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!”


In Tambala we came across the special seven. Coming into the meeting it seemed that the room was filled with people but we only found seven faithful saints. Sometimes when numbers decrease the flesh wants to shout and take offense but each life is precious to God. I say that now but it took a little more than that to get me praising God. I was a little disappointed at the turnout. Afterall I had just spent hours preparing and not to mention the dusty trip that trips up my allergies. Was is all for this? It took a while, during the praise and worship but God eventually got through to me that each of these seven souls were loved and cherished by Him and then He reminded me how He changed the world with 12.

After that we were in full swing. We were answering questions from the group. our first challenge was “why Jesus spoke in parables”. Short of going into doctrinal discussions we taught. It was Frank, the youth leader’s question. Frank is a handsome and beautifully hearted young man. I have always seen him dressed in a smile. He is devoted to his little group and I feel for this young man. Tambala is steeped in “Gule Wankulu” ancestral worship. They even use little boys for their ceremonies. And here are seven eager young youths. Amongst them is Tereza. She is so hungry that it challenges me...she is without a doubt, a natural born leader.

We talk about frequencies and how hearing God is about tuning into the Spirit Station. We talk about being born in sin and how we are born listening to “Radio Dyabu” translated “Radio Devil”. He feeds us with his lies throughout our lives UNTIL THE DAY WE SWITCH TO SPIRIT STATION. So, though we have a radio, it really is no use to us unless we are tuned into the right frequency. So, hearing we do not hear as Isaiah put it. Three other young people join us as we talk but soon leave (my suspicion was the topic being discussed).

The great joy of the day was the Full Life Study Bibles we gave them. They had never seen anything like it and so we took the time to go through all the features. To some this would seem boring but my heart came alive with the first time I held a Full Life Study Bible. We went through the articles and the charts. We discussed references of scripture and how to use them. We looked at the commentaries below the verses and how not to become totally dependent on them but to always seek the Holy Sprit when reading. Eventually we came to the concordance! What a joy! It was like the gold at the end of a great dig. Here they could search out any topic and be able to find scriptures that had those words...we spent some time there just enjoying the moment. God was with us and He was delighting in us delighting in having access to such a treasure. There is truly no greater gift to give other than a bible...knowing that you are introducing someone to a wellspring that never runs dry. In it is a hospital, a counsellor, a love letter, instructions to life and so much more.

Right at the end we played a song by a precious young man (using the car) Kelvin, a hip hop song about leaving the world behind and truly making a stand for Christ. We huddled around the car speakers and bobbed our heads to the beat. It was a sweet moment. It was to change their mindsets about music and what they think is ‘cool’. I could tell they were overwhelmed having never heart gospel hip hop.

We left feeling mellow and peaceful. Having spent time with so precious a group, we returned feeling privileged to have been entrusted to bless them. Someone out gave towards bibles and I want you to know that you are changing lives. I am so privileged to see but you are more so that your rewards awaits you with the Father, who has seen your secret act of kindness and will award you openly. Praise God and praise Him again. Pray that these seven would have their hearts totally transformed, that they would discover the world that is unseen through the scriptures. Pray with us that we are raising up Gideons who will fearlessly enter the enemy territory and see the salvation of the Lord.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Warriors for Christ

So much has happened in the past few months…my only regret is not being able to keep up and write about it. We have travelled to Mgona, Tambala and yes, oh yes, I have returned home. A few weeks ago I returned to mngwangwa. Edward coined it, the return of the prodigal teacher. It made me laugh and cry. It has been so long…eight months.

The Lord showed us the next step with the saints in mngwangwa. We have reduced the number to those that are teachers and leaders of others so we can have greater impact and also so that we can grow from where we were last. Returning had my stomach in knots because of what returning meant. It meant returning without Felix….and I know that is almost like an old line but it always stays with me. I have a picture of him at my desk and even now I can hear what he would say…. “Its catching, like a prairie fire”. Yet there was so much excitement mingled in. I was going as a general would do to choose soldiers figt for the task ahead.

We talked about what our vision was, together as a group and everyone was afire with suggestions and comments. It was taking each other hand in hand and talking about the direction we want to go…the direction the Holy Spirit is leading us in. Our scripture was from 2nd Timothy: (2 Timothy 2:1-4) You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. We were looking for faithful men and women who could teach others. We wanted to do as the writer of Hebrews tells us... leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,.... This we did by outlining that this was not the training on the HOW of being a soldier but rather of the SPECIALISED training of soldiers. And soldiers they were, eager and excited. A week later we returned and began to teach the first series which they had picked...discipleship. so many pastors in community (and a guess throughout the world) fail to find faithful people to help with the work of the ministry. I have encountered pastors that are the worship leader, the usher, the announcer and convener as well as the pastor all in one. This does not make a superhero but rather a tired tired person, doing many good things but failing to excel at any. So many pastors wanted it to be the first topic to discuss, “how do we make good disciples?”

We talked about what a disciple is and what makes for a good disciple maker because then we can have good disciples. We talked about John the Baptist who was one of the greatest teachers of a disciple maker and how his actions and words were lessons for us. I often wonder about John and his cousin Jesus and what that relationship was like as they grew up and how amazing it was to be able to lose that familiarity and recognise the Christ. So, we looked at John as he clearly gave his disciples a picture of who he was, not fearing letting tham know his position in perspective to the Christ (not fit to untie his sandles). He volunteered this information not wanting his disciples to think of him any more than he was in light of the Christ. He was also the one who clearly expressed who Jesus was to his disciples (not telling them about how Jesus would do this and that for them) but letting them know the core purpose...the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He did such a great job that his disciples followed after Jesus. It was the close of our first session...that a true disciple maker points his disciples to Jesus and is not ‘bummed out’ that they leave him and follow Him because if they do follow Jesus, then that is success. If disciple making is about fruitfulness and replication then as a disciple maker we aught to be following Christ in rechless abandonment so that what we produce will do likewise. Praise God. having been discipled 9 years and having discipled for the past 6 years, it is a tipoc so close to my heart. Through my disciple maker I have learnt to pursue God at all costs and to love talking with Him and spending time in the Word of God. I have learnt the safety of journeying with someone who has already been down the roads I take so I do not have to face the same demons they did and if I do, they would have given me wisdom where they had failed. This way, the church goes from glory to glory. Otherwise we remain in the state of our forefathers, always talking about the former glories.

What a joy it was to share the word. It is such an honour to do so and our heart’s prayer is to never get farmiliar with that honour...the honour of discecting the word of God and bringing revelation to His people through His Spirit. May you look at your bible and what Gos shows you as the greatest honour...hearing the heart of God! what an honour!

Today we head for Mgona and Tambala.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mgona, Wednesday 26th August

Bless the Lord! We have come from Mgona. It has been a long while since we have been ministering consistently. With teams on the ground, we ease up to give people time to do other things but Edward and I were ecstatic to be back. It was a true miracle as Edward was down for two weeks and no doctor knew that was wrong with him. He could not walk or move about. But bless God, this morning we were together.

The call just came and we were told that the people were gathered and waiting. We dashed out and prayed throughout the journey there because we had no word.... But God, who is strong in the face of our weaknesses, came through.

We had a bible study, teaching the tools for studying the word and asking the questions that the Holy Spirit answers. It was the first time they had been in bible study. We divided the group into four and had them pick a portion of scripture to discuss. For many, this was the first time they have ever had bible study, where THEIR contributions mattered. It was the first time, as one person told me, ‘that I have been asked to do more than listen to someone talk.’

Being with this group is amazing. These are men and women who are living everyday by faith. They get up every morning and trust God to keep them healthy and put food on their tables so they can take their meds. These are people who challenge the mindsets of community life and fight to get people to understanding that being tested is far better than being afraid. They are the banners of change and hope that we raise in the communities. Ministering to them takes guts...what can you say to people that have endured and can truly tell you that they have counted it all joy during hardships. I feel very inept when with them. They teach me...with their raised hands and great smiles. They teach me to stop being petty with my little issues that I amplify. Being with them puts life in perspective. And when we leave...our hearts are full. What a privilege to be a part such a glorious body. Sometimes I feel like there is nothing greater than the diversity of the body of Christ. So many parts, so beautiful and tried and proved through pain and sorrow yet here they are, living and singing their hearts to Jesus. So I come away from ministering to them having been ministered to. I ponder and think about the goodness of God, and I realise that each one of those beautiful souls is treasured by Him, loved passionately.

So, yes, i did go and teach about the dying to the law and all the demands of trying to please God in order to be right with God versus surrendering to the free gift of life in Christ. Yes, we shared and experienced God but I too, received. I came away more thankful for the life that I have. I came away in awe of the true strength of a life lived in God. It is never known what we can take until it is upon us.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


by Theresa Malila

if you have not read the beginning of Roseta's story, please read the previous blog below entitled "Roseta-the epitome of injustice".

This cold and gloomy morning (7th July) Rosetta died. The next day we attended the funeral of Rosetta to support and console her children who were in a state of shock and wept unceasingly. Rosetta’s last moments were very painful. The husband could not even afford a coffin for his wife and attended the funeral intoxicated with local beer. Assistance was provided to provide her with a coffin ($35) whilst HBC and Recovery Support volunteers bustled about with funeral arrangements.

As we sit in the crowded slum and attempt to condole the children of Rosetta currently living in abject poverty, in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in her death. They have something to say to every Christian leader in Mgona and in Malawi who have remained silent behind the safe security of their comfort zones and religion. They have something to say to every politician who blatantly lied and fed them with empty promises of development, free education, shelter, health, water and sanitation etc when they seek votes. They have something to say to parents who procreate without any thought to the future of their children. They have something to say to every citizen of this nation who has passively accepted the evil system of greed and corruption and who has stood on the sidelines and ignored the plight of the 65% of the population who have no voice and say in matters concerning them. I believe that these children are saying to us, today that we can no longer pretend that there is no problem in our society, that we must not just be concerned about the death of their mother but also about what happens to them! This death must not anesthetize us but show us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of improved health services and laws that protect and provide for women and children that are b eing orphaned at an alarming rate.

I am a great believer in the fact that nothing just happens. God still has a way of working all things out for good and for his purposes, suffice it to say God is not taken by surprise and as long as we compromise our Christian standards – we have no right to preach a gospel of love and grace.. These innocent children have cried out to the Lord and just as he heard Hagar’s baby, he hears Rosetta’s babies.
What a stark contrast to Michael Jackson’s memorial, compare the pomp to this poverty strapped funeral and the words of his 12yr old daughter Paris, to the the heartbreaking words of Esther, Rosetta’s 12 year old wailing “ mummy with whom have you left us? How am I going to take care of the baby, will I be able to take care of him? Our father failed to take care of you and of us while you were alive and sick, who is going to take care of us now? You have not done the right thing, dying and leaving us like this “… she has already assumed the role of mother.Will there be a sunrise for these children, will there be a ray of sunshine in this place? The Word says, "A little child shall lead them." Maybe just maybe the voices of these defenceless little children may lead this society from the barren path of man's apathy to a place of searching, serving and separating unto God . The untimely death or Rosetta may lead us into a place of helplessness and nothingness to substitute our limited vision for God’s eternal vision.. As I sit up and meditate on God’s faithfulness I can truly say that inspite of this dark and blinding reality I cannot afford to despair or give up. I cannot not become despondent apportion blame. I refuse to lose faith and must believe that God is forever working all things ……that as Christians we will and must learn to respect the dignity and worth of every human being. What can you say to these little ones that will give them any assurance of a future, let alone a life? It is virtually impossible to console them as they look blankly around seeking a familiar face, an assurance that will embrace their dilemna and give answers to the questions they keep asking as they weep for their loss. You can say very little or absolutely nothing, but hope in the Lord who does not disappoint. Children aught not to have to suffer such calamities on their own, but they do and continue to do so more often these days. This is a time when the truth of the “BEATITUDES” seem more pronounced than ever.

What can I say, this life is hard, at times even harder than iron or steel, in bleak and difficult moments such as these it looks like the sun will never rise! The weather itself cold, bleak and chilly speaks of the circumstances of these children. How can you tell them things will get better, that they should not despair, what assurance can you give children, you can only but travail in silence and trust God, for He is God all by himself!!!

What then is the conclusion to all this? The children desperate, innocent, and helpless are the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic circumstances, knowing not what the future holds for them. Will they become mere statistics like the numerous forgotten faces from the silent injustices resulting from the HIV/AIDS pandemic? We continue to fix our eyes on God who is the author, editor and finisher of our faith. Today, I know that Rosetta who gave her life to the Lord is with him, that He who watches over Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers and just as His eyes are on the sparrow so will He watch over her five children.

May God’s grace continue through those who support Homebased Care workers and WOW to enable us to support and take care of patients like Rosetta and these beautiful children who need to believe and experience that SOMEBODY CARES.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


written by theresa malila

I was thinking of the series 24 HOURS, this is what homebased care and recovery support reminds me of each day, I feel somewhat like Jack Bowers and caught between trying to beat the odds but find so much up against us !!!!
This has been one of the most difficult stories for me to write, as I continue to relive this particular home visit on Monday 15 June.
What disturbs us the most? Is it a situation when we are shaken and rocked by our own circumstances or the situation that God is shaking and rocking us to deal with? It has taken me almost two weeks to write the story of Roseta.
THIS IS THE STORY OF ROSETA ……… In the slum of Mgona, I visited Roseta on her sick bed. She is 27 years old, has five children and weighs 14kg, yes 14kg. Roseta is just skin and bones, her ribs stick out of her chest like knuckles and her breasts are just flat bags of dried skin. I walked into to her 2 x 2 meter room dimly lit by a slim ray of sunlight coming through a tiny crack in the roof. I hate the smell of death, yes death has a terrible smell in the slums of Mgona. But this smell also triggers what may seem and sound like a paradox – the hope in me – Christ!
ROSETA is a mother of 5, her eldest is 12 years old – Esther and her youngest is one month old, a boy named Sherif . When I spoke to Roseta she could not say a word, as I prayed for her and over her, all she could manage was a weak, squeaky and very soft amen. I was prompted to stay with her after the volunteers left the room, I told her Jesus had come to visit her and wanted to comfort and heal her. I asked her if she knew the master, she shook her head slightly to say no. I felt this river well up in me and started to pray in the spirit and thereafter prayed for her that she would accept the Christ as Lord and Saviour. She continued to whisper amen as I prayed. She followed the prayer with a few slurred words that were barely audible. I totally broke down as I continued to pray with her, I knew that the Lord had purposed for her to receive His great salvation and comfort. I knew that it was all God’s work because the circumstances were totally hopeless in the natural but I remained hopeful in the supernatural. This was one time that I felt absolutely taken up into the supernatural presence of the Spirit of God oblivious of where I was and what I was dealing with.
I WAS with a team from God’s Economy and I walked out of that one roomed run down shack, a completely broken person, God had brought me in that instance into a place of brokenness of spirit. I have never really broken down during home visits, this was one time when I was forced to openly acknowledge my helplessness and nothingness in full view of a visiting team and fellow workers (volunteers and caregivers), I have always been the strong one to encourage and urge them on in this battle, but one thing I knew there and then as I wept for this family, that the Holy Spirit in me was weeping over this helpless mother and her children and God’s heart was broken, this is when without a shadow of a doubt, I know the answer to what we are up against can only be found in the church of the Living God.
I TOOK baby Sherif and asked two of the visiting team members, Cricket and Ed to join me as the Holy Spirit prompted me to have the baby dedicated. Whilst raising the baby heavenward we prayed and dedicated him. I said my goodbyes with an assurance that I would be back soon. The mood was sombre as we then continued on our home visits.
DURING the night I could not sleep, I was reminded of Roseta and her five children. This is the endless battle that continues beyond the battlefield.
On Tuesday food supplies and a lamp were delivered to the family as the husband had deserted them and had not been home at all. Rosetta ‘s secondary caregiver (one of the recovery group volunteers – Regina) informed that they would be taking Rosetta to hospital as she would need to go for her ARVs. I arrived at Ngona at 0900 hours the next day, however, she had already been taken by her support group to the hospital. At the hospital the doctor who attended to her late afternoon, insisted she be admitted, however, the support group who had taken her did not have the authority to do so as they needed the husband’s permission so they returned with her to Ngona.
On Sunday I did not go to church, I spent my time in prayer for this dear family, later in the afternoon I decided to go back to the slum to visit the family again, I took with me clothing for the children, some dolls, formula for the baby and fortified meal for Roseta and her other 4 children. When I got there I spent time with Roseta and praised God for she was now speaking audibly although she could not sit up at all. The children were very excited with the clothes and dolls even her son Paul wanted a doll.
ROSETA began to tell me about her husband. She said she was tested whilst she was expectant, she went for testing pmtct – she was found to be HIV positive, she came home to tell her husband, and he refused to accept what she told him, she never went back to clinic, she gave birth and completely deteriorated and that is how she was found by our homebased care volunteer and recovery support volunteer, who took her to hospital where she was immediatel y put on ART as her CD4 count was very low. Her baby is a fighter, he has been trying to suckle her breasts to no avail.
ROSETA further told me that her husband is never at home and is always on a drinking spree of locally brewed gin in the slum – he told her he is just waiting for her to die. I told her she needs to fight the disease so she can recover and take care of her children. I spoke with the secondary carers for the need to take her to hospital as she would die if left in her state. We continue to pray for her.
ON MONDAY 21 June I woke up at 0100 hours in the morning and my thoughts were with Rosetta, I felt led to pray for her and her family. Later in the day I felt a strong urgency in my spirit to visit her although I was having a meeting with the recovery support group. When I got to her home, she was lying on her mat and all I could hear was this barren, helpless groaning cry forced out her pain. I knelt down to hear what she was trying to say, and heard this pitiful wimper “please take me to hospital – I don’t want to die….” . I decided mmediately to take responsibility for the situation and so we mobilized ourselves, I called for the driver who was delivering fortified meal to some of our centres to come to Ngona, this was at 1600 hours late afternoon. In the absence of any stretcher or wheelchair, one of the male recovery support volunteers lifted her up from her mat and carried her out of the house, it was a very sad sight to see, this 27 year old woman, looking like a ten year old – Regina her caregiver was assisted to strap Rosetta like a baby on her back and we walked all the way to the centre and laid her down in the store room whilst we waited for the truck to arrive at 1700 hours. Four of the volunteers including Katherine our homebased care coordinator lifted her onto the back of the truck and took her to hospital, she was hospitalized at 2000 hours . In the absence of a stretcher / wheel chair and ambulance/mobile clinic, this very gruesome and strenuous journey is one we take every time we have to get our critical patients to and from the hospital Currently our the pick up truck is off the road again as we are unable to service the vehicle which has broken down due to numerous such trips on extremely difficult terrain in the communities we serve.

ROSETTA was admitted after being checked at 2000 hrs. She was completely dehydrated due to extreme purging. One of her secondary caregivers ( HBC volunteer) is taking care of her in hospital cooking food for her, Ms Katherine and Ms Charmaine have been to see her every morning taking fresh clothing and food supplies including disposal napkins. Regina and her primary caregiver is taking care of the other children including baby until she is released from hospital.
As of today 29th June, Rosetta’s husband has not been to see her or the children. She has been on intravenous drips since she was admitted, the purging has not stopped and currently they are unable to use any veins in her arms or legs as it is impossible to find one and the drip has been administered through a vein in her neck. She manages to say very little.
MY PRAYER for Roseta is that she will recover and live to take care of her beautiful five children who are totally oblivious to the dire situation their mother is in and they find themselves in, it is my prayer that God will prevail in this situation, He is the God of the impossible.
ALUTA CONTINUA – THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES As I leave Rosetta in the care of our wonderful unsung heros (the volunteers), my next stop is Alice Jumas’ home. Alice is recovering and able to walk and take a bike to the hospital and get her ARVs, she is a testimony to God’s amazing grace, the same grace I believe He will provide for Roseta!!!!! PLEASE PRAY FOR ROSETA AND HER FAMILY.
What can I say….. If we discard the people who are dying from AIDS … then we can no longer be called the body of Christ --- the Church of the Living God, so we continue to stand and having done all … stand. (see photo shop of Rosetta and her journey) and so my appeal to those who “support a homebased care worker” is not to get weary of doing good, ……. Somebody Cares could not care and support mothers and children like Rosetta and her family without your help; as we continue to serve the dying and the sick through your generous giving and prayers. Your prayers and giving continue to make a difference in the lives of those we support in the slums and communities we serve. Homebased Care and Recovery Support has made tremendous strides - a year ago we used to experience 8 -10 deaths a week, now it has dropped to 2-3 a month with miraculous recovery due to support and care and fortified meal distributed to the sick and the many who have access to ARVS. God Bless and increase you as you continue to express your deep compassion in this world of real suffering!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009


We returned to Nadzuluwa (Nankumba). Apparently it is now called Nadzuluwa though formally it was Nankumba. The Traditional Authority divided the area and chief Nadzuluwa is over the portion where the youth are at work.

Before then we were in Mgona where Linda Rinzel ministered. I had to prepare for the afternoon so I only stayed for her testimony. It was powerful to hear a woman minister (it felt like I was not alone). Her story was brief and i felt like the gaps could tell a story of their own, far greater than the words she was stringing together to unveil the briefest of glimpses into the pain that had molded her through her childhood and early adulthood. I watched the men and women as they listened. It was somewhat incomprehensible to share how dark her life was and still show us light within the same period.

Later I tried to work on my laptop but that just drew a group of curious little ones around me, marvelling at this gadget. In the end i put on a movie for them to watch and together we huddled around my laptop. It was a blessing to be a part of these little bedazzled ones. Sometime through a young lady came up to me and asked me where we were going after. We talked a little and she asked if she could join us. When we took off for Nadzuluwa, she was along.

It took us over an hour to get there. Interestingly enough we were in a big car and so the thought of how long it will take in our little pastoral-mobile is something far from my mind...for sanity’s sake. We passed Mngwangwa and then Kalimbira to turn off towards this place that we have now come to love because of the hearts of a group of young men and women.

They were singing and praising when we arrived. Because of the number, we moved emmediately into an open space that they had already prepared in case this would happen. We had over 200 people present. There were youth and adults, chiefs and beautiful grannies. In addition to the 200 were almost 60 children. It was the biggest crowd I had seen. We were introduced to the chiefs (many of which were young for chiefs). Zikiel spoke to the group and i watched as the anointing on him drew them all. Praise God that it was being used for the Kingdom because i had this thought that he could take these people anywhere and they would gladly follow him...a most powerful and gifted young man.

The word was on David. We ministered on this boy, who trusted in the God he knew in the secret place. We talked about how the older people were failing to face their giant, their way of doing things could not help them in this instance. We talked about the giants of incest, AIDS, poverty and how the older ones find it too big a giant to bring down (i was a little nervous saying this as the chiefs and elders of the community were present). We spoke about how this was the time for those that know their God to arise and face these giants. “And don’t fall for being recognised for what is in you (courage and a different spirit) and yet being dictated to as to how to face the giants. The way you faced him in the personal giants of your life is how you face then in the bigger giants. Everything changes but God remains the same.”

Two young men came forward to be saved. It was why we had gone and we celebrated. Two days later Zikiel told me that an older man told him how he had wanted to come forward but fear had stopped him and that the next chance he gets to rise before the community to accept Christ, he will.

We then were treated to the children sharing all that they learn at the nursery school the young started. They were clean little children (something rare in communities) and they were also the first group of little children i have ever seen join fully in the praise and worship. They did not stand around and watch the ‘azungu’ but instead they sang their little hearts out to God. Everything about this village marvelled me. I cannot translate the atmosphere we were in nor the sound of the worship and sense on how i felt like i was witnessing an army at work. I can, however, let you know that God is in Nadzuluwa. This is the David of our communities. David who was not afraid, who had a different spirit having learnt to only trust in God because he had nothing else. David who looked crazy coming out to Goliath with a sling and a stone but unseeing Goliath failed to see the God whose breath gave force to David sling and stone. Oh, that we may see the God who gives breath to the Davids that dare to challenge the mortality rate of 36 and the poverty and the death and the despair that have been taunting our people for so long. We are those Davids and we join our other Davids to declare that “we come to you in the Name of Yahweh.”

After the celebration the chiefs spoke:
“We receive the word. It is true that many of us are old and some have gone into the grave and we have never brought so much as clean water here. Now these little ones that were despised as nothing have brought water, clean water into our village.” (He was referring to the freshly drilled SC borehole that stood a few metres away from where we were meeting, clean and shiny it spoke volumes of the Davids that were seated before us). “We used to drink water with the cows. We have never seen clean water. Now our children can drink healthy water. What a blessing. Do not forsake us. Let this not be the end but the beginning.”

They sang from the time we stopped ministering until we little groups. It was electrifying. There were older young men dancing with the little children. It was hard to part and we made it back home after dark reflecting on the wonder of what we had witnessed all the way home and beyond. There are moments in life when you look at a barren piece of land and see a city, when you look at a little boy and see a president or a mound of bricks and see a beautiful building. I can see. See with me. See how God is taking the foolish things and confounding the wise. See with me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Youth Explosion

Nankhumba is 25 kilometres out of Lilongwe and is close to Kalimbira zone. The youth of Nankhumba came about because of three young men, namely, Lester, Zechariah and Zikiel (Ezekiel in Chichewa). These three young men saw the effects that HIV was having on their community, through the increase of orphans, widows and the sick, they were moved to act rather than simply talk about the problem. They realised that they could not wait for help and that they could do something...albeit small, but the little stone that was their compassion caused ripple effects in their community. This all began in early 2008.

The first thing they determined to do was feed the children because in addition to being orphaned, this also brought in the problem of hunger as these little ones did not have constant provision as many were living with grannies who could not provide. In addition to the feeding, they began an early childhood development program where they taught the children before they fed them. Their determination was such that they went and asked for an audience with their chiefs (something not so easily accomplished because of their youth). At the meeting they asked the chiefs to mobilise the community to support this idea that they had. They knew that if the entire community came together, they would be able to begin to have an effect on the scourge of HIV and AIDS. The chiefs were excited about this, excited that these three young men wanted to do something so they called the community and spoke to them. The community, in turn, was excited about the idea and some contributed to the program and so it began.

Although they had some support, not everyone was convinced this would work. Zikiel then came up with the idea of taking the little students around the village and showcasing their skills (counting, speaking some English, praying, answering bible questions). They would go to a spot in the village and begin to ask the children to answer questions and then proceed to another. Through this exercise they were able to prove to the sceptical many that this was beneficial for their children and worthy of their support. After the children would answer the questions, the onlookers would reward them with food support for the program.

Although they now had the majority of the community on their side, the support was still not enough. They had 98 children to support and teach and most days they did not have enough food to feed them. Nonetheless, they were not deterred. Help was sporadic although well intentioned, but Nankhumba is a community that struggles with poverty.

Though this young trio had found a way to at least offer some help to the effects of HIV/AIDS they still saw that their plan did not include dealing with the disease and its spread. They were only looking at the aftermath of the disease and not its source. So, again they sought wisdom, praying and asking God for guidance and discussed what they could do. They came up with a plan to start a youth club one that could teach the word of God and change the behaviour of the young people in the community. With this, they consulted the chiefs as they wanted parents to understand the need for this program and release their children to come. Again they received the full support of the chiefs and the community as well. Within four months the group grew from three to twenty-five and by December 2008 they were fifty strong.

In the same month of December 2008, word had spread and they heard about SC, that it was a ministry that helped youth and implemented youth programs. They searched and then got in touch with the youth leader for Kalimbira and he connected them with SC. This was the start of SC ministering in Nankhumba to the youth there. It was a priviledge to lead such leaders as them, for Lester, Zechariah and Zikiel had imparted their compassion, passion and determination into their group. They were able to receive Bibles and lamps from SC which changed so much as the group of 60 had only two New Testaments between them. 25 bibles and lamps were given out.

In March 2009, 37 of them paid a visit to SC offices, cycling for over 2 hours using 25 bikes most of which were borrowed. Their motive; to give thanks and show the effects of what they felt was a gift beyond their expectation. Not only did they now have bibles, but they were also able to have two visits per month from the youth coordinator, Diamond and receive sound biblical teaching. They came bearing gifts; pumpkins, tomatoes, groundnuts (which they had grown themselves) and a chicken. They showcased their memory verses, some of which were done by youth who borrowed a bible from their friend as not all of them owned bibles. “We have no agenda that is self-seeking in our visit here other than to let you know how grateful we are. We bring gifts because we also have something to offer you. It is not always about receiving. It should be about giving,” Zikiel told those present that day. Their presence was overwhelming for everyone. This was a different calibre of youth. This was what was needed for Malawi to change...God loving, hard working determined young men and women. At the end of the day 17 more bibles were given to them.How could they not be? was this not the ground one wants to plant the word in?

After the first Youth Conference on 20-21 April, greater impact has come to Nankhumba and the surrounding areas. Fired up by the word and worship they have pushed on in ministry. They were challenged to stop talking and start doing. “If the bible tells you to pick up a machete and cut a tree down, stop talking about it and how sharp the machete should be and just cut the tree down,” these were the words Diamond challenged them with. In response the group is now digging toilets for the widows and patients who do not have toilets as well as digging two toilets for the market place which also does not have toilets. This is their way of preaching the gospel, making Jesus known. They are also helping the widows and patients harvest their maize as the said group is weak and the work of harvesting is strenuous. In addition, they have begun to mould bricks to help repair the homes of those whose huts are falling apart. All this they are doing without a single penny of financial support from anyone. This is the ripple effects of three young men who saw with the eyes of Jesus and not only asked the question “what would Jesus do?” but did what Jesus would do.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heart Prints

I lost the companionship of a friend. He and I started this blog and he read it aloud from this site after I posted every entry. So, it has taken me a little while to get the courage to write. He was my brother here on this earth. He went with me everywhere in the community and we sang all the way there and back. Felix. I have known Felix for over 12 years. He was there when I became a Christian. He was there when I was baptized in the Spirit and began speaking in other tongues. He was there when I discovered that God had called me to teach the word and he and his family were the first people I stated teaching bible studies to (the ones I practiced on and made all the mistakes on).

Felix lived up the road from us for many years and I spent almost every day with him, either at his or at our place. In the twelve years we have known each other, eight or nine of them were spent living a few houses from each other. In fact, for three of those, he lived in the house directly opposite us. There was a time I remember spending everyday of three weeks together (truth be told, I went to his house to eat the nsima his wife cooked so well).

Felix is burned into my memory. He is kind and giving and champions everyone, seeing in them the best. When I started teaching in the villages, he always spurred me on. When I was disappointed with the turnout or my teaching, he encouraged and helped me to see God at work. He always did that and spoke prophetically of all the things God would do through me. In my tendency to criticize myself, his voice was a wonderful rope that kept me from falling at times into the pit of despair.

So here I am, lost somewhat. My friend is no longer here. My partner in ministry, gone. The truth? I was meant to go to Mngwangwa a week after he left but I could not see myself going into Mngwangwa without him. I know that I will have to go…but I lack the courage right now.

I cannot imagine never hearing him read the blog again. After he read it we would talk of what it all meant and what God was doing and where he had taken us from. I cannot imagine what that will be like without him.

He was so many things to so many people but I cannot speak for them. I can only say that to me, He was a friend, one you think you will have with you forever.

So what has all this done in me? I suddenly realized that I was not in control of life. I know that sounds like something I should already know but the truth is, I thought I was in control of what happens and the outcome of things, until I woke up and my friend was no longer on the earth. I could not understand that. Worse was the fact that he was the person I would talk to if I lost a true friend. So, I have learnt to relinquish control. Even though it makes me afraid I am determined to wake each morning and let go of it all and trust that God is able.

So now, I think of him doing what he always did…singing and praising God, without the worries of life and the pains that accompany it. I think of him dancing and jumping about without his limp and laughing aloud in heaven. I was listening to a wonderful song the other day and I thought how Felix would have made me play it over and over again and I thought of how he was missing that song… until it dawned on me that the songs he now hears are awesome and more beautiful than anything we could sing down here. I realized that he was missing nothing.

But me, well, I miss my friend, my ministry partner, my encourager. He helped me to believe that we could do this…going out into the villages and making Jesus known. Sometimes when I felt that the people had not truly received, he was the voice that said “they heard and change is coming”.

Everytime i sing i miss his voice that would so what he did, cushion and accompany mine, as he did in life. and if this is beginning to sound like he was an angel, this is not my intent. he was simply a man...but he was all that I have said, without exaggeration. He was my friend. i miss him.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

21st February, Mngwangwa

Mary Magdalene. She was a woman from Magdala. We remember her as the woman that first preached Jesus risen from the dead but before that she was the woman who had seven devils…demons. All my life, I have only known seven devils associated with Mary yet…Sunday changed all that.

We were in Mngwangwa for church service with a team from Canada. On our way there we met a group of people whose van had broken down. They had an accordion (which I am still trying to get for Mr Nkhoma), a guitar, tambourines and drums. They were believers on their way to a church service in Kalimbira. We took our group to the service in Mngwangwa (under a tree) and James and I went back for the stranded group. When I returned, the service was in full swing with praises going up.

But, back to the seven devils; mid through worship I heard a sound that was a groan but eerie and demonic. I looked around and saw a lady that was on the ground with another lady laying hands on her. I walked over and was about to pray for her when I realized that the groans were coming from a woman standing. I took her by the hand and drew her away from the meeting, behind some hedges. I began to pray for it was demonic. Her eyes were dark and I felt like I was looking into the eyes of a demon for I could see evil in them. As I prayed, Sidwell Mwale and Mark Funsani came to join me and then after some time Gary (my American brother). Milanzi’s wife also joined us. Together as a team we prayed. I had no sense of time as we prayed and rebuked the demon. It spoke and named itself and we rebuked it and prayed all the more. As we prayed we discovered that as one left, we would begin to contend with another. In all, there were seven demons that left her. At one point she said they were all gone and so we asked her to declare that Jesus was Lord. The deep screeching would return and we would continue to pray. At some point I realized that the service was over because more and more people were passing by (we were on a path).

Eventually, her eyes changed and so did the groan. From the naked ear you would think she was still possessed but God told us that her groan was now of the pain in her heart. She revealed that her husband had found another woman and had a child with her and she was bitter because of it. We led her to Christ and into repentance over harbouring unforgiveness in her heart. As I walked away in the end the sheer exhaustion hit me. I could not even move my hands. We had a meeting that afternoon that I had to teach at but I knew that I would not be able to make it and so the guys agreed to cancel it. I could not believe what had just happened. Yes, I had prayed for the manifestation of the power of God to be seen but when it happens, it always overwhelms you. We had faced seven devils. I had stared into the depths of the dark world and seen evil residing in a person. It was surreal. I felt and still feel like the Holy Spirit had incubated me. How amazing that we can be a part of such incredible things! We can wrestle against principalities and powers, things unseen and in His Name, Jesus, exact the victory that He accomplished on Calvary. What a wonder He is and what a privilege that we can be cut from such an awesome Rock!

What has this left me with? It leaves me with an awe that is like this Presence that will not leave me. It leaves me with a fear that is good, a fear of God, that I ought to be aware of Who He is and the power He wields, that I ought not to get farmiliar with Him and always remember that He commands the oceans, the demons, the trees and man. What I am left with is extended pegs (expectation) and strengthened stakes (faith) to accommodate the infinite possibilities that God has.

Friday, February 20, 2009

18th February 2009, Mgona

Today was one of those, dare I sound like a little girl?...’magical days! In adult words I guess we would call it, anointed, blessed but for me the day happened around me in an awesome grace. We were in Mgona, except it is not the Mgona I have become accustomed to with ministry. Gone are the days of waiting for an hour for people to show up and ministering to 4 or 5 people. One year later and we arrive amidst worship. Soon, and it was soon, we were 95 people, flooding the shed with praise and worship; the grannies (WOW ladies), the pastors, the young men and the women. What a sight it was and how powerful the praise was. I felt like things were happening around me and I was an observer, even of me. Perhaps it was our Father who wanted me to see the expectation and desperation in all those around me to truly appreciate what was happening. I felt small and large all at once. It never gets tired…the Presence of God, I mean, it never gets tired. We end on a note with a granny singing a song “fight for me Jesus, the enemy is too strong for me to overcome on my own”. It was beautiful. In their voices you hear the struggles and the battles lost and won. There is a wealth of wisdom in the shed and I take in all the sights and sounds as the Holy Spirit shows me all that He is doing.

My grandfather is there…aMbewe. The bible tells us that we have this great cloud of witnesses, my grandfather feels like that…a veteran of the faith coming together with the little ones to bless the Lord. Our subject of a continuation from born again…eternal life. We talk about the gift that cost Christ’s life and what it is for it cost His life for us to have it. The gist of our message; a relationship with Jesus…a true, authentic, sweet relationship that transcends religiosity and hypocrisy. Amidst all this God talks to us about harbouring anger in our hearts and unforgiveness and yet…playing church. We make a call for all those who want to freed from the pain of hating and hurting. 7 people come forward and give their heavy burdens over to Christ. 3 others come forward to accept Christ, one to rededicate his life to Christ again, tired of living the Christian yo-yo lifestyle.

In the end, my grandfather comes up to share. He tells us how he is 79 years old and how he has been saved since the age of 17 (he has been a Christian for over 50 years)! When I was 3 years old, he had been saved 30 years already! That blew my mind. Here I was, a baby ‘teaching’ this seasoned man. He told us about how someone tried to kill him by poisoning his food and God made him feel full and so he refused the food that day. They gave the food to the dog and within an hour the dog was dead.
“I knew who had done it and I was very hateful but God told me to forgive. I chose to listen to Him, he was the same God that had saved me from the poison. Some years later the responsible person came forward in a powerful prayer meeting and repented and confessed his sin. This is what this is all about. We need to let God be God. My brothers and sisters, listen to the word our sister has brought. Heed this word. Be transformed, that this community may also be transformed.”

That was when I told him I was his granddaughter and that I always wanted a grandfather in the faith. He smiled. I smiled.

A lady rose to testify that even though she had been born again for some time, she did not know that God spoke and that she could talk to Him and also hear FROM Him in a real way. It was beautiful.

After the meeting was over, most stayed as there was to be a prayer walk that afternoon with a mission team from Canada, claiming Mgona for Jesus. I met with a lady who was brought by Catherine; she needed marriage counseling. It is always funny when I have to counsel someone about their marriage, seeing as I have never been married and the closest I have come was over 10 years ago. Nevertheless, it is not my experience they seek but wisdom from God. Mgona experiences many marital issues as most of the residents are factory workers and they work in shifts. This produces many indiscretions within marriages. She told me that her husband sometimes does not speak to her for months on end. She was hurting. We agreed to meet once a week. I know that the road would be painful but I also know that God is more than able. We talked about changing the prayer from, “God change my husband” to “Father, change my heart.” We talked about forgiving her husband and remembering what it was about him that first touched her heart. Catherine (one of the most amazing women I have ever known) sealed it with this;

“When I first went to Keta, my husband had married second woman and I was devastated, broken. She told me to pray. I told her that every time I wanted to, I would just cry. She said ‘good, crying with God is praying’. That is how my journey began and today I can tell you that God has been good. My husband died a month and a half ago but he died in Christ and now is with Him. He died knowing Jesus. It is about you and how you need to change, to believe, to trust God.”

Looking at Catherine, I realize that all around me the truth of the power of God at work and once again, I am blessed to be that person that gets to experience it through the lives of such amazing people, like Catherine and my new granddaddy. All around me, God is making known His infinite power and abundant grace!

Monday, February 16, 2009

11th February...Mgona

Being back in Mgona is wonderful. This is the home of the gentle spirited Chief Bonongwe, whose wife is the Zone leader for Mgona. This is also the home of Study, the pastor with such a zeal for God and the things of God that it can be seconded to none. We arrive an hour late because of complications at the office with transport. As it is my pet peeve I had to take a few minutes before leaving for Mgona to just soak in the Presence of God. There is nothing like a pissed-off teacher or preacher – it is almost hypocritical. By arrival time we were on point, excited and expectant. Our excitement wavered as we saw the little group of 10 but within minutes it soon grew to 56. Worship in Mgona is always awesome. There is Mr. Phiri, pastor and staff member of SC; he has been there from the beginning. There is also Study, who has a great affinity for Praise. He makes us FEEL the greatness of God.

We are on the salvation series and we tackle the ‘born again’ topic. We talk about how it is not a religious movement, nor is it a church or faction. We bring up John 3/3, John 3/6, 1 Peter 1/22-23 and begin to discuss what it means to be born again and why it is that we must be born again. If the word tells us that we must be born again to see the Kingdom, then we must ask what the Kingdom is and how being born again makes us able to see this Kingdom. We translate the Kingdom of God as ‘God’s way of doing things, God’s system, His rule’ and thus we must be born again to ‘see’ God’s way of doing things, God’s system, God’s rule. We also look at why His way of doing things is best especially since we have been raised in a different kingdom and different way of doing things. It is exciting and powerful and Edward and I find ourselves laughing out loud now and then from the sheer power and excitement of the anointing and the word. We tackle baby water baptism as a means of salvation and doctrine that does not find its root in the Word of God. We speak about being saved and how it is only accessible through Jesus, who is the Word and thus saved through the Word as we accept His free gift. I realize that I am stepping on more than a few toes as we talk about this, emphasizing that the Bible is the ONLY true authority and that all other books are subject to scrutiny and pale in comparison. We put everything and everyone in perspective to the Word. It is our own little form of the book of Hebrews; Jesus (the Word) is greater than the church beliefs, the pastor, the priest, the classes and everything in between. Oh, yes, we tread on more than toes at this point. I think we are now just trampling on whole legs especially as I talk about how I began as a Christian to discover that much of what I had been led to believe never came from the Word of God but rather the traditions of man. But within the wiggling of toes, calves, knees and thighs was the shout of excitement from those to whom the word reached and touched.

In the end we made an alter call to accept Jesus and 8 people came forward. Study leads them all to Christ and we clap over and over again as he reminds us of the magnitude of what is happening. He tells us about the joy that heaven is experiencing and the wonder of the miracle. I can tell that he loves leading people to Christ. Among those being saved was a young boy of about 10 years of age. It was wonderful to hear him speaking his decision out loud. He seemed so serious and determined. Another was a lady who came forward weeping and it was amazing to see such emotion, not just the tears but what they represented. I have never seen someone crying in the communities, except for funerals. It was such a joy to see her shedding tears as she came forward to accept Christ. Later she testified that she was a former Muslim, who had searched and searched but now had found Jesus. Mr. Phiri was overjoyed as he too came from a Muslim background. I was utterly overwhelmed. I had never witnessed Christ and had a Muslim come to Christ…not to my knowledge anyhow. She had previously been prayed for and healed of some form of leprosy but had never given her life over to Jesus. but here she now was... not just accepting His gifts but accepting Him. She spoke of the cross and sang a song about how Jesus was the only one who had carried the cross and how anyone else would have tried to escape it. The room was filled with such joy! Felix and I catch each other’s gaze from across the room. I see the amazement I feel on his face. This is too amazing. I wonder if I will be able to contain all these emotions long enough to get them down on paper. Sitting here and writing, I know that I cannot express the emotion and energy that surged through the feeding shed as she sang. I can only say…How great is our God!

Afterwards there came the speeches and yet not the kind that drone on about nothing. These are moments where several pastors and leaders share their hearts about what has transpired and what God is saying. First off was my new ‘grandfather’. Yes, I have finally found a grandfather. Granddad Mbewe. He is the bishop of ‘Revival church in Mgona and when he stands (even before he speaks) I feel like a little kid because his presence seems to invoke His Presence. I just know that He knows our Father in ways I pray I will yet get to discover. He is tall and regal, and has a booming voice. He talks about the last visit to Mgona and how it was so powerful that he knew that he must come to this meeting and hear from God. It is humbling to hear. He says ‘I just knew that there was still sauce from the last meal’. It feels like a father patting his little girl on the head, not the kind that goes TO the head but the pat that makes everything alright. Next up is Study, who testifies that he sticks to me like glue. There are so many wonderful people we meet in the communities but ever so often I bump into those that are kin…I just feel like they are my brothers. Milanzi is like that and so is Study. He is always at every meeting. He points out that several pastors have come with their wives and the importance of growing together as husband and wife. Five of the 10 pastors present have come with their wives. It is encouraging to see. It speaks to the men beginning to see the value of the women and to recognize the image of God. Chief Bonongwe gently thanks us for honouring his request to return to Mgona and promises that more of the chiefs shall be attending the meetings as he believes that they are needed there for change to take place in Mgona. Another face that is always at the meeting, since the start of last year, is another tall and regal pastor, Mbewe. After the meeting, as people were shaking hands and leaving, he came up to me and began to prophesy. I listened as he spoke to me about what God is doing in me and how I should stay the course because something is happening and that the ex-Muslim lady was proof of that. It was an encouragement but also a warning, to be found faithful and to understand that to whom much is given, much is required. What a wonder to be surrounded by such great fathers of the faith! I am not even sure he knew that he was prophesying. It was only after the first sentence that I received a prompting from the Holy Spirit to pay close attention to what he was saying. I asked Edward if he sensed that it was a prophecy and he acknowledged the fact.

We are all overwhelmed as we sit and await the drinks and biscuits the people of Mgona always buy us after having taken an offering. We speak of it for the next two hours as we wait for James to come and collect us. Both Edward and I realize that the year is one that holds infinite possibilities. For Him, God told Him that he will see impossibilities come to pass in his life and ministry. For me it was…’prayer, Presence, power…infinite possibilities’. I am beginning to see that. I feel like God is moving and that by His grace, He has invited me along for the ride. I just know that Mgona is changing and it is awesome to watch. I cannot pinpoint the exact things that make me believe this but every time we come here, we are reminded that the sleeping giant is arising. This is a slum that holds a population of over 50,000; 50,000 people living the worst possible conditions with disease and hunger all around and we are taking it for Jesus.

We return to Mgona next week Wednesday. Our next meeting is home…Mngwangwa.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wedesday 4th February,2009 Mbvunguti and Njewa

The return. Back in the swing of things. It was an exciting time, returning to ministry in the community. This year we have decided to minister in new locations…concentrated ministry and replicate what has happened in Mngwangwa in other zones, giving them 4 sessions per month. Our areas, Mbvunguti, Njewa and Mgona. The truth is, I set Mbvunguti against Njewa and was going to make a decision as to which zone to end up ministering in after the initial visit to determine the response. Fortunately and backfiring on my plan, they were both amazing. Mbvunguti was first.

We got stuck…what a joy it was for me as it is the remembrance I have of the early days of last year. Stuck and muddy and wet and serving Jesus. So there we were, out of the car and pushing. The rains have made the road to Mbvunguti extremely difficult but we made it through, barely. The vehicle seemed to want to capsize several times but it hung in the there and so did we.

I was a little afraid of ministering in Mbvunguti. My experience with the area has concluded that there are strongholds that are significantly powerful. In addition I just had the ‘new place’ jitters. Did they want to hear the word? Would they be receptive? And then there’s the famous…will anyone actually show up other than the zone leader and a few volunteers.

They showed up. Sturdy elderly men walked into the shed, followed by several women and some youth. We were meant to have two meetings, one Community and another Pastoral and so I asked who was there for which meeting. I could tell that most were present for the Community meeting, chiefs volunteers and all. Nonetheless, the chiefs opted for everyone to attend that pastoral meeting first and then to have the other meeting. We were off to a great start. I had spent some time creating towards the end of the year developing a ‘salvation series’ and so we begun at the beginning; what is sin and how did it come about? What is death and did Adam and Eve really die when they disobeyed God? There was so much more participation than I had anticipated. Chiefs, leaders and women alike all shared in the teaching. In the end, 10 of the 44 people present gave their lives to Jesus. It was wonderful! Afterward a chief, in his mid to late seventies, came up to us while the Community meeting was taking place. This is the account of what he said:

“I need to share something with you. I have been a part of the ‘Gule Wankulu’ cult (ancestral worship religion) ever since I was a young man. Then I became the head of it in this village. This is a very powerful position. I was the head for most of my adult life until I gave it over to my brother a few years ago. I have also been a part of the African Abraham church, but in all my life I have never heard what I hear today. At first I was skeptical because it was a woman talking and here we pay women no attention (he actually said that). I thought you were here to bring some strange teaching. Yet as I listened I began to understand as it was broken down for us. And then it was broken down some more and I understood more. We are dead so long as we do not have Jesus. He is Life. No one has ever told me that Jesus is Life. No one has ever told me that without Him I was dead. Right now I am going to meet my brother and tell him what I have heard today. I have made a choice and he must too. I am not going to tell him to stop being the head of the Gule. I am just going to tell him what I heard today and he must make a choice as I have, because I received life today.”

This is the recollection I have as best I can recall. It melted my heart. This was why we do this. This man, changed, translated from darkness to light, so touched that he is going forth and preaching the gospel to others. This is why we live…to get the word of God to the unreached and tell them the good news, that Jesus has come and with Him He has brought life! Chief Njobvu was his name (njobvu means elephant). It warmed our hearts as he bid us goodbye because we did not want to leave him, this man, once the most powerful man in the village and now professing Christ. There is certain to be persecution. Once the head of an ancestral religion (one known and embraced by 90% of the community), how then do you now begin to speak of Jesus? This is not just saying He is the son of God but saying He is Life and that without Him, one is dead. As he walked off to seek out his brother we watched and marveled at the incredible power of the gospel. May we never forget that power nor grow familiar to it.

Then it was off to Njewa. The window of the little truck would not go all the way up and so I got soaked driving to Njewa as we encountered a severe burst of rain. We had to drive very slowly as we could not see in front of us. This made us late for Njewa but we found them waiting. 97 people were present to hear the gospel. I was a bit worried about how it would be to minister the exact same word in the same day, only a few hours after ministering it. But God was amazing. His word is alive and His Spirit is amazing. We ministered and it was as if it were new to us. We talked about being dead and how we need life and that Life is Christ. We spoke about the fig leaves we sew to hide our shameful state and how we cannot cover death (religious acts), we cannot pour water on death and think that it will live (baptism). We need Jesus. He is the only one who can bring to life something, SOMEONE once dead! Even as I write I sense the power of God. Jesus alone can fix the state we are in. 8 people stood to confess Christ, among then a young man I knew would be used mightily of God. It was an amazing moment. No matter how often I see this, it is always a wonder, that Jesus can take us out of darkness and place us in His marvelous light. It is a wonder that He can redeem our lives from the pit, draw us out of the miry clay and place our feet on the solid Rock! I think seeing this brings an appreciation of the work of Jesus more and more. Our excitement continued as we returned with prayer and praise on our lips. We prayed all the way back home.

As for me, I was home. Being invited to partner with God is amazing. Me, Keta, messed up most of the time but still He patiently guides me and gives me the privilege of partaking in the spreading of the gospel and the witnessing of the greatest miracle…salvation, over and over again. How blessed am I?

So, welcome to the New Year. I can assure you that this is going to be one incredible journey. Be expectant with me and believe God that we are taking Mbvunguti for Jesus and Njewa for Jesus and Mgona for Jesus! Pray for Chief Njobvu, pray for us.