Thursday, October 8, 2009

Preaching & Teaching

This week I began teaching The Bible and Missions at AGST (Assemblies of God School of Theology), and this morning I am the speaker in the chapel service.  I will be preaching on the text 2 Samuel 6:1-11.  It is the story of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem.  You may remember that Uzzah put his hand out to steady the Ark when the cart it was on began to shake.  It was there that God struck Uzzah dead. 

There may be a lot of reasons for this disaster, but surely one has to be the fact that the Ark had been in Uzzah's home most all of his life.  The Ark was holy, and God had given very specific instructions as to care and handling of the Ark.  Somehow, Uzzah must have forgotten that he was not allowed to touch the Ark with his hands.  When we are around something everyday of our life, it has a tendency to become commonplace to us.  We must be very careful to not let the things of God become commonplace in our lives.  I wish you could be here for chapel this morning!

Tomorrow morning Fredna and I will be traveling about two and one half hours to the north in order to preach a revival at Mkaika trading center.  Our friends Taza & Mayamiko Biza are pastoring there, and have asked us to come show the Jesus Film and preach.  The wife, Mayamiko, is actually the pastor of the church.  We will be taking three students from the Bible school with us on this trip.  These students will be part of a practicum for the class that I am teaching.  We will show half the film on Friday evening, then preach.  Saturday morning and afternoon there will be teaching sessions.  Then on Saturday night we will show the remainder of the film and preach.  Sunday morning will be a great celebration of the efforts put forth for this revival.  Please pray with us that many will be saved, and delivered from a life of sin.  The story and pictures to follow!

Did I ever say that we LOVE weekends in Malawi?!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Crusade Weekend

Crusade poster

Abusa George Samuel This past week I preached a crusade in the city of Blantyre.  Kanjedza Assembly of God church, pastored by Abusa George Samuel, is one of the oldest A/G churches in Malawi.  Pastor Samuel and Kanjedza A/G have planted 36 churches across the border in Mozambique.  Each year he brings those pastors, along with any of the church people that can make the trip, to Blantyre for an annual conference.  The Mozambicans make their way to the Malawi border and are then picked up by some of the church members and brought to Blantyre.  Food preparation

For a week these people are fed both spiritually and physically.  They sleep in the church each night.  It is really a highlight for these believers!Food preparation The ladies of the church worked very hard to prepare a good meal for the guests each day.  One cow and about 25 to 30 chickens made up the protein portion of the meals. 

The conference/crusade began on Wednesday night with Rev. Edward Chitsonga preaching.  Thursday through Saturday each day began with teaching sessions in the morning and afternoon, then the night service.  Rev. Chitsonga and I shared the preaching responsibilities with each of us preaching about 7 times in three days, and it was GREAT!  Rev. Edward Chitsonga

The Mozambicans came with two different choirs.  Each did a fantastic job!  The musical instruments were all homemade and produced a wonderful sound.  I tried to buy the one-string stand-up bass, but the owner told me that he could not sell it.  Homemade instruments He would gladly make me one, but I would have to travel to Mozambique in order to retrieve it.

Guess what, I have been invited to go to Mozambique next year to hold several crusades at the villages where the pastors live.  I can't wait!  The pastors were very excited that I would be willing to make a trip to the rural area of Mozambique to preach for them.  Homemade instruments

The second choir's instruments were homemade and produced an amazing sound as well.  I guess it just goes to show that you don't really have to have a Fender to make good music after all!Homemade instruments

This is a six-string guitar.  The fret board is a bent wire that sticks up about 1/8 of an inch off the board.  The calluses on this guy's fingers were incredible.  But, again, the music was wonderful!

Between each service the people would try their best to rest.  They were not particular where that was either! Resting between services When you are tired, one place is as good as any. 

Resting between services

These are some of the babies (with their mothers) that were in attendance this past week.

Babies with their mothers Babies with their mothers

Babies with their mothers Babies with their mothers

Babies with their mothers Babies with their mothers

Babies with their mothers Babies with their mothers

I am so glad that I was invited to be part of this crusade.  It was a wonderful experience being able to minister to and to encourage these pastors, their wives, and all the others that attended.  I really am looking forward to the possibility of making a ministry trip into Mozambique next year!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


When you speak of Central Africa and missionaries, the subject of malaria will inevitably come into the conversation at some point.  Speaking of malaria someone said, "It is another rite of passage" for the African missionary.  To punctuate this point, especially in Malawi, all one has to do is travel along the shores of Lake Malawi and view the gravemarkers of missionaries that came here 100 years ago.  Most of them perished from malaria.

Malaria is a word of Italian origin. It is derived from the words male aria which means bad air.  According to the World Health Organization:

  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.
  • Malaria takes the life of 3,000 children each day in Africa.
  • One million people die from malaria each year.

Malaria symptoms typically appear 10 to 16 days after the infectious mosquito bite, when the infected red blood cells begin to burst. Victims experience flu-like symptoms, including chills, fever, sweating, along with nausea, headache, and vomiting.

The most virulent form of the disease – the P. falciparum malaria (found predominately in Africa) – can be fatal within a matter of hours if not treated.

Malaria can be cured with prompt diagnosis and correct drug treatment. But there is a double-burden of increased drug resistance and limited access to health care in many of the most malaria-prone areas. Prevention is the key to saving lives.

Malaria005This is the drug administered to me by the doctor.  There are only three tablets, taken in a 24-hour period.  I am both fortunate and blessed, because I can afford the medicine, live in a place where I can get the medicine, and I discovered early that I was infected.  Many are not as fortunate!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Missions Convention

Churches in the USA are not the only ones that hold missions conventions.  The Assembly of God churches in Malawi are very "missions" minded.  They believe, and take very literally, the Great Commandment.  You remember, don't you?

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen

Kapuchi Missions (35) Area 25, Victory Temple Assemblies of God, in the capitol city of Lilongwe, Malawi held their semi-annual missions convention last month.  The theme was Saved To Serve.  Senior Pastor, Rev. Bickiel Kapuchi, and the congregation of Victory Temple hold a missions convention every six months.  "Faith Promises" are received on the final Sunday of the convention.  Those pledging financial support have six months to make good on their faith-promise.

The Malawi Assemblies of God have sent missionaries to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Sudan, and other areas of Africa.  Presently several missionaries are poised to enter Namibia, Swaziland, and Lesotho.  These are the foreign mission fields being targeted.  The church also has a "Home Missions" department.  Church plants are going up constantly within this movement.  Individual churches are reaching out to needy parts of the country, planting churches, providing pastors and financial support for crusades.  The Assemblies of God School of Theology, AGST, has a missions department that plants several churches each semester.

Now before you ask the question, "If they are doing all of that, why do they need missionaries?", you must understand the dynamics of church planting within this country.  Many of these plants are conducting services in a rented government school room or under a mango tree.  A huge percent of the pastors make less than MK1,000.00 per month - that is $7.00 USD!  For all they don't have, there is one thing that this church does not lack, and that is zeal!

Kapuchi Missions (8)I was honored to be the guest speaker for the Victory Temple missions convention.  There were about 1,500 people in attendance each evening and many more on the final Sunday morning.

The church was full of Holy Ghost energy each service!  Of course I challenged them to support the work of missions in their church.  I discovered a long time ago that if you can show people the true need for something, and how they can be part of something larger than themselves, they will participate in no small way!

Kapuchi Missions (18) Just a few weeks before this convention, Victory Temple mothered a church in the southern part of Malawi.  A female pastor, along with her husband and two children, enthusiastically accepted the challenge of pioneering this new work.  On the second evening of the service, Pastor Kapuchi brought this lady forward to discover how the work was progressing.  The pastor told how that they had only been meeting for seven weeks, but already they were ministering to over 60 people.  Pastor asked her what her greatest need was at that particular time.  She told how that the Catholic church had a building, the CCAP church had a building, but they did not.  They were only meeting under a mango tree.  They had identified a piece of property that was for sale so they were believing God for this land BEFORE the rainy season (about November).  The pastor thanked her for what she was doing, then told the congregation that these were the kind of efforts that their missions money was going for.

Kapuchi Missions (12)I was introduced, and the service was turned over to me.  I immediately called for this lady to return to the front of the auditorium.  Believing that I had heard from God concerning her needs, I began to probe a bit more.  It turned out that the church she was pioneering was a 3-hour bicycle ride from the nearest trading village... when she could borrow a bicycle to make the trip!  I called for a chatenji (piece of cloth) to lay on the floor to receive an offering.  I began by taking pledges, not for the convention, but for this particular church and pastor.  Then we received an open offering.Kapuchi Missions (14)

When we finished, the offering totaled MK139,000.00 and one brand new bicycle!  It was just incredible what God did that night!  Was it enough to buy the land?  Oh yes, it was more than enough -

Exodus 36:5  And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.

All the Pastor could do was cry!

Each night the people accepted the challenge that was presented to them, and they filled the altar giving themselves to God for the work of the ministry - the redemption of lost souls! 

Kapuchi Missions (9) Kapuchi Missions (10)

Sunday morning was the final service and the day that "faith promises" were received.  We had all been challenged by God to do our very best and trust Him for the need.  When the pledges were totaled, the rejoicing began!

Kapuchi Missions (27) Kapuchi Missions (7)

Kapuchi Missions (21) Kapuchi Missions (11)

The total faith promise pledge was the largest this church has received to date.  We rejoice together at the faithfulness of God's people to respond to His work.  We expectantly wait to hear of the miracles that God will perform to supply each faith promise.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Mercy of a Policeman

Today I was traveling with a Malawi Assembly of God Divisional Director to a village about an hour drive from Lilongwe.  The highway we were driving on is under construction in a few places.  As we were driving I topped a hill only to see a very slow moving vehicle in front of me.  There was no traffic coming from the other direction so I pulled out and begin to pass the slow moving vehicle.  When I pulled out I saw two policeman standing in the road about a kilometer away, but didn't give them much thought since I was not breaking any laws.

After overtaking the slow moving car I pulled back into my lane.  As we came closer to the two policemen standing in the road I saw one put his hand up and motion me to the side of the road.  There was no radar equipment in sight, so I thought it must be the never-ending check of all the proper registrations that every vehicle in Malawi must have in order to drive on the roads.  The policeman walked up to my window and addressed me as, "Mr. Assembly of God" (the name is painted on the side of our vehicles).  I greeted him in my very best Chichewa.  He then told me that what I had done was illegal, and wanted to know if I understood that what I had done was illegal.  I told him that I didn't know what he was talking about.  He said, "Mister Assembly of God, you have been driving inconsiderately!"  I then asked what he meant by driving inconsiderately.  He said that overtaking the car in a construction zone was against the law, and it was inconsiderate.  I told him that the car was only traveling about 15 kilometers an hour on an open stretch of a major highway.  He said, "Mister Assembly of God, that does not matter, you were driving inconsiderately."  I told him I was very sorry and that I would do my best to become a considerate driver.  He told me that God might just forgive me, and he would as well, if I would drive considerately.  I said, "Thank you Jesus!" (under my breath of course!)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Plainview First Assembly of God

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Pastor Lonnie and Rhonda DiSalvo, and the team from First Assembly of God in Plainview, Texas came to Malawi to help build a tabernacle and minister to the young people of Lilongwe.  The tabernacle was in a container that was being held by Malawi customs, and was not released until after the team returned to Texas.

That didn't spoil their trip though!  For twelve days this group ministered morning and afternoon to literally thousands of children in the Lilongwe area.  Each morning and afternoon we would go to a church school, or group of homeless children for ministry.  The group preached, preformed human videos, dramas and skits.  It was incredible!  They even had the opportunity to work with the youth group from ICA Church, teaching them the art of live drama in ministry.

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In some areas there were so many children that it was difficult to even get into the bus when it was time to depart.  This team made a huge difference in the lives of the children here, and the children here made a huge difference in the lives of each team member!


Thank you Pastor Lonnie and the youth group of Plainview First Assembly of God!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Containers Have Arrived!

It was a joyous day this past week when two containers arrived from the USA!  These containers were filled with tabernacles, heavy equipment, welders, a generator, tools, and a New Holland Skid Steer. 

We are building 100 church/extension centers in Malawi.  This is a huge project that will help the national church in many ways.  Each of the extension centers will be a place where men and women can come for pastoral training.  This simply means that a person, who may not be able to attend Bible school, will now be able to receive the training they need where they are.

With over 700 credentialed ministers, and three to four times that many churches in existence, there is a definite need for pastoral training.  Class work is being translated, books are being printed, and now buildings are being built.  We are helping to meet the need in Malawi, Africa!

040 [640x480]  041 [640x480]

What You Miss

Sometimes where you live determines what is available.  This is true with certain food items.  Potato chips are available in Malawi, in some of the strangest flavors.  To name a few: biltong, fried chicken, peri peri, chutney, and tomato.  You can not buy plain corn chips in Malawi. 

When you grow up eating Fritos or Doritos then live in a place where they are not available, well, it is difficult!  It has been 15 months since I have tasted a regular Frito.  There are times that it seems that I can taste them, but I realize it is just my imagination.


All of this changed yesterday when I unloaded a container full of work equipment from the United States.  My friend, Bill Moore, put some Fritos on the container for me.  The next time you eat Fritos I hope you enjoy as much as I did today!

First Bite  First Bite finish

You just can't imagine how good something is when you haven't had it in 15 months!

The Village and A Video

Yesterday was a very interesting day.  It started early in the morning with the unloading of a container full of work supplies from the USA.  Plenty of equipment to manufacture tabernacles here in Malawi.  The job was complete by 3 PM in the afternoon.  Then the rush began!

Fredna and I were supposed to be at Ukwe village to join with Pastor Jay Naaman and the congregation of Ukwe Assembly of God church to show the Jesus Film.  The Jesus Film is a full-length feature production of the life of Jesus Christ.  It has been translated into many languages and is used all over the world in evangelistic efforts.  We needed to leave the house no later than 4:30 PM in order to arrive in time to set up the equipment before dark.  Yes, before dark!  Remember, we live in Malawi, Africa where there are few places that you can go into a building with lights and seating for a movie.

Actually, we showed the film on a football (soccer) field.  In the village a football field is just a place that kids have cleared off to play soccer.  We hung the screen from the goal post made out of three tree limbs.  By the time we began there were about 250 people seated and standing, anticipating a film!  By the time it was finished, there were about 400 people gathered.

While the film was playing, I stood where I could see most of the people that had gathered.  I began thanking God for the opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ in this extremely remote area.  Then I began thinking about all the equipment that God has blessed us with that enables us to share the Gospel of Christ.  I feel that I must say, "Thank you!" to many people.

  1. The children of Assembly of God churches all across America that raise money to buy literature for distribution to people who live in villages around the world.
  2. The youth of Assembly of God churches all across America who raise millions of dollars to buy transportation for each missionary.  That may be a car, a boat, a motorcycle, a donkey, etc.  For us it is a 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser.  We would never be able to reach most of the villages in Malawi without it!
  3. The youth also raise money to supply the missionaries with sound equipment, video equipment, and many other items of ministry.
  4. The men of Assemblies of God churches all across America that raise money to buy Bibles for missionaries to use and evangelistic literature for distribution.
  5. The women of Assemblies of God churches all across America that raise money to be used in a thousand different ways to help the missionary on the ground in far away places.  When I take a bath, I dry off with a towel furnished by WM's (Women's Ministries).  We sleep on sheets and cover with blankets furnished by the WM's.  We cook on a stove furnished by the WM's.  Surely you get the picture by now.

We may be the "point" men on the ground, but logistically, we have a whole army behind us - sending us!  I didn't mention the most important part of this army standing with us.  That is that they are praying for us every day.  Praying for our safety, praying for our evangelistic efforts, praying for the souls that will be touched by our ministry. 

I am proud to be an Assembly of God missionary showing a video in a village in Africa!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Highs and Lows of a Missionary's Life

Living life as a missionary certainly has it's highs and lows in many ways.  Two days ago I experienced one of the "lows" in this life.  It had been raining most all day, the weather was on the cool side, and the electricity had been off most of the day.  It was one of those days that you begin to look for a bit of comfort.  You may not be totally depressed, but you certainly are not on top of the world.  You know the kind of day it was.

When the weather turns cool I think of hearth and home - not really sure why, but I do.  One of my favorite foods is Wolf Brand Chili, and it too makes me think of hearth and home.  Another food is Campbell's Home Style Chicken Noodle Soup.  When we packed our belongings and moved to Africa early in 2005, I made sure that we had plenty of both.  Or at least I thought I did!       

Chicken Noodle Soup

The Campbell's Soup was finished before 2008, but I was able to ration the Wolf Brand Chili.  That wasn't really difficult seeing how Namibia is a desert country, and the climate is rather warm.  I didn't get a hankering for chili all that often.  Now Malawi is a different story.  It is cool and wet and just right many days for a good hot bowl of Wolf Brand Chili.

Back to the "low" I experienced the other day.  I went to the food pantry and dug around on the bottom shelf for a can of chili.  To my surprise, there were only 5 cans left in the case.  I tried to remember how many cases we had upon arrival in Malawi last year.  There was only one case left -  now that means there are only 5 cans left!  Yes, I did open that can - remember, it was cold, wet, dark, and I needed hearth and home.  What can I say, I find comfort in food!

The five remaining cans of Wolf Brand Chili are under lock and key - rationed just like tires, petrol, and nylons were in WWII.  I am sure there will come another day that I REALLY need to feel hearth and home, and I plan to be ready!


"How long has it been since you've had a big, thick bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?  Well, that's too long!"


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Faces Of The Village

Who Am I That...

I got out of bed this morning with great expectation - like most Sundays.  It is such a thrill to get to travel Malawi and preach in the Assemblies of God churches!  I sometimes think, "Who am I that God has allowed me to be a part of His great plan of salvation?"

Ukwe (Ook - way) Worship Center is the church we were at this morning.  I met Pastor Naaman a few weeks ago when I was introduced to him by another pastor.  Pastor Naaman invited me to come to his church and preach.  I happily accepted the invitation and then asked where his church was located.  Location - now that is a bit of a problem here in Malawi.  I have only found two road maps for sale here, and both of them only give the major highways in the country.  Giving directions becomes a bit difficult, to say the least.  So the next best thing was for both of these pastors to take me to the village so I could see for myself where it was and how to get there.  You must understand that I am pretty good with directions - I have been all my life.  I even have a GPS system in my car to help out.  We left the tar road just outside of Lilongwe and drove for a LONG time on dirt.  I noticed on my GPS that we were coming to the end of the dirt road, so I thought we must be near.  Was I wrong!  For the next hour and fifteen minutes we were driving in the air according to the GPS.  The road was dirt, then it was a cow trail, then it became a foot path - THANK YOU STL!

The Road to Ukwe  The Road to Ukwe (2)

As good as I am with directions I knew that I would not be able to find my way back to this village without help.  Arrangements were made for the pastor to come to Lilongwe on the Saturday before I was scheduled to speak on Sunday.  He would spend the night at the A/G Bible school, then go with us Sunday morning back to his village.  This worked great!

We arrived just in time for Sunday school - or did it start because we arrived?  Ukwe Worship Center does not have its own building; like so many of the churches in Malawi they use the school that is in the village or close by for their services. 

School or Church 

Their desire is to buy land and build their own church, but that will take some time to come to pass.  There was no furniture in the building, except chairs they had brought from someone's house for Fredna, me, the pastor and my interpreter to sit in.  Who am I that I should get a special seat?

After Sunday school - which was all in Chichewa - the service began.  The only musical instruments used were a trap (drum) set and one guitar. 

  Musical Instruments (3) Musical Instruments

 Musical Instruments (2)

The praise team came forward and led us in some of the most beautiful music you have ever heard.  I am convinced that the angels in heaven gather with anticipation when the Africans begin to warm up their voices!  Visitors were welcomed to the church (not us, our welcome is always very special, and saved until just before I preach).  Special songs were sung by various individuals or groups.  One man even offered a poem.  It was titled "Amazing Grace".  I sang this song at the end of the service; most of the people there had never heard it as a song!

Congregation (2)  Congregation (3)

Congregation (4)  Congregation

Now it was time for preaching.  I was asked to speak on the subject of "Repentance".  After an hour of preaching I asked which of them felt the need to repent and ask for God's forgiveness.  Most of the church came forward to pray and repent.  It is very humbling to think, "Who am I that God would use me to lead others to Himself?"

Preaching  Preaching (2)

At the end of the service, the pastor received an offering for us.  The people gave joyfully.  When the pastor presented me with the offering, he apologized for the small amount.  While he was apologizing, I thought to myself, "Who am I that I would deserve any amount?"  I also thought of the widow who gave out of her need, and Jesus commended her for her sacrifice.

We were then ushered to the pastor's home for some water.  In the Malawi culture taking you home for some water really means that they are going to feed you before you leave.  The ladies of the church had prepared for us the traditional Malawi meal that we have grown so accustomed to.  Rice, relish (boiled greens), chicken, and a sort of tomato soup.  I sometimes remind myself of Pavlov's dogs.  My mouth begins to water when the last "amen" is said at church!  Malawi traditional food is really good.

Lunch Malawi Style (2)Lunch Malawi Style 

Lunch Malawi Style (3)  Ladies That Cooked 

Pastor Naaman and his family.

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Like every church we visit, they can't wait for us to return and be with them again.  We feel the very same way! 

Who am I that I should be so blessed?