She has been without help until now...

Loveness is an incredible, phenomenal woman. Her smile comes from such a depth that I envy the nicest sense of the word. Her father was paralysed and bedridden and she had to become the breadwinner and take care of her family...while still putting herself through school. She lives in Mtandile, speaks English and is adorned with such a confidence that it is surprising. She overwhelms me and I fail to find words enough to describe her. But here she is in my home...blessing my heart with her presence.

Both these young ladies are a blessing. They are the future...the women not of tomorrow but of today. They have both, in different settings, refused the advances of young men wanting to get with them. They have vision and purpose...theirs is not a simple dream...they have set their limits further than the sky and this weekend and the others to come have something to do with that.

God had a plan...bring the girls into my home and watch their mindset change. Let them know how very precious they are...these beautiful darlings who may not be known by many but are known by Him...God.

When we arrived at the house they were giggles and squeals, peels of joy and laughter. None of them had ever been anywhere like where they were. Chifundo’s house is the size of my humbling is that. I feared she would pass out. In their room were laid out outfits for their weekend...skirts and blouses for their trip to town and t-shirts for hanging around the house. At the foot of their bed...a food parcel to take home after weekend was over. Both girls are new to everything they see and they are given a tour and instruction by Edward (who nicknamed himself, their paparazzi, snapping pictures every moment)...everything is new...the bathroom, the beds, the TV, the food...everything. They smile and laugh as they are showed everything. This is, of course after they steal away to pray and give thanks to God.

“I am dreaming...” Chifundo kept saying. I felt like I was dreaming. Their hearts are magnetic...drawing me to love more and more.

“I can’t believe this is happening. Me, in area 47, in this house, at this high table.” Linda, a friend and partner from Arizona was with us and I wondered what it did for the girls to just sit at home and chat with her and watch her serve them and just be there. What a stretch for the mind...

We talked for hours, finally saying goodnight around 10pm. I am too excited to sleep. They are in the next room. I wonder what they are saying to each other. It feels like I am on a of them. Wow, imagine entering a world you have never seen. Chifundo has never seen electricity...she is silent and then bursts into a statement of wonder.

I tell the gils why they are there, how I have been desiring this for so long. How I wanted to remove the limits and boundaries that life has put on them...that they are precious princesses...deserving of everything that is happening. That this is not a once off thing but a beginning...

“ I want you to know that you can sit on a sofa and watch TV and spend time in this place...that it open up possibilities to you knowing that this is possible. No one should make you feel less than what you are. We are going to have a wonderful time together...this is a beginning.

We laugh and laugh together...

We talk about the goodness of God...

What else is there to say but that God is good....

Saturday the girls spent together. They went out to Steers and had ice cream. Neither had ever tasted it before...they commented on just how cold it was...and sweet! I am not sure what to do with that. My first memory with ice cream is too far back for me to recall...which makes this moment even more amazing. When I think about the many flavours I have tasted, and beside me sit two girls in wonder of the taste of ice cream.

Sunday we have to take my little sister to the airport and so we make our way to the airport. Loveness tells me that it is because of their names that they are here “Because of the Love of God and because of the Mercies of God.” How true. It is the first time for the girls to see an aeroplane...yeah and who knows if one day they could be boarding that plane...who knows the possibilities that God has for them...

We Say goodbye and there are tears. We pray and praise God together. It feels like time has stopped and we are in a place of peace and beauty. In all my life I have not felt this...indescribable.

I walk them down the road and they disappear around the corner with Edward....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Destiny's Life Force, Destiny's Power Source

This Thursday was our second in the book of Romans. We got as far as verse 6 of chapter 1.

The trip out was difficult as I was feeling sick but at least the roads were not wet and muddy...well, not as much as they usually are. On arrival, we had a wonderful time of prayer. It is amazing to see the growth in prayer that has taken place with this group of leaders. We can sense the power of God as we pray and the singing is nothing less than amazing. Mr Nkhoma is sick but still comes and so his nephew Yowasi leads. His voice is just full of intimacy. You just know that He knows the One he is speaking about. I always count it a privilege that I can be a part of this type of worship...because sometimes in town, we are taken up with song words on brochures, or the wrong key that the keyboard just hit...or that could just be me. Things like that distract me. Things like spelling errors in the song words and microphones that suddenly stop working. Not always but sometimes, I get distracted. In the village, it just seems so simple...focus on God, worship Him because He is worthy to be praised. And that we did.

Our first order of business was to see whether everyone had done their homework of memorising their scriptures. Romans 8, verse 1 and 2. There was applause as one after another men and women, young and old recited the verses. 31 were flawless, 11 were able to say one and 11 others were unable. Each group received encouragement and admonition as was fitting. Of the 31 flawless was Nadiyango, who is a lady from Kasakula (in Kalimbira). She is illiterate but because of the availability of the talking bible, she is able to hear the word as well as recite it. when she recited her verses the room was filled with cheering! She now comes to the class with her chief who is a believer. What is beautiful about Group Village Headman Kasakula is that he sits amidst his fellow leaders (somewhere in the 5th row), never looking for special treatment. He is an eager student, raising his hand and attempting to answer questions. When I think about the people that he is over and how we find myself teaching is a little unsettling. I guess that is the beauty of the Kingdom...the cross is the great equalizer...we are all one in Christ.

16 of the 31 that flawlessly said their two scriptures did not have bibles and were given Full Life Study Bibles as it is the standard bible for the class. It affords the group a concordance and articles as well as commentaries. We now find people from the village able to tell you when a book was written, why and the main theme of that are just blown away. Though bibles have doubled in price in the last year most of the class has still been able to have one. It now costs 60% of what it costs to feed a family of.

The highlight of the day was an old granny who had not memorised her scriptures but told us how much she loves the class and how people are even asking her now where she learnt all that she knows, “I may not be able to memorise but I love this class, I love learning.” It was a warming testimony. She became my granny. I love having grannies....

In our teaching we covered being equipped for the calling of God. We talked about being in a foreign country, like Mozambique but having Malawian Kwacha. “You cannot use Kwacha in Mozambique. You will find yourself sleeping on the street, going hungry just because you have money but it is not for where you are. God has supernaturally equipped us, He has graced us to do the work that He has called us to but that grace of for what HE has called us to. There is not grace to the sense that there is no empowerment from Him, now favour, now supernatural ability to sin. There is grace to make it out of sin. Walking outside the will of God is like being in Mozambique with Kwacha. The wealth that God has deposited in you will only bless you and others when you are where He has placed you, when you are fulfilling your destiny.”

We also talked about how nothing is made without purpose. Everything has a purpose before it is even made, and that goes especially for us that are made in His image. Our very existence in this day speaks to the truth that we have purpose in this day.

We left with a sense of purpose, of humility in realisation that we need God to constantly keep us on the path that He has set for us because our hearts were filled with this awareness that we WILL stand before Him to give an account as to whether we lined up with the purpose for which we were created.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It all started with a bold declaration...It will not rain on Thursday! It did very very hard, although before that...there was an entire morning of sunshine. In order to get out to community during the rainy season, we must either have no rain, or consistent rain. Going out we had no rain and coming back we had consistent rain. This meant we could make it through and praise God for that! This was unlike two weeks earlier when we had the truck spin in almost 60 degrees while we sat in the back and prayed profusely that we might not get stuck in the mud. We made it out of 5 such muddy situations during that one journey and arrived an hour later than our usual class time...only to find everyone praising God and waiting to hear the word. Come rain or shine...they come to hear the word. It is humbling...bowing our backs down to the place where we are overwhelmed. Could I walk through the rain to hear the word? Do I love Him that much? Sometimes during rainy days I fail to rise and praise Him even in the comfort of my bed, so the question that always never fails to leave me is this: why would they come to hear me?

It is a blessing to feel this though because it cuts you off at the knees and brings you down to size...the bible calls it humility...daily dwelling dependency on God because as debased as our hearts and minds are...we all need God to do anything. That is the heart in which we find ourselves in 2010...needing God desperately.

And so we find ourselves being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are launching the Somebody Cares YAFORCE youth manual. YAFORCE was an acronym that the founder, Theresa, came up with, long before there was anything. No, office, no staff, no anything and she said...”YAFORCE, Youth Alliance For Change”. At the time I looked around and there was nothing. Today, we have a 300 hundred strong youth movement, a Gideonite army of sorts all focused on our vision “Transformation through the Word of God”.

So, Launching the youth manual seemed a perfect way of returning to this blog. Even though I have not written in a very long work has indeed continued. It seems to me that God knew what HE meant when He said, “there is a time for everything under the sun...a time to speak and a time to be quiet.” It is time to speak again.

We started this new year WITH A BIG BANG! Four months of focus and determination. It all came about as one young leader told us that his greatest difficulty was finding something for his group to do. In so doing he echoed the same for the others.

The launch, though, was somewhat bittersweet. Having never had children I cannot use the analogy of giving birth. I can, however, say that after carrying a vision...letting go is euphoric...a great high that sometimes ends in a great low. I think it is because you spend so much time preparing and the release is short and then things are suddenly out of your hand...and you must watch them take flight and soar as you always intended but never expected to deal with the loss.

33 youth attended the launch of the youth manual together with four zone leaders. It was a time of celebration...with the rain slamming down on the corrugated roof of the newly built Mngwangwa Centre. It made me think about the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I am by no means comparing anything but it felt like God came down on us...hard!

There was applause foreverything said; the excitement was tangible. It was exhilarating. We took the youth through the use of the manual, its different categories and its benefits. Loveness Khosa, the youth leader from Mtandile could not contain her joy. Her beaming smile said it all and more.

The manual is a week by week program on activities the youth would involve themselves in. The weeks are organised as follows; (1) reach for life week (here we inserted 10 bible study topics from the reach for life youth bible, teaching the youth to look into the word and allow the Holy Spirit to train them in breaking the bread of the word into edible pieces that would then bring transformation. How often we swallow the word whole and get indigestion). (2) Debate week, where we give debate topics that the youth can deliberate over, teaching them how to use the word of God to effectively discuss social topics affecting their communities (like, ‘is it wrong for a Christian to grow and sell tobacco?’). (3) Teaching week which develops the teaching skills of the leaders and enhances the knowledge and wisdom of the youth. Teachings are provided for the youth leaders, (4) ministry week which is broken into 4 categories (evangelism, sports, community service and quizes). Each ministry project develops different strengths in the group. Finally there is week 5 for those months that have 5 weeks and this is HIV/AIDS week where the group asks a member of the PLWA to talk to them about AIDS or discuss it as a group in the aim of getting everyone to understand the importance of testing as well as right living and ultimately getting as many youths as possible counselled and tested. The manual runs from the first week of March to the third week of December.

Each leader received two manuals (one for him/her and one for the deputy), a Chichewa bible and an English Reach 4 Life new testament.

By releasing the manual we also allows the youth coordinator, Edward, to concentrate on building new youth groups rather than constantly visiting the same groups. At present 11 youth groups exist and are working, beginning this week, with the manuals.

It was such a pleasure to deliver the manual. Watching their faces and seeing the awe and amazement at the design and order of the manual was a blessing that could almost not be contained. Here these youth were, getting leadership material in their own language, something that they can use and effectively impact their communities with. It was a blessing to give them something worthy of them and that was our reward!

In addition to launching the youth manual, we also had our weekly class (now dubbed the Berean Class) swell from 30 leaders to 60. Although we have tried to keep the class keeps growing. It comprises of leaders of influence who will in turn, through their training, impact others. At present we are going through the book of Romans, which happens to be my favourite book of the bible. Last week the group chose their core leadership team for the class and I was pleasantly surprised to find that, of the four core leaders, two are women.

In essence, the 25th of February was one of the greatest days of SC history...yet how amazing it is to note that God’s plans supersede our imaginations...dare we to think that He could possibly have greater things in store?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mngwangwa 8th October

OUR SPECIAL ELITE FORCE, AS Gideon’s army reduces in number as the training intensifies. We were in Mngwangwa today. We have not been for two weeks as a week earlier the government was distributing ‘fertilizer subsidy’ coupons. We returned and found the group already present. Within this group are those desperate to learn...their hunger puts me to shame. In this group is Cathy, who walks the equivalent of a 25 minute drive. I dare not calculate how long it takes her, and yet...she doesn’t miss a single session. Sometimes I do not know what to do with that. Saying that it is humbling doesn’t fit. It puts me to and my big car and comfortable life and her...with her passion for God. I am in awe as I watch her through the teaching. Her face shines, always. At first I thought it was the Vaseline she uses but i have since put aside my foolish analysis and concluded that it is the love of God I see. It is for her that, when life gets tough, we plough on.

We are in the final leg of our teaching on discipleship – making disciples. It is my favourite topic and so I enjoy every moment of it. We talk about Christ our example of true discipleship and how we can learn from Him. Having been disciple and still being disciple as well as discipling others, it is not information that we are putting out; it is revelation. I cannot imagine my life without the one who chose to take me and allow the Holy Spirit to use her hands to push me and press me and lift me and on occasion, beat me. Oh yes, I am grateful that I am not left to my own because, with all that has been entrusted to me, how can I handle it all. There must be someone who says, “get off the field and rest a while”, or, “get off the field, you are injured”. And so I am infused with passion as we talk about the blessing of bearing the fruit of discipleship by discipling another. I, of course talk about my disciples, both the joys and pains. I feel like a parent, showing off her kids to all. And the more I speak, the more I realise how much I am privileged. For is it not a privilege to be entrusted with the life of another, to guide and be companion to them? Is it not in the footsteps of Elijah and Elisha, or Moses and Joshua, or Naomi and Ruth and Jesus and His 12? As you can tell, I get preachy about all this....

After our ministry, we talk about the exam the following week. Many are afraid of it but we talk about it...those that cannot read and write are to have oral exams while the others must show themselves approved by studying. It is the first time for many and we are waiting with expectation for what will happen on the 15th.

Sadly Edward’s phone goes missing. We are not sure where it went for we only discovered it missing half way home. We are sure it fell out as he exited the car. It puts a damper on an otherwise joyous day. In silence we drive back....

Now, I sit here writing and thinking about the cost of ministry. I am not just talking about the phone, but more about everything else, neither am I only speaking of us. Come what may, our hearts remain firmly focused on the mission and our voices rise up to declare... “Let me preach or I die!”