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 →
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 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 →
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…
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. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
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 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. Continue reading →
This 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 →
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 →
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 →
As 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 →
We 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 →
As 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 →
“… 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.
It 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. Continue reading →
Wait 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →