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
Author Archives: Myles MacBean
Hope Amidst Change
This gallery contains 5 photos.
Originally posted on Echoes of Grace:
It was last weekend, the 27th February, 2016 that Echoes of Grace Malawi had an event in Blantyre hoping to perform at its main market and to have a jumble sale aimed at raising…
The Scottish boat that helps feed Malawi
Every now and then we come across articles we think are worth reposting here because they give real insight into the true character of Malawi life. 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!)
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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A rule of thumb broken
The MacBean rule of thumb is: Never let Myles in a bookshop or Ruth in a music shop unless you have a day to spare! Continue reading
Old habits die hard
After more than a year in Malawi we certainly feel we have settled in and become far more productive as life and social norms in Malawi increasingly feel ‘normal’. However, every now and then something breaks in to shake our complacency and remind us that the underlying cultural ‘world-view’ of many Malawians is very different from ours. Continue reading
Echoes of Hope To The Malawian Church
Ruth – doing music training with Echoes of Grace while also training Echoes of Grace to be trainers – appears on the new Echoes of Grace website. In turn the site was developed by Myles and Eric, who is being trained by Myles to be the Echoes of Grace digital media director. It’s all go! 🙂
It is no doubt that we can describe the unique touch of Echoes of Grace Malawi as altogether impact compacted. Surely the activities of the group has left the local church even more yearning to have them more.
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Och twas gey dreich
It was certainly ‘gey dreich’ last Sunday as we travelled with the General Secretary (Pastor Mtima) and his wife out of Blantyre to worship with Luchenza ZEC. Continue reading
Reaching the children of Malawi
Last Saturday morning, Ruth watched as 20 Bible college students from EBCoM completed the practical task in their children’s ministry training. Each student had to teach a Bible lesson and memory verse, while the trainers listened and evaluated, and then gave feed-back. It made Ruth more acutely aware of the challenges faced by children’s workers here in Malawi, compared with those living in the UK. Continue reading
Lang may yer lum reek
A Happy New Year to all our family, friends and partners around the world. “Lang may yer lum reek”! [See translation here] Continue reading
Passing on the baton
It may surprise you to know that we are already thinking ahead to when we return to the UK – one third of our time in Malawi already having gone – wondering how things we are involved with will carry on when we are gone. That’s why our focus has been on training trainers. Ruth was very encouraged a few months ago when the young people of Echoes of Grace suggested that they would like to run the weekend music seminar that Ruth has developed as one of their own ministries, and were keen for Ruth to train them in this. Continue reading
How does your garden grow?
The last few weeks has seen a transformation in Malawi as the first rains of the new season turn the trees and grass green. Families are now digging over every scrap of their land (regardless of the size and location they are called ‘gardens’ here in Malawi) and planting the maize on which their livelihood depends. Continue reading
God talk amongst the tea
Myles spends most of his time in his office bashing away on a PC but every now and then he is allowed out for good behaviour 🙂
A few weeks ago an invitation to lead the bible reflections at the retreat of a Malawi based mission team gave Myles the excuse for a sunny midweek escape deep into the Satamwa tea and coffee estate near Thyolo. Continue reading
Discipling a Nation
Back in mid October Myles had an encouraging time supporting the ZEC Pastors Conference that was held at the Mitsidi headquarters of Zambezi Evangelical Church. Continue reading
Guest post: What sort of holiday did you have?
Many of you will have noticed from our Facebook posts and blogs here at steppingoutwithgod.com that ZM in Malawi had a team of UK visitors with us over the last couple of weeks. In this, their first guest post, they explain how they came to observe, encourage, pray and consider.
If Malawi is the warm heart of Africa, then that heart beats to the rhythm of a drum. No matter where you go the rhythm of the drums are not far away, and if a drum is not available then syncopated rhythmic clapping takes its place. Continue reading
Majete take two
The visit by our friends from our home churches of Great Blakenham Baptist Church and Mickfield Evangelical Church meant we had an excuse to take them ‘on safari’ to Majete. The first time we were there was in May with Mhairi and, after our friends’ long hard week serving and sharing with the church in Malawi, we thought they deserved a day as ‘tourists’ and we were praying that the wildlife would turn our for them as it had for us in May. Continue reading
From little acorns …
On Saturday 31st October, Ruth joined CFCM in equipping 5 more men and women with the skills and resources to train Sunday School teachers in their area and their church; launching a strategy to multiply the effectiveness of CFCM in reaching children in Malawi with the Gospel. Continue reading
Walking the line
Back in the depths of the rainy season Pastor Dambo of Doviko ZEC valiantly struggled across miles of muddy track on the back of a motorbike taxi to meet us at Ntonda to participate in Myles’ dissertation research. It only felt right that we promise to visit his church when the roads were (relatively) better. So fresh back from our UK ‘holiday’ on Sunday 11th Oct we travelled to Doviko ZEC with the General Secretary and his wife. Continue reading
On yer bike!
It was back in 1981 that the UK Conservative politician Norman Tebbit famously encouraged unemployed Britons to cycle to find employment. Over thirty years later and a bicycle is arguably still the most important ‘tool of the trade – after a bible – for a pastor or church planter in rural Malawi.
Like pigs in clover
From its foundation in 1892 Zambesi Mission (then Zambesi Industrial Mission) has had an objective of helping the Malawi Church be self-sufficient through income generating schemes. The most successful projects seem to be those that build on traditional skills like keeping goats, as in Thambani ZEC. Continue reading
If at first you don’t succeed …
It was great to be back into our church visits so soon after our return to Malawi when on Sunday 27th September we had the opportunity to accompany Pastor Mulamba of Mulanje ZEC back to his Mpala Prayer House which sits several kilometers along a dust road south of Mulanje trading centre and near the Mozambique border by the Ruo River. Continue reading
The end of the beginning
During our short trip back to the UK we were delighted to be asked to speak on several occasions on our work with Zambesi Mission in Malawi. It was a great opportunity for us to look back and take stock of our first nine months in our adopted home of Malawi, and to think of what the future holds. We certainly concluded that our UK visit marked the ‘end of the beginning’ of our time in Malawi and that we looked forward to being able to contribute all the more strongly to serving God’s kingdom in Malawi on our return. Continue reading
Power to the people
Myles is a bit of a geek. That shows itself in at least two ways: he struggles to survive without a web connected computer, and he loves it when he finds numbers that illuminate the scale of issues we see in our day-to-day lives here in Malawi. Continue reading
Hello, we’re back!
We thought we should say ‘hello’ as we have been so silent on steppingoutwithgod.com during our 4 week trip around the UK, and have been quite busy as we settled back in to Malawi life again over the last week. Indeed, we have already completed a ministry trip back to Mpala ZEC Prayer House (more to follow in a later post). We are pleased to say that, after a trip across dry, dusty and bumpy roads to be followed with lovely fellowship under the trees, we are now feel settled in again. Continue reading
Nchalo in pictures
Myles loved the warm, peaceful, dusty atmosphere of Nchalo. Continue reading
New life at Mama Debra’s Take Away
Our latest ZM Pastors Bookset Conference was 27-31 July in Muloza (see the approx location on Google Maps here) in Mulanje district. After the event in Mchinji the team came together again like a well oiled machine, and we were pleased to be joined by the local ZEC pastor, Synoden Mulamba. Continue reading
“Echoes of Grace”
It is not unusual for a peaceful Saturday at Chipitala Avenue, Blantyre, to be disturbed by music, but usually it’s loud intrusive music being blasted out over loud-speakers from the University sports complex behind. But last Saturday the music was coming from the Zambesi Mission bungalow – and it was much more pleasant to the ear! Ruth was holding her first Song Creation Workshop with a group of 15 young people. Continue reading
Preach the Word!
Last week Myles had a great time getting out of his Blantyre study to help with the first of three ‘Pastors Bookset Conferences’ by Zambesi Mission this July/August. He felt energised to be back working so closely with such a great team, and also to be putting into practice some of the output of his research and reading for his dissertation. Continue reading
New perspectives on eternal truths
Sometimes it is the simplest of things, when you are not expecting them, that catch you unaware and leave you with that psychological version of motion sickness called culture shock. Continue reading
Winter – cold but not blue!
It is now “mid-winter” here in Malawi – and we are wishing we had brought more of our winter clothes from England. When we first moved into our house we were amused to see a fan heater in one of the cupboards – wondering why it was there – this is Africa after all. The windows that did not quite close properly have never been a problem – until June hit. Over the last 6 weeks, here in Blantyre at an altitude of 3400 feet, there have been many cool overcast days, and windy days, and the nights are noticably colder. The fan heater has been used several times, the windows have had to be fixed, and Ruth has been shopping for jumpers and body-warmers! Continue reading
Life on the edge
Myles really enjoys the opportunity to get out to preach in different parts of the country and last Sunday (14 June) he had the chance to travel to Chisinkha ZEC, south-west of the tarred road to Thyolo. (See it on Google Earth here.) Continue reading
Hospitality “in the village”
We are discovering that Malawians have a very different concept of distances than we have, and often places are a lot further than they give us to understand. “You’re nearly there” seems to be the standard reply whenever you ask “How far is it to the trading centre?” – when in reality you may still have 30km to go! Continue reading
It was a pleasure to go along to the English service at our “home church” at Limbe ZEC this morning, and sing a few songs from the 21st century! While our daughter, Mhairi, was staying with us, we used her singing skills to hold a couple of sessions at Limbe to teach some new English songs, an alternative to the rather dated songs, like “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Will Your Anchor Hold” which are the staple of the English service most weeks! We formed a band using talented musicians we have got to know, and taught 12 new songs, by people like Stuart Townend, and Matt Redman. Continue reading
Majete: in the footsteps of Livingstone
Mhairi’s recent visit encouraged us to take a day trip down into the Lower Shire to visit the Majete Wildlife Reserve. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the countryside in the wild state of thick bush that Livingstone would have experienced on his first trip up the Shire when the ‘Kapichira Falls‘ – that now lie within the park – forced him and his party out of their boats to continue their epic journey on foot. Continue reading
After a few weeks with no rest days, it was good to have Mhairi’s visit to encourage us away from Blantyre for a few days relaxation at magical Senga Bay. Continue reading
The joys of Malawi public transport
Last weekend, Ruth and her CFCM colleagues, Joseph and Elevate, went off to Monkey Bay to run a Sunday School teacher’s training seminar. That wasn’t the only education going on over the weekend – Ruth had a lot to learn about Malawian public transport! Forget about timetables, set fares, pre-booking, luggage regulations, seat-belts, air-conditioning, road-safety….. Continue reading
A parable for the church in Africa
The church in Malawi is like this. There was once a mother who gave birth to her child, and abandoned the child in the street. The mother went away, and so this child begins to grow by himself and grows as a beggar in the streets: ‘Grandma, help me. Sir, help me.’ He sits under a bridge all day, every day. So think about this child when he grows up. What kind of thing can this child teach? Continue reading
David Livingstone I presume?
If you have access to the BBC iPlayer I can recommend you watch this TV programme before it disappears.
Not only does it give a relatively balanced presentation of Livingstone’s life, and touch on the early history of Malawi, but the film of the Malawi countryside and people is wonderful and really captures the reality for us on the ground here.
Yesterday (9th May) I was tempted up Michiru Mountain again – this time with Mhairi, who I discovered sets a wicked pace when walking up mountains! At one stage I had to point out that I was 33 years older than her, as she looked back with a rather pitying look on her face. Continue reading
Fisher folk of Lake Malawi
Our recent short break at Senga Bay introduced us to the fisher folk of Lake Malawi, toiling in almost biblical conditions to make a living from the overfished stock of the third biggest body of fresh water in Africa. Continue reading
Two ways to sit
The Gospel presentation “Two Ways to Live” is one of my favourites, especially because of the great iPhone app that they distribute to help lazy people like me. So I was very pleased to hear that SIM Malawi has worked with others to translate this Gospel presentation into Chichewa, partly using the services of our Chichewa teacher.
However, it also gave us an interesting insight into the challenges of interpreting meaning when crossing cultural and language boundaries! Continue reading
A look at Ruth’s typical Tuesday (hint about title!) gives a good picture of the activities she is involved in the rest of the week here in Blantyre. Continue reading
Some weeks ago – two days after our trek down to Muona ZEC in the far south of Malawi – we were off to Mwazule ZEC tucked away around the back of the Mulanje mountain range on a dirt track. With so many rivers running off that range, they had been heavily impacted by the rains. Continue reading
Rules for talk and discussion
We have been helping CfCM with a holiday bible club at Maliya primary school. It is only a few miles from Blantyre but in a different world. The school has only 13 staff for nearly 700 pupils, and hardly any material resources. The only access to this isolated village is by using a long rough dirt road which has no minibus or bicycle taxi service. Piped water, sanitation, or a mobile phone service is just a dream.
School’s out for Easter!
The Easter school holidays continue here in Malawi, as in schools back home, and every year CFCM organise a Five-Day Club during this holiday period. This year they chose a rural location, some 20km outside of Blantyre, a village called Maliya, where there is a primary school for almost 700 children from the surrounding area, an AquaAid orphanage, a ZEC church, but no regular children’s Bible Club. Maliya can’t be reached by public transport – even the ubiquitous minibuses can’t make it down the bumpy road, and for people to go up to town (and it is uphill all the way) involves a 2-hour hike, or a motor-bike taxi if you can afford it. Continue reading
Malawi in portrait
Some of our favourite photos of the people of Malawi from the last few months. Continue reading
Its a long way to Muona, its a long way to go!
Last Tuesday we set off on our most recent aid trip, this time to an area on the east side of the Shire River where the road had just been declared open by the roads authority. It turned out that “open” was a loose term! It ended up a gruelling, kidney jolting, 3 hr/60 km drive from where we left the tarmac at Kanjedza on the M1 to our destination at the little settlement of Muona, and its Zambesi Evangelical Church. Continue reading
The land where the bicycle is king
Just as in 19th century Britain, it is the bicycle that brings freedom and transport to the masses in rural Malawi. And none of your fancy 18 gear mountain bikes here, it is good old-fashioned solid designs from days of old – like this “Raja” from India that has a heritage running back to the Raj. Continue reading