I have never been to Tambala to minister, or otherwise. It would be the first time and we were on our way there. It is Wednesday and we have a combo, with youth ministry in Kalimbira in the afternoon. We get there after many twists and turns on a very difficult road. As I watched Felix manoeuvre his way, I wondered how difficult it would be during the rainy season. I kicked off this year with pushing the little truck out of a muddy situation in Mgona and the memories are beginning to return...nothing like a good push and puddles of mud to put life in perspective.
The room is full and worship is on when we arrive. We huddle in a small room and it fills up as we worship. In the end, we are 57 people in a room that is 3 by 6, in other words, we are packed.
The word is on salvation, as is the usual when we go to a new place (as the Lord leads). Interestingly, this is the first place ever where the women are outspoken. They attempt to answer without fear. The youth too are outspoken. It is wonderful to have the pastors and women and youth all together. So we go through what sin is and what death is so that we can finally come to the understanding of what true Life is. I love teaching on the basics, i love foundations. They are beautiful to lay down and even more beautiful to see someone get it. So we taught and they loved it! There was so much interaction...no other place, have the people been so open in the first meeting.
At the close of the teaching, 29 people made a decision to have a relationship with Jesus. We did not sing as they stood and we did not close our eyes. We had talked about understanding the pure joy of coming to Christ in the open, in honesty and transparency, just as He gave Himself up for us in the open and in all transparency and honesty. For the first five minutes only one lady stood and then...suddenly a whole group began to rise. 29 people! It reminds me of the 29 that were baptised in the Spirit a few weeks back. God is doing some amazing things and I get to go along for the ride and write about it! I cannot express the incredible wonder that overtook me. And then there comes the pain of thinking of the many places where people do not understand, where they are told that all they need do is be baptised, or join a church to be saved. So many people come to Christ in the communities and yet it feels like we barely put a dent in the lack of teaching that is out there.
There are moments when sadness overtakes me, even at incredible moments like these. I guess it is the combination that allows for the hunger to continue, to always be there, a driving force. And it is there! Next year we want to get out to four new places, as we slowly come out of Mngwangwa so that we can build other communities. So many places where basic teaching has been lacking.
At the end, Alex (the young and vibrant zone leader) made a short heart warming speech: “ For so long the sign post has been pointing to other places, like Mngwangwa (he said this smiling at Milanzi and Nkhoma, who has come with us) but now it has turned towards us. We can keep it faced towards us by how we respond” he said to the group and then turned to us, “Don’t leave us like this. Please come continuously, like sasakawa (sasakawa is a hybrid of maize that you plant close together).” It makes us smile.
Two women with sick children came for prayer. These are the moments that i feel discouraged. I want the faith that heals the sick. I want the signs that follow the preaching of the gospel. I close my eyes and put my hand on the first feverish child and the temperature remains. I know i should believe to receive but i am a little discouraged. God help me, is my prayer. The second child has a hole in her leg, from an injection gone wrong. obviously the mother has allowed it to get to this stage, possibly because she lacks the money to get to a doctor or just didn't know what to do. I cover it with my hands and almost cry. This is something antibiotics could have changed. I pray and at the end peer slowly at it hoping (or is it wishing) that a miracle has occurred...and no, not the one i want. I hear God saying that we should get her to a good doctor, so we tell Alex to bring her to the office so she can get to a good clinic. Not quite the acts of the apostles but answer to prayer nonetheless.
We leave for Kalimbira but when we get there, the rain has sent the youth home. I get a chance to see the place they meet and it is heartbreaking. This is the body of Christ and while in the city we continue to build monuments as testimonials to the awesome God we serve, the dilapidated building speaks to more of what we really are. I am in absolute shock. How can we continue to ignore this? People cannot meet and pray together because of the rain. there is barely a roof and puddles of water are between the mud pews. Not that I remove any responsibility from the community for not caring for the place of worship but we are the body and we ought to be there for each other. So, I went to teach and it is I that learnt. I learnt that there is so much work yet to be done, so much to learn, so much to speak out about and that, as part of the body, I have a part to play. We all do. No one, no matter how awesome can take the body where it needs to go by their lonesome. no church, no ministry, no city, no country. this is a job for the body. We need each other.