Wednesday, December 26, 2007

About Malawi


A country about the size of Pennsylvania with the continent's third largest lake, Lake Malawi. It is about the size of Vermont! Malawi is known as "The Warm Heart of Africa". 12.5 million people live in Malawi. We will be stationed in the capitol city of Lilongwe.

The weather in Malawi is tropical; rainy season December to March The lake shore areas have low rainfall, and a warm relaxing climate, with mean daily temperatures ranging from 26C in Jan. to 21C in July. The highland areas have greater temperature changes and the air is bracing. The nights can be cold. The dry season is in the winter between May and October. It rains quite a lot between December and March.

The Assemblies of God have about 2,000 churches in Malawi with the initiative to plant another 2,000 in the next year. There will be a pressing need to train pastors and help with church planting efforts. We look forward to the challenge before us!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Name Change

Today is the day of change! You will no longer log into this blog and see "Good News from Namibia". Fredna and I have arrived back home in Texas for our furlough, but we will not return to Namibia for our second missionary term. We are transferring to the country of Malawi. In the upcoming days I will attempt to give information concerning this country and the work we will be involved in.

In the meantime the address will remain the same, but the name of this blog will now be "Malawi Matters". Welcome to Malawi!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Boxing It All Up

I finished loading our container today. It is amazing how much stuff we had to get rid of in order to come to Africa. In 25 years of marriage and family, one can certainly accumulate a lot of "things". But we did it. We condensed our possessions to the point that all we had would fit in a 20' container.

Now what is really amazing is the fact that we have been in Africa for 3 years, and it still all fits - well, almost all of it. We did have to get rid of a few things.

We leave Namibia next week. Hopefully, our container will leave Namibia soon and begin the journey to Malawi, arriving just before we do. I suppose I should be concerned that, as of yet, I have not been able to find a shipper that will take the job of shipping our container. It seems the problem is that Malawi is landlocked, and overland shipments do not bring a lot of money. Oh well, we leave Namibia next week!
Temperatures here are hovering around the century mark (Fahrenheit). It will be a bit colder when we arrive in Dallas. I wonder if there will be a place on the plane that I can change out of my shorts and put on something warmer?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The End And The Beginning

The Sunday service at Ombili Assembly of God church this morning marked the end and the beginning. The service was the end of our tenure and the beginning of the new pastor's service.

It was a wonderful day! There were around 200 people present including missionaries Melissa McSurdy, Mark and Kim Gardner and their daughter Breanna, and Ken and Tammy Pryor.

It was a happy and sad time. We were happy to see so many people that have made this church their home and yet sad to realize that we may never see any of these people this side of heaven again. In my message I admonished them to live a godly life and trust Jesus so they could go to heaven.

There were many tears shed today. Two ladies read letters and cards that were given to Fredna and me. This was a very touching time. I had to change interpreters in the middle of my message because she started crying and couldn't stop.

The new pastor and his wife, Felix and Simone Mulamatu, were introduced to the congregation. Melissa McSurdy will be working with the Mulamatu's at Ombili as well.

So, we say good bye to Ombili and close this chapter of our lives. In two weeks we leave for Texas, where the next chapter of our lives will begin to take shape. Malawi, here we come!

Nice congregation to be just two months old!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Our Last Teaching Assignment

NAMTI - Namibia Ministry Training Institute is in session this month, and this will be our last teaching assignment. Gaylord was scheduled to teach a class on leadership, and Fredna is teaching a class on counseling. Dan McGaffee has stepped in to take Gaylord's assignment in order to free him to be able to pack the container and get ready for the move.

Fredna spoke in chapel, and Gaylord spoke at a special night service during Campus Days. There were about thirteen prospective students in attendance for Campus Days, and they all seemed to have a great time.

We look forward to NAMTI classes because it gives us a chance to build relationships and get closer to the students. It is a privilege being able to speak into their lives. It also gives us a chance to learn more about the culture of the national students.

This Bible school is critical to the growth of this national church as pastors, leaders, and church workers emerge from the student body. Fredna and I have been blessed to have been a part of NAMTI for the past three years! May God bless their continued efforts is our prayer!

NAMTI in 2005

NAMTI in 2007

Fredna and Gaylord preaching

Student life

Friday, October 19, 2007

Homeward Bound

Change is in the air, and the excitement of it is beginning to become real! There are only 52 days until we leave Namibia to begin our one year of furlough. At the end of each term of service, AGWM missionaries are required to return to the USA for one year of furlough and itineration.

What is itineration? The word itineration is the noun form of the verb itinerate which means: to travel from place to place or on a circuit. You see, AGWM missionaries are funded by individuals and local churches. Each missionary has a set budget dependent upon where they will be stationed, the needs of the family, and the work in which they will be involved. It really is fairly simple. Your budget is set, and then all you have to do is itinerate (travel from place to place). We share our needs with people and churches and pray that they will partner with us in two ways. The first, and by far the most important, is prayer. Each missionary needs an army of prayer warriors backing them up in all their endeavors. The second is money. Missionaries are “sent” by others. Individuals and churches make faith promises (pledges) of X number of dollars per month in support of the missionary. When enough pledges are promised and the predetermined budget is reached, the missionary is allowed to go to the field and begin the harvest of souls. It really is quite simple.

The furlough is also a time to reconnect with family and loved ones. A regular missionary term is 4 years (the regular term for first-term missionaries is 3 years). It is also a time of rest and relaxation. I really haven’t figured this one out yet. How one can rest and relax when one is traveling from place to place.

In only 52 days Fredna and I will begin our journey back to Texas, family and friends! One of the first things I will do upon arrival will be to find a really good Mexican restaurant and do my best to founder on Mexican cuisine. If I fail at this, I have a back-up plan. I will seek out the nearest What-A-Burger and order a #2 cheeseburger combo, cut the onions and include a diet Dr Pepper.

It will be difficult to leave the people here in Namibia. God has really given us a love and burden for the people of every tribe here. We also love the country; it seconds only to Texas! Only time and eternity will reveal the accomplishments of our work here for the past 3 years. We trust that we have been successful, but then you must define success. I believe that being faithful to God and remaining faithful in the work to which He has called you is success. If that is true, we have been successful this term! Our area director once told us that he considered a missionary’s first term successful IF the missionary returned to the field for the second term. If that is true, we have been successful!

We truly are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to touch thousands of lives here in Namibia with the love of God. Some heard the Gospel for the very first time, others were called back into a life of holiness, and yet others were able to embark upon a journey – the journey of a life walking with God. Some will never forget the shirumbus (white man) who came from America and touched their lives for a season. I know that these shirumbus will never forget them!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Battlefield of the Mind

A few nights ago I preached at one of the local churches at the invitation of the pastor. This pastor has been a good friend and brother since our arrival in Otjiwarongo, and this was not the first time that I had been invited to speak.

I was asked to address the topic, "The Battlefield of the Mind." This was an incredible opportunity to speak into the lives of about 30-40 young people (20-35 years old). Superstition abounds in this part of Africa as well as animism. Not long ago a young man came to me for prayer because there was a squirrel or a cat on his roof at night. As strange as this may sound, the young man was not sleeping, and he was not able to eat. He was actually physically sick over the situation. He believed that someone had put a spell on him and his family.

At the beginning of the service I asked everyone present to write on paper three things that were bothering them or troubling them in their mind. At the end of the service, after I had addressed issues and answers from a Biblical perspective, we took those papers and began to give thanks to God for deliverance in each issue. You could tell that a heaviness was being lifted from most of them. God was really doing a work in their hearts.

After praising God for His goodness, we took those papers and burned them as a symbol of God's deliverance in each life. It was a great time!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

R & R

Rest & Relaxation - how refreshing does that sound? It seems as if the past month has been one continuous whirlwind. We were going full-speed in an effort to finish the church building in time for the National Church conference - mission accomplished!

As soon as we finished the building our good friends, Denny and Sandy Miller, arrived one week in advance of the church conference. We had a wonderful time showing them part of Namibia and preaching at one of our churches at the coast. We arrived home in time to wash clothes and get ready for the conference which began on a Tuesday and ended on Saturday - meetings during the day and service at night.

On Sunday morning we had our first regular service at Ombili and on Monday we crashed! It seems as if it took the entire week to recuperate from all the activities! Fredna is attending the CHE (community, health, and evangelism) training this week. I have begun to prepare for my November class at Bible school - Guidelines For Leadership.

We will probably begin to pack in a week or so in an effort to be ready to leave for the USA early December. We will be going home for a one year furlough. More on this later.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The First Sunday!

The first official service of Ombili Assembly of God was held today in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. There were over 170 in attendance for the service. The Lord really moved during the service and touched many lives. Two people came for first-time salvation and two were filled with the Holy Spirit. Many came forward for prayer to be delivered from fear.

The children were treated to a class of their own during the main service.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Holy Spirit Conference

The past week has been incredibly busy! Our national church held a Holy Spirit Conference here in Otjiwarongo. All national pastors, many church leaders, and members were present. The Acts In Africa Initiative team from Malawi conducted seminars during the day and each night there was a Holy Spirit rally. The attendance was good and the last night there were well over 200 present. The sweet presence of the Lord was felt in every meeting. The evening rallies were held at the newest PAOG church, Ombili Assembly of God.

The members of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God committed themselves to several aggressive goals over the next three year period. One goal will result in 30 new churches being planted in Namibia.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Growing Pains

The Ombili Location is experiencing growing pains. The Municipality of Otjiwarongo has established 96 new plots for people to build on just 4 blocks from Ombili Assembly of God Church.

It all started when the municipality cleared the land for 96 plots. Remember, this is a re-location area. That means that when the city finds "squatters," they try to move them to this area of the community. The Ombili Location already has 1,500 houses, and this will add another 96. The municipality says that there are an average of 7.5 people to every house. That means that with 1,500 houses there are 11,250 people. The 96 new plots means that another 720 people are moving close to the church. That's correct, a population of 11, 970 people within 3/4 kilometer of Ombili A/G!

In the pictures above you will notice the open ground after it was cleared. Then one of the first houses built and a lady carrying firewood on her head. The last picture is of a young man putting the finishing touches to his dwelling.
What does this all mean? Simply put, it means we have the potential of reaching well over 10,000 people with the Gospel of Christ! We are the only church within 4 kilometers - and that is a very long way to walk!

Please pray for us as we minister to this multitude of people. Please pray that God will draw each one of them to Himself! Remember, if Ombili Location is experiencing growing pains, then the Kingdom of God should be too.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fannie's Story

I would like to introduce you to Fannie. Fannie lives in Ombili with her two young sons. She lives simply, like most people do in Ombili. She is in the process of building a new house. Before you conjure up images of a two-story house or a quaint little bungalow near the beach, you must realize that a new house in Ombili is not what you are thinking. Fannie's house is made from clay blocks that she and her two sons mix, then mold. She has been working on this house for sometime now, but it is only about one-third complete.

I met Fannie about two weeks ago. She had gauze wrapped around her leg and her hand. The bandages were blood-soaked. It seems that Fannie was heating water or oil in a large pot over an open fire. When she removed the pot, the liquid inside sloshed out, and Fannie was burned very badly. She received burns on her right leg and her left hand. She could hardly walk at all and could not close her hand or straighten her leg. I asked her if she was seeing a doctor, and she told me that she was supposed to go to the hospital every day to have her wounds dressed. I could tell that the dressing had not been changed in a few days, so I asked her if she was going to the hospital every day. Fannie said, "I can't. I do not have money for the taxi, and it is too far to walk." I gave Fannie some antibiotic ointment and Tylenol and tried to explain to her the importance of moving her hand and leg and keeping the skin flexible. When she tried to move her limbs, it was excruciating. Then I asked her if I could pray for her.

It was one week before we saw Fannie again because Fredna and I were out of town, but upon our return I was absolutely astounded! There were only two small places that were still weeping on her leg. The burns have almost completely healed! Her skin pigment has not returned completely yet, but she looks fantastic compared to what she did look like! I told her that God had heard our prayers, and He had given her a special touch. She immediately agreed!

There is another part to Fannie's story... While Fredna and I were away for the week, Fannie came to the Ombili church looking for me. She told one of my workers that she came to show me her leg and tell me that she now believed in prayer. Fannie told my worker that when I asked if I could pray for her, she said okay, but she didn't believe that prayer would help. Now she believes that there is a God and that He hears and answers prayer. Fannie says she can't wait for our first service at Ombili A/G - she and her two sons will be present!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Hunger - Webster's New World Dictionary gives this definition: 1. the discomfort, pain or weakness caused by a need for food. 2. a desire, need, or appetite for food. 3. any strong desire; craving.

Recently, we had the opportunity to travel to the northwest part of Namibia - Kaokoland. Kaokoland is home to the Himba tribe of Namibia. The Himba are one of most nomadic people still left on the earth, living much as they have for hundreds of years. We were told that there are well over 600 small villages of Himba people in Kaokoland. We visited and ministered in four of these villages.

In the first village we met a woman and her children. She was making a small mud hut for one of her children as a school project. In our conversation, I asked this woman if she had heard of Jesus Christ to which she promptly replied, "Yes." I asked her if she had a Bible, and she said that she didn't. In fact, she could not read, but one of her children could read. We were able to give her a Bible in their language thanks to LFTL (Light For The Lost). In a moment she stopped what she was doing and began to talk in her language. My interpreter told me that she said, "Someone comes and preaches to us and the light comes on. Then it is a very long time before anyone comes again. The light just goes out."

This woman was hungry. She was hungry to hear about God. She was hungry to know the ways of God. She was hungry for the light to keep burning. Few statements have moved me as much as this one. It seems to be embedded deep within my spirit, and I hear her words often.

She and her family were physically hungry as well. It has not rained in this area for a very long time. The men of the village have traveled many miles with their cattle and goats in order to find suitable grazing. The women and children are left to take care of their belongings and the village. We were also able to share maize meal with this family. Maize meal is much like cream of wheat in the USA. It is a staple food for most of Africa. Fredna gave biscuits (cookies) to all the young children and adults as well! Everyone likes a sweet!

The spiritual encouragement and maize meal was not much in light of the need, but at least the light was turned on for a time... then I suppose it will go out once again.

In the next village we ministered to this old woman and her granddaughter first. The grandmother could not turn her head. She had been to the town and was able to see a doctor, but she was still suffering. We shared the Word of God with her and prayer. She was grateful for both because she believed that God could heal her.

These two women in another village were both ill. The lady with Fredna had been in an automobile accident sometime in the past. She was having many problems with her legs and knees. She was the spiritual leader of this village and a believer in Christ. The lady seated beside me was also suffering from an illness. The white markings on her face are not tribal, rather some kind of medicine that she had put on sores. We prayed for both and shared maize meal as well.

On Sunday morning I preached in the church that one of our Bible school students pastors. This picture was taken of all those that accepted Christ during the service. People are hungry to hear the Word, and the Word does not return void!

Please pray for the Himba people. They are a beautiful group of people that God sent His son, Jesus, to die for. Many have heard, but many have not. Remember, it is only Good News if it gets there in time!