Passing on the baton

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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

Preach the Word!

Preacher

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

Day trip Malawi style

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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

Facing a task unfinished: Jessie Rowland

DSCF6609 (1280x973)The hymn “Facing a task unfinished” – recently revitalised by Keith and Kristyn Getty – has always been a favourite of ours, with its emotive call that as disciples:

We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose

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Back to Muesli….

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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

If it’s Wednesday it must be… Karonga

IMG_1303 (1280x342)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

The tour so far

IMG_1069 (1201x275)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

Three little piggies – take two

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

Three little pigs

DSCF2713 (2) (1024x603)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

Walking the line

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Myles and Ruth on the line between MW and MZ

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!

DSCF2198 (2) (1024x579)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.

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Like pigs in clover

IMG_3819 _ New Pigsty project for income generation an Mulanje ZEC (1024x768) 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 …

IMG_3796 _ Myles and Ruth welcomed at Mpala Prayer House (1024x577)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

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Church Development Partners

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

Hello, we’re back!

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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

New life at Mama Debra’s Take Away

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Living Waters Church, Muloza

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

Winter – cold but not blue!

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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

Mission accomplished

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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

Its a long way to Muona, its a long way to go!

DSCF9309Last 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

IMG_3010Just 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

Wanted: servant leaders

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This morning (Sun 8th March) we were up early to worship with our friends at the English language service of Limbe ZEC. We heard a suitably quiet but impactful exposition of the first few verses of the Beatitudes from the great sermon preached by Jesus on a Galilee mountain side and recorded by Matthew in chapter 5 of his gospel. 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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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.

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