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Malawi 2018

August 08 2018
August 08 2018
By

Our Malawi team has been back in the USA for just more than a week now.  We saw some of you Sunday and gave a partial update. How did our nearly 2-week trip to Malawi go? Well, I think all four of us (Myself, Caron Ward, Steve and JoAnn Hohenberger) will be processing it for a long time. That’s because it went remarkably well.

Even before we left for Africa, God was very merciful in the fundraising side of things. Our Malawi brothers wanted us once again to give bibles as gifts - this time to nearly 500 attendees instead of the 300 from last year. We were only able to give bibles last year because people gave so generously. So this year, we needed $6,400 OVER the planned budget for these Bibles. We were still a bit short in the last weeks before we left, and the cost of bibles went UP because our team bought all of the cheaper bibles in the area! God supplied what we needed, just in the nick of time.

Our two Equipping Leaders International partners in Malawi are Duncan Nyozani and Rabson Chilewa. They are warm, funny, hardworking, servant hearted men of God. These two pastors came to mean so much to me last year, and it was fun to see my three teammates fall in love with them as well.

The conferences were full. In Migowi (small town with many villages nearby) we hosted nearly 250 pastors, spouses, and church elders. The Marriage by Grace material was warmly received, and vigorous and probing questions were frequent. After our talk “The Gift of Sex” (taught in separate groups of men and women in Migowi), there are very frank and forthright questions about every aspect of marital intimacy that you can imagine. That was a first for all of us, and it was in a very different cultural setting than our own. Migowi was a fun and energetic time. That conference was Thursday through Saturday of our first week.

Sunday was church day and we got to see African village life on our way to and from the first church in which we preached. We saw women drawing water for both washing and drinking purposes from a small stream.

Monday was a long day of training with Migowi pastors called “Training of Trainers,” or TOT. After reviewing our talks with the local pastors, we headed north to the big city of Blantyre, Malawi. We arrived after dark, and there was no rest for the weary as our next conference started the next morning.

The first day at Blantyre was marked by a few troubles as things started much later than planned as attendees fought bad weather to arrive. Then, the catering company brought many fewer meals than had been purchased. It looked like we were not going to complete the four planned talks of the day. The local committee allowed us to go ahead and we finished later than planned, but stayed on schedule.

In ways that are hard to put in words, the conferences reflected their regions. Blantyre is a city and people dress differently and think differently. There were still vigorous questions and some of those were more of the nature of “How would you handle this problem I’m facing?” Once again, the material was well received. This time the “Gift of Sex” talk was given to everyone together in one room, with an entire hour of questions/answers afterward in gender separated groups. I don’t know what the women were saying, but this time they were much noisier than the men! We got lots of warm feedback for that presentation. Many of the women (in both places) felt the warmest sisterly affection for Caron and JoAnn and were so appreciative for their forthright and direct answers to questions.

We spend a good half day or so with the Blantyre ELI leadership team, most of whom have already lead ELI conferences in other places. We reviewed the talks with them and tackled many tough pastoral questions together. This team is excited to take ELI training as far as possible in Malawi.

One thing we learned and saw very clearly is the need for great training in “How to study the Bible.” For example, one church leader tried to defend easy divorce by quoting Esther 1 and the divorce of Ahasuerus (Xerxes in some translation) that freed him to marry the godly women Esther. Of course, Ahasuerus was a pagan, ungodly king. His actions are not commended in scripture, they are merely stated as a fact. Several comments in our time there demonstrated a lack of understanding of this basic principle of Bible study. ELI has some helpful tools for a future conference.

For me personally, things weren’t quite as new as for my teammates. I knew in part what to expect. But this year revealed more fully what challenges our friends there face. The practices of African tribal religions have intermixed with some Christian churches and their teaching. There is a binary way of thinking that poses every question as “Is this a sin, or not?” Proverbs teaches the principle of wisdom - some things are wise to do, others are not. Some things are wise in some situations, but not in another.

Thanks to you, Grace Church, for being our sending center. You prayed (about 150 total prayer team members), you gave, and you encouraged us. Thanks so much and God bless you all for your part in this work.

In Christ,

Don


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annonymous

August 17, 2018 10:25 AM

good


AnnieReeves

August 17, 2018 1:59 PM

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