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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Struck down but not destroyed


This life we live in is not easy.  I know most people know that and are dealing with a plethora of things that far outweigh any trial that we currently are going through.  But this month of December has brought us many gifts of suffering.  God’s Word reminds us to “Consider it joy whenever we face trials…”  We’ve memorized it, taught it, but now I can say we are attempting to live it by the power of Christ in us. Broken vessels is what we are and we constantly need the filling of the Maker of heaven. 

Over the past week, we know many of you have been praying more than ever for our little family of four here in Malawi.  You’ve sacrificed valuable time, energy, and tears into praying for us.  And God has comforted us.   Last Wednesday night was the funeral for our friends who were killed in the auto accident and I (Luke) can honestly say that that it was the most amazing service of any sort that I’ve ever been to.  It was something straight from heaven and the Holy Spirit so led that time that every person in the room was left in awe of our great Father and of the brevity of life and the reality that this life is just the beginning.   We will never forget what happened as the service was coming to a close after 4 sweet hours.  We were singing the song “10,000 Reasons” written by Matt Redmond.  And we were watching the two widows of Lusayo and Wanangwa and we watched them break out into full fledged praise to God.  There was probably over 1,500 people in the room and every one was in awe of the Lord as we sang, “Bless the Lord oh my soul, ooohhh my soul, worship His holy name! Sing like never before, oh my soul, I’ll worship His holy name.”  Everyone, including the widows were praising God.  Then we sang “Blessed Be Your Name” and we came to the part of the song which says, “You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name!”  Again the wives were praising their King for giving them their wonderful husbands for the few months that they’d been married.  Honestly, I don’t know if I’d be able to do that if I lost Becca.  But their praise just pointed everyone in the room to a greater reality and it was beautiful.  Thank you for praying for them.

2nd ever Sports Friends Basic Training
Pastor Fostance teaching
Because of all that’s happened in the past few weeks, I have made the decision to stay back from the sports ministry training and commissioning of over 70 newly elected leaders that we’ve been working with and pouring into for the past 12+ months.  Things have not been good at home as we’ve attempted to readjust back into life in Malawi and we are all having quite a rough go.  It seems like every single thing we attempt to do goes wrong.  Our electricity wires got stolen a few nights ago so that left us without power for a few days, we’ve got a stomach bug that’s floored both Becca and I, the kids are doing well, aside from Zeke not sleeping great, but I think our parenting has not been the best over the past few weeks.   All that to say, I met with Fostance and our other 4 volunteer sports ministry trainers all day today to hash out the newly changed plan. This whole hugely disappointing time has led me to realize how capable my brothers and sisters in Christ are to do this training.  Fostance is an incredible leader and man of God.  His words to me today came as a huge blessing. He said, “My brother, you need to stay back.  We can do this.  The Holy Spirit will do great things. But you need to be with your wife and kids who are suffering.”  I really believe that something great is about to happen for the Kingdom of God in Malawi and the enemy of our souls is doing everything is his power to stop it. Everything.  But he is a chained and defeated foe because of this Baby in the manger who came for us.  Although Satan would like nothing more than for us to cancel this Basic Training and disappoint all the church-based sports ministry leaders who have been eagerly awaiting this training, we are going through with it.  Just without me.   I will still drive down tomorrow with all the set up stuff and all of our ministry trainers but then I’ll drive back to Blantyre to be with Becca, Lyz, and Zeke for the week.  Then, I hope to go down on the last day of the training to be there for the commissioning service of our new sports ministers.  So…that’s the plan but we hold it with open hands to the Lord.  We need Him to show up in a huge way and this is such a key time in the lives of so many for the proclamation of the Gospel in this land.  Many of you have given towards this training and we hope that hundreds more youth will be experiencing the love of Christ for the first time because their newly trained coach has been sent out by a local church in their village to bring them the greatest news in the world: God has made a way through Christ and He cares for them.

Coach Honest
Will you please pray for us?  We need travelling mercies as we have a SUPER packed minibus and must drive down a treacherous winding mountain road to get to the location of the training.  Secondly, pray for Fostance, Shaddy, Alice, Chisomo, and Honest as they lead and teach what sports ministry is all about.  Lastly, pray that God would move in the hearts of the participants of the training.  We want to send out strong coaches who love Christ above all things and want to be disciple-makers. 

newly elected sports ministers with their Bibles
That’s all for now.  I’m off to bed before a crazy day tomorrow.  Love you guys and hope that you’ll consider praying for us.
netball is the platform the girls will use to proclaim the greatness of Jesus

For His Fame,

Luke



Friday, December 6, 2013

Death Stings...


With heavy hearts we write to you from Malawi. This is not a typical ministry update but a call for you to get on your knees and pray.  As you might know, since arriving back in Malawi on Oct. 30, things have not been easy.  They’ve actually been really difficult and we feel that the Adversary has come hard at us to try to take us out.  It seems that every day for the past month, there has been some huge problem or circumstance that has continually worn on us and become quite difficult to bear. Each night we just lay our heads down and say to each other, “Man! When is this gonna get better.”  Despite the frustrations with culture shock, house problems, daily power outages, and brutal heat, the Lord has drawn us near and has surrounded us with many followers of Christ who have brought us meals, come and prayed with us and just been there for us. 

Just last week, our friends Lusayo and Chimwemwe Mhango and Sarah Adams came over to love on us and support us in our time of need.  They are the national directors of Young Life ministry in Malawi and are dear friends to us. Sarah is from the States and Lusayo and Chimwemwe were born here in Malawi.  All three of them are incredible and have such a servant’s heart and love for Jesus.  During our wonderful time of fellowship, they explained how Lusayo, Sarah, and the other 6 national leaders of Young Life were headed off to Zimbabwe for a few days this week to attend an international Young Life conference.  They were supposed to arrive home today but they never made it back.  Today, their bus tire popped, the vehicle rolled and Sarah, Lusayo and the Young Life leader from the central region of Malawi named Wanangwa (who we also knew well) were ushered into eternity. 

Wanangwa, Sarah, & Lusayo
I  (Luke) received this news through a text message today while I was in the middle of a ministry meeting and I just broke down and drove home immediately to be with Becca and the kids. We thought it had to be a joke.  Lyzee’s dearest Auntie Sarah who watched Lyzee several times, spent Christmas with us last year, was a key member of our Bible study on Thursday nights that we attend, and always came to meet and pray with Becca, was gone.  My dear brother in Christ, Lusayo who has had such an impact on my life and on this country since he became the national director of Young Life, was gone in an instant.

Auntie Sarah reading Lyzee and her friends a book


We’ve spent this day doing nothing but grieving the loss of our dear friends and fellow laborers in the Gospel who we loved so much.  It was so unexpected and instant that it was absolutely devastating.  Words cannot begin to contain our pain and loss.  Many many Malawian people have called us today asking what happened to Sarah, Wanangwa, and Lusayo.  They were hugely influential on so many lives here. They pointed people to the greatness of Jesus Christ and were a wonderful example of unity within the Body of Christ. 

After an awful day of mourning and crying today, our friends asked us to join them for dinner.  One thing that our friend Deborah said really hit us hard. She said, “It’s not the length of a person’s life, it’s the depth of it.” Although Lusayo, Wanangwa, and Sarah were in their late 20s and early 30s, their lives counted for the glory of Christ.  And now they see His face! 

1 Corinthians 15:17-19 says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those who have died in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

How true is this?  If that tomb was not empty, then we have no hope for the future. That would mean that Lusayo, Wanangwa, and Sarah’s lives toiling hard for the Gospel in Malawi and beyond would be a complete waste of time and absolute foolishness. 

But then Paul goes on in 1 Cor. 15:20-23 to say, “BUT Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died.  For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn…..”

Today, December 6, 2013 was Lusayo, Wanangwa and Sarah’s turn.  They passed from this world and are a present with the Savior who they’ve served faithfully. This world is not worthy of them any longer.  God is their reward and their faith is now sight.

Then, a few verses later it says, “The body that is sown is perishable,  is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in the natural body, it is raised in the spiritual body.”

We don’t have much else to say but God’s Word does so please read it and may your mind be refreshed with the brevity of this life and the urgency of eternity. 1 Cor. 15:54-58, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where ,O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Sarah Adams

God is literally wiping away their every tear and is rewarding them as we speak for their faithfulness in this life to the glory of His name.

We don’t know why these things happen but we know He who is still sitting on the throne and has already defeated the horrific pain of death.

Please pray for Chimwemwe (Chichewa for ‘Joy’) & Mphatso (Chichewa for ‘Gift’) (the wives of Lusayo & Wanangwa).  They love Christ deeply but are completely devastated by the loss of her husbands.  Also, please pray for Sarah’s family who are all back in the USA.  After your prayers for those listed above, please pray for us, we are so sad. 

Death Stings…but only for a while.

Love you guys,
Luke & Becca




Friday, November 15, 2013

Settling In ..... again


Lyzee with Lucy and her big brothers


Our captain wearing one of the new jerseys 
We’ve been back for two weeks now and are thankful that we took the 8 days to have time to settle, little by little, and get back into our routine and ministry. We were delighted to arrive in Malawi to Fostance and 12 of our boys from our community. Most of the boys walked over 11 miles to the airport and 2 of them ran out on the tarmack to greet us as we walked off the plane.  It was such a joy to be reunited with them!  From that day, the boys have been coming over, almost everyday, and we have had four Bible studies/practice days. It’s been easy to pick right back up where we left off with the kids because coach Shaddy, Fostance, Honest and Clement did an amazing job while we away. Kids coming over to play, asking for help when they have an injury, the girls coming to play netball. All of that has been easy, but I (Becca) have found getting back into the grind of everyday life harder than I expected. Grocery shopping, cleaning the house, laundry, the heat, and daily power cuts with a tiny sweaty baby have really worn on me. Thank you to those who have been praying for us!

Zeke's first morning in Malawi
Lyzee and Lucy
We had a wonderful 4th birthday party for Lyzee thanks to our good friend and fellow SIM missionary, Jo Ong.  Luke also had a nice 28th birthday on November 10th (two birthdays in our first two weeks back.) Lyzee has had a great time catching up with all her friends she missed so much! She’s back in her element running around without shoes and digging in the dirt for grubs with her pals.  Every day we call her inside and we find the same, sweaty, dirt-covered smiling face.  We love this little girl :)

Lastly, we’ve been praying for an office space for the ministry (Sports Friends Malawi) and it looks like we might have found one! Please pray that it all works out in the next week so that Luke and Fostance will have a place to meet and plan at a central location.

Praises
-All of our luggage made it! Miracle!
-Ministry gained momentum while we were away. Many new leaders have emerged and are passionate about using sports to preach the Gospel of Christ.
-Despite some rough adjustments and frustrating days of extreme heat, the Lord has drawn us closer to Him and given us more of a desire to seek His face as a family unit during those especially uncomfortable and annoying times.  Jesus is our strength and your prayers are fueling us through!

Prayer needs
-The next huge Sports Friends Basic Training is coming up from December 10-14 and lots of preparation is underway.  There will be over 60 leaders coming who are eager to learn how they can effectively proclaim Jesus through sports in their villages.  This is such a key time!  There is a massive amount of planning and preparation for this event, which is the biggest thing we’ve done in 2013.  The whole year, we’ve worked and prayed for these leaders and now they are ready to be trained and commissioned into ministry.
Church leaders who are preparing for the next Basic Training in Dec
-Within the next week, we will pick up with our language study. God has helped us immensely so far but please pray that He’d continue to give divine understanding of this complex language in the months to come. We want to be fluent!
-Pray for the coaches as they share God’s love with their teams. There are over 65 teams that are continually meeting and doing ministry. Great things are happening and many are repenting of their sin and walking in newness of life, but we long for MORE! 
-Please pray for our car. We brought a lot of parts back with us but some do not fit correctly on our little Honda and it is now becoming quite a headache.  Please pray that this would be resolved soon.
-Despite our efforts to keep him covered all the time, Zeke received his first few mosquito bites last night. Please continue to pray that God would keep him from Malaria during these very early stages of life when Malaria is especially dangerous.

Love,

Becca
Celebrating our homecoming with ice cream! (Thanks for the matching dresses Aunt Shari!)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Heading Home Soon


Thank you for your fervent seeking the Lord on our behalf over the past 5 months that we’ve been in the USA.  Our time here has been wonderful.  We have been able to see so many of you and we thank God for that because you’ve been deeply missed by our family.  If we have not seen you, we are so sorry that we didn’t get the chance to connect and fellowship with you.


September & October 2013
We are sorry that we have not updated you on what’s been going on over the last 2 months.  It has been a whirlwind! The beginning of September meant us saying goodbye to all our dear friends and family in Peoria, IL and boarding on a plane to head west.  But before we left IL, I (Luke) had a wonderful opportunity to share about missionary life at Peoria Christian High School.  This time was so good with many youth asking great questions about what God might have them do for His glory in the future.  Good stuff!  The next day, we packed the car and tearfully said farewell to all of Becca’s family and drove to the airport. Typically, we’d fly to California but this time we had the unique opportunity to have a 4-day layover with our dear friends Eric and Becca Borgh in Seattle. It was a great time of fellowship and exploring the city with friends we’ve missed for so long.

Luke and Eric
Our little world traveller in Seattle 
After a refreshing few days in Seattle, we hopped on a Southwest flight to Sacramento, CA and we have been here in California for the last 6 weeks.  September was a crazy busy month of meetings, good times with friends and family, and then a wedding for one of my best friends on Sept 28.  We praise God for this time in September where God was clearly giving us a time of much needed fellowship with people we’ve missed so much. Also, our little Zeke is growing fast!  Just look at how cute he is!



September in Malawi
While we were going all over in the USA, Fostance and many other sports ministers in Malawi were busying themselves with the work of the Lord in their towns and villages.  They had many discipleship meetings, Bible studies, and sporting events that lifted the name of Jesus high and saw many people come to faith in Christ.  Praise God!  To us, this was such an encouragement to see the ministry continuing on well in our absence.
Ministry in the South is thriving

Outstanding October!
Newly elected sports ministers in the central region
October 1st came in a hurry and we knew it was time to start getting ready to go back home to Malawi.  But, we hadn’t seen so many people in southern California so we said, “Ah…what the heck! Let’s go!”  And our 10-day trip to So-Cal was an immense blessing with many opportunities to connect with dear friends, pray, and share with many groups about the ministry in Malawi.

Not only did we have a chance to share at youth groups, small group Bible studies, and children’s church services but I was invited to speak to the youth of Jim Elliot Christian High School (where I went to high school).  I had such a wonderful time sharing with the youth and connecting with teachers and friends I have not seen in a decade.
Speaking @ Jim Elliot Christian High School Chapel

In Ezekiel 11:19-20, the Lord says, “I will give them an undivided hear and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”
The Word of God is now in their hands and the Lord is at work 
This passage has been a prayer of ours for the people of Malawi over the past few months and we’ve seen God do some incredible things.  Many of our trained sports ministry leaders now have the Bible and are effectively sharing Jesus and the story of redemption with many lost souls in their villages and towns.  It has been elating to be able to talk with Fostance every week and hear updates from what is happening in Malawi.  The Holy Spirit continues to move and now the vision of sports ministry has been cast to the central region with many church leaders there.  Now, they’ve elected sports ministry leaders to take the Gospel to people like the Nyau (picture below).  We pray that sports will be a way to reach these men and boys who are in trapped in African traditional religion with their hearts gripped by fear of the spirit world.   We bring a Gospel of good news and hope that melts our fears because Jesus has conquered all the forces of darkness! 
Nyau warrior doing traditional dance
Nyau men and boys in the road
Reason for Praise…People coming to Christ!
Lastly, we wanted to inform you of a mighty act of the Lord in the southern region of Malawi.  Over the summer, Fostance casted the vision of Sports Friends ministry in some VERY rural villages on the other side of the river.  Not many people usually go there because it is so remote, but Fostance had a passion to reach them so he went.  In August, he met with the church leadership and then, last week, Fostance went to meet the newly elected sports ministry leaders.  What he found upon his arrival at the village was quite an encouragement.  He found hundreds of villagers gathered and the sports ministers had planned an outreach event where the Gospel would be preached.  At the end of a wonderful time, one of our trained sports ministry leaders preached the Gospel and OVER 40 PEOPLE repented of their sins and surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!  Praise God!  The church leaders were all in awe and they said, “Wow! This is a powerful evangelistic and church outreach tool!”  That is the goal and now the churches are all excited in that region to use sport as a platform for proclamation of the greatness of Jesus.
Coach Clement preaching the Gospel and many came to faith
Packing up and heading back to Malawi on October 28
Well…we are almost fully packed with all 13 of our bags and we are leaving on Monday morning to fly from SFO-NYC-South Africa-Malawi.  It will be a long journey of over 42 hours of travel (26 in the air).  We are so excited to get back home to Malawi and continue in the ministry that God has clearly called us to.  It won’t be easy saying goodbye to family and friends this weekend but we are gonna spend eternity with you all who love Christ. So…with this short lifetime, we are committed to making disciples of all nations and that brings us back to Malawi. 

Please pray that…
-All of our baggage would miraculously arrive with us in Malawi on Oct 30.
-God would protect our sweet 2 month old baby Ezekiel from Malaria as we enter Malawi in the high time for Malaria.
-For the kids to get some sleep on the LONG journey back to Malawi.
-We’d all continue to lean hard into Christ for our strength and joy in the midst of some pretty faith-testing times.
-The Holy Spirit would continue moving in power through this ministry in Malawi. 

Praises…
-Praise Jesus for the wonderful time He gave us in the USA over the summer up to now.  It couldn’t have gone much better. 
-Praise the Lord for a fruitful time of support raising as we are now at 100% for our living expenses and funding for the ministry is growing (thanks to many of you!).
-Praise God for a wonderful 10-day trip to southern Cali. We were so encouraged by many believers and churches.
-Praise Jesus that many young men and women are learning what it means to walk with Christ in the southern region of Malawi because their church is reaching out to them through sports ministry.