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.

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,


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!