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
This 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.
For 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 →
Two 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
This time of year, as Malawi steadily heats up, the trees of the Shire Highlands burst forth in the most splendid display, and none more so than the brilliant purple/blue of the Jacaranda tree that seems to turn even the most run-down parts of Blantyre into a botanic garden. Continue reading →
“There has never been a Synod like it!” was the comment to Myles from quite a few ZEC leaders as over 250 delegates began to leave the Mitsidi headquarters of Zambezi Evangelical Church to head home last Saturday afternoon after “Synod 2016”. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Myles enjoys the more strategic work that keeps him working away in his office most of the time, or buried in meetings. However, every now and then he manages to escape from the office and indulge his passion for training local church leaders.
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 →
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 →
Another 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 →
It has been a tiring but wonderful week at Khombwe, 30km from Blantyre. Hundreds of children gathered every morning from 8.30am for the CFCM 5-Day Club, and enjoyed a morning of games, singing and Bible lessons. Continue reading →
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 →
There is no tradition of evening services here in Malawi where lighting is expensive and public transport difficult to obtain after dark. So we have been listening on Sunday evenings to online sermons on the minor prophets, taking us to places in the bible we too rarely go, and bringing to light wonderful truths. Continue reading →
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…
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 →
This time of year you can see why the Scots fell in love with green Malawi in general, and the Zomba plateau in particular. The other weekend as we walked across the plateau on the way to Chingwe’s Hole it could have been the highlands on a warm August day with thunder clouds building in the distance.
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 →
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.
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 →