We’ve moved on

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As most of you know, we have moved on from our roles in Malawi with zambesi mission, meaning we have not published a blog here in some time.

It was originaly started to allow all our friends and partners to be part of our ministry as we ‘stepped out with God’ into a season of cross cultural ministry that eventually led us to Malawi.

Now (2019) we are settled back into UK based ministry after our time in Malawi and we have decided to stop updating this blog. For the meantime we will keep it live on the web and monitor ongoing interest as we hope visitors might still find the information a blessing.

If you are a Facebook friend with Myles and you are not already a member of our Stepping Out With God Facebook group then message Myles asking to join. We will continue to post there from time to time on Malawi matters. And if you do want to contact us about anything then you can still email us.

 

Let me tell you a story

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The last few months have been hectic so time for posting has been close to zero. We therefore have a few posts to catch up on. This imaginary story is based on the real facts of life for many Malawians and was inspired by a chance meeting with this old woman during the November planting season. Imagine you are this widowed grandmother (agogo).

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Backlog post: Until the day breaks

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Old Mission Station Bandawe ca.1910

In June 2016, as we returned from our trip in the north of Malawi, you might remember that we found the ‘New Bandawe’ Station (or Thipura) that Jack helped build in the 1920’s. This was after we became fascinated by the ‘must read’ story of the wonderful Scots couple Jack and Mamie Martin (see the original post here). Continue reading

Ananu Ziimbani Part 3

We have lift off!

DSCF5328 (3)Sunday 24th September dawned bright and sunny, and by mid-morning children’s choirs were gathering in the beautiful surroundings of St Michael’s and All Angels CCAP church to prepare for the launch of Ananu Ziimbani. Continue reading

Passing on the baton

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It does not seem that long ago that we were talking about being on the “back straight” of the running track of our time here in Malawi. We felt fully acclimatised and able to power along in our partnership with our Malawian brothers and sisters. Continue reading

Join the celebration

DSCF4312_compressedLast weekend Zambezi Evangelical Church was joined by friends from Zambesi Mission and other friends from around the world to celebrate 125 years since Zambesi Industrial Mission was founded by Joseph Booth. It was a time for a typically Malawian celebration: a riot of joyous colour and song combined with heartfelt praise, thanksgiving and worship. Continue reading

Preach the Word!

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Ever since we first visited Malawi, Myles has been captivated by the challenge of how to develop a truly contextual, scalable and sustainable way to equip and release ZEC’s grass-roots preachers to better expose the original meaning of Scripture, and better communicate that meaning to today’s Malawians within their rural oral culture. Continue reading

CFCM in the north

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“Teach them to your children and to their children after them”
Deuteronomy 4:9

While we were back in the UK, we mentioned our plans for when we return to the UK at the end of November. For Myles, the next step is still to be discovered, but Ruth is looking forward to working in the UK with Zambesi Mission, especially to promote the work of their partners, Children for Christ Ministry (CFCM), with whom she has been working closely. Our latest tour of the Northern Region was really a CFCM tour, where Ruth, Elevate and Joseph carried out 5 Sunday School teacher training seminars in 5 centres in the North. The tour has really helped affirm to Ruth why she wants to help spread the news of the work of CFCM in the UK. It has highlighted the vital work and the dedication of the Malawi team. Continue reading

“You in your small corner, and I in mine”

IMG_2926 (2)_compressedThe last 2 weeks of our home visit were, like the first 2 weeks, a blend of time spent with family, with old friends, days off to do things on our own, and visiting churches to report on the work we have been carrying out. Myles continued to preach from Isaiah 6:1-8, and to remind people that to “Go” in the Lord’s work is a sate of mind, not a state of geography –being ready and willing to witness to Christ wherever we are, and not necessarily travelling 4000 miles. It was great to meet so many people answering that call just where they were. Continue reading

Love teaching, hate marking!

img_6217-3Since returning from our post-Christmas trip, Myles has been snowed under as he picked up all his normal activity again, helped organise the distribution of over 60 tons of maize, and – the biggest load of all – assessed the preparation and presentation of 28 sermons by second year bible college students at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM). That’s a lot of video to review! Continue reading

Ananu Ziimbani part 2

img_0449-2compress1Back in November we wrote about the project Ruth has been involved with to bring old and new children’s praise and worship songs together into one book, in the 3 main languages of Malawi. Work on Ananu Ziimbani (in fact 2 books – one with music, and one with words only) is almost complete and she hopes will be with the publishers while we are in the UK in March. But with the arrival of Calum from UK, a selection of the newly composed and the newly translated songs have been recorded to make a CD. Continue reading

Facing a task unfinished (2): Where there is love there is no fear

mamie-and-margaret-2 Those of you who follow us through our Facebook group will know it has been a busy few weeks for us. So, later than planned, here is the second post inspired by the hymn “Facing a task unfinished”, and the historical sites we have been able to visit during our ministry in Malawi.

We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose

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A Malawian Christmas letter

africafantaThis fictitious letter from a young rural Malawian was written by us for a Scottish friend to use at his secondary school Christmas assembly; a school with strong ties with Malawi. We based the letter on information gleaned from conversations and observations concerning Christmas and rural life in Malawi over the last two years. But our Malawian friends will probably be able to pick some holes in it, and add their own anecdotes. Nevertheless we thought our wider friends and supporters might be interested in a typical Malawian Christmas.

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‘Tis the season…

img_6484-2-1024x315For Ruth, Christmas has always been all about the music – preparing the church choir and school choirs for Christmas services, teaching her piano pupils a few Christmassy pieces, accompanying Mhairi when she sings for a special Christmas concert or service, and spending hours at the piano herself playing through her books of Christmas arrangements before they get put away for the next 11 months…. Continue reading

On the buses again!

img_6234Two weekends ago, Ruth had one of her “cultural experience” trips to Lilongwe in a local bus with Joseph and Elevate of CFCM. It is undoubtedly the cheapest way to get to Lilongwe, at 4000MwK (about £4) to travel 300km – as long as you don’t mind standing all the way, or arriving at least 2 hours before you would like to travel to secure a seat; as long as you don’t mind having all your luggage crushed around your feet or on your lap the whole journey; as long as you don’t mind having absolutely no personal space since standing passengers are packed like sardines down the aisle, and inevitably lean over the people who have got seats; as long as you don’t mind zero air-conditioning, or being by a window that is either permanently stuck open, or cannot be opened at all; as long as you don’t mind 6-7  hours of music with the same jangling accompaniment and rhythm being pumped out of the loud speakers. Ruth doesn’t mind – but is glad when it’s over! Continue reading

Ananu Ziimbani

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“Come, children, join and sing”

 Many years ago, CEF worker Etiny Thole, had a vision of a throng of children standing on a stage singing praises to God. As a child growing up in Mzuzu, she remembers her grandmother teaching her hymns in Tumbuka in her home every evening. Continue reading

Day trip Malawi style

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Members of Kubabalika ZEC receiving there ‘seed corn’ goats

A few weeks ago I (Myles) headed off for a ‘day trip’ with Rose Chirwa (ZM Project Officer) and a couple of others, to the Lower Shire for a review of the projects that ZEC operates in partnership with ZM to create income for church members and the local church. Continue reading

Notes for intended settlers

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It is generally accepted that prospective settlers who leave permanent employment in Great Britain or South Africa for outposts of the Empire do not want glowing accounts but reliable facts.

(“Notes for Intended Settlers”,Department of Agriculture’s Nyasaland Protectorate, 1916)

One hundred years on, Lee Furney (our friend, and pastor of Blantyre Community Church) recently set out a short, starkly honest, synopsis of modern “reliable facts” for those intending to settle and sow the seed of the gospel in Malawi. It is the best short summary we have seen and we thought it would help you, our friends and partners, understand the context that we all serve in here. Continue reading

School’s out in Chikwewu

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School’s out in Malawi, and in some places that means special events for the children. Last weekend, the Children for Christ Ministry team travelled to Chikwewu, 30km along a dirt road north-east of Ntaja, to help with a children’s rally for several combined CFCM Bible Clubs, and organized by local school teacher and Bible Club leader, Dula. Continue reading

Facing a task unfinished: Jessie Rowland

DSCF6609 (1280x973)The hymn “Facing a task unfinished” – recently revitalised by Keith and Kristyn Getty – has always been a favourite of ours, with its emotive call that as disciples:

We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose

Continue reading

Back to Muesli….

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After 5 weeks of egg and chips for breakfast (standard breakfast in Malawian motels!) it was good to be back to muesli and fruit juice yesterday morning! We returned to our home in Blantyre on Monday evening after 5 weeks of living out of a suitcase and moving from one motel to another. The biggest shock has been the weather. Our last stop was Dwangwa, by the lake-shore, where we enjoyed temperatures in the high 20s, with the accompanying mosquito bites. But we have returned to Blantyre’s cold season – 17 degrees which seems very chilly now we are fully acclimatised to Malawi weather. So we have put on a few extra layers of clothing– but we are glad to escape the mosquitoes. Continue reading

If it’s Wednesday it must be… Karonga

IMG_1303 (1280x342)We’ve been trendy and “off-grid” for a few days, but now (Wed) we have finally reached Karonga, and in a guest house that not only has electricity – but air-conditioning as well – a first for us!! This is our most northerly base for this trip, though one of our planned day-trips will be to visit the church at Chitipa, which is almost at the Tanzanian/Zambian border. We will then be able to say we have been at the most southerly and the most northerly points in Malawi during our stay. Continue reading

The tour so far

IMG_1069 (1201x275)Today is exactly 2 weeks since we left Blantyre for our mission trip to the Northern region of Malawi. We have already travelled almost 1500km, and have completed training in the first 2 locations, Mzimba and Mzuzu. On the days when we have not been training, we have visited some of the more remote churches and prayer houses, experiencing some very bumpy roads, and enjoying a very different landscape from the one we have got used to in the South. Continue reading

Three little piggies – take two

We know quite a few of you were interested in the pig rearing project in Mulanje that we posted a few weeks ago. There luxurious pigsty was built with a zm grant to create a revenue stream for Mulanje ZEC supported by a committed group of leaders and members in the local church. Continue reading

Echoes of Grace move forward

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It is exactly one year this weekend since a group of young people approached Ruth to ask if she would help teach them more about music, because they had a vision of forming a choir and going out into the villages of Malawi with the Gospel, using music as their way of reaching the people. She was impressed back then by their desire to take the time to become better musicians themselves before rushing into this ministry. And also by their enthusiasm for writing their own Bible-based songs in Chichewa so that the message they bring to the villages is God’s Word, and is conveyed in a language and musical style that speaks to the hearts of the people. In a culture where choir competitions, and making recordings, seems to be the end goal of most church music groups, it is refreshing to find a group of mission minded young people, whose only desire is to grow God’s kingdom. Continue reading

Where is Malawi’s Joseph?

conservation-agriculture-with-trees-in-malawiAnother post for those interested in the underlying economic context of Malawi life. For there are no easy answers to the spiritual and material challenges faced by this wonderful country, but the more time we spend here the more we realise that the solutions to the material issues are bound up in the solution to the spiritual ones.

Malawi must appear to the rest of the world as if it is always complaining. Last year we were complaining of too much rain flooding vast areas of maize, this year we are complaining of too little and too sporadic rain across the south and much of central Malawi. Continue reading

Valued instruments

IMG_4735 (2) (1024x768)It is about a year since our shipment, containing some of our musical instruments, arrived in Blantyre. But only recently has Ruth got round to making protective covers for them – and very attractive ones at that, we think you will agree – to keep them safe as they get bundled in and out of the car several times a week, and bounced around in the boot over bumpy roads. Continue reading

Singing in the rain

DSCF2825 (2)Here is the most recent post from “Echoes of Grace” who Ruth helps direct. You have got to admire their dedication and enthusiasm. They produce a bit of a different sound compared to the Mickfield Evangelical Church choir!

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The 3rd of March saw us all at Jesus Outreach Church in Mbayani as the rain storms passed through Blantyre. But even the heavy rain on the iron roof could not drown out the echoes of grace that ran…

Source: Singing in the rain

Three little pigs

DSCF2713 (2) (1024x603)Last week Myles and Rose Chirwa (zm‘s Projects Officer) drove to Mulanje ZEC for the big day when three piglets arrived from the market to live in a ‘pig palace’, Mulanje ZEC style. This was the final phase in a substantial project by the local church – supported by the ZEC Synod Office and zm – to create an all-important revenue generating business to help the local church support its ministry of word and deed in this important district administrative centre  (see previous report here). Continue reading

Repost: January Blue…skies!

Read the most recent blog from Grant and Caroline Harris as they talk about their travels and their brave work in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here in Blantyre.

This lovely young couple have become great friends as we meet weekly at the bible study in the McGrath’s home in Blantyre.

And it is lovely to have such close fellowship with a second generation of the Harris clan when Grant’s mum and dad were our teenage friends – back in our Westerton Youth Fellowship in Glasgow.

God is good, all the time! (as they say here in Malawi … all the time!)

Grant & Caroline in Malawi

The last few weeks have been pretty steady in Blantyre. We have moved house a little bit closer to town. It’s basic, but we have a lovely little porch and garden which still allow for eating breakfast outside – one of my favourite things about living in Malawi.

Caroline is now working in the paediatric nursery – babies from 1 day up to 6 months. I am really enjoying working on a ward and having continuity with patients each day, although this makes losing patients quite a lot harder than in A&E. The ward is split into HDU – up to 15 babies and “main bay” – around 25-30 babies. I mostly work in the HDU but find it difficult when our main bay is being run by new interns who have maybe just starting working in paediatrics and are sending home 1 week old babies with very little outpatient…

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