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.

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