The last few months have been hectic so time for posting has been close to zero. We therefore have a few posts to catch up on. This imaginary story is based on the real facts of life for many Malawians and was inspired by a chance meeting with this old woman during the November planting season. Imagine you are this widowed grandmother (agogo).
It does not seem that long ago that we were talking about being on the “back straight” of the running track of our time here in Malawi. We felt fully acclimatised and able to power along in our partnership with our Malawian brothers and sisters. Continue reading
As we count down the remaining weeks in Malawi, we find ourselves asking more and more “What will happen to this when we leave?” It has always been our goal to try and avoid dependency, so that things can carry on as we bow out. Continue reading
Ever since we first visited Malawi, Myles has been captivated by the challenge of how to develop a truly contextual, scalable and sustainable way to equip and release ZEC’s grass-roots preachers to better expose the original meaning of Scripture, and better communicate that meaning to today’s Malawians within their rural oral culture. Continue reading
“Teach them to your children and to their children after them”
While we were back in the UK, we mentioned our plans for when we return to the UK at the end of November. For Myles, the next step is still to be discovered, but Ruth is looking forward to working in the UK with Zambesi Mission, especially to promote the work of their partners, Children for Christ Ministry (CFCM), with whom she has been working closely. Our latest tour of the Northern Region was really a CFCM tour, where Ruth, Elevate and Joseph carried out 5 Sunday School teacher training seminars in 5 centres in the North. The tour has really helped affirm to Ruth why she wants to help spread the news of the work of CFCM in the UK. It has highlighted the vital work and the dedication of the Malawi team. Continue reading
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! Continue reading
Last week Myles had the privilege of staying for six nights in the home of a ZEC pastor in the capital city of Lilongwe. It was a very comfortable home by Malawi standards and Myles quickly relaxed into the very different, calm rhythms of life in a Malawi household. Continue reading
The last 2 weeks of our home visit were, like the first 2 weeks, a blend of time spent with family, with old friends, days off to do things on our own, and visiting churches to report on the work we have been carrying out. Myles continued to preach from Isaiah 6:1-8, and to remind people that to “Go” in the Lord’s work is a sate of mind, not a state of geography –being ready and willing to witness to Christ wherever we are, and not necessarily travelling 4000 miles. It was great to meet so many people answering that call just where they were. Continue reading
Two weeks today (20th March) we will be heading back to Blantyre, Malawi, after over four weeks in the UK. But it has taken until today for us to reach the most northerly point of our trip and – passing along the western shore of Loch Lomond – reach Myles’ dad’s home in Crieff.
What was your drive to church like last Sunday, 29 Jan? Myles had a wonderful drive deep into a rural area of Malawi, with the General Secretary of ZEC (Pastor Mtima) and the Regional Superintendent (Pastor Muhiye). Continue reading
Back in November we wrote about the project Ruth has been involved with to bring old and new children’s praise and worship songs together into one book, in the 3 main languages of Malawi. Work on Ananu Ziimbani (in fact 2 books – one with music, and one with words only) is almost complete and she hopes will be with the publishers while we are in the UK in March. But with the arrival of Calum from UK, a selection of the newly composed and the newly translated songs have been recorded to make a CD. Continue reading
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
Apologies to Bing Crosby for distorting his famous seasonal song but after a few years in Malawi it is a green Christmas that we find ourselves praying for as so many of our friends send us greetings with frosty snowy scenes. 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
“Come, children, join and sing”
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
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
…all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord (1 Chronicles 25:7)
Music rang out from Bible Faith Ministries in central Blantyre last Sunday afternoon as Echoes of Grace was joined by Mhairi for a Worship Seminar. 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
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
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…
Source: Singing in the rain
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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