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, February 9, 2013

Taking Big Strides Forward

We have been so incredibly blessed and amazed at what God has done in the last 19 months! When we first came to Malawi sport was something that many Churches here frowned upon and they would not encourage its people to be involved is something so secular. But now, it is being used to share the gospel and disciple children and young people every week! The first Basic Training in June 2012 was a huge encouragement to the ministry and us. From that training over 20 churches now have soccer and netball teams with the main focus of Gospel transformation and discipleship! That means over 600 kids are hearing the Word and then seeing it lived out by their coach each week. God is moving in a very real way and the church has taken the vision and is now running with the ministry.  We want to continue to keep in step with God as He keeps this movement going!

8 months ago at the Basic Training
Looking ahead, we have planned two huge leadership training seminars coming up in the next 7 weeks.  The first one will be from March 1-3 in the southern villages with over 40 leaders who we already trained the basics of sports ministry. These amazing men and women have started up ministries in their communities and, as a result, many are finding their identity in Jesus.  Now, they will be attending the next level of Sports Friends leadership training from March 1-3. These leaders are passionate about loving and reaching people with the Gospel and our goal is to continue to encourage, empower, and equip them to do the ministry even better pointing their eyes to Christ as their strength. 

At this training we’ll be going over three main topics: 1). The ‘Pray, Play, Say’ Bible study and application workshop; 2). The ‘Teachable Moments’ book which shows our coaches how to look for and make the most of the many Gospel and discipleship opportunities that arise in a sporting event. Lastly, we will have 7 one-hour coaching sessions where we will be spending a lot of time with these leaders teaching them how to be better coaches. This is important so that our sports ministers will be even more respected in their communities. It’s most essential that our leaders have a Kingdom perspective as they engage the people of their community with the Gospel but it is also imperative that these leaders have a good standing in their communities and can feel confident in their coaching abilities. 

Some of our leaders who live and serve in the villages
So..the 1st ever Sports Friends Malawi On-going training is three fold in purpose: How to study and then teach the Word of God, how to look and make the most of the many teachable moments that come up in sport, and then training our sports ministers how to successfully coach the sports team they are leading.  We pray that this will be a transformational and encouraging time for our leaders.  They have been doing such good work!  Many people have already come to faith in Christ through these leaders and we fully believe in Christ working through them! 

Would you pray for this upcoming training? We need the Spirit of God to move! We are helpless without Him!  The entire cost of the three-day training for over 40 leaders is just over $1,000 and for only $25 you can send one of these key leaders to be trained. If God leads you to give towards this training the easiest way to give is online.  Below is a link if you'd like to send one or more of our leaders to this key training. If you copy the link below and then paste it in your Internet browser bar it should take you right to the exact place where you could give. The project that we fund this training from is called ‘Sports Friends Malawi’ and the project number is MW 096754-091.   Please let us know if you have any trouble with the link below.

May the Lord continue to bless you with more of Himself!

They are being reached with the Gospel. This is the next generation of God's people in Malawi

We just were worshipping as a family and a song came on that God really spoke to our hearts. Simple words but this is our continual prayer for us, you and these leaders who we pour our lives into. 

"Here's my heart Lord, take it all. More than just words.  It's all yours.  Here's my heart Lord, take it all. Here's my life Lord, Yours! It is Yours!  I give it all, I give it all!  I will love like you Lord!" 
Song title: "I wanna give it all" by Cory Asbury.

For His fame in the nations,

Luke, Becca, and Lyzee Voight

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Vibrant Village Ministry: Great things are happening!

Matt Simonsen and the leaders from Nsanje Boma (way down south)

Greetings from very warm, sticky, and rainy Malawi!  This is Luke writing the intro and i wanted to inform you that we are doing much better now.  Lyzee, Becca, and myself have all recovered from a horrible month of health all January.  We praise God that we have many people like you who actually spend time praying for us.  Thank you!  This update is from our most recent trip to the southern villages where we have been investing much of our time and prayers.  God is doing incredible things!  Fostance wrote this update because he was the one who went with our dear friend Matt last weekend to follow up and see what God has been doing in the villages through sports ministry.  Enjoy the blog update from our dearest friend and co-laborer Pastor Fostance Mtolo.  This is what he found.....

Fostance:  We thank God for laying the foundation of church-centered sports ministry in Malawi!  From the beginning, it has been His living ministry and Sports Friends Malawi has been planted on the foundation of Jesus Christ and is now supplying light and truth like never before. Now we are seeing this ministry reaching out to the unreached with the gospel and making disciples through the platform of sports. So far, we have been primarily working with the Africa Evangelical Church in Malawi and we surely can see that our supreme God is in complete control and using the leaders we’ve trained to do great things for the kingdom.

Fostance, Becca, Lyzee, and Luke
Just last weekend, me (Fostance) and Matt Simonsen were very much encouraged by the sports ministry leaders in our trip down to Nsanje (southern villages of Malawi). Luke was supposed to be with us on this trip but was quite sick and in the hospital so we went without him.  What we found was truly a work of the Holy Spirit.  Both sports of netball and football (soccer) are being used on a daily basis in their local villages as a tool for discipleship and evangelism. They are meeting as often as two to three times each week to do sport ministry. The leaders we have trained are effectively reflecting a godly character to their community and Christ is using them powerfully to transform lives. Praise the Lord for this!   Even their pastors and church elders showed up at our meetings to testify how fruitful this ministry is and how the Kingdom of God is being multiplied.  We give all the credit to our loving Father for giving us these passionate leaders who are sacrificing themselves daily for the proclamation of the Gospel in their villages.  As we write this, we can't forget our many brothers and sisters who have invested much time in prayer for these leaders.  Thank you so much for this!  We will continue to follow-up, visit, encourage, and disciple these sports ministry leaders to let them know that they are not alone.

Matt and the sports ministry leaders from Nsanje, Bangula
This ministry is not merely a matter of talking about strategy, writing stories, coming up with cross-cultural ministry formulas and sports ministry training seminars.  No, it’s primarily about Jesus and introducing men, women, boys, and girls to Him and then helping them to know Christ and grow in their faith. In this last trip to Nsanje, we found that this vision has effectively been passed on to many of our leaders and this is their focus too!

Tengani leaders: Samu Jack is the 3rd one in from the right (black shirt)
One of our leaders from Nsanje is named Samu Jack.  He was one that we met with in September and he said, “My church does not support me in this and I can’t even get a ball. Should I just give up?”  We tried to encourage him but really did not think he would continue in the ministry.  But God had other plans. Soon after our meeting in September, Samu finally won the support of his church leadership and he began by going out and meeting with a few boys from his community on a consistent basis.   Samu comes from a remote village called Chitsa in central Nsanje.  This place is very hot and receives much sun to the point of being quite uncomfortable.  Over the past few months, Samu Jack has been used by the Holy Spirit and is now seeing God at work in his village football ministry. He continues to meet a few times each week with his team and every time he’s with them, he coaches them in football, equips them in the Word of God, and then mentors them to love the Lord and seek the Kingdom first in all things.  Now, because of his heart of love, many young people in Chitsa are coming to give their lives to Christ. Not only are they confessing Jesus as Lord but they are also joining the local Body of believers. The Church is expanding and the elders from his local church were there at the meeting to testify and praise God for this ministry.   Samu Jack and the elders reported that 12 young people have surrendered their lives to Christ through this sports ministry.  Wow! We understand that we should not focus too much on numbers but this is a reason to rejoice with our brother Samu because 12 individuals who were previously lost are now found by Christ. Glory be to God!  Will you join us in praising God for what He is doing in Nsanje through this Sports Friends Malawi ministry?

Netball in action!
Despite the great achievements and amazing developments these leaders constantly are facing a number of challenges. Please pray for these few things below:

1. Pray for them to get full prayer and financial support from their local church to make this ministry sustainable and reproducible.

2. Pray that they would not fail to communicate effectively to their church leaders. Any Gospel ministry must have good communication with the church leadership.

3. Pray that the 25 leaders would not be discouraged. They face continual attacks from the enemy and Satan is doing everything he can to stop this work of the Holy Spirit.

Nsanje, Bangula ladies netball community outreach
4. Lastly, please pray for the shortage of food in Malawi. On occasion, this is a big problem in Nsanje because you certainly can’t play sports if you have not eaten in 3 days. If one is weak because of hunger, it’s quite difficult for this person to take part in any activity happening. Just for your information, especially from November-March southern Malawi faces problems of hunger and floods. Even now some of our sports ministry leaders are in that situation so please don’t forget them in your prayers.

Matt. 5:8 - "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

For His Glory,