Welcome

We are so excited to be serving in Malawi. We invite you to take this journey with us. Keep the beautiful people of Malawi in your prayers, and us too.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The One Who Made Us Has Come To Live With Us



Becca reading the Incarnation story to the kids
Christmas- Thank you to all who encouraged us this Christmas season, as this was our first Christmas away from family. We received many sacrificial financial gifts from many of you and, although we are far away, we felt very near to you and loved by you.  Thank you.  Our day started off with Lyzee opening some presents sent from friends and family. Big thanks to Molly, Laura D, Laura R, Whit, Kristy, Rach H, Rach F. and both of our families. She had a wonderful time opening the packages and playing with new toys and getting “big girl underwear” (we are potty training so this was a great gift). My sister Laura sent one of her favorite gifts; it’s a tin small mailbox complete with felt letters and crocheted envelopes. My mom and sisters wrote the letters. It is a wonderful gift of love that Lyzee can keep for a long time. She has asked me to read and re-read the letters over and over. After a nice breakfast we headed out to our home church in Bangwe for a Christmas service and fellowship after. We had a wonderful time talking with our friends and singing Christmas carols in Chichewa (at least trying to). We praise God for this vibrant Body of believers! Christmas day was quite encouraging to us as Luke was asked to go and pray with the church elders before the service and the women really showed love to me (Becca) and Lyzee.  It was a big time for us because, for the first time, it felt like home.  This is a big answer to prayer!  The rest of the day we spent together as a family resting at home and focusing on God coming to us in the form of a baby in a rickety wooden manger.  In one of the packages Lyzee received, there was a book called Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones. (An author we highly recommend.) One line of the book sums up the wonder of Christmas perfectly, “The one who made us has come to live with us!” This statement is why we are here. This is why we do missions. Our rescuer has come!

Ministry-The past few weeks have been an intense time of digesting all that Luke encountered and learned in Ethiopia.  It has been so good to talk with Fostance and all the sports ministry leaders about the mighty work that God has done in Ethiopia through simple sports ministry. 
Just today, we were in Bangwe (a slum on the south end of Blantyre) meeting with 15 youth from three local churches who wanted to learn more about how to use sports as a platform for the Gospel in their community.  God is doing something in the hearts of the youth!  They are sick and tired of the same old religious activity lacking evangelistic outreach.  The Spirit of God inside them longs to make Christ known to those in darkness around them.  So….He is stirring them up.  We brainstormed about how we can most effectively do a sports outreach in their specific communities for Christ’s fame.  They had so many amazing ideas and we have a lot to work with.  Before the meeting was over, there was over 100 kids wondering what we were doing.  So…Fostance said, “Why don’t we go and start? God has already brought people to us to minister to and share His Gospel with.  So let’s practice what we preach!”   From there, several of the sports ministry leaders broke the kids up into age groups, taught them how to effectively work as a team on the soccer field and then sat the kids down and told them how to be born again in Jesus Christ.  It was incredible!  We praise God for you and your continued prayer for this ministry and it’s exciting to see Him stirring up the youth to reach out in their communities.  He is worthy!

Youth Leaders teaching the kids
Plans for upcoming year- Luke and Fostance will be holding a Sports Ministry Conference for all the Blantyre-area church leaders. This will be a crucial time to get all the leaders in one place on the same page about sports ministry. Pray for logistics as we prepare for 50 plus people to join us at this conference. Also please pray for God’s leading and direction as we long for the Gospel to reach out to people and places who have not heard of this child in the manger.  Our specific prayer is that God would use this sports ministry to raise up a generation of people who are set apart for the preaching of the Gospel of God and that they’d leave this city of Blantyre to church plant.  Will you seek the Lord with us on this?

Love you all,
Becca

Friday, December 16, 2011

The beginning of a movement

An amazing story from my time in Ethiopia 
This was my (Luke) journal entry from December 6, 2011

Today was a life-changing day.  We had a bite to eat and then hopped in the car and off-roaded 30 minutes down the path to the church where it all began.  This tiny mud-walled and tin-roofed place was where God decided to begin a movement…..a profound movement of His Holy Spirit in an area with VERY FEW believers.  It was an area of Ethiopia where the church struggled from persecution from their Muslim neighbors who consisted of over 90% of the population.

As we drove up the dusty road with potholes the size of me, I gazed in amazement that this tiny place was where this incredible movement of God began.  If I was in the USA the first church plant would most likely be a massive structure, but not so here.  I was intrigued and a bit bewildered.  But, after spending just a few minutes in conversation with the men and women of this church, I realized that this tiny mud building is a center for evangelism for the nations.  Thousands of people do not come to this building every Sunday to worship, instead you would only find around 80 people who use this building as a place for fellowship and the preaching of God’s Word. But…thousands of people are praising God every day all over the country and the world because of this tiny group of believers. They got it.

I met the pastor who was a tall man whose face literally showed that he had seen God.  I will never forget his smile. In the last 10 years, over 10,000 people have come to faith in Jesus Christ through this small, materially poor group of Jesus followers.  Does that sound familiar (Acts 2:42-47).   You could clearly see that these people knew Jesus, walked with His Spirit and daily surrendered every part of their lives to the Father’s plan. 

Hearing their story sent chills of joy down my back as they shared of the first Muslim convert to Christ in that area 10 years ago. This is how the movement began.  The area was unreached with the Gospel so some believers decided to strategically go in and live intentionally among them to show the love of Christ.  The vehicle that was used was simply taking a soccer ball to the nearby field to play football and use that to begin the relationship building process with the hopes that God would open a door to share the Good News with these people who only knew Islam. 

After a few months, it was a 11 year old girl who left the emptiness of Islam behind and gave everything to Jesus Christ.  Immediately after coming to faith, she began to tell everyone about Jesus.  Within a few days, she had been beaten and then warned to not speak further about this Jesus. That didn’t work.  Her life had been changed and she refused to shut up. So, within just a few days, she found herself kicked out of her village with her mother.  She shook the dust off her feet and went to a different nearby village. Nobody knew Christ there either.  So…she preached Jesus and, miraculously, a few hard hearts melted at the message of the grace and kindness of God making a way to Himself through the person of Jesus.

Now there were a few believers so they thought it would be good to do what the Bible teaches and meet together for fellowship and praises.  They simply read the book of Acts  and tried to do what they read.  As the little 11 year old girl continued to live out the Gospel in front of her Muslim mother (who had left the village with her daughter) something happened.  Her mother saw a heart change in her little girl and now she wanted a taste of the Living Water. 

Before two years passed, 80 people were meeting and being sent out to make Jesus known.  They got it! And it all started with one ball and one sports minister who told that one little girl about the One God who sent His one and only Son.  And God transformed the country through it.

Luke with the church leaders who were there when it all began
What an honor it was to meet, listen, learn from, and pray with these people. I will never be the same. I long to see God do something like this in Malawi. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We are thankful.....very thankful.


Happy Thanksgiving to all! Although we are in the center of Africa over 10,000 miles away and it is swelteringly hot outside, we can still be thankful.....for a lot of things.  Really, we have so much to thank the Lord for over the past 12 months.  Wow what an incredible journey it’s been!  As we laid awake in bed this morning because the dogs were barking, (we are not thankful for our dogs :), we just praised God for you and what He has done so far to get us here and what He is doing in the hearts of the Malawian youth. 

Thank you for………

1.  Giving Sacrificially.
            -Your time in meeting and eating with us before we left America. 
-Your hard worked for money: that you sacrificially have given to make this work possible. 
-Your love: as we are not always the easiest people to care for. 
-Your possessions: as many of you have donated your things to bless the people of Malawi or sent us gift packages in the mail.

            2.  Praying Fervently.
                        -Being our daily prayer warriors.
-Many of you have calloused knees on behalf of interceding for God to break through in Malawi.
-For Christ to perform miraculous works of power among the people here to show that He is enough and that they don’t have to put their trust in anything else.
-For our family:  as we transition cultures here, learn the Chichewa language, fight sickness, and preach Jesus.

We are so thankful for you!  We honestly could not do this without you and we praise God for your continued involvement in our lives for His glory in all the world.  The hand of the Lord is really doing some awesome things on the ground here in Malawi through you and the lives of giving and praying that you are leading back home.  We are positive that there will be MANY Malawian faces in heaven one day thanking God for His grace for transforming their life through your sacrificial giving and fervent praying.

In closing, we just wanted to give you a little story from yesterdays Bible/soccer club that meets on Tuesday and Thursdays at our house.  After teaching them the story of Abraham and Isaac, Luke prayed with them and then told them to go and begin the soccer training by running.  But a hand shot up in the back of the group of kids.  It was Innocent, an 11 year old who lives right down the road from us.  He has a miraculous story of the Lord preserving his life a few years ago after a horrific fall where he was impaled by a steel pole going through his spine after he fell out of a tree trying to get a mango.  Since then, his family said they can’t and don’t want to take care of him so he lives with his aunt who treats him badly.  But, our house has become a place of refuge and good times for this kid.  He has the most amazing smile and he genuinely enjoys the Bible lessons.  He said, “I’ve never been taught the Bible before.  I’ve heard of Jesus a few times at school but no one has ever told me the story of the Bible.”  He then asked, “Why do we not sacrifice anymore like Abraham and Isaac did?  Why should I not go and get my best goat and chicken to give to God to cover over my sins like they did?”  Incredible!  Rather than going and having fun playing soccer, the kids are really enjoying asking questions about the Word of God to clarify it in their minds. Luke then walked them through a few passages from Hebrews and told them about Jesus and how He was the sacrifice that fully satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. They had never had this explained to them before. Then Innocent said,  “That is great news!  Now I understand!”  The Lord is doing some awesome things in this little Bible club made possible through you!  We are humbled and so thankful for this opportunity to teach Innocent and many others about the Lamb of God who takes away their sin.

We miss you all dearly but have been deeply encouraged by your giving and praying. Below is a picture of Innocent.

Thank you God!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Family Outing To Ndirande

The "Uzungus" 
Beautiful mountains in the background
Andrew did a fantastic job of leading and organizing the event
Becca and the kids 
Alice is in the black shirt and jean skirt in the middle
What a day it was!  Last Sunday, we were invited to worship with our brothers and sisters of the Africa Evangelical Church in Ndirande.   As we walked through the streets of this giant mass of humanity crammed together, I asked God, "Why?" Why was I born into a family that loved me and a mother and father who cared if I came home at night.  As i saw kids who were ridden with sickness and the everyday hardships of living in extreme poverty, I asked God why.  Why in the world do these people suffer so deeply?  I know that these sad situations are results of sin entering the world through Adam and Eve but gosh it's hard to walk and smell and see these people who suffer so deeply and struggle so frequently just to live another day.  But, then i was reminded of something i'd read the night before from Francis Chan's book Erasing Hell.  He wrote, "It's not about figuring out all of the mysteries of God, but embracing Him and cherishing Him--even when He doesn't make perfect sense to us." As I stood confused with God at the plight of these dear precious people God reminded me of His hugeness. It's not blind faith that we have but we must submit ourselves under the sovereignty of the One on the throne. We are the clay and He is the Potter.  In a more clear way than ever, I saw the horrible effects of sin being in this world but then i was reminded of the beauty of the cross of Christ. There will soon be a day when there won't be places like this anymore.  But, until that day comes, we are going to go hard to tell these beautiful battered people of a better place and a King who is good in all that He does and is.  This is a good message that we have to give them and it is worth giving our very lives for.

We had an incredible time praising the King of Kings all morning with them amidst immense physical poverty.  But again, i was reminded that you are not poor by the amount of money that you make in a month.  You are poor if you don't know Jesus.  The believers of this church were certainly not poor.  Their praises resounded out of the tiny humid building into the bustling slum of hundreds of thousands of people.  Many children gathered at the entrance of the church building to see why these "Uzungus" were there.  The dusty streets were filled with people, smells, and sounds that still are vivid in our memories.  They are loved by God just as much as we are.

The main reason that we went was to encourage the small church in any way that we could.  Alice and Andrew are the two sports ministry leaders from that Body of believers and their big smiles showed us the face of Christ.  We were encouraged to see Alice taking on leadership roles in her home church as she took the kids outside and taught them Sunday school.  That is the goal!  To raise up a generation of youth in Malawi who go and make disciples through their local church to the ends of the earth.  After the service, Alice and Andrew invited Becca, Lyzee, and myself to attend their first big community sports outreach.  (that's what the pictures are from)  It was exciting to see them take such ownership of the ministry and how they organized everything so well.  There was well over 80 people there for the netball game against a local school team.  Men, women, and children from Ndirande. They all came wondering what all the commotion was about. Alice had prepared a Bible lesson for the group and opened up the time by sharing the Word of God with these people.  Muslims, Christians, and many others from all different walks of life.  It was really a great opportunity to present Christ and she did it well.  By the way, she is 17 years old, still in high school and lost both of her parents when she was young. But she has God.  She has the Holy Spirit. And that is enough to do incredible things on this earth. God used her and will continue to use her.

Please continue to pray for the ministry in Ndirande.  Pray that God would break through in that place in a profound way that would make the nations in awe at how great Jesus is.  It was quite a wonderful day but pray that the work will continue on a weekly basis and that God would empower them daily to live the life of Christ among those they are seeking to reach.  Thanks for praying. God is really doing much more than we expected.  Praise Jesus!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lyzee United

Luke and Shedrech teaching them how to dribble a soccer ball
on their way to practice

Teaching them about Adam and Eve

As some of you know, Luke has not only been working with seven soccer and netball teams with the youth in the Blantyre area BUT he has also started a soccer team with the little boys in our neighborhood. He is one BUSY guy. This new soccer team is made up of about 15 small boys, ages 7-12. They have already had three practices consisting of bible study, prayer, warm-ups, drills and a lot of laughing! Luke told the boys to talk to one another and come up with a team name. The next day, they all showed up at our door with joy as they announced their team name: LYZEE UNTIED. These kids are so precious and are hungry for the Word.  Please be praying for this new ministry. We are so happy to have the kids over and pour into them. Luke asked one of the older guys from the Chilomoni soccer ministry team to help coach. So there is a bit of discipleship there as Luke and Shedrech are working hand in hand taking turns with the Bible lessons as they go chronologically through the Word with the kids.  It’s been great to see him jump into this ministry and share his faith with the younger generation.

We asked the kids what they know about the Bible.  Only one of them had read the Word of God and none of them could tell me another Bible story besides Adam and Eve.  That will soon change.  They come every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon ready to learn about Jesus and how this book called the Bible is the most precious book on the face of the earth. We wish you could see their eyes as we explain how God created the heaven and the earth but how God treasures human beings far more than anything else. Some of these boys are not viewed as treasures by the world but these boys are treasures in the eyes of God and treasures to us.

Through ministry here we’ve been able to step into the lives of the Malawian people. Luke has had good conversations about marriage, relationships, and more while working with the young men here. Last week, in our neighborhood, we experienced the reality of the heartbreak and suffering of death. The younger brother of Vutso (one of the boy’s on the little soccer team) died. He had been fighting malaria for a week and on Sunday he stepped into eternity. He was three. His name was Kumbukani and he had spent several days playing in our yard.  His mother is named Gloria and they live a few houses down from us. Just a few days ago, I (Becca) saw Gloria on the road and we walked together. She told me about the many trips to the hospital and her little boy’s last days. We’ve learned that death here brings the same hurt but is dealt with in a completely different way.  In Malawi, death is so much more expected. There is no shock in the death of a child here but there is still deep pain. Deep loss.  Please be praying for Gloria and her family as they grieve. She has 4 other children at home.  Pray for her as she adjusts to life without her youngest child.  Pray that we can show her the love of the Lord.

Love,
Becca

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Word in their hands, a ball to use and the Spirit in their hearts....here we go!

This group is unstoppable

Osman from Mpemba digging into his new Bible

Ministry ball presentation to Chilomoni leaders

Above is a few pics from day two of the Sports Ministry Leadership training.  After much preparation, translation, and prayer, we saw God show up in a huge way on Saturday!  It was an incredible time with the 24 sports ministry leaders who showed up for the intense day of training. We did practical examples, brainstorming sessions, needs assessments of the different communities and much more. The leaders had been encouraged to come up with one ball for their teams and then Fostance and I would give them a second to encourage them to go for it! What a joy it was to give them a ball that they can use to draw a crowd to tell people about Jesus. (Thanks Bob and Chris Reed for the ball donation!) In addition, thanks to so many of you, we were able to give them each their own Bible in Chichewa. They kneeled down on the floor in respect to receive God's Word.  It was humbling.  These people know how powerful this Book is and that it holds the Words of Life and they treat it that way. Many of them have never owned their own Bible before.  We are so unworthy to be a part of something like this.   
I closed the day by sharing just a bit about what God has been teaching me lately from the Word.  Rev. 19:1-16 and Rev 20-21 were the passages that we dug into.  The Lord was at work as charged them to go and be the Body of Christ in their communities because our time is short and that great day is soon approaching when we will all stand in front of God and He will either wipe away all our tears and welcome us home or send us to eternal punishment because we rejected His Son, the one and only sacrifice for our sin.  We have got to tell people about this day!  We must warn people and plead with them to put their trust in the rock of Jesus Christ because the poured-out cup of the wrath of God is coming like a mighty wave and people will need to be covered in the blood of Christ on that day.  Maybe that great and terrifying day will be tomorrow.  I closed by encouraging them to live like tomorrow could be the day that Jesus returns so let’s spend ourselves proclaiming His glory.
The day closed with an awesome time of prayer and singing as we sought God to break through in Malawi and to unleash His Spirit in a profound way that changes the face of this whole nation.  These people pray for big things and are teaching us a lot about fervent prayer.  What an incredible day!  Thanks so much for your prayer. We got to see the fruits of your hard labor in prayer and sacrificial giving and we wish you could have seen it! But…hopefully you’ve enjoyed the pictures that we posted from that day.   
The youth are very excited to take what they’ve learned and now go multiply the Gospel in their townships using sports as the platform. Join us in giving God praise for His wonderful works!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sports Ministry Leadership Training—Day One

Luke and Fostance in the morning
Practical examples outside
The ladies learning how to coach netball

The day started with a bit of confusion as the youth center did not have tables or chairs set up.  But….we made it work and ended up sitting on mats and weights.  It was not comfortable for the first few hours but we just laughed it off and went on with the morning of training. 
            I can’t even begin to explain how incredible this day was!  Fostance and I taught for about 7 hours.  There were many discussion groups, problem solving games, brainstorming sessions, and questions.  
            It was really encouraging to see all 7 Blantyre area Africa Evangelical churches represented there.  There were a total of 24 leaders from the seven churches who came ready to learn at 7:30.  We began just a few minutes late but still were able to cover everything that we had planned for the day.  The youth had a lot of fun learning the biblical foundation for sports ministry, practical examples, and then a ton about discipleship and evangelism.  The Spirit of God was truly at work in the hearts of the young people in that room.  It was an incredible time and I felt so blessed to be a small part of what God was doing in the lives of these young people’s hearts.
            The highlight of the day was when we gathered for a time of prayer and conclusion at the end of the day. We opened with a praise song and then I asked if anyone wanted to share something that they’d learned from the day. One of the football leaders named Andrew stood up with joy in his face and said, “I now feel equipped with God’s Word to teach the youth of my football team about the importance of the Gospel and now I’m ready to disciple a few boys from my team that are young believers.”  God is great!  That statement from Andrew is why we are here.  We want to light the fire of the Gospel in people’s lives to go and make disciples in Malawi.  That is why we live.  We want to see people love Jesus more, preach the Gospel with more confidence, and make disciples who then go and make more disciples.  Pray for these leaders as they go and start strategically building their netball and football teams around the multiplication of disciples and the proclamation of the goodness of Christ. 

Love you all,
Luke

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sickness...meetings...ministry....and good times


Hey Dear Friends and Fam,
            We are doing well. All glory be to the Lord! The past week has been full of ups and downs. Lyzee’s horrible full body rash is gone, Luke’s tonsillitis is gone, and his thumb is healing up nicely in the cast.  Three hospital visits in six days….whew!  Glad to have that behind us!  But, God was on the throne through it all and we know that He had a reason for these small troubles.  They really are small in comparison to the millions of people who suffer from HIV and Malaria in this country.  Please pray that the Lord would spare people from death before they come to know, hear, and believe in Christ.
Pray for our little neighbor buddy Lawrence. He has been sick for over 5 days now with a high fever from Malaria that now is some sort of mouth bacteria/infection.  He’s only 4 yrs old and can’t take any food because of the immense pain that continually is plaguing him from this bacterial infection.  We hear him cry every time his mother is trying to feed him porridge.  He went to the doctor yesterday and is on antibiotics now….pray that they work quickly. 
I (Luke) have been slowed down considerably this week by some stomach bug and my arm.  But I praise God for these minor bumps in the road because I have been able to spend a lot of time with the King of the nations planning for the meetings that I have coming up with all the sports ministry leaders. I have heard back from 6 churches in the area who have appointed leaders for church-based sports ministry.  From each church, there has been both men and women who want to be a part of this.  That really excites me because women are often put on the backburner in Malawi.  This could really be used to empower them to preach the Gospel and show them that they are treasured by their Creator. They need to know that their value is the same as men because they were created in the image of God.
I am really looking forward to the end of this month and have a ton of strategic planning to do in preparation for the two all-day training days that we will do on Sat. Sept. 24 and Sat. Oct. 1.  Fostance and I are meeting several times each week with these newly appointed sports ministry leaders.  We are focusing on building relationships with them first before we do anything else.  Discipleship must be central in anything and everything we do as the people of Jesus.  So….with that in mind, we are having several of the leaders over to our house on Friday for Bible study and prayer.  This is really exciting!  There is no limit to what God can do with His people when they hit their knees and seek His face.
I am also on the preaching rotation for the local churches here in Blantyre. I had no clue that this was going to happen and I am always nervous and feel incredibly inadequate to preach. But I really feel that God is leading me to go for it. So, that means I’ll probably be preaching at least once a month.  God is faithful and has been giving me a ton of things to share from His Word.  So much of the pressure of preaching is relieved when we realize that we can’t do anything in ourselves. We can’t change anyone. But when we recognize that and then throw ourselves at the foot of the cross asking Christ to speak through us there is no telling what the Holy Spirit will accomplish.   
This last Sunday, I had a sports ministry meeting at a local church in Chirimba (northern Blantyre). On Saturday night (12 hrs before the service began), I was asked to preach the next morning. It is times like these when we really have to depend on the Lord!  I had nothing to say but, “Why not?”  I had no clue what in the world I was going to talk about but, What the heck! Why not?”   And God came through again. I spent most of the night preparing in God’s Word and He gave me something to say as I sought Him where He can be found.  I preached on the book of Habakkuk focusing on questioning God.  The Lord did it.  It was incredible.  There was only a small group of believers gathering for worship that morning but God was with us and we experienced His presence and He spoke through my foolishness.  Our God can be trusted. 
Sorry this is quite long. I have three meetings in the next two days with local leaders so pray for Christ to do great things. 

                       Eternity is a reality…..let’s all live like it. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I just typed this out with one hand in a cast so I promise you it's worth your time to read...you won't regret it :)

I read this today in the book Radical Together and God really spoke to me through it. Enjoy....you should buy the book.

Losing Our Lives Or Sipping Our Lattes?

"I spent my first few months as a pastor in a steep learning curve. Because I had never pastored before, I devoured books on how to determine and communicate a vision for where a church is going. In order to lead your church anywhere, these books told me, you need a preferred future, a visual destination, for which you are working. Pastors I respect declared, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twenty thousand members. Envision what you church campus (or multiple campuses) will look like five, ten, or twenty years from now, and start working toward it. Dream about how your worship services can become more innovative. All of this is important, so consider hiring a creative consultant to help you craft your vision. After all, Proverbs 29:18 says that where there is no vision, the people will perish.

At first it seemed to make sense. But over time I found myself getting nauseated by all the vision talk. Setting and reaching goals is important, of course. But were my sights really supposed to be set on bringing a large crowd together in a cool environment where they could hear terrific music, see killer graphics, and then listen to me talk live or via video or maybe even via hologram (if only I had a really innovative vision)? If this was to be the vision of my life and ministry, I decided, then I should perish.

So I sat down with members in our church, and together we asked, “What is our vision? What do we want to see? Where do we want to fasten our attention in the days to come? What do we want to work toward with all our hearts?”

As we prayed together, the answer became obvious. The only possible vision for the church of Jesus Christ is to make known the glory of God in all nations. This preferred future or visual destination must drive us because this is what drives God. Far more than we want stuff for the church, crowds at the church, or activities in the church, we want to know, love, honor, and praise God. And we want all people to do the same. We want to see God glorified by people everywhere because God wants to see himself glorified by people everywhere.

Vision affects everything. That’s what visions do. If the focus of the church is on having a large crowd in a big place where people can come and feel warm and welcomed, then you and I will plan accordingly. We will prioritize a nice church campus for people to drive to and where they can find a convenient parking space. We’ll give them a latte when they walk in the door, and then we’ll provide state-of-the-art entertainment for their children while treating them to a great show that leaves them feeling good when they drive away in a timely fashion. Variations of this vision engineered for the savvy Christian consumer are multiplied across the landscape of our country today, and they work well. The crowds come, and the vision is realized.

But what happens when our vision changes? What happens when our primary aim is not to make the crowds feel comfortable but to exalt God in all His glory? Suddenly our priorities begin to change. More than you and I want people to be impressed by the stuff we can manufacture, we want them to be amazed by the God they cannot fathom. More than we want to dazzle them with our production, we want to direct them to His praise. And the last thing we want to do is raise up people who are casual in the worship of God as they sit back and enjoy their lattes. Instead, we want to raise up people who are so awed, so captivated, so mesmerized by the glory of God that they will gladly lose their lattes—and their lives—to make His greatness know in the world.

“But what’s so wrong with the lattes?” someone might ask. “Isn’t it good to cater creatively to people who don’t know God? Don’t we want to be sensitive to those who are seeking God?”

Great questions. As you and I think about all the people who are without Christ in our communities, we long to see as many of them as possible come to Christ. Without question, we want to do everything we can to see people saved.

But let me remind you of a startling reality that the Bible makes clear: “There is…no one who seeks God.” So if the church is sensitive to seekers, and if no one is seeking God, then that means the church is sensitive to no one. That’s radical, but probably not the kind of radical we’re looking for.

Instead, Jesus tells us that the Father is pursuing worshippers for His praise. He is the one doing the seeking! He has been seeking sinners for thousands of years, and He is pretty good at it—far better than all the attractions and allurements we can assemble. So since you and I want to see people come to Christ in the church, let’s do everything we can to put the wonders of God’s glory, holiness, wrath, justice, kindness, jealousy, grace, and character on display in His church. Let’s show people the most biblical, holistic, clear, and captivating vision of God that we possibly can and then trust Him to take care of the seeking.

I think about Eric, who came to our church one Sunday at the request of his parents. He was addicted to drugs and had almost lost his life as a result. At the end of himself, he walked into our worship gathering, where we sang songs about God’s greatness and studied Scripture about God’s glory. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul tells what will happen when an unbeliever comes into a worship gathering of the church: “He will be convinced by all {he is hearing} that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” Well, Eric had a 1 Corinthians 14 moment that day. As he was captivated by the greatness of God in the church, he began to cry out for the grace of God in his life. Eric was saved from his sins that Sunday, not because he came seeking after God, but because God came seeking after him.

So let’s be radically seeker sensitive in our churches. But let’s make sure we are being sensitive to the right Seeker."

-(Pages 105-109) taken from the book Radical Together by David Platt

Love you guys,

Luke

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Richest Man I've Ever Met


Just thought I’d share with you guys an experience that I encountered last week during my time at the youth camp in the village. This was my journal entry for August 19. This is the story of the richest man that I have ever met…….

Something incredible happened to me today as I was walking in the dust through the village on my way to eat lunch. I saw an old man walking my direction with a purpose. He had no shirt on and his shorts were torn leaving his backside open to the air. This man was rail thin with some sort of painful-looking skin disease. He looked like he was on his last day in this world. But what this man proceeded to say to me assured me that, although it might be his last day in this world, he has a place prepared for him that far surpasses anything that this world has to offer. He was incredibly poor materially and in health but not in God. He greeted me and said in Chichewa (the local language) “Hello my brother…Psalm 150!” I was a little confused but continued to listen to him. What he said next blew me away and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. He went on to quote the whole of Psalm 150 with more joy in his voice and fire in his eyes than any person I have ever seen. This is what Psalm 150 says,

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 
praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, 
praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

This man spoke these words to me with a joy and satisfaction that all the good things in this world combined can not give the richest, most gifted, talented, and loved person. Although this man had no physical strength, the joy of the Lord was his strength. Although he was one of the most materially poor human beings I have ever seen, he was rich…. far richer that me. The richest man I’ve ever met and possibly the richest man on earth. By the looks of his bodily condition, this man will soon die…..but he knows what awaits him. I am positive this guy will be in heaven and he will never ache there, he will never hunger or thirst, and he won’t ever be naked because he will be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And I can assure you that, although I don’t know his name, his name will be known by many in heaven, especially the One that he praises now on earth. Wow. I will never be the same.

This experience has shaken me to the core and I am far more assured now more than ever that we don’t need stuff to have joy in God. We don’t need anything but Him. This man had one eye that was badly damaged and the other couldn’t look straight. He truly had nothing but he knew the reality of Psalm 150 and the majesty of our great God. He understood that it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with praising Jesus with every moment that we have on this earth. This guy had another day to live and breathe and he was going to spend it living out Psalm 150. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

small update

A quick update about the protest...
On August 17th there was a scheduled nation wide vigil and protest for the Malawians who died in the protest in July. But, Praise The Lord, the UN is mediating discussions between the President and the leaders of the protest groups. The local newspaper reports that the UN mediator is encouraged by the discussions and that he expect a positive result. We are very thankful for the ongoing conversation between the two parties and we are praying for them. Please pray for the God appointed leaders in Malawi; they would have no authority without God's permission. Please pray that they would seek the one and only LORD for wisdom on how to lead this country. Please pray for the continued discussions. We are thankful for these peaceful deliberation. Thank you for praying with us.
Also please pray for Luke as he is traveling back from a youth camp this Sunday. We miss him very much and can't wait till he is home!

Friday, August 19, 2011

dependant on Him to show up

As you know Luke is meeting with a lot of different church leaders to discuss sports youth ministry and if they would like to start a soccer outreach with their youth. Luke was visiting one of these churches last Sunday the 14th. He was planning on attending the service and then after the worship sit down with the leaders. When Luke arrived at the church building he was met by the pastor, who asked if Luke would preach (the service started in 20 min). This is what Luke wrote about that day in his journal.

I was a little surprised and asked God to lead me if I should preach or not. Within 30 seconds of silence, the Lord clearly reminded me of a sermon that I heard from a friend last month here in Malawi. It was really incredible how the Lord enabled my mind to clear as I agree to preach and then quickly went over a few notes from the sermon that I just ‘so happened’ to have in my backpack with me. They prayed over me and then we went out to worship in song for about 2 ½ hours with the church before they asked me to share from the Word.

I opened up with a little introduction in Chichewa (which was really encouraging and a huge praise that I am picking up the language faster than I thought I would). Then, I shared my testimony for about 20 minutes and went on to open up the sermon by asking the question, “Does our obedience to God automatically equate to His blessing in our lives?” and “What is blessing in the Bible?” Fostance was translating for me. I went on to preach for 45 minutes from Gen. 39:1-20, Psalm 73:1-14, and shared from the stories of Daniel, David (running from Saul), Jesus, Stephen, Paul, and the early church leaders. God was speaking through me. I can honestly take no credit for what happened yesterday because He enabled me, by His Spirit, to preach really powerfully. I can’t remember everything that was said but the time flew by and all the people were just eating it up! I closed by saying something along the lines of, “I want to encourage you as my brothers and sisters in Christ to look at the big picture of God’s blessing (eternity). This life is just a breath compared with all of eternity. So in light of that fact we can be encouraged in our current situations of suffering and poverty that there is a better day coming. Remember all of Christ’s disciples and how they suffered? Even many people today who are being obedient to the Gospel are suffering not being “blessed” by our definition of earthly things. I want to encourage you to seek God’s face and may our eyes not see to short like Esau when he sold his birthright to Jacob because he wanted to fill his temporary desires (hunger). I promise you that you will not regret seeking the King and enduring hardships in this life because the blessing in eternity is worth it! Jesus is all we need! We don’t need to consult witch doctors for blessing us with good crops or helping our children! Jesus and His Holy Spirit inside you is enough! I believe that God wants to do incredible things in you and through you in this village. Our blessing as followers of Christ is in Him. And maybe we will never see that blessing in this life but I promise 10 billion years from now that you will be thankful that you served the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in this short life. Then I closed by reading Hebrews 13:8-21 and praying it over them. God’s Spirit was at work and it was probably the best day of ministry of my life. All praise be to God! He is faithful and He truly does give us words to say when we step out for Him and have to be dependant on Him to show up. Yesterday…He showed up. The people were deeply thankful and we talked for a long time after the service before I went home with Fostance.

Thank you to all who are praying for us. These are the answers to your prayers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Open Doors

Amos 5:24 says, "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" Is that not what we as the people of Jesus get in Him? We are empowered by God to bring justice to the oppressed only because we've been clothed with the righteousness of Christ! He is the never-failing stream!

We have been learning a lot and the Lord is teaching us much as we transition into full-time ministry. He is worth being still and waiting for. The first picture is Lyzee and the gang getting their snack on with papaya. The second photo is Luke with Fostance. Fostance is an incredible man of God who is the national youth director for the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC). It just so happens that Fostance lives in Blantyre and is really excited about reaching Malawi's youth through sports ministry with Luke. The two of them are a strong team. This is the biggest answer to prayer that we've had yet! We were praying for a humble Malawian servant of Christ who would desire to team up with Luke on behalf of the youth in this nation. And....bam! God brings Fostance into the picture! There is nothing like serving the Living God who knows and plans our futures! You can't plan this stuff! The two of them work incredibly well with one another and it is a real friendship already. Fostance has already planted a church in an all Muslim village in Malawi and has tons of experience to pour into Luke. It is an honor to work with a brother like him. He has been a huge help as the two of them have had several meetings with local church leaders discussing the possibility of starting a sports ministry. Please keep the two of them in prayer as they are putting in 10 hr days on every Saturday and Sunday meeting with local church leaders. This coming Monday, they will be teaming up to speak at the national Hope For AIDS Peer Prevention training to explain how sport can be used as a platform to teach the hope that's found in Christ while incorporating HIV/AIDS prevention methods into the sports ministry as well.

On Tuesday, Luke leaves with Fostance for 5 days down south to the national youth conference for the Africa Evangelical Church. Luke is speaking at least twice on the topics of "Discipleship" and "Sports Ministry." There is hundreds of youth expected to be there so please pray that the Spirit of God would speak through Luke and Fostance in a mighty way. Pray that those kids would get a picture of something greater than the hardships of their lives.

We are really loving it here but there still are many cultural challenges and learning the language is quite difficult. As you can see from the picture above (Luke and Lyzee), God has really made this a sweet time of bonding for our family. But we need your prayers for wisdom as we just want to do what Jesus would do. Our hearts ache for Malawi to be set ablaze for the glory of Christ. But there is work to do....a lot of work. Thank you so much for continuing to encourage us to work hard for Jesus. We cannot do this without you! Please feel free to email us with any prayer requests so we can be praying for you. God is doing much here....be encouraged. We love you

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sunday was a great day

Thanks so much for your prayers. Yesterday was another amazing day as I (Luke) met with church leaders in Bangwe (a nearby township). It was an awesome time of fellowship with the believers there worshipping He who is worthy of all praise. The church service went from 9:30am to 1:30pm. But....i'm starting to adjust to the length of the Sunday morning services and actually enjoy it. Incredible times in prayer and God's Word!

Yesterday, the sermon was from Gen. 39 and Psalm 73. The title was, "God always blesses His people when they obey.....right?" Then the preacher went on to read the story of Joseph and how he was thrown in prison for obeying God by fleeing Potiphar's scandalous wife. Next, we read Psalm 73 and how the psalmist is asking God why the wicked prosper and increase in wealth while the righteous are poor, despised and oppressed. It was powerful and God's Spirit was at work in the room as the preacher went on to share multiple examples from the Word (Daniel, David, Jesus, Stephen, Paul, and many others) how the Bible suggests just the opposite. Instead, it seems to suggest that obedience to God leads to suffering (Matt. 5:3-12). So....the question we need to ask ourselves is, "Why in the world would i want to be a Christian if it just means hardship and suffering?" Well...the story does not end with Joseph in prison...his suffering was only for a time. The main point of the sermon was that our idea of "blessing" is often much smaller that what God has in store. But...for many of us, we might not experience that blessing in this lifetime. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Christ and then we can see things much clearer and not focus on what we call “blessing” because often God wants something much bigger and better for us that will draw us and others closer to Him and, it more often than not, comes through our suffering. That’s just how the Gospel works. Good stuff.

After the service I sat down with the church leaders to discuss the possibility of starting a sports outreach with their church. They were all really excited and the ball is rolling at the Bangwe Africa Evangelical Church. Praise the Lord! I posted a video on Facebook of the children’s choir from this church. Check it out.

From the meeting, I hopped in the back of a old pickup truck and got a ride into town to meet some friends to watch the Malawian football (soccer) team play a big match. It was an eventful time at the game with 80,000 screaming fans and 20,000 more trying to get in the stadium but police deterring them with teargas. Crazy. Definitely a cultural experience. The day ended with me walking 5 miles home because all the roads were blocked with ecstatic football fans.

Please continue to pray for us this week as we have meetings every day with local church leaders to discuss sports ministry. This is so exciting watching God move!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gospel with Fruit and Veggies

First of all we wanted to thank you for your fervent prayers. Things have calmed down a bit here in Malawi politically. But the future is still uncertain but we will continue to pray that some of these huge issues get worked out without anyone else losing their life. Thank you. God is at work.

Currently we are at the annual Spiritual Life Conference in Kasungu (northern Malawi) until Friday. So far it has been a wonderful time of fellowship and fun with the missionary community serving all over Malawi. God is so faithful and He has given us a family here that we have all been praying for. Amazing people from all over the world serving the Lord in different areas, all going after His glory.

But I (Luke) just wanted to share one of a few ways that God has been answering your prayers in the last week of trouble for this country. As many of you know, we were told not to go outside for pretty much two straight days because of the unrest. So...as you were seeking the Lord to work in amazing ways, He did. He brought people to us. We couldn't go to them on these days so He brought people who needed Jesus to our doorstep. Alice is one of the two people that He brought to us and this is her story..........

She is a Malawian woman whom we heard about from a few other missionaries. She brings fruit and vegetables twice a week to your house for no extra charge. So, in order to help her out and also get some fresh fruit and veggies in the process, we asked her to stop by our house twice a week too.

Alice lives in a township (slum) in Blantyre and has five children. Not long ago, her husband was killed in an accident on his way home from business in South Africa when the bus he was in was struck by a semi-truck. So..this left Alice a widow with 5 young kids to raise. Unbelievable hardship and you can see it when you look in her eyes.

To make matters even more difficult, her precious children are not well. Three of them have Malaria and one has a terrible skin disease and Alice has no way of helping them. My friend Rose was interpreting for me when I was talking with Alice. And, as we listened to Alice share her grief, Rose had tears in her eyes and said to me, "This woman is in very desperate circumstances. She has no means of helping her sick children and can barely feed them enough to live but when they live they just suffer." Those words struck me. When they live they just suffer. She then went on to plead with me if I could give her a loan of about $19 so that she can take her child with the skin disease to the hospital to get a treatment to minimize the pain. Praise be to God! Thanks to you and your generosity to God's work in Malawi her child will have relief for at least a little while from her skin disease. Alice then went on to explain, in detail, how grateful she is and I was able to share with her that it is Christ alone who is helping her. He owns everything. Nothing we have is ours but it's all a gift from God that He wants us to use for His fame among the nations. She then said, "Thank you Jesus!" in broken English and then told me that she will give us free fruit and veggies for a long time.

We are overwhelmed at the goodness of God that He has us here for such a time as this. People are suffering greatly, please pray for Alice and her precious children who have such a difficult life. Pray that they might know the goodness of the Lord in the midst of their sorrow and that we'd be able to show it to Alice every time she comes to our door.

I love you all.

Luke

Here's a quick quote I read today and liked a lot, "The starting point of your radical life is your radical death---death to yourself and death to your every attempt to do enough before God." -from David Platt's book Radical Together


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Urgent: Prayer Needed

As some of you may know, Malawi is going through some seriously rough times and today the people decided that enough is enough. So....riots broke out in the capital city of Lilongwe. From there, the chaos spread throughout the entire country. We will learn specifics soon but several are dead and thousands continue to mob, loot, and flip the cities upside down. Malawi needs prayer. The scene is not quite as bad or dangerous in Blantyre (where we live) but there were thousands of demonstrators filling the streets today and violence broke out later in the day. To learn more about the situation go to BBC and type in "Malawi" or go to Google and search it.

We never imagined that we'd be so close to something like this so soon after getting here. God is in control....we have no doubts about that but just pray that people won't lose their lives as things escalate. We have no clue as to how this situation will resolve....both sides need to have humility and the Lord can easily accomplish that.

As I type this, I heard machine-gun fire. This is probably the clearest reminder that we’ve ever had that this world is not our home. We have a citizenship in heaven with the King of the universe and we can take deep comfort and joy in that! As Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” So, as our hearts grieve those who have died today and as we seek His face on behalf of this country let us be reminded that our peace is not in our governments, money, cars, or comfort zones. I can say this because I have spoken with Malawian believers today who greeted me with a smile and said, “The Lord Jesus sees it all and will accomplish good through it all.” Eternity is real and so let our comfort be in Christ alone because this world is a uncertain place.

Love you all,

Luke, Becca, and Lyzee

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We finally got internet connection!

Sorry this update has taken so long. We finally have internet at our house so we can hopefully keep everyone updated weekly. Thanks for being apart of this....

Tikuphunzira Chichewa (We’re currently learning Chichewa)

Our first two weeks of language study we are meeting with our teacher (Fannie) two hours every day. Becca is quickly picking up the sentence structures and grammatical rules of Chichewa while Luke is retaining vocabulary well and greeting people we meet on the street. So, the Lord has given us strengths and weaknesses that compliment each other. After our first two weeks of intense study we’ll be meeting 2-3 times a week. We’re having a lot of fun learning the language and we have a great teacher and we praise God for that!

Tinabwera ku Malawi kufalitsa mawu aMulungu. (We have come to Malawi to spread the Word of God)

As for the soccer ministry, God has been opening up huge doors of opportunity. Last week Luke had several key meetings with national church leaders and sports outreach leaders. One of them was Fostance (national youth coordinator for Africa Evangelical Church) whose ministry touches over 150 Church bodies in this country. He is an incredible man of God and was excited to team up with Luke to reach Malawian youth for Jesus through sport. Over the next month, Luke will have 8 more meetings with Church leaders to get the soccer ministry started. We have to take it slow because we want to be as strategic as possible to initiate lasting change that the local church takes hold of and runs with. There is no boundaries for what the Lord can do with this ministry!

Dzina lanu ndani? (What is your name?)

Here is a little snapshot of our everyday life so far! Every day we spent time with our friend Wyson. He has a 7 year old son Pilirani who adores Lyzee. They play together all the time! Every morning Lyzee wakes up and says “Pili!” and then runs to the front door to find Pili waiting for her. The neighborhood kids come over to our house every day to play soccer and get a piece of candy from Luke. We are quickly making friends and having people over for tea. Today, we are having our Muslim friend Rafik over for tea and a soccer game. Pray that we can sew thread of the Gospel in His life. There are Gospel opportunities all the time!

We are able to practice our Chichewa with our new friends but they mostly laugh and correct us. Every morning we leave our house and take the 1 ½ mile walk to the SIM office for language study. Luke has a backpack full of study notes, toys and snacks for Lyzee. Becca is carrying a very heavy Lyzee on her back like the local women. Lyzee is waving and saying “Hi! Hi! Hi!” to everyone she sees. She is such a link and conversation started for us. God is using her already. We pass the same women with their beautiful babies sitting on the side of the road selling their goods: bananas, fish, sugar cane and airtime cards (minutes for cells phones). We say hello in very broken Chichewa and they laugh and say hello back. Daily, we try to add new words to our greetings whenever we pass by. By the time we reach the office we are tired but happy. This 45 minute morning walk has quickly become one of our favorite parts of the day.

Awa ndi banja langa ku Malawi. (This is my family in Malawi.)

The SIM team here us just like a big family. Everyone has been extremely helpful and kind. The ladies on the team have helped Becca with grocery shopping and cooking. Every other Thursday the team gets together for prayer and worship. This a great time of fellowship and encouragement.

Our health has been pretty good so far. We know getting used to new bugs and germs is just part of moving to a new place. Lyzee finally got her first of many bugs. It was only 24 hours and very mild.

Ndikukupembedzerani inu. (I am praying for you)

-Please pray for the church in Malawi as they continue to grow in the Lord.

-Pray for spiritual renewal for the believers here, that they would not be lukewarm but on fire.

-Please pray for Luke has he starts the soccer ministry in a culturally sensitive way.

-Pray for the many people we have over or see everyday. Pray that the power of Christ would be shown through our lives and grasped in theirs.

-Praise that the local church leaders are excited about sports ministry as an outreach.

Also, all Malawi SIM missionaries will soon be heading off to a Spiritual Life Conference. This will be a time of refreshment, encouragement and fun. Please pray for all the missionaries to arrive safely from all over the country and that we’d have a rich time together.

We love you all and we can't do this without you. Psalm 113