Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,
I hope to post frequent updates from Malawi in the coming days. We depart on Thursday, August 28, and arrive home, if the Lord wills, on Friday, September 12. I plan to add updates here at the top of the post, pushing the older updates further down.
– This is our second trip to Malawi. The first was two years ago, in August 2012. As a review, this was the preview for that trip, and this was the follow-up.
Friday, September 12
After a brief stop in Dakar, Senegal and a plane change in Washington D.C., we arrived in Raleigh at 9:30 a.m. – right on time and WITH ALL OUR LUGGAGE, which is no small thing! It was a great trip, and it’s great to be home!
Thursday, September 11
We toured Soweto (the shortened version of “South West Township”), the township of Johannesburg where the movement to topple Apartheid developed and finally triumphed. In the late afternoon, we boarded our flight and began the eighteen hour journey home.
Wednesday, September 10
We said goodbye to our dear friends and flew out of Blantyre, arriving in Johannesburg mid afternoon. We stayed with Tim Cantrell, pastor of Antioch Bible Church, and Scott and I had the privilege of preaching at the church in the evening.
Tuesday, September 9
Our last full day in Blantyre was largely spent with twenty young men from Antioch Baptist Church. We met in Mala’so living room and Mike, Victor, Scott and I all gave messages about different aspects of studying Scripture. These are hungry young men and it has been a real joy to be with them and to teach them.
In the afternoon Marvin Jere drove us to Mount Mulanje, the third highest mountain in Africa. On the way, we passed through miles and miles of tea fields (yes, drinking tea). Come to think of it, they also grow a lot of sugar cane… Hmmm – they have all the key ingredients to becoming Southern, but I digress… Anyway, tea comes from short shrubs that would be about halfway to your knee if you were standing in the field. It is a beautiful green and makes for a breathtaking landscape.
The day ended with “The Last Supper”: dinner at Mala’s house with a few of our closest friends from Blantyre.
Monday, September 8
Today was the pastors’ conference at EBCOM (the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi). Nineteen pastors attended. After the first two sessions, Scott went “off script” and taught an extemporaneous session on Deuteronomy 6, applying it both to pastors and their families, and also to the pastor’s duty to teach these things to the fathers of their church and require their obedience.
At lunch, we decided to abandon the original schedule in favor of teaching on and applying the sufficiency of Scripture. I taught first, establishing the doctrine from 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and Mark 7:1-13, and then applying it to three controversial areas of Malawian culture: the education of children, marriages where the husband lives and works in one location with the wife in another, and women pastors (there were four in the room). Scott followed up with a message clarifying the gospel and pressing the pastor’s duty to identify, help, and confront those who are likely unbelievers in the congregation.
Needless to say, our discussions afterwards were quite lively, though thankfully not openly contentious.
Sunday, September 7
Scott and I taught on different aspects of the fear of the LORD at Antioch Baptist Church, while Mike and Victor both went to preach at other local churches.
A Women’ Conference was held in the afternoon, with Deborah Brown teaching the two sessions. This was attended by the women of Antioch and also students from several of the local universities.
In the evening, Mala took us to Catholic University, where the men went to a classroom to meet with the young men, while Deborah and Mada (Masada and Mada married in April) met with the young women. We both led discussions on the sufficiency of Scripture. The men’s discussion was great, but I suspect not quite as lively as the ladies’ discussion. Deborah has already received an email from one of the young ladies saying that the group has been continuing to discuss these things and to search the Scriptures, and they are beginning to realize these things are true, even though the implications are daunting. We should be praying that the Lord would help these women not to be afraid to obey anything that they find in Scripture.
Saturday, September 6
The Gospel Conference was well attended with about seventy five attendees, mostly from the local universities, listening very attentively to a lot of teaching – six sessions in all. We labored to press home the true biblical gospel, insisting that being born again always results in changed thinking and a changed life. We also attacked the false gospels of easy beleivism and the prosperity gospel, both of which are pervasive here in Malawi.
Tuesday, September 2 – Wednesday, September 5
I felt like the balance of the “Your Marriage Matters” was very valuable with strong messages from each of the speakers (Scott Brown, Mike Davenport, Victor Maxson and myself). There was a very wide range of ages in attendance, from the many college singles to some older men from a local Presbyterian Church who knew us from two years ago. Marvin Jere’s parents also joined us for a couple of the sessions.
On Friday, between the afternoon and evening sessions, we spread out two-by-two on the campus of Blantyre University for evangelism. Like two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised at the students’ overall willingness to engage in meaningful discussions.
Monday, September 1
We traveled safely from Lilongwe to Blantyre, where we will remain for the rest of our stay. The trip was just as I remembered it – harrowing, since people (and livestock) walk and ride bikes (not the livestock) right next to speeding traffic. Oh, and passing in the face of oncoming traffic is part of the deal. I’m not sure why…
Anyway, I’m comfortably settled at the home of Mala and Rachel.
The 5-day marriage conference began at noon, with a single session over the lunch hour and then two sessions in the evening. The venue is in downtown Blantyre, so that many of those working there can attend over lunch and then immediately after work. That will continue to be the schedule through Friday.
Sunday, August 31
We had a wonderful start to the Lord’s Day at Reformation Fellowship, which is the church the Maxsons are planting in Lilongwe. I taught on “What Is a Biblical Christian?”, primarily from John 3, and then Scott preached on “What Is a Biblical Church?” Along with our team and the Maxsons, there were about ten Malawians from the community. It is a small church plant with a sweet spirit of fellowship in Christ.
Saturday, August 30
This afternoon Scott and I spoke at the “Your Marriage Matters” seminar sponsored by Frank Maxson and the church here. There were something like 25-30 people who attended from around the community, and it was a very attentive and engaged group. It is a great blessing to be able to preach the gospel and its connection to marriage and family life.
Thursday/Friday, August 28/29
We departed Raleigh at 6:00 a.m., flew to New York, and then 8,000 miles and 15 hours later we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa. We made the flight to Lilongwe, Malawi with five minutes to spare (literally), and arrived right on time – with all our luggage. ‘Twas a miracle! Most of the flight to Africa was at an altitude of about 40,000 feet, with a average outside temperature of -50F (yes, that is not a typo – it is really, really cold up there!). I had plenty of time to pray for everyone in the church by name. If you attend Sovereign Redeemer, you were the recipient of high-altitude prayer.