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,

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.