It is not unusual for a pastor to have multiple churches in the Malawi Assemblies of God. Many of them plant churches within a 20 or 25 kilometer circumference of the original church. The pastor will then alternate between the churches for Sunday services. An elder in the church will be the speaker on the Sundays that the pastor is attending one of the other churches. Most of the time, an elder that is helping to take care of the church will feel the call to full-time ministry him/herself. When this happens, the elder will begin to make preparations to attend AGST (Assemblies of God School of Theology) in the capital city of Lilongwe. This is just one of the reasons that the Malawi Assemblies of God is growing so quickly, and this growth facilitates the need for pastoral training.
Fredna taught Sunday School, as she usually does most every Sunday. This time of ministry is interesting, especially in the village church. Time is not something to be strictly observed. It is just a suggestion as to the beginning of an event. Attendance is always very sparse when the class first begins, and seems to grow with every passing minute. When the main service begins, the church is usually full. Of course, there are always those that have to / want to stand outside the door. Especially the young children who will do what ever it takes in order to get a glimpse of the azungu (white man)!
Each church, and the pastor, has a desire to “show-off” the ministries within the church when special guests are present. The women’s ministry (OMC), youth ministry, children’s ministry, and sometimes the men’s ministry will sing a special song – or two, three, four…
I love to hear these groups sing. The music of their voices, and the drums are wonderful. There is no way to accurately explain what the sound is like, you must experience it personally in order to appreciate it! Of course, the singing is accompanied by specific dance routines. It seems to me that they must practice for many hours in order to accomplish these sometimes intricate moves. I know I can’t keep up!
After the offering is taken the praise team will lead the congregation in a worship song, preparing every heart for the entry of God’s Word. The song will always end with spontaneous prayer from the entire congregation. Then everyone will take their seat (on the floor), ready for the preacher. From where I am seated, I see a lot of bare feet at this time!
My message dealt with problems that we face in our lives. Everyone has problems, even village people. Sometimes, especially village people! At the end of the message, most everyone came for prayer, asking God to help them face and overcome their problems. To me, this is a critical time in the service. It is the time when people reach out to God in faith believing that He will help them. And He does!And now it is my turn! The pastor will introduce me, usually with platitudes that make my white face turn very red! Malawians are both pleased and excited when special guests visit them – especially the missionaries, and they love to express their gratitude. Today, Pastor Store interpreted for me. He has done this before, and he does a good job.