Monday, September 5, 2011

Ministry at Diampwe

Yesterday we travelled to a village church for ministry, Diampwe A/G.  Diampwe is pastored by Rev. Charles Store, who also pastors Mlambo A/G in Kampeni village. 
Dyamphwi A/G
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 all the special singing comes “Offering time – Blessing time!”  Tithers are called forward first. This group usually receives special prayers.  Then the congregation is given instruction as to where their offering must be placed.  One basket (or usher) is for regular offer.  One basket (or usher) is for the building fund.  One basket (or usher) is for the work of Missions.  The praise team is called back to the front, and a lively song is offered as everyone dances to the front to give their offering.

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! 

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. 
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!
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11:24 KJV)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mtchayi Revival Center

Last Sunday I had the privilege of ministering for one of my students at the Assemblies of God School of Theology, (AGST), Rev. Benson Mwalungila.  Benson pastors Mtchayi Revival Center in Mtchayi village, and is a first-year degree program student at AGST.  He was in my class, Work of The Pastor this past semester.  I love teaching this particular class – I suppose after pastoring for almost 18 years it is just part of who I am.
Mtchayi Revival Center
Village churches are really excited when a missionary comes to their church.  They even feel privileged when this happens.  What they do not understand is that we, the missionaries, are the ones that are privileged!
When the pastor introduced me as the preacher, he explained that I was his teacher at AGST.  I told the congregation that what the pastor did not know was that I was there to administer his final exam for the course.  Pastor Benson had a very worried look on his face at this point in time.  I explained that since the class was all about pastoring, I would let them (the congregation) tell me how he was doing.  By this time the pastor was beginning to melt under the building pressure.  I simply asked them to vote by hand-clapping, and cheering if he was a good pastor, or by their silence if he was a bad pastor.  You would have thought the Dallas Cowboys had just made a touchdown when I said, “vote”.  The Pastor’s look turned from that of worry and concern, to that of utter joy!  Truly, he is a very good student!
Pastor Benson with his two children      Youth meeting 1
Sunday School      Youth leader on the left
Not sure what to do about me      After Church (4)
After Church (2)      Tithers
After Church (8)      After Church (9)
Matthew 16:18 (ESV)  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Area 44 Healing Temple Assembly of God

Last week we were able to build another tabernacle, Area 44 Healing Temple Assembly of God.  Rev. Anderson Mataka, and his wife Elsie serve as the pastors of this church which is in a very poor area of Lilongwe.  The old church structure consists of a grass roof, 1/4” thick plywood walls, and six brick support columns.  A strong wind could demolish the building easily.  This does not deter people from coming together to worship God.  Each Sunday the building fills to capacity with worshippers.  The new tabernacle will be finished out with brick walls that the people of the church will mold themselves.  Eventually, the old structure will come down and a beautiful building will take it’s place.

Doctor Donna Ivey, and her team, came to the church to conduct a medical clinic on the day after the tab was finished.  People here rarely receive basic medical needs.  It either is simply not available, the distance is too great, or the cost is too much.  Many doctors and nurses conduct these clinics in areas where little or no care is available.  The people began to queue well in advance of the opening in hopes that they would be able to see the doctors.  They stood outside the church for long periods of time, waiting to enter.  After entrance, they faced another queue that almost filled the church.  Kristen McGaffee, daughter of A/G missionaries, Dan & Noreen McGaffee, helped with the clinic.  Fredna and Lydia, another McGaffee daughter, took photos and played with the kids.

Just close to the church is a water well where women come and draw water for their daily needs.  It is only about 12 feet deep, but services the entire area of people.

After all the work was finished, we enjoyed a wonderful Pizza party!

I am always amazed how people survive on so little.  Most of the things we take for granted, are only luxuries in a place of poverty. 

2 Cor. 8:9 (ESV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Rev. 2:9 (ESV)  I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…