The following piece is Part One of a three-part series of articles describing ministry in the African country of Malawi from the perspective of two American christians and one Malawian pastor.
My adventure began in the Summer of 2016. I was part of a small leadership team from His Way Community Church in Central Alabama, which traveled to Malawi, Africa, for a mission trip, which oddly enough grew out of a simple wedding invitation.
The opportunity to travel to the Warm Heart of Africa grew out of a request for our pastor to be the best man in a wedding between two Malawians, which was to take place in their home country. That invitation turned into a question around the table at one of our leadership meetings.
“If I go to Malawi to be in the wedding, could we also do a mission trip at the same time?,” asked the pastor to our team.
That question lead to an enthusiastic yes and a subsequent team being assembled–the pastor, myself and another deacon, and two members (one being my adult son)– and a plan being made for a two-week missions trip.
After many months of fundraisers, message and sermon preparation, packing, getting immunized, obtaining visas and some level of anxiety, the team was excited and ready to sit on a plane for what seemed like an eternity.
Week One of the mission trip took the team to an orphanage in Lilongwe, the capitol of Malawi, where we got the opportunity to teach on Biblical Manhood and several other topics to the older students there. We also spent time playing basketball with the orphans and just hanging out with them, telling them of our families back home.
The response to our teaching was positive and we enjoyed time with the kids but we also experienced a deep sadness and burden for children who had no parents or family and lived in extreme poverty, as did so many others in Malawi. We even saw the devastation and grief caused by the death of a young orphan boy only days before we arrived.
We transitioned to Week Two of our trip, which took us to the city of Blantyre, where we stayed with a local pastor and ministered with him at Mtendere Baptist Church. We got the opportunity to teach at a conference for church members and also do one-on-one witnessing in a local village where Mtendere was planting a new church.
The opportunity our team got sharing the gospel with folks in the very poor village was eye-opening, encouraging, and helped develop a burden in all of us for the lost in Malawi.
And believe it or not, in the midst of it all, we got to experience a wonderful wedding and huge reception, Malawi-style.
As a result of our mission trip, God gave me a burden for the country and the people, that in all honesty, began over 30 years ago when I was in Bible college in San Dimas, California.
And even back then, I could never have imagined the long, and sometimes very difficult, journey I would take from that small college to a rural village in Africa. Only God could have perfectly orchestrated that journey.
What did we learn from that first Malawi trip? We learned a lot about a very different culture. We learned that American culture tends to be spoiled and ungrateful. We learned that God is actively at work around the world and definitely in Malawi. We learned that all men sin–Americans and Africans–and are in desperate need of a savior and it is the command of scripture for all believers to bring the gospel to nations across the ocean as well as to their own neighbors.
We also experienced the Holy Spirit work in a mighty way in our team as members worked hard developing their testimonies and then sharing their stories with young African boys. Leaders worked long hours tweaking their messages to bless the church and it’s members. Men who had been brothers and friends grew ever closer together.
After arriving back in Alabama and taking time to get back into our regular routines, it wasn’t long before we were planning for the next trip back to the Warm Heart of Africa, which was planned for the summer of 2018.
But that, along with comments from one of the 2018 team members, will be the subject of my next article.