Short and simple

IMG_8934I couldn’t help but obey two of the playground rules when I saw these signs at Mandala House (the posh hangout of ‘azungu’ in Blantyre). First I smiled and then I laughed.

How wonderful that someone has set out such a simple and positive set of rules to help the children enjoy themselves in the playground.

I don’t know about you but I have this terrible habit of getting carried away and making things way too complicated. I hate to think how many more signs I might have added to the tree. Continue reading

No ads from now on

WordpressWe started this wordpress based blog as an experiment as we stepped out with God and took a new direction in our lives. To keep costs down we used the free service that posts adverts at the bottom of the blogs so WordPress can make money from the excellent service they provide.

However some of you have commented that you are beginning to see adverts on our site that are distinctly inappropriate. Since so many folk are now looking at the site, and given we are finding it such a great way to help all our friends and partners to feel really part of our service here in Malawi, we have coughed up the $ to “go premium” and get rid of the ads.

We hope you will continue to enjoy keeping up to date with our activities and thoughts as you partner with us in ministry for Christ in Malawi.

Every blessing from Myles and Ruth on a hot and sticky Sunday afternoon in Blantyre.

 

Hi Katy

IMG_2546This is an email that Ruth sent to a nine year old friend to help her with a primary school project. We thought it might be of wider interest.

Hi Katy,

It was lovely to hear from you, and we are happy to help you with your school project – life in a village in Suffolk is very different from life in a village in Malawi – especially for children. Continue reading

Time for 4 wheel drive

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We are about ten weeks into our time here in Malawi and there is still no sign of our TEP (Temporary Employment Permit) being granted. Please pray that this comes through soon as it gives us the official confirmation of our long-term stay here. We are confident God has called us to be here for the long-term, and are increasingly clear about how he specifically wants us to serve, and are beginning to ‘motor’.  So we have decided to go ahead with a couple of long-term decisions regardless of the TEP.

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The feeding of the 500

IMG_2516The 10 Bible Clubs running in the area of Tchoda are a testament to 10 pastors from different denominations who share a vision for a generation of God-fearing children through which God might transform Malawi; testament to their belief that child-appropriate Bible teaching is the way this vision must be achieved; testament to the individuals from their churches who have been trained and tirelessly bring the Gospel to a total of 850 children week by week; and testament to the Children for Christ Ministries (CFCM) team who have trained the teachers and who continue to encourage and provide resources for these clubs. Continue reading

Malawi’s slow motion tsunami

Malawi flooding...epa04572326 A picture made available on 21 JanFriends, this will probably be our last post for some time concerning the Malawi floods as we don’t want to bore our friends and supporters. But if you are interested in regular updates yo can contact zm through our website and ask to be put on the mailing list for the “Zambesi Mission – Flood Relief Bulletin”. Continue reading

Sonjeka Village RIP

Deceptively peaceful Sonjeka

Deceptively peaceful Sonjeka

We visited Mulanje District on our first visit to Malawi and fell in love with its majestic mountains and fast flowing rivers. It made our return visit last Wednesday all the more challenging: to find so much pain and suffering amongst all that beauty, and to find the life giving rivers themselves had turned into the tools of so much destruction.

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Malawi Flood Relief

YOU CAN PROVIDE SUPPORT DIRECT TO GRASS-ROOTS MALAWI

On Saturday morning as we travelled to a meeting we saw first hand the impact of the exceptional rains on a high lying suburb of Blantyre where houses had collapsed and schools were home to displaced villagers.

Further afield and lower into the Rift Valley we know of collapsed houses and churches, and of crops (that for most Malawians are literally their livelihood) buried or washed away.

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Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

floodsWater, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink

(Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

This rainy season is unusual for Malawi. As well as causing devastation to many churches, homes and public buildings, the weather also brings home the fact that despite decades as an independent nation striving for social and economic development many challenges remain. especially when it comes to power, water and sanitation. Continue reading

Build your house on the rock …

floods-malawiMalawi is one of the most densly populated countries in Africa, seems to have few if any planning laws, has little resources for infrastructure development, and in desperation many are forced to build in places that make them very vulerable. On top of that, rural homes are built from burned-clay bricks formed out of the soil around the house, and sometimes cement isn’t even available for use in the mortar.

It is no surprise therefore that, soon after the delayed rains started, we now hear and see the tragic results of a few weeks of heavy rain falling on such a needy land.
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Whatever you did for one of the least of these …

malawimumIt is the people we meet and the faith stories we hear that make Malawi so very special. Whenever we can, we want to share with our friends and partners the stories we hear …

Within a few days of giving birth, a young woman was issued divorce papers by her husband. For a woman in Malawi, where there is no benefits system, being abandoned like this meant certain hardship. How was she going to support herself and her new-born baby boy? She was desperate, but she had one comfort, her faith in Christ. So she called her son “God-knows”.
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Let the children come unto me

IMG_2354This week Ruth had the exciting opportunity of starting to work alongside Joseph and Elevate of “Children For Christ Ministries” (CFCM).  Their focus is training people across Malawi to lead Bible Clubs and Sunday Schools but this week their emphasis was on re-starting the clubs they run themselves in the Blantyre area. Ruth immediately got a sense of the breadth of their work, the challenges they face, and the privilege that is theirs of being able to run and support weekly Bible Clubs. Continue reading

Boxing Day with a difference

View from slopes of Michiru Mountain

Our traditional British Boxing Day walk usually involves a brisk long walk with our dog along Sizewell beach or similar in the few hours that a UK December gives you between dawn and dusk. We were determined to do something different in Malawi! Continue reading

Blantyre Christmas

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Ruth in her new ‘chitenje’

Thank you for so many messages via email, Facebook, WhatsApp and phone. It ensured we knew that, far away as we are, you were thinking of us on this special day. Rest assured that – while missing you all – we had a great time once we had positively embraced the fact that this was going to be a different Christmas without our family, and we should enjoy it for what it was! Continue reading

Around town

blantyreAs Blantyre greens up in the rains we have got into the habit of doing an hour of walking each day to try and fight off the effects of our otherwise sedentary lifestyle here in Blantyre. One of the consequences – exacerbated by the fact that we rather stand out from the crowd! – is some interesting conversations. Continue reading

Left for dead

GeorgeWe had a great time with the zm supported students as they left for their Christmas holiday at home, but as ever it was their personal testimonies that really stayed with us.

One student spontaneously got up during our meeting; let’s call him ‘George’. Pulling up his trouser leg he showed us scar tissue and eaten muscle from his ankle right up his calf. He told us all how some years ago he had a wound that just would not heal. For over a year this wound got worse and worse, and he got weaker and weaker as infection set in. Eventually he got to the stage where he could not move, could not speak, and felt his breathing getting shallower and shallower. Continue reading

A faithful few

IMG_2281Thanks to everyone for supporting us in prayer at this week’s end-of-term event with the zm-sponsored students at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi. With trusty interpretation by our Field Director Simon Chikwana, Myles had the privilege of speaking on Christ’s call that all disciples be His light in the world, warning of the way the world tries to snuff out that light, and encouraged the students to commune deeply and daily with the Holy Spirit throughout the holiday to ensure they have the strength to keep burning bright for their Lord. Continue reading

The least of these this Christmas

lises-seven-grandchildrenTruly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40)

This video article by The Economist caught my eye this week for obvious reasons. In the run up to Christmas – which so many of us in the West use as an excuse to over-consume – this video is a shocking reminder of the reality of life for so many of our brothers and sisters arround the globe and the complexity of issues involved. Continue reading

Two Ways to Shop

A week or so into our stay, it does seem that there are two ways to live in Malawi* – at least as evidenced by the way people shop.

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Someone turn the heating down!

stoveAs I (Myles) worked at my PC yesterday evening, once again completely focussed on my dissertation research, I caught myself subconsciously saying this before I suddenly remembered I was not sitting in my livingroom in a cold British winter but was sitting in my livingroom in a sticky tropical Malawi waiting for the rains to break. Continue reading

Water for the thirsty

IMG_8813“… whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

As we got off the plane at Blantyre airport last Thursday and were met by our Malawi Director we were quickly reminded of the basic life challenges that so many face here in Malawi.

As we drove to the city we remarked at how dry the small fields were compared to our visit last Easter, and we found that even the relatively well-appointed mission house we were staying in had taps that ran dry.

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Let go and let’s go!

Picture1It has been quite a couple of weeks as we have emptied our old house and completed its sale. Twenty-three years of stuff and fond memories to let go of, and two days of hard work as we got the new house ready to be rented out to friends.

It was a week or so ago, as I burned decades of sensitive old papers, that it struck me how much we were leaving behind as we move into this next chapter of our walk with God.
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Still here waiting patiently

waitWait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

Back in 2012 – when God made clear he wanted to see a dramatic change in the direction of our lives – we prayed, we read scripture, and we talked to trusted long-standing Christian friends who had been on this path before us.

One wise lady warned us to take significant time before deciding what to do next. This would allow me (Myles) to “decompress” from my “always on” life in global media, to slow down, to learn to be more fully a man of prayer, to learn how to go at God’s pace rather than man’s, and above all to wait on the Lord.

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Commissioning service

Things have been so busy over the summer that our posts have dried up. But that will soon change as we head back to Malawi in the not too distant future. In the meantime, if you can join us tomorrow for our commissioning service at Mickfield Evangelical Church then we would be very happy to see you.

Invitation

Once again it’s time to say ‘tapita Malawi’

Thursday 24th April 2014

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All too quickly it is time for us to once again say farewell to Malawi.

As we drove up the escarpment from the Shire River to Blantyre this afternoon at the end of our second road trips, I must admit that I found myself disappointed that it would inevitably be some considerable time before we would be back in what now feels like a second home.

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You can’t beat Jesus out of my heart

Thursday 17th April 2014

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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.

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Grand Designs

Thursday 17th April 2014

Gulliver Prayer House

Gulliver Prayer House

It reminded us a little of our time in Plano, Texas in the 90’s as we drove through the large flat plots of land on the outskirts of Lilongwe that were filling rapidly with expanding suburbia. And there, incongruously, in the corner of a giant building lot, sat the small “Gulliver Prayer House” of ZEC.

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Who is on the throne?

Thursday 16th April 2014

Disney gets everywhere!

Disney gets everywhere!

Tired after a long day of visits we nevertheless stopped off at Namitete ZEC on our way to our guest house at Mchinji in the very west of Malawi, near the Zambia border. However our weariness quickly evaporated in the face of the cheerful enthusiasm of Pastor Masoamphambe, his wife, his family, and his leadership team.

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Via, Veritas, Vita

Wednesday 16th April 2014

Africa Bible College, Lilongwe

Via, Veritas, Vita (“Way, Truth, Life”) is the motto of Glasgow University where Ruth and I studied in the 1980’s and summarizes Jesus’ amazing assertion in John 14:6 – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And today we saw three different examples of faithful Christians looking to proclaim this truth in modern Africa.

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The longest day

Tuesday 15th April 2014

Henry and his family

Henry (left) and his family

As we left the Anglican guest house at Chilema little did we know how long a day it was going to be of travel interspersed with interesting visits and conversations before we found our way in the dark to the Roman Catholic guest house in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Regardless of the state of the truck’s suspension, by then our personal “rear suspension” was painfully sensitive after sitting in the cramped rear bench of our 4×4 truck. Little surprise that the plain quiet comfort of the guest house run by nuns was very welcome indeed!

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A short cut cut short

Monday 14th April 2014

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We were all up early for our drive from the Chilema guest house to the ZEC operated clinic at Nthorowa. Being the end of the rainy season everything is bushy and green but that did not stop Simon and Luckwell directing us down ‘roads’ that looked more like overgrown bridlepaths. I was driving and as we grew in confidence we decided to take a “shorti cut” that turned out to be a “shorti cut” too far.

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The Sound of Music, Malawi style

Palm Sunday, 13th April 2014

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Today we celebrated a very special Palm Sunday with a new group of Malawi brothers and sisters at Malosa Zambezi Evangelical Church. And there was no mistaking it was Palm Sunday either as we spent the 70 mile drive from Blantyre on the Zomba road either dodging long lines of palm branch waving locals on the way to church, or the palm branch selling entrepreneurs desperate to make a quick buck!

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Soldiers of Christ

Saturday 12th April 2014

EBCoM students focussed on their game of bottle top drafts"

EBCoM students focussed on their game of bottle top drafts”

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.

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Making partners for pastors

Saturday 12th April 2014

Mrs Mercy Mkwezalamba

Mrs Mercy Mkwezalamba

We were delighted to returned to EBCoM on Saturday to meet with a remarkable lady, Mrs Mercy Mkwezalamba, who some time ago established a course for the wives of the male 3rd year students. In a culture where women so often fail to complete high school this is an innovative step.

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A time of reaquaintance

Thursday 10th and Friday 11th April

As with our first visit, the start of this return visit to Malawi has been relatively slow as we have recuperated from the long flight, readjusted to Malawi life, and had some important coordination meetings with the leaders at Zambezi Evangelical Church and the leaders of the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi.

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‘Moni’ Malawi – here we come again

Kenya-Airways

Its been over 6 months but finally, tomorrow, aboard a Kenya Airways flight, we will be heading back to Malawi with Mike Beresford of Zambezi Mission to further investigate the opportunities for us to serve Christ in Malawi.
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Tapita Malawi

Jacara Malawi

What images will persist, I wonder, for Ruth and I as we leave Malawi and Africa? For sure there will be images of rolling seas of tea bushes, of bright lilac colored jacaranda trees, of vast planes of dusty bush, of proud exotic animals, of litter strewn slums, of mud floors and tin roofs.

However I am convinced that the truly persistent images of Malawi and of Africa will be of the faithful brothers and sisters we leave behind. Compared to our homeland we found friends materially poor, struggling with a lack of education, and adrift for the want of more of Christ’s shepherds. But we also found friends with faces shining with the love of Jesus, humble homes thrown open in wonderful hospitality, and lives where the little they did have was completely dedicated to the growth of God’s kingdom.
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In the name of love

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10 – 11 September 2013

I wish I knew more about Jessie Rowland whose grave sits all alone at the top of a prominent hill that commands an amazing 360 degree view of a huge plain of African bush between Blantyre and Lake Malawi.

Monday in Blantyre was quiet but interesting as we met with Pastor Mvula J Mvula, the leader of the River of Life Evangelical Church that has recently become a partner of Zambezi Mission. Formed in 2001 ROLEC is an indigenous church that aims through the preachong of the Word of God to transform people’s lives and their communities both spiritually, socially and economically. In looks and in force of character there is something of Nelson Mandela about Pastor Mvula, and we had a fascinating time understanding his primary need to rapidly train ROLEC pastors to be better shepherds for their flocks. 
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Light of the world

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8th September 2013

In a country where Christian church buildings are so conspicuous, our time in Malawi is giving us a real insight into the ongoing need for the gospel in the country.

As you drive at night through the Malawi countryside you are immediately struck by the physical darkness of the place as so many struggle with the expense of providing lighting for their home, and the government struggles with the expense of lighting the streets. And certainly during our trip we also had to get used to repeated daily power outages that too often plunge everybody into deep black from 6 pm to 6 am.

However when you talk to the people of the countryside you understand – beyond their physical need for light – their far greater need for the spiritual light that only the Holy Spirit can bring.
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Well done good and faithful servants

7th September 2013

Kondwani and Evet Kwerani epitomise what it means to be good and faithful servants of Christ whatever our culture. They live in a small rough brick house in rural Choda, south east of Blantyre, with their three children Hope, Paul, and Kondwani jr.

Kondwani was born in the country and, even with a time studying in the relative comfort of Blantyre, he says he is more able to cope with being back in the simple rural life than his wife who was born in the city.

I say “simple life”, but in an area where the church members are essentially struggling to survive – and although they would never say so themselves – it would be more accurate to talk about a life of material “survival”.
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