by Mission News
Day 1: Our delegation was made up by John, Gilbert and Jean-Pierre Nayna, Alex Pal, Phil Kean, Graham Downs, Meredith Mays, Tahlia Harris with Rita and Peter Salafia making up the 10 members.
Just arrived at Johannasburg Airport for a hearty breakfast.
We left Melbourne at 6:00pm on Friday 19 August and arrived at Blantyre in Malawi around 1:00pm Saturday. With the time difference taken into account we had been travelling non-stop for approximately 24 hours!
We arrived at Blantyre airport in Malawi and were greeted by Pastor Nelson and around 20 of the brothers and sisters who had come to welcome us.
Basically it was straight to the hotel to offload our luggage and then to the Youth Rally meeting held at the local Blantyre assembly hall. The meeting was very encouraging and well attended by local saints as well as visiting ones from the nearby assemblies.
Our first day was certainly an exhausting experience but more than compensated for by the enthusiasm of our brothers and sisters.
Day 2: Today we attended the Blantyre Revival Centre – Chirimba meeting for our Sunday communion service. There were over 100 people in attendance.
Testimonies were shared by some of our delegation as well as a few of the local brothers and sisters. We were entertained by some wonderful items presented by the local folks with a particular one that I will remember being performed by a young blind brother.
After the meeting Pastor Nelson Mbewe presented several of the local pastors with push bikes that had been donated by very generous members of the church in Melbourne and surrounding areas.
The bicycles are an incredibly valuable asset to these pastors as they travel great distances to visit their local assemblies. Prior to receiving the push bikes these pastors would either have walked or take one of the local mini-buses with the latter being an expensive and often unaffordable option.
In addition to the bicycles there was also a presentation of soccer and net balls to the youth of the church. The presentation was made by Alex Pal who is a youth leader in the Melbourne assembly.
Following the Chirimba meeting the delegation headed off to another assembly in Blantyre located at Lunzu some 40kms away. The welcome there was no different to what we had experienced thus far!
The pace of this trip is quite hectic but well worth the effort as it would otherwise be impossible to visit as many assemblies as we plan to.
We arrived back at our hotel around 6:00pm to a hot shower, dinner and a great time of discussion amongst our group of all the things we had seen and heard during the day.
Day 3: Today we visited 2 assemblies, one at Nsanje and the other at Chikwawa. The brothers and sisters at Nsanje welcomed us with singing as we arrived at their assembly hall. We are certainly privileged to have so many people welcome us to their fellowship who, for the most part, have never seen us before!
Pastor Nelson Mbewe presented another bicycle to a pastor there along with bibles and hymn books. All of these items are essential to the proper functioning of the church here and we were left in no doubt whatsoever as to the level of appreciation these folks had for the gifts provided to them.
Following on from the meeting a pastors’ conference was held with 10 pastors from the regional area being present. Pastors from Mozambique were also present which only reinforced to us the effort these pastors make to attend a regional conference. Their effort is to be commended as many of them travel large distances without the creature comfort of a car as we have come to expect in Australia.
Chikwawa is a sugar cane region and to get there we descend some 1,000 meters into the valley. We experience another lively greeting followed by a wonderful time of fellowship with our brothers and sisters there.
More bibles and hymn books were presented to the pastors for their respective assemblies. There is no doubt as to the benefit that such a simple gift can make to the spiritual walks of our brothers and sisters in these areas. To own a bible for many of these folks is something not considered practical due to the high cost so unless they are donated it remains a cold fact of life that they would never be able to afford one.
We are reminded time and time again each time we visit an assembly just how grateful our brothers and sisters are to the many church members back in Australia who willingly give a little which means so very much to these folks here.
Our journey back to the hotel is filled with conversation about the wonderful things we have heard and seen during the day’s travels. These visits are as beneficial to us (if not more) as they are to our Malawian brothers and sisters.
Our visits today take us to Thyolo and Mulanje. We will travel approximately 180kms south west of Blantyre into the heart of the tea growing area of Malawi. The soil is red and the tea bushes are lush green which make for a stark contrast.
At the Thyolo meeting we were welcomed by over 100 assembly folk who were obviously pleased to see us! Our brothers and sisters greatly appreciate the effort that our Australian delegation had made to get to Malawi however it almost seems insignificant when compared to the reality of their own day to day lives.
I can only speak for myself when I say that visiting Malawi now for the third time has highlighted the harsh reality of life here for most folk. What we take so much for granted at home would be like a dream come true for many of our brothers and sisters here! It is difficult not to fall into the trap of complacency and I expect that over time I will soon enough come to expect everything to be supplied when I want and how I want as it inevitably seems to be in our western society.
The Mission Fund provides an extremely important source of funding for the many assemblies here in Malawi and in other areas around the world where Revival Centres are becoming established. As I have said in previous blogs on this subject, the sacrifice (if it could even be compared to that!) of one takeaway coffee per week would contribute around $200 a year per person to the mission fund.
Just a couple of examples of what $200 could buy in Malawi
- 4 to 5 push bikes for pastors to visit their assemblies without the need to walk for hours on end, or
- 25 to 30 bibles, or
- 30 to 40 song books, or
- Up to 10 bags of maize
Meeting our many brothers and sisters who have what we would regard as little yet accepting of their circumstances is certainly a humbling experience for us all. Our collective appreciation of their faith in God to provide their needs gives great weight to the scripture in Philippians 4:19 – ‘But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’. $200 may sound like a lot of money to most of us but when it is put into this context it shouldn’t be too hard a target to achieve if we put our minds to it.
Day 5: Today we take our leave of Blantyre and begin our journey to Lilongwe in the north of the country. Our travels take will first take us to the assemblies located at Liwonde and Balaka in central Malawi.
As it the custom of each assembly we visit, we are warmly welcomed with singing and a procession of brothers keen to shake our hands as we enter their respective halls. It is apparent that some of the younger children have not seen a white person before as they run past yelling ‘Zungu, Zungu’ which apparently means ‘White Person’.
The number of folks that come forward to the prayer line each time we have a meeting is very encouraging. It clearly shows that our brothers and sisters in Malawi depend on the prayer line as a real avenue for healing, provision and generally having their needs met by the Lord.
Pastor Nelson presented a bicycle to one of the local pastors in this area to assist his ministry. The joy and amazement in the faces of the people when these bicycles are handed over is enough to bring a tear to our eyes. It is hard for those of us who come from such an abundant lifestyle to imaging how much these donations mean to our brothers and sisters here.
The reality of the situation is that without this type of support the pastors would simply not be able to visit as many of their assemblies as they otherwise would do.
Along with the bibles, song books, net ball and soccer balls and general encouragement provided during our visit it is the overall impact on the fellowship that is seen to be the highlight for our delegation.
Our brothers and sisters in Malawi are positively impacted on by the ongoing support they receive from the Mission Fund.
We now head off to Lake Malawi for our well-earned rest day. A stop at Hippo Lodge on the Shire River provides the delegation with a first-hand view of hippos, elephants, crocodiles, baboons and various birds. The wildlife is very much up close and personal!
Finally, after what seemed to be the never ending bus drive from the Shire River to Lake Malawi, we reach our destination. Tired and hungry, we all find our respective rooms and, following a late dinner, retire for the night.
Day 6: Lake Malawi is extremely choppy due to the strong winds blowing throughout the night and in the morning. Alex Pal stumbled across a baboon or two when on his morning walk. He also saw many dead small fish washed up on the shore which to this day remains unexplained.
This fresh water lake is 803kms long and 114kms across at its widest point- almost equal to one third of the entire land area of Malawi itself! The lake has the most species of tropical fish than any lake in the world and could, if the government was able to better manage its affairs, provide enough fresh water to inland Malawi to considerably reduce this country’s dependence on the annual rains in June and then in October through to January.
We leave our rest stop and continue our journey north towards Lilongwe where we will be based for the next 4 days. Much singing and fellowship in the bus helps us to pass the many hours travelling.
Day 7: Today we will travel to Dedza which is an assembly situated some 100kms to the south of Lilongwe. It is approximately 4,200 feet above sea level and borders Mozambique. Dedza is an very high growth area for our fellowship with around 2,500 people receiving the Holy Spirit here in the past four years!
The extensions to the hall are now complete which has increased the capacity of the hall to accommodate approximately 300-350 saints! Well done to the local assembly folk who have worked so very hard to ensure that new brothers and sisters will have a solid meeting roof over their heads for many years to come.
Many items followed by another presentation of bicycles, song and hymn books is made to our deserving pastors make for a long day. The meeting concluded with many receiving the Holy Spirit and some 18 folks being baptised in the local creek.
After the meeting a pastor’s conference was held to share ideas and to discuss how the church is holding up in these last days. We were very pleased to hear and see the testimony of our fellow pastors and leaders speaking the same things as we ourselves hear back home.
Day 8: Our workload today is somewhat lighter as we will visit just one centre located at Lilongwe East.
Whilst the majority of our delegation understood the necessity of travelling by bus some of us did consider alternative options!
Our brother J.P did eventually see his way back to the bus and we made our way. The saints here at Lilongwe East are as all others very welcoming. Our delegation is made to feel right at home as we are treated to many items and testimonies from the local saints.
As people come out to the prayer line for their needs to be met and to be filled with the Holy Spirit we see more baptisms follow as a result!
It is almost too much of a good thing but we know that the Lord is very bountiful and full of mercy.
A stark contrast to the mighty working of the Lord in the lives of these folks is the reality that witchcraft is still practised in Malawi! This is a picture of a witch doctor travelling along the road being supported by some of the unsaved locals. Yes, there are two witch doctors inside the straw contraption.
Our day ends back at the accommodation. The daily catch-up over dinner to share the many highlights of our day and then off to bed for a restful night’s sleep in preparation for our last day here in Malawi.
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