They came from everywhere, some on bikes, with their wives behind, others on foot. They came from as far as about 30 kilometres away and I was brought to a place of wonder as I watched, together with Felix as they drew up to the shed at Mgona. On our own journey here, we had found 23 women from Mtandile (volunteers and the zone leader) waiting for us. These ladies have joined us on every trip we have made since October. It is very humbling to see them there, always dressed in their uniforms and waiting, seated on the side of the road. When they enter the minibus, they sing throughout. It is incredible. This time they taught us a new song and it has been with me since.... “Someone has to preach, if these won’t go, Lord send me.”
Arriving in Mgona, there is worship already happening at the shed. Hunger for God can change even the custom of things, I believe. The communities are not ‘time conscious’ per se but here they all were, praising God. A few minutes after arriving is when I saw them...riding up, walking up. The largest group came from Mngwangwa, Milanzi leading with his wife on the back of his bike (these were the ones that travelled the longest distance. The remainder were zone leaders that came from Matanda, Deya, Mzondo, Mbvunguti and Tambala each bringing one or two others with them. Cycling for an hour and a half is one thing...doing it with someone on the back of your bike is another. It calls to question what we are willing to do to hear the word. It challenges me as to my level of desperation to hear from God. Yes, all I have to do is get in the car to go to a meeting, or switch on the television to hear a message. I wonder in what other ways do I show my level of commitment to Him, whose I am. I wonder if I will live long enough to experience that level of need. I pray that however it will manifest, I will want Him in that way...
So, we filled the shed with 227 people.... That was the moment I stopped, when I saw how quickly the shed filled up. I know that it is not about the numbers but I am often taken aback at the responsibility that is magnified when I face these crowds. Am I REALLY the one God wants speaking to these precious souls? After all, He loves these people; He loved them to death, literally. How responsible am I to this call and am I up to it? Even though these questions scare me, they help me keep myself in perspective. Once I begin ministering it all goes but as I watch everyone, they are my sizers – as in they help me keep things in perspective. No one is up to being responsible for all these hearts. Only the Holy Spirit and He is available to me. Ah, yes, these are the moments I reach in. We all need him, all of the time but He helps us at times to get a clear picture of just how much. This was one of those moments for me.
Praise and worship is amazing. We have different pastors leading. Phiri, Study, Milanzi and others. The message begins to unfold right there, the harmony of believers. It is a wonderful thing when the brethren...funny how we love that old word...when the body of believers dwell together in unity.
As it happens, this is our topic – unity. We start off by telling everyone that praying for unity is like me desperately praying for God to make me a woman. Everyone laughs but soon we begin to understand. Why pray for something already given. I am a woman, praying for God to make me a woman is foolish. Fasting for it and spending whole nights before God’s face for it is pointless. I am a woman. We are united, a unit. We are baptised by one Spirit into one body. We are ONE.
We ask the question: “If a man and woman are married and they fight all the time, are they one?” the group says no, so we read Genesis 2:24. We ask the question again. We get the same answer. We read it again and then we get a different answer. Everyone begins to get it. Unity is about WHAT we are. Harmony is about HOW we operate. Unity is what GOD has done; harmony is what we do in response to HIM.
What we are not is harmonious – the manifestation or glory of that unity. I may be a woman but perhaps I fail to function as one...therefore, my prayers ought to be that ‘God help me function in action according to what you have made me to be. May I glorify You; manifest you according to your design.’ So too the church of Jesus Christ. May we manifest the design of God for the church. It is a wonderful time together of learning and breaking long set-in, solidified mindsets. We begin to talk about seeing each other as what God has decreed us to be so we may glorify Him. We talk about whose the church is and how He shares her with no one...not even with those He has entrusted her maturing to.
In essence, our message was about understanding just how God has made us one for the purpose of fulfilling HIS will and how we need to take our eyes off of ourselves and reach out to one another because no one by their lonesome can fulfil HIS will for the church and ultimately for the world as the church is God’s chosen vehicle for the restoration of the world.
During the entire teaching, the men sat on the floor and the women on the seats. Oh, yes, we went there! Broke the custom just this once, and totally threw everyone off their game. We changed things around during worship (calling the men forward) and God had us keep it that way throughout our time together. The men were very good about it and it was the women that were more uncomfortable when we first asked everyone to sit right where they were. Eventually they settled down and we were able to minister together. It was interesting to see the men on the floor and the women on the benches. I was afraid that they would utterly reject the command as I made it just after worship was over; never before have I ever seen men on the floor while women sat on benches. But God was good to simply say to us all, “There is nothing wrong with asking this, is there?”
When we were done there was amazing response to the word. Different leaders spoke out about how the word had affected them. A bishop, Mbewe, pleaded for the message to keep going and asked if it were possible for us to reach the area where he was from with the word of God. As he spoke, my heart responded. He was a like a father pleading for his children. There was an amazing presence about him. He spoke like one who had walked with the Lord for years and was peaceable and lovely. I cannot explain it well but I was honoured to be in his presence. I knew he was a rare and beautiful manifestation of our Father.
Chief Bonongwe said this: “Mgona has been sleeping for so long but I feel we are waking up. I am not sure if we need to change its name (Mgona means sleeping) but we need to wake up to the word of God. I can feel this awakening. I celebrate that all these people have joined us here today but I am looking forward to the day Mgona fills this shed, all by ourselves. We need the word here and I appreciate that my brother, the bishop wants you to go where he is but all I can say is that Mgona needs to wake up, needs to arise.” It was so touching. Chief Bonongwe is a sweet soft spoken man and every time he says something, I just listen.
So, after an hour of different people speaking (it was God speaking and it was wonderful to see the body talking to one another and remember, this is Africa, we are very big on hellos and goodbyes) they took a collection. I always am amazed at how Mgona always takes up a collection for “fantas for the teaching team”, they say. In the beginning I always wanted to say ‘no thank you’ but God reminded me that they were not giving to me but to Him and that it is their joy to do so and that I had no right to take that away from them. Humbling and true. So, we thanked everyone for their gift of “fanta money”...well it was almost a thousand Kwacha (US$5.50). We used it as part of our lunch, bless them.
we left amidst the fellowship of the saints. our 23 ladies sang all the way home. i meditated. i thought of how much bigger this all is than me or anyone else for that matter. i am but a drop in the multiple oceans of God's purpose. but blessed is he that is a drop in the multiple oceans of God's purpose. all of us, drops that make up collectively, the multiple oceans of God's purpose. the thing is, each drop is needed to make up the MULTIPLE OCEANS. thank God for you all because it takes us working together, each doing our part, to manifest Him in the earth and the earth and its residence are all desperately longing for that manifestation (even if they do not know it yet). smile, because this is too marvelous to comprehend!