"We are well, thank you." But we do owe you all an update now that we are
about three months into our three year stay here in Malawi.
First, thank you all so much for your prayers that we know have borne us
up through this transition period. Please keep praying.
Second, we give thanks to God whose hand we can see over everything in
the last three months and indeed in the last three years since we were called
to change direction. Even His timing in bringing us to Malawi in late November
was perfect, allowing us a quiet settling in period before the New Year.
We feel very settled into day-to-day life here in Malawi and after some
weeks in the zm Guest House we are now enjoying having
our own space next door in what seems to be known around Blantyre as "Abraham
and Ruth's house." It has also been wonderful to become accepted into the
close knit zm team - to the extent that teammates feel
able to gently tease us about our faltering Chichewa. Although we are really
enjoying the cultural and language training we are receiving from our bubbly
and talented teacher.
Having sampled church life in Blantyre we have decided to settle at Limbe
ZEC and support their English language service, even if it is a brutally
early service for those used to the more relaxed Sundays of the UK! We are
also enjoying the mid-week fellowship we gain from a very international
house group of Blantyre Community Church.
Ruth and Myles at Namatete ZEC
The Floods !
We must admit that early January
was a shock for us as the country was devastated by heavy rains and even Blantyre
turned into an electricity and piped-water free zone. We learned quickly to
appreciate what us westerners take so much for granted, but nothing could
have prepared us for the impact of visiting a village in Mulanje district
that had been swept away by the river Ruo. Death feels so close to the average
Malawian that their typical morning prayer thanking God for sustaining their
life until now is no mere formula. We are learning so much from God through
our brothers and sisters here.
Like all new assignments things felt a bit slow to start with, but are
now beginning to feel very busy and will only get busier. Ruth is fully
engaged with the work of Children for Christ Ministries (CfCM), joining
the minibus or bicycle taxi rides and sticky walks to bible-clubs at schools
and orphanages, and teacher-training seminars. She is hoping to assist in
the administration of CfCM, and encourage its growth. Doors are also opening
up for music based service as EBCoM students and teenagers in orphanages
show an insatiable appetite to learn how to make music.
Myles has found that his initial engagement with the leadership of ZEC,
and his dissertation research, have come together very well. The dissertation
research has enabled him to discuss the significant strategic opportunities
and risks that ZEC faces with elders, pastors and office holders across
southern and central region, and the results are building up into a significant
resource that will help the synod office plan for the future. And Myles's
experience in strategy, policy and organisational development have already
begun to be used as he helps the General Secretary of ZEC to review existing
constitutional and strategic planning documents. It is a privilege to be
shown so much trust by such a courageous group of able Christian leaders
such that we are becoming aware not only of the huge opportunities and needs
of the church in Malawi, but also of some of the crippling challenges and
Myles interviewing Pastor Dambo at Ntonda
Christmas at Tchoda !
High spots in our time so far must include Myles being asked without forewarning
and off the top of his head to talk to a large group of elders and senior
women on the principles of biblical preaching and leadership! And helping
CfCM run a delayed Christmas party with 470 children at Tchoda. Helping
bring joy to so many young faces through bible stories, songs, games and
the gift of a story book and a lollypop was a tonic to the heart.
Some of this work might all sound a bit administrative when we are faced
with so much urgent need in Malawi, but both of us are more convinced than
ever about how God sees us fitting in here in both a practical and strategic
way. It is often right to be focused in on a particular task, but sometimes
it can also be an excuse to ignore the big strategic issues elsewhere.
Paul was certainly thinking very strategically when he said: " How
then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are
they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they
to hear without someone preaching? " (Rom 10:14, ESV) And in our
different spheres of work it has become very clear that helping the church
develop the sanctified preachers, teachers and leaders that it needs is
the most relevant service we can give; praying with our faithful Malawian
brothers and sisters that the Holy Spirit will move, revive the church
and transform the country of Malawi.
470 children gathered for their Christmas party at Tchoda ZEC