On our recent trip to the north of Malawi it struck us again that, when all is said and done, it’s all about people!
So – perhaps just as important as all the programs we have been helping to develop, launch and operate during our time here in Malawi – is the opportunity trips like this last one have given us to simply visit with and get alongside so many faithful church leaders and congregations in some of the most remote parts of Malawi; to be encouraged by their indomitable enthusiasm for God in the face of so many challenges; and – hopefully – to give them some encouragement as our brothers and sisters realise that across the seas there are so many people (zm supporters and beyond) who are praying for them.
And this wonderful privilege of ours is only possible because of the support of so many of you – through prayer and through helping cover our ministry costs. Thank you dearly for this provision.
Chikangawa ZEC – Witness in the forest
Myles visited this newly planted congregation set in the forest north east of Mzimba when we were in the north last year. So this time we were keen to use the opportunity to fellowship with them on a Sunday morning as we drove from Mzimba to Mzuzu. Myles’ report on the visit can be found (even if you are not registered with Facebook) on the zm Facebook page here .
However, one typically Malawian anecdote missed out of the formal report was about lunch. No visitors are ever allowed to depart from a ZEC church without the hospitality of a good meal – often chicken and rice or chicken and nsima. In the UK this would involve the infrastructure of a local authority approved church kitchen, electricity, running water etc. However, in Malawi it just needs three stones, some wood, and a group of enthusiastic women members.
So as Myles preached, expertly translated into Chichewa by CFCM worker Joseph Jeke, the smoke from the ‘kitchen’ set up just outside the church door billowed in through the door and windows to make quite a homely atmosphere, enhanced by the way the little children made themselves at home and played on the dirt floor of the church.
But it was only as we were served our meal later that we realised the cute little chicken that had been pecking at Myles’ shoelaces mistaking them for worms, was now on our plate! Fresh cuisine Malawi style!
Please praise God for Chikangawa ZEC and their witness in the forest.
Pastor Kasambala – Gentle contentment
Last year we met Pastor Kasambala of Rumphi ZEC under trying circumstances as his wife had just been taken into hospital with a mysterious paralysis. However, he was such a hospitable and gentle soul, and we had such a good time together during the Preach the Word course, that Myles was determined to meet up with him again while CFCM did their Sunday school teacher training in the little town of Rumphi, nestled in the mountains.
Myles met Pastor Kasambala and walked and talked with him in the evening sun, catching up on news and soaking up the gentle contentment permeating from the man. He found that Mrs Kasambala has made real progress but not enough to come home and she is still being cared for by a daughter who lives many miles from Rumphi. And perhaps it is just as well that she is not at home for, as Myles reached the pastor’s home not only did he see the joyful site of a maize harvest being brought in, but also the shocking state of a house where every piece of wood had been decimated by termite infestation.
This story of ill health and housing challenges is by no means unusual for rural pastors and their families in Malawi. However, please pray for Pastor Kasambala – that in his gentle contentment the Lord might restore his wife’s health and allow her to return to a restored home.
Pastor Mang’anya – Humbleness in adversity
Enoch Mang’anya pastors the little ZEC church in Chitipa in the very north west of Malawi. It was a pleasure to meet him and his family again. To visit them we drove an hour and a half further on from Karonga over a road that until recently was just two ruts through the beautiful forested mountains of the area, but is now a (relatively) smooth and well engineered highway.
From a distance it can be tempting to think of Malawi as a homogeneous nation but the longer we live here the more we learn of the many different cultures of the country. This is particularly the case in the north of the country, and in Chitipa district alone there is said to be 21 languages spoken including Swahili from Tanzania and Bemba from Zambia – both of which border Chitipa district.
So this young family from the Chichewa speaking south of Malawi face a real cross-cultural challenge as they look to proclaim the gospel. And even though Enoch has faithfully learned Tumbuka (the major language of the north) and is beginning to learn the language of the dominant local Lambya tribe, he is still facing real adversity due to the insularity of the Lambya culture where typically only a local Lambya pastor will be respected. These challenges led to two of the previous pastors of Chitipa ZEC leaving their post early, further undermining Enoch and the church in the eyes of the locals.
We saw real emotional pain in the eyes of this faithful and humble husband and wife partnership as they talked about their feeling of isolation and discouragement as church numbers dwindle. But we also saw such wonderful evidence of real spiritual courage and dedication as Enoch unselfconsciously pointed to a wall chart setting out his almost monastic daily cycle of prayer for the people of Chitipa.
Please lift up this family before God in prayer, asking that they might know God’s comfort and strength and that they might know His clear guidance as they demonstrate such humbleness in adversity.