Thursday 17th April 2014
Our last meeting in Lilongwe on this busy day was with Pastor Rex Umali, who is the pastor of Area 23 ZEC. It was to be a perfect example of one of the most exciting things about these visits; their complete unpredictability. Your are just never sure what you will find and how God will use it to shape you. This time we were surprised and challenged to hear this faithful pastor’s wonderful testimony.
Rex was brought up in a Muslim family in a predominantly Muslim tribe. In hindsight he can see God’s hand at work as from an early age he found himself with many Christian friends. Eventually his love of music led him to join them in the church choir, and before long the wonder of Christ’s Good News broke into his heart and he was born again in 1997.
However his family could not let this happen without a fight. Indeed it was the quiet matter-of-fact way that Rex told us about the repeated beatings by his father that ensured a greater impact on Rex’s listeners than any flowery emotional language: “It was not very easy. My father beat me close to death” he said quietly; but then a big warm smile broke out across his face: but he soon found “you can’t beat Jesus out of my heart”!
Almost immediately Rex experienced a very vivid call to ministry and – supported by his pastor – he studied at the Zambezi College of Ministry (ZACOM) and qualified in 2000. What a journey with God this faithful believer has been on: from being a spiritually repressed young villager to being a Godly father of 5 and the leader of a 300 strong city church in a rapidly growing part of Lilongwe.
We left with a very clear challenge ringing in our hearts; for those of us who profess a living salvation in Christ, how many of us would truly have the courage to proclaim “You can’t beat Jesus out of my heart”?