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We do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope

The mission has lost some good friends over the past couple of months. Former Chair of the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC) Pastor Winston Chidzambuyo sadly died in November. Then, on Boxing Day, Gladys Simons, zm’s last missionary from Australia, died after being frail for some time.  On the same day, zm’s former Honorary Representative Tom Jardine also died after a lengthy illness. We give thanks to God for the lives of these brothers and sister in Christ. We have shared a little bit more about their lives and their faith, and their connection with the mission below.

Pastor Winston Chidzambuyo

Winston Chidzambuyo was a gentle and gracious ZEC pastor and church leader. He was committed to theological education and served as Principal of the Likhubula Bible Institute (LBI) which later became the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi.  He played a crucial leadership role as acting Chair for ZEC, stabilising it during a turbulent period.  He had a broader concern about the most vulnerable in society and was Chair of Trustees for Torch Trust for the Blind in Malawi. 

One of his former colleagues at LBI expressed his sadness following Pastor Chidzambuyo’s death, saying “he was a valued colleague who joined us having been pastor at Ndirande ZEC. He later took over as Principal, following on a couple of years after Pastor Charlie Bonongwe in 1986”.

We remember Pastor Chidzambuyo with warmth and thankfulness and pray for his family as they grieve.

Gladys Simons

Gladys Simons (nee Ravenscroft) was born in Como, a suburb of Perth in Western Australia in 1932. She attended South Como Baptist Church as a child and, as she grew older, felt the call to mission on her life. With a desire to do God’s will, she went to Perth Bible Institute in 1951. This was followed by two years of midwifery training. Not long afterwards she was asked by zm’s Australian missionary Bill Britza to consider coming out to Malawi. She agreed after reading John 15: 16…

“You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit”

(John 15: 16)

Andrew Walker, Gladys Simons’s grandson spoke about Gladys at her thanksgiving service:

“And so started 22 years of mission work in Nyasaland, later called Malawi. Initially she lived without running water, electricity, or transport and she was lonely, but she had a great love of the work and the people around her. She became fluent in the Chichewa language and loved going to the villages. They were happy days.”

“In 1960 John Simons went out as a missionary with zambesi mission and a few years later he started courting Gladys.  Mr Harris from Como made Gladys’s engagement and wedding rings and sent them to her.  They were married in 1962 in the little church on the Mitsidi mission station. Later Jennifer, Gillian and Stephen came along.  Throughout the years, time was spent at different stations upcountry where one had to be prepared to do almost anything and everything.  The unexpected was always happening and they were caught up in the lives of the African community around.  It was always so good to have other missionaries come and visit as the main form of communication was by mail.  Later John installed a two-way radio between stations so that there could be communication every day. Most of the stations’ activities centered around the hospitals, dispensary work, the primary schools and church work.  The teaching in the Likhubula Bible School was central to their work.  Later the church work became independent of the mission so that the Malawian people could be responsible for the Zambezi Evangelical Church and in 1978 the Simons returned to Australia permanently”.

We remember John and Gladys Simons’ children Jennifer, Gillian and Stephen in our prayers and pray that the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort would comfort them as they mourn Gladys’s loss.

Tom Jardine

Tom Jardine was a faithful brother in the Lord who connected excellently with believers in Malawi as well as in the local churches he visited along the south coast.  Tom was Cumbrian born and bred, but after over a decade working in insurance sales he joined London City Mission.  During these years he felt a growing call into pastoral ministry and then served as an ordained minister in the Church of England for over 20 years. 

His connection with the mission arose when he was invited to take a sabbatical.  He had met zm’s former mission worker Abraham Folayan in the UK, who inspired him to spend three months in Malawi.  His experiences moved him profoundly.

He wrote in 2005: “I will never forget visiting a pastors house at Mwanza. There were eight children in that home and Anna was 15. Anna wasn’t at school because secondary education has to be paid for and the pastor could not afford it. She lives in a house where there is no electricity, no running water, no bathroom, no TV, no radio, no books, no magazines and no newspaper. What future does a girl like that have?”

On retirement Tom applied to serve as a volunteer for zm and served faithfully for over five years.  His patient and gracious ministry was very much appreciated, both in zm and in the churches that he visited. 

Tom’s recollections of his visits to different markets sum up his character: “Sochi Market was my favourite. The people are so friendly and such fun to be with. It was interesting to note how soon one began to share in their humour and leg pulling. It was my first experience of having my hand held by a Malawian man, a sign of friendship. A special time was that of sitting under a tree in the middle of a market, talking to a group of men. Malawians love to talk and seem to be natural orators. They have no inhibitions when it comes to talking about God or faith. The man who did most of the talking as we sat under the tree said he didn’t go to church, but that he should and would do so next morning. I replied by saying “you are just pulling my leg, you are telling me a lie!” He with the rest of the crowd cheered and clapped so it was all good fun.”

We give thanks for Tom’s life and remember his wife Ann and their children and their wider families in our prayers. 

We do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope

Although our hearts are filled with sadness and a sense of loss after the death of our brothers and sister in Christ, as Paul says in his first letter to the Thessalonians we do not grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. He continues: “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him”.  Let us give thanks to God for the lives of Winston Chidzambuyo, Gladys Simons and Tom Jardine. We look forward to the day when the dead are raised with Christ and we will meet the Lord together.

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