Saturday 12th April 2014
Ruth and I were privileged to be asked to return to the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM) on the student’s only real rest day (Saturday) to be able to meet with them socially over lunch.
It was a great time to see these committed men and women relax together over a game of “bottle-top drafts” or strumming a guitar. But it was even more inspiring to hear their personal testimonies of sacrifice and calling as we chatted through lunch.
One of the most moving testimonies was from a young man born into the traditional royal family of Malawi and – one of eight brothers – expected to follow all his other brothers, his father and his forebears and be a soldier in the army.
Instead this young man felt a clear call from God to enter the ministry and go to EBCoM for training. This met with deep disapproval from his father and mother who said they would support him with anything he needed to join the army but would cut him off from all support if he went the way he felt God calling.
This young royal then spent two years on the most menial of casual jobs to save enough funds to take him to college. It was after the second year that his father, moved by the dedication and commitment of his son, began to show an interest, relented, and began to support him. As the young man testified:I humbled myself for God and God graciously gave me my calling and gave me back my father.
Even more movingly the young student went on to tell how the “fourth born” soldier brother was sent to Afghanistan on a UN peace keeping mission. Out of the 76 who went, only our friend’s brother and 25 returned alive. In gratitude – like the Romans of old – the government set aside land on which these few survivors could retire and rest. But this brother was transformed – he has served his country but now he too wanted to serve Christ and go to bible school.
The EBCoM student beamed with genuine gratitude and praise as he wondered at God’s provision: from being ostracised and in menial labour, he was reconciled with his father and one of two brothers training as soldiers of Christ rather than soldiers of Malawi.
I could not help thinking that these Godly and faithful young men and women of Malawi, who are so willing to give up all they have to be soldiers of Christ, were a delight to meet, are an encouragement to all true Malawi believers, and are a real challenge to ‘western’ Christians (including me) who are so often too spiritually flabby to care for actve service in the name of Jesus!