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 16, 2016

When Losing Is Winning

In 2012, I wrote an blog called “When Winning is Losing.”  The post was about a time when a few of the boys of Lyzee United Football Club lost their cool in a tournament and ended up getting into a fight which resulted in quite a scene where many other teams saw a very bad example of the Gospel.  We ended up going back to our house and talking for a long time about how winning the game at all cost really is not worth it.   Some of the boys stood up to apologize and reconcile with one another.  It was a beautiful moment but a very hard lesson.
Lyzee United FC in 2012

 Today I have another story from the same group of boys who we have poured our lives into over the past 5 ½ years.   In that time, the Holy Spirit has moved mightily and has really transformed several of the boys of Lyzee United.  Now, they are no longer little 10-12 year olds.  They are young men who are 16-18 years old and who know how to work hard, love their neighbor and honor the King.  From the beginning, our team verse on our logo is 1 Peter 2:17 which says “Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood. Fear God.  Honor the King.” Here is a picture of our logo which reads, “Yesu Ndi Mfumu” (Jesus is King).
Lyzee United Football Club logo

These boys are our family.  We’ve lost some along the way to sickness and death but the Lord has been near and has grown up an exceptional core of young men who truly love Him and care more about the kingdom of God than the trifles of this world.  Many of you have knelt on behalf of the salvation of these young men and we have seen it with our eyes!  Jesus has revealed himself to many of them and beckoned them to come and join his family. 

Teaching the boys from God's Word in 2012
On Saturday, we entered into a big soccer tournament in Malawi for Under-21s.  Many of the nation’s best players were there and ready to wipe the floor with us.  There was a good bit of trash-talk coming from several of the other teams as we arrived and they saw how small we were.  Like I’d mentioned before, the boys are ages 16-18, so we were certainly the youngest team.  But our boys beamed with confidence in Christ and our captain led the way with setting our minds on things above, “No matter what happens, let’s represent Jesus today guys!  Win or lose, we shake the hands of our opponents and treat them with utmost respect.”    I reminded the boys that many many non-believers were watching us hoping for us to fail.   But God had other plans. 
The boys on Saturday
The first whistle sounded and the boys immediately took complete control of the game.  They have been playing with each other for more than 5 years so they play as one body.  It’s beautiful to watch.   Especially when they are so much smaller than the other teams.   We easily won our first match 3-1 and so went the rest of the matches as we cruised through the group stages into the quarterfinals.  By this time, many people were coming up to me as the coach and saying, ”Wow! Who are these little guys and where do you come from and why do you do what you do?”    I had 4 opportunities to share the WHY we do what we do in the first few games.   The boys were worshipping Christ on the pitch and I was able to explain and testify to their attitudes and work ethic and point all those who questioned to the glory of Jesus Christ!   “We love Jesus, we love football, and we love you.”   This was our slogan as coaches for the day as we interacted with many who asked.  It was the most God-honoring display of soccer (football) that I’ve ever been a part of. 

We easily won our quarterfinal game and tightly won the semifinal game, which put us into the final.  Everyone gathered to watch our boys fight hard in the final.  We have not lost 1 game all year so you can imagine how much the boys tried to win this one.  Blood, mud, sweat and tears were all present.  I’ve never seen them so exhausted.   The game finished 0-0 and we ended up losing in penalty kicks. I could see the agony in the boy’s faces.  They were drained emotionally, physically, BUT NOT spiritually!  Though we lost, this was our moment.

In every other tournament that I’ve seen in Malawi, the losing team always fights the ref or makes a huge scene to try to change the end result.  But, our boys went out of the way to shake the hands of the other players.  They realized that, more than we want to win games, we want to win souls.  They shook the hands of the champions and then took the second place trophy with grace and heads held high.   I cannot tell you how much I wanted to explode with joy as I watched their maturity and heard the things they were saying.  So so much glory being directed away from themselves and onto Jesus.   This is the goal of what we do.  Though we lost, we won!  And I’m actually thankful that we lost because this was a God-given opportunity for the boys to allow the Holy Spirit to work through them.  After everything, their disappointment faded quickly and we got into the minibus and this is what happened…
            Video:  Yenda Yenda Yenda ndi Yesu (Walk, Walk, walk with Jesus!)
 
The whole way home we celebrated!  God has a way of meeting us when we press into him in difficult times.   It was the sweetest celebration I’ve ever experienced in sports and it was straight worship.   Absolute Holy Spirit-given joy in the midst of loss.  Such an amazing day that I wanted to share with you.   I don’t think many of the boys saw me, but as they sang I wept with tears of joy to the Lord listening to their worship.  Worship that did not align with their circumstances and the outcome of the tournament but worship that flowed out from hearts that are full of the love and joy of the Father.    In Jesus Christ, even when we lose we can win because He has already won the battle for us on the cross.  He shed his blood for these boys and I got the blessing of hearing their praises to the King who came to us in the manger.

There is 220 active church-centered sports ministry teams like Lyzee United all over Malawi who are intentionally and effectively preaching Christ and making disciples.    We are praying that God would raise up more laborers for the harvest because the fields are ripe!   Will you join us in this?  Please let us know if you will commit to praying for Sports Friends Malawi ministry in 2017.

Here is the link to giving online if God leads you to support this ministry financially:
https://www.simusa.org/give?id=096754-091&dsg=Project

May the Lord continue to bless you with more of Himself over this Christmas holiday!  May Jesus be central in your home!

Love, 

Luke, Becca, Lyzee and Zeke Voight

Sunday, July 3, 2016

5 Years!

Five years in Malawi!
Psalm 126:4 says, “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!”  Then, just a few verses later it says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

This verse pretty much sums it up for us.  With many tears on June 27, 2011, we left friends, family and everything normal to us and set out with many bags full of stuff and hearts full of the Gospel, in hopes that Christ might make His name famous through us here in Malawi.   
Lyzee & Becca on June 29, 2011
It has not been a cakewalk by any means.  The tears have been many.  The struggles great.  But the Lord has been profoundly faithful to our family.  We just wanted to take a moment to thank God for a few things in this email:

1.  Glory be to Christ for what He has accomplished here in Malawi in the past 5 years!  It is remarkable to see how many young people have come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Many many “sheaves” of young people have been introduced to Jesus.  This is the reason we have come here to Malawi and we praise God for accomplishing the work that only He can do in the hearts of many people who once were lost but now are found.  They once were orphans and aliens to God but now cry out to Him “Abba Father!”   We serve a mighty Savior who is alive and works miracles in the hearts of sinful human beings. 
Leaders who are brining many into the Kingdom
2. Secondly, our hearts are full of deep gratitude for you.  You and many others have sacrificed time, money, and you have begged God to move in power.  He has heard you and has done it in His own way.  Painting a tapestry of redemption all over Malawi in a way that came at great cost for many but continues to grow.  Thank you!  Thank you for standing with us.  Thank you for carrying us in prayer when we were ready to throw in the towel.  Thank you for sending emails and notes and care packages to us when we needed encouragement most.  God, in His sovereignty, has used His global Body to do something magnificent here in Malawi and we feel deeply humbled that He graciously appointed us to be the ones wearing the shoes  (Eph.6) that move to share the Gospel in distant lands.  But, we know those Gospel-bringing shoes would quickly grow old, tired and wear out if there were not people mending them and caring for them.  You are the ones who have cared for us with the power of God and we thank you.   Thank you for your faithfulness.  God sees your hearts and has multiplied your generosity into many souls who are now calling on the name of the Lord! 

3.  Praise God for the incredible people He has surrounded us here in Malawi to work with.  To think that he connected us with Pastor Fostance and his wife Esnart on the first week that we arrived here five years ago is nothing but amazing.  We know that your hand was orchestrating all of that, Jesus, and we thank you oh Lord!
Luke & Pastor Fostance
With Fostance, Esnart and their girls yesterday
Also, to think of the group that God has raised up whom we trained all last week at the first big training of trainers for Sports Friends Malawi.  Wow!  18 new men and women who are on fire Jesus and the idea of using sports as a platform of making disciples.  Now, they are going and training many others.   To hear their testimonies last week of how the Holy Spirit has moved through them to bring lost people to Christ brought many tears to our eyes. 
As Psalm 126 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy!”   Living in the poorest country in the world has been very taxing on us.  We feel 10 years older than we should at times.  But the Lord continues to overflow our cup with His joy as we see the fruit that He is producing by taking off the blinders from lost people's spiritual eyes.  Realities of living here have introduced us to great heartache.  A friend of our once said, “When you love greatly, you hurt badly.”  We have grown close to many people here and God has done it all.  He has opened up our heart and lives to realities of this world that literally are horrific.  But as we have grown to love the people who are in the midst of great hardships.

The tears are many but the joy is greater.  The joy of the Lord is greater! The joy of salvation is greater! The joy of the reality that hundreds of people have received redemption through the blood of Christ because a trained sports ministry coach came to them and loved them and shared the message of Jesus with them is greater!   Our pain is great, our tears are many, but with you and the Lord by our side, we praise God that we shout for joy to Christ our Savior!  Our Redeemer Lives!  He is worthy! 

We love you guys.   5 years you have been a part of this work of God.  Thank you.  Thank you!  May all the praise go directly to Jesus! 

Love,


Luke, Becca, Lyzee and Zeke

Monday, May 23, 2016

Parents thought it led to prostitution but she used it for proclamation

In many places in Malawi, sports are viewed by church leaders as evil.  These leaders teach that sports should have no part in Christian life. Many would never even dream of using sports as a ministry tool. But we thank God that now many Malawian churches are seeing that they have been wasting their time and breath trying to avoid sports and preaching against any involvement in them. Now, hundreds of local churches are experiencing this powerful evangelism and discipleship ministry platform.
One of our netball coaches recently told her story. Doris (we've changed her original name for security reasons) was raised in a family that was against her participating in netball. They loved God and had always been taught that sports and the things of the Lord cannot be mixed. 
Then Sports Friends Malawi ministry was introduced to her local church. During this time, Doris stopped playing netball because it was something that brought a great deal of disunity between her and her parents.                                   
Parents in her area of Malawi were very much of the opinion that allowing a girl to participate in sports, such as netball and other competing sports, resulted in losing that child. The belief behind this was that she would become a prostitute.  As good parents, Doris’s folks were guiding her and preventing her from becoming lost. Doris said, “As it was written in the time of ignorance, God oversaw things,' I’m not putting blame on anyone but rather thanking God that, through Sports Friends Malawi, my parents got the right information and now allow me to participate in sports.” As a result, she is one of the best netball coaches in this ministry and leads her local church-centered netball team well for the glory of the Lord Jesus.
The kids love Doris and the ministry she has brought to her village. Several of the girls she coaches recently have put their trust in Christ and are now part of the local church. Her parents are also happy now because she is not just useful to her family but also to the community and the kingdom of God.  This can be seen by the many lives that have been transformed for all of eternity.
All of this reminds Doris of the scripture that says, “The stone rejected by a builder became one day a chief cornerstone.” Sports, which was considered useless and leading to bad behaviour, today is seen as a great tool to help with life change and Gospel impact.  Praise the Lord! Doris now has become a powerful tool in the hands of God!  She has had a magnificent impact on her family, many have been introduced to Jesus Christ in her community, and the Lord is raising her up to be a mighty woman of God who is used in profound ways in and through her church. The Lord is amazing in her life!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why Are We Here?


On one of our evening walks
acting goofy with cousin Ella
Prior to our return to Malawi, Lyzee was having a hard time.  She kept asking the question: “Why do we have to go?  I love it here in the USA. I love Malawi, but I love it here too.”   Since we’ve arrived, she’s had a tough time of adjusting back to life and school in Malawi. She frequently has asked Becca and me, “Why are we here?”  School is very difficult and she’s not sleeping well. But more than that, Lyzee misses her cousin Ella.  Her best buddy in all the world.   Also, she often talks of how much she misses her Grammy and many others who love her so well in the USA.  She has expressed this many times to us since arriving back in Malawi and it’s been really hard for Becca and me to shepherd her little heart through these deep waters.  Despite the clear explanations from Becca and me, it’s like something was blocking her mind from understanding that question in her little mind of “Why?”  But last Sunday, Lyzee got some answers.
 
The power was out on an exceptionally warm afternoon.  As we melted in the house on our day of rest, Becca said, “Hey, I think there’s a buy one get one pizza deal at a nearby restaurant.”  Since we had no way of cooking our thawed meat, Lyzee and I hopped into the minibus and drove into town to grab the pizza.

After getting the pizzas and a few samosas (fried triangles filled with meat and veggies), Lyzee and I started our journey back home.   As we drove, Lyzee spotted a crippled man on the side of the road begging.  She said, “Why don’t we give him a samosa, dad?”   In my flesh, I thought, “How inconvenient. But I guess I will stop and give the guy a samosa and then we can be on our way.”  Totally horrible, huh?  If I’m transparent, that’s exactly what went through my head as my little Blondie had compassion on this man.  But we have been praying that the Lord would give us new opportunities and open our eyes to those in need of help and those in need of Him.  And at that moment of my flesh arising in me, the Spirit of God took over and the Lord answered my prayers.  So, I pulled off the road and Lyzee and I brought the guy a samosa.  We had no clue what was about to happen.

With the girls netball team that Becca leads in our backyard
As I handed the man a samosa, the Lord completely melted my heart for this man and opened my mind to speak Chichewa like I’ve never spoken before.  I’ve been struggling with the language since returning, and this was clear that the words coming from my mouth were not my own.  Lyzee knows that usually I can get by pretty well with Chichewa, but this was something different.  Fluent Chichewa came as I talked with this man named James.  He explained to me that his 3-wheeler bike that he pedals with his hands doesn’t have breaks anymore and he almost crashed coming down a steep hill that very morning.  I understood him perfectly as he spoke quickly about his situation of extreme poverty.  The man depended on people giving him food and money.  He was hungry, dirty, and in need of some bike breaks.  He begged that I could just get him some cheap used breaks.  I never even learned some of the words that he was saying to me, but God opened my mind.  It was incredible.  This was God.  And my daughter got to see it happen!  God is so good! 

After about 20 minutes, the conversation came to a close and I made a plan to meet James the next morning outside a bike shop to get some new breaks. He was ecstatic.  Lyzee was very excited too.  I was nearly in tears from God’s goodness in my life.  Then, the three of us prayed together.  Again, the Lord opened my mind and enabled me to pray in Chichewa with James.  Praying is especially difficult for me in the past, but not this time! 

As we concluded our prayer time, I said, “Dzina la Yesu Khristu tipemphere, Amen.”  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.  But when I stopped praying, I realized that there was another man on his knees right behind us.  He was weeping.    I turned to him and asked him his name and this is what he said, “My name is Evance and I just have been watching this and listening to all this from over there and I want to know this Jesus you pray to.  I am a Muslim, but recently someone gave me a copy of the New Testament.  I’ve been reading it a lot. It is very interesting and now I see you doing these things and praying in Jesus’ name and I want to know Him.  Can you pray for me?  I want to know him.   Where should I read in this Bible to know him well?” 

Meet James
I stood amazed and shared with him about the greatest news in the world and how it is not me who helps James, but it is God in me, the hope of glory. I shared my testimony with Evance and shared how we all need to know Jesus personally.  He then said, “Ok, now I will go and read. But I want to be talking each week with you about what I read.   Where should I start reading?   Where did you start reading before you believed and were changed?”   I told him that I started in the book of John and we paged through his New Testament and found John.  I said, “This is where I began with an open heart saying, ‘God, if you are real, please show me who you are.’  And He did!  He showed me who He is through Jesus in this book of John.  It changed my life forever and I believe this is not coincidence that we are here today sharing this with you.  Read it my friend.  Read it. Believe and trust in Jesus Christ and you will be saved!”   We prayed and then Lyzee and I got back into the minibus to head home.  As I buckled her in, she said something that absolutely gave me more joy than anything has in quite some time.  With more excitement and happiness than I have ever seen from my girl, she looked over at me in the front seat of that minibus and said, “That’s why we are here, Daddy.  That’s why we are here.” 

Those words sunk deep to me, especially because she has been having such a hard time settling here. We have a good Father who cares for His children.  He cares for my little girl and He cares for James and Evance. 

Since this time, Lyzee has told many people about what God did on Sunday.  We continue to stop to see James and Evance.  Please pray for Lyzee, James, and Evance.  All three of them have very different problems that only the Savior of the world can address.  Our God is mighty to save!  Thank you for praying for us.  Thank you for supporting us! Thank you for being part of this!

Lyzee with Fostance's daughter Ruth
Oh yea! I met James the next day at the bike shop.  He had been waiting there since it opened at 8 AM, even though I told him 11:30 AM.  Because of your giving, I was able to get him brand spanking new tires and breaks.  I SO wish you could have seen his face as we brought out his new parts!  It was awesome.  The bike shop owner who is a Muslim man from the Middle East said, “Why are you doing this?”  Then God enabled me to share the Gospel with him and everyone in the bike shop.  He was not as open as Evance was, but who knows what God is doing?  My cup overflowed as I looked in my rear view mirror to see James’ smiling face.   Glory be to Christ!  He is worthy of your trust today.   Trust his Word and obey Him!  Maybe God has an Evance and a James who are waiting for you to come to them today.

It is sometimes in our smallest, most feeble acts of obedience to the leading of God’s Spirit that He does the greatest things.


Love you guys,

Luke, Becca, Lyzee & Zeke

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Lord Provides


“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”  - 1 Thessalonians 3:9

31K by December 31st:  100%!!!
Ongoing training December 29-January 2
We write to you with hearts filled with the joy of the Lord.  Our family has been deeply encouraged by many of you in the past month especially.  With great joy and thanks to God we wanted to inform you that we have reached our goal of 31K by Dec 31st!   Praise the Lord!  After checking the Thank you for praying, giving sacrificially and listening to the Spirit of God so that we can plan these key ministry trainings and camps in 2016.  We are so excited to see what our great Father will do in the next 12 months for His glory in Malawi! 



Ongoing Training from December 29-January 2
            

Urbana Missions Conference 2015
From December 26-January 1, Becca and I were filled up through the spiritually rich time at Urbana.  We served with our SIM family and the diverse and beautiful Body of Christ from all around the world.
SIM team at the Urbana Conference
            
with SIM International Director and his wife 
Although we were able to attend the main sessions, most of our time was in the SIM booth processing and praying with many students who the Lord was calling to Himself and into global mission.  The days were long and exhausting but the Lord really used this time to call hundreds into mission.  Praise God for calling workers into the harvest!

            The Lord Provides Calling for Mission!

Urbana 2015
Wonderful day of encouragement
On January 4th, I (Luke) preached the Sunday morning sermon at Grace Fellowship Church in Jackson, CA.  After the service, we had an incredibly encouraging time with over 100 of our closest friends and supporters from many churches at a send-off lunch. Thank you to all of you who came out for that day!  If you are interested in listening to the sermon, email me and we can get you the link.

The Lord Provides Himself for Us!
Lyzee & Zeke at Grammy & Papa's house for Christmas


What’s next?
-Please pray for us as we say our final farewells to our family and friends in California for the next few years and fly back to Chicago on Sunday.
-Praise the Lord for the amazing Ongoing Training that our brothers and sisters in Malawi had last week! 
-Please pray for us next week as we share about life and ministry in Malawi at our church in Wheaton on Sunday January 17.
-Praise God for His amazing provision for the ministry through His Body.  Thank you!
-Please pray for us as we prepare to leave for Thailand on January 21 for the Sports Friends Global Leaders Gathering.
Celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary at Urbana
Love you guys! 

Luke, Becca, Lyzee and Zeke Voight

Colossians 2:13-15
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”