It is with much joy and thankfulness that we want to share very briefly with you some information on what was to us a very memorable and blessed trip to Malawi:
BACKGROUND TO THE TRIP:
We had at our College of the Bible a top student by the name of Stanley Futch, equipping himself for the ministry of the Gospel. He was deported in error to Malawi from South Africa at the end of 2007. Arriving at Malawi he had only the clothes which he had on and took 3 days and nights to walk to his home town from where he was dropped off by the authorities. He arrived at Lilongwe, saw the spiritual need and immediately started preaching the Gospel. He made contact with us, with the information of work that is mushrooming under his ministry and we were able to lend some support to him over the year 2008. They were soon in urgent need of a Church building, having to meet under a tree.
This need, coupled with the knowledge that the work was expanding at an incredible pace, we recognized that he has really become an arm of Gospel Outreach, using so much of what we had invested in him over here in our Mission. It became imperative that we visit him for a personal investigation, to share in the ministry and also to acquire a Church building.
Secondly, during the course of last year we were visited by Enok from Blantyre. Enok is the son of the Bishop in the Methodist Church, overseeing many Methodist Churches, and running an orphanage under the Methodist banner, although not funded by them. It was their deep desire that we should come and assist in equipping their many Pastors who have had no training at all. We felt that a visit to them would be very fruitful if combined with the visit to Stanley.
Our great need was to have the necessary finance, to fund the cost of the long and expensive trip together with accommodation. In addition to this we needed money to purchase a building for the Church as well as funding to give Stanley some meaningful support.
We praise the Lord for touching people to sponsor the trip as well as the cash purchase of the building for the Church services. None of these funds came from Gospel Outreach’s normal funding and we thank our Lord for those who in faith obeyed Him and supported this Mission trip. All expenses were 100% covered: R46000 in all which includes the cost of the building.Even more important than the financial backing was the prayer support which we had from so many while we were away. We were certainly very aware that people were praying for us and we have no doubt that this was the secret to such a very successful trip.
We praise our God for all His journeying mercies. We travelled a total of 6890kms (4281 miles) across pot-holed roads so bad, that it is distinctly a miracle that our faithful Toyota Camry made it all the way there and back without any problem. On some of the roads we had to drive off the road to get past the massive holes which stretched out before us to such an extent that in large parts the tarred road was brown as far as the eyes could see because of the dirt from these potholes. This travelling in itself was accompanied by many a miracle and the Lord kept us safely along all these very treacherous roads. In one instance the car was ‘moved by itself’ sideways so that we could cross a certain section of the road which was otherwise impossible to cross. We literally felt the Lord physically moving the car for us. We surely serve a great God and praise Him for this.
The people of Malawi live in extreme poverty, worse than we experience in our own country. They are very ready and hungry for the message of salvation however. We preached 5 times while we were away and had over 300 people respond positively to the Gospel invitation. These were each prayed with on a personal basis, one by one and you can imagine the time spent in this way. A service could easily be 3 hours long. At one place even a Pastor as well as witch came to salvation.
We simply bow in worship, praise and adoration to our God who did such an incredibly great work of salvation in these few short days. You can understand that follow-up work, as well as the training of helpers is now absolutely imperative and we need to attend to this so that the fruits gained will not be lost.
MORE NEWS ON STANLEY
When we arrived at Lilongwe we found him staying in a small little room with no floor and a bricked-up window. He slept on the floor with no mattress or blankets at all. He never complained nor made us aware of his need but we only recognized this when we arrived there. He had lost a lot of weight. Yet in spite of the lack of food and lack of proper accommodation he never became embittered towards God. He never complained and certainly continued preaching with great fervor and blessing.
In the process he has planted no fewer than NINE Churches under the name of Gospel Outreach! What a testimony unto the grace of the Lord and also to the faithfulness of His servant. Some little while ago somebody notice that he was preaching in the same clothes day after day and managed to help him with another set. After our arrival we obtained more clothes for him as well as a mattress and acceptable accommodation.
As to the Church building, we managed to purchase the property for cash without any problems or delay. The building will need some paintwork to be done but it will serve its purpose for the time being. It could accommodate probably about 100 people and, allowing for this they will have to run 2 to 3 services a day. Stanley has been encouraged greatly and we are deeply thankful to our Lord for His gracious supply in this way.
We fervently trust that the Lord will enable us to return to Stanley by September this year. He is busy equipping 3 others to help him but for the work to continue we have major input to make there by means of ministering, training and supplying material back-up.
However, for us to do this it would be essential that we acquire a 4X4 vehicle to negotiate the treacherous ‘national roads’ leading to this great and fruitful harvest field. There is no reason to expect that the roads will be better but rather much worse and all who know those roads will appreciate and confirm this statement which we are making.
BLANTYRE – TRAINING WITH ENOK
We briefly visited Blantyre for 2 days when we met with Enok and his father the Bishop in the Methodist Church. Although the work is done under the Methodist banner, they receive no funding support or any official help from elsewhere. The work is totally faith-based and they have currently 250 orphans under their care. They run a primary school for these and teach them also trade-skills such as carpentry, mechanics, sewing etc.
Recently they were struck by a tornado which destroyed their precious buildings. Owing to lack of funds they have not been able to rebuild their clinic but only the classrooms which had been destroyed.
Enok runs the Christian Resource Ministry and they have currently 512 Pastors under them. These Pastors are based in Mozambique as well as Malawi. Most of these are farmers and have no formal training whatsoever. Training must be scheduled in terms of the farming activity and September is the dry period during which they will be able to leave those activities and attend classes.
The total picture here is that the Bishop and his son oversee about 1000 churches in all of which 512 Pastors are independent and fall under Christian Resource Ministries. Here is therefore a tremendous need and opportunity to invest in servants of the Lord.
We were greatly impressed with the spirituality, the dedication and the quality of the work done at Blantyre. We have been able to build good relationships with the people and particularly the Bishop and his son.
Incidentally the Bishop also wants to translate our book “Speaking to the Dead?” into the local dialect and is very anxious that we come to teach the Pastors on how to handle ancestral worship. When we were with them we ministered in a village where there were about 100 people at the service and strangely enough about every woman who asked for prayers suffered every night with bad or evil dreams and complained of chest pains. It was also here that the witch came to salvation. One can but wonder what evil powers are at work here.
In the light of the above you can understand that we can say “Up to this point: Mission Accomplished”. However, this is but the first encounter with the great need and potential in this otherwise neglected country which is so ready for the Gospel. We cannot afford to leave these people to struggle on their own whereas we have so much blessing, materials, information and encouragement to bring over to them.
In the light of the above we ask you to pray urgently for the following:
1). The Lord to keep those who responded to the Gospel and to enable the leaders to engage in proper follow-up work.
2). For a 4X4 double cab diesel bakkie (pick-up) without which we definitely cannot go back. And if we do not go back the work will suffer.
3). A second-hand bicycle costs no less than R800 over there and Stanley needs one desperately to be able to travel to the different Churches. Please pray that we be enabled to obtain one for him.
4). In addition to the vehicle for the next trip we also need specific funding. The Lord who made possible this journey will doubtless enable us to do the follow-up visit later on.
5). Stanley needs to be supported on a monthly basis. We need to be enabled to do this.
6). The training activities there need to be funded, particularly the materials which we need.
We want to thank all who have prayed so faithfully and contributed financially towards the trip. As you can see the Lord richly blessed this mission trip and has opened a great and effectual door of opportunity for us, but there are many obstacles. We give Him the glory and the honour for His great grace extended to us and the folks over in Malawi.
Should you want to have more information on anything else in this Newsletter, please do not hesitate to be in contact with me.
With warm greetings in Jesus Christ our Saviour,