God works in many wonderful ways and we see evidence of this all around us. I have seen how He has allowed sicknesses to be healed, marriages to be restored and businesses to be blessed. People have been encouraged by God to start ministries or works which will benefit others; such as orphanages, hospitals, shelters and businesses.
We are trying to make the best of what we have. Very difficult. There are many flies and cockroaches. The ablution facilities are not good. There is a small outside building, one half a toilet (long drop), and the other a wash room. To go to the toilet we must squat over the hole in the floor. The smell is terrible and there are many large flies buzzing around. Large cockroaches crawl on our legs at the same time. The extreme heat does not help the situation.
Kathy and Erika are experiencing great difficulties with the babies and adverse conditions. There is no running water in the house or electricity. The girls have to do washing by hand and heat the water by making a fire. Ironing is done by means of a coal iron. I cannot school the kids because there is no space.
Despite these conditions we are trusting in the Lord. We understand that He is busy doing a work in each one of us. Although there is grumbling, we are praying for the Lord’s grace to change our hearts that we will not be like the Israelites and have to spend more time in the wilderness….”
The Lord had showed us to go and live together with the people. “It shall be the power of your testimony that will bring others to me”, said the Lord. This scripture was very strong in our hearts.
It was at this point our lives changed drastically, and God was really opening our eyes. “Write it down”, said the Lord, “for others to read”.
Some of the things we saw and felt made our own hearts turn upside down and at first we would not accept them. It is our prayer that God will touch your heart as we share some of these things with you.
This article is not being written for the sake of earning money. It is not being written with aspirations of us becoming famous authors. We are not appealing for funds through these words. We are not writing to criticize any person or organization. Christians in the days of the great persecution did not go about arguing over various aspects of God’s word, or about how certain ‘doctrines’ should be applied. No, deep in the Catacombs, their very lives were at stake because of their strong love for God. To lay down their lives was a great privilege, even for children to do so. There is no other reason for this article other than to bring others closer to God.
The church is asleep in the light and apathy reigns. One day, Jesus will return to collect His precious bride – what will He find? Will He find you and me speaking empty words or will He find a body of people unselfishly giving of themselves as they go quietly, but effectively about, doing the things He has asked of them?
Jesus will definitely return and will definitely find this group of people. The question is – Will you and I be in that group?
Many Christians, ourselves included, were brought up in a kind of ‘cotton wool’ Christianity where everything is filled with a worldly happiness and we rely on others in the body for our relationship with God to be made stronger.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”, the second commandment, which Jesus said is like the first. To us we had come to live amongst people who had been given generally a sound up bringing in the word of God. Malawi has enjoyed Christian evangelism since the days of David Livingstone and consequently people sharing the word of God are accepted freely in most areas.
Since the time of the Federation, most Malawians have perceived white people to be wealthy and sadly, the churches and missionaries who have evangelized here, have to a large degree, continued to bring proof of that belief. The Lord showed us this in our early days and that we had to do everything that our hosts did in order to show how the true love of Christ could work. It was not just a case of flying in on a luxury airline, attending or organizing a few conferences, then ‘jetting’ back out again. Yes, God uses those kinds of circumstances, but He would desire us to go much further. He would desire that we nurture those with whom we share His word.
We could see that much foreign currency had been brought into this country over the past years by the churches. Much of that had been spent on the expenses of church personnel and buildings. How much had been effectively used to preach the Gospel?
The perception of the average Malawian is that it is easy for those who preach the Gospel to do the things of God because they are rich (materially). They have large cars, live in up market areas of the big cities and earn monthly salaries.
When we live with people and share the same challenges, the truth begins to come out. It makes a difference to live with someone, as opposed to visit for a season.
We saw that ‘Churches’ had sprung up over the whole land. Men had followed the ‘calling’ as a means of income because poverty is so great. Often we had heard it mentioned that the ‘Pastor’ is the easiest man to find in the village because he has a brick and mortar house as opposed to the other mud and grass houses of the people. They had met with doctrinal differences and broken away from registered organizations, forming their own churches.
“….We have met Joseph, brother of Timothy (who was at the mission in SA with us). He knows of the Lord but does not know him. Frank is a pastor who did a correspondence course from Living Waters church in R.S.A. David has been supporting him for the last two months. We are trying to discern who the body is.
If we have a sound relationship with God then we will feed off His living waters and that will keep us away from sin.
Mission Malawi is a bi-monthly series and will be published every second week until the diary ends.
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If we were perfect in God’s eyes, would we have need for Him in our lives? I think not. If we had all our physical needs met daily, would we call out to Him for help? I think not. If all our emotional relationships were running smoothly, would we be crying on God’s shoulder? I think not.
28. 01. 94
Three weeks ago, before we left Johannesburg, we were still wondering if the Lord wanted us to go without any funds. No funds had become available to us during our three and a half month stay in Johannesburg, (specifically for our Malawi trip). During our prayer times, the Lord showed us not to concern ourselves, but that we were to take with us all the money we would receive in the last few days of our stay in Johannesburg. We received the Uno car which we had given in to the Mission some 20 months ago and told to sell it. With the money received, we were to buy a Notebook computer and take the balance of the money with us for our trip. The car was sold (cash sale). A dear brother came and said the Lord had laid it on his heart to give us R10000.00 for our trip. I sent R7000.00 to the mission in Nottingham Road, and so all in all we were able to take with us R2000.00 in cash plus R9000.00 in traveler’s cheques.
At first glance, the situations in the world around us do not seem to be very encouraging. The reason is, that we see things according to our own understandings. Our ‘measuring’ system is the nature which we received from Adam. This nature causes us to principally focus on self-centeredness. When things around us do not go according to how we think they should, we become frustrated and angry. Have you seen a young child’s reaction when they don’t get their own way? One could easily ask the question, “Who taught them how to behave like that?” Nobody had to teach them that behavior, they do it naturally out of their human (Adam) nature. In fact we, as adults, react in a very similar way except we have learned over time to rant from within and disguise it, rather than rant from without!
I sometimes wonder if we really understand the full impact of this nature which we were born with. It is a nature that is at enmity with God. It is a nature that automatically draws us to do things that do not please God. This nature cannot mix with God. This nature keeps us away from God because every thought and intention is based in self centeredness. We are incapable of feeling true compassion for those around us because the nature of humankind doesn’t know what true compassion is.
Can you imagine a magnet on a table surrounded by iron filings? The magnet will attract the metal because that’s its nature – it is there to attract metal. Have you noticed that the sun rises and sets each day, the seasons change and animals go about feeding themselves and procreating automatically? Nobody has to tell nature what to do. It goes through the motions in response to the characteristics embedded in it.
It is the same with our human nature. It automatically attracts the things which do not please God. We don’t have to think twice about going toward sin or missing the mark with God – it will happen naturally – know what I’m talking about?
We cannot put a ‘band aid’ on our human nature to repair the things that we think are not right. The Lord told Ezekiel that He would take out his heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh . This is what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. He took our old nature (which we inherited from Adam) and buried it so that we would no longer be slaves to it. He did this once and did it for everyone. Yes – He died on the cross to take away our sins BUT He also took our old natures away!
When it came to prayer, as a new Christian, I read the scripture that spoke of asking for anything in Jesus name and I would receive it. Many times I prayed (in Jesus name) for things and situations and found that the Lord didn’t answer to my preference.
Eventually I discovered that ‘In Jesus name’ meant in the character of Jesus. After all, if I represented my country at a particular event, it would be expected of me to behave in a way that is characteristic of my country. If I go to a government dept. and represent my company, which has a very good name at that dept., I will be treated with a certain respect because of behaving in the character of the testimony of the company I represent.
In the same way, if we are praying from the base of our human nature, then we are praying from a place of enmity with God. It is little wonder that our prayers are not answered according to what we want. We need to be praying out of our new nature – the nature which is the character of Jesus. Prayers can then be answered because they are prayed out of the character of Jesus.
Paul shows us that we need to ‘work out’ our salvation every day. As each day goes by, the Lord uses our situations to highlight parts of our old natures that don’t please him. Ask Him for ‘eyes’ to see these characteristics and then have the strength to pray for change in our lives. Gradually the ‘old nature’ will die and we will walk more in the character of Jesus – in our new nature! It is in that place that we will experience true freed
From: “time with the Master…….
It was about 4:30am when we left the small farming community in Zimbabwe. This had been our three week stop over point where we had been making final preparations for our long awaited stay in the unknown ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi.
The rain was pouring down in sheets, lashing the windscreen of the overloaded Combi and small trailer. The road, or excuse for one, was just mud and it was nearly impossible to see any pot holes. It was unusual to encounter a storm of that strength so early in the African morning. We could see the evil one was already busy trying to hamper our first missionary journey.
It was now four months since we had left our ‘home’ of the past 18 months, a small, little known mission station in the Natal Midlands town of Nottingham Rd in South Africa. We had lived there with others who had laid down their lives to serve the Lord, after leaving our Johannesburg house and shares in a successful young plastics company. The Lord had touched our hearts so powerfully over a period of about two years, that we felt we needed to sell all that we owned and follow the Lord full time – quite a decision to make for a young family, consisting of three young children, (and two to be born in the future!).
Most people, including our own families could not understand the new path we had chosen. Some said it wasn’t necessary to follow the Lord in such a ‘strict’ way. It was indeed becoming increasingly difficult to explain why we had in fact, chosen this path. It is a well known fact that our salvation is a free gift from God and that there is nothing we can do to ‘earn’ this most precious commodity. Along with our salvation comes a certain spiritual sight (awareness) of God, our sinful nature and of course, the evil one.
As many brethren know, it is very hard to share God with those who have not been granted this wonderful ‘sight’ and unless the spirit is working in that particular situation, it normally ends up in bitter confrontations or plain “boring” conversation. On many occasions, I found the words that I was sharing with non believers, sounded (felt) like, cotton wool coming out of my mouth. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Trying to explain what we were doing often ended up complicating the situation even more, leaving us with red faces; in these times our God taught us lessons in humility.
The way in which God had touched our hearts was quite amazing. We agree now, that had we known in the beginning, what we have experienced over the last two years, we would not have ‘ventured’ out. So wonderful are Gods ways, He never gave us a ‘preview’ of ‘forthcoming’ attractions, but gradually changed us as we adapted, (by His grace), to certain situations. He has changed us so much that today we readily accept situations which we would never have believed possible for us to endure. Not by our strength, but by Gods power alone.
He never led us to a formal Bible College but simply said, “I will be your teacher and everyday situations will be the classroom”. He sent us to a precious brother who had already completed 14 years at this ‘school’ and it was him who God chose to be our ‘Elijah’.
Life continued at the mission for about eighteen months. Daily we were confronted with real life situations as we went about our chores which ranged from garden work to semi-skilled work
with our hands, making various wooden crafts for sale to generate funds for the needs of all at the mission.
Anyone who has lived a communal life will know the challenges involved in this way of living, especially for a young family from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg, used to their own way of life. By Gods grace, we had decided to lay our lives down for the Lord and follow Him with all we could. We realised that Jesus had done the same for us, so could we expect to do anything less in return? The day we decided, (by His power), to follow Him we no longer had any rights.
We were totally in His hands and believed with all our hearts that whatever happened to us from that day onwards, was planned and allowed by God for our good, to mould and shape us for His purpose alone. As we discovered, very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ or really have a deep understanding of what Jesus meant when He said, “….for My sake.
It is not a comfortable thought to realise that you have lost your life, but when we receive ‘sight’ of where the journey ends, we are comforted by His great love and awesome wonder, and soon see that which we have ‘lost’ is but darkness and sadness without hope and it’s amazing how we try to hold on to it!
As our relationship with the Lord deepened, we began to see things in a very different light. The times of criticizing others and complaining about our situation, became times of being exposed to areas in our hearts which we had never seen before under ‘normal’ conditions, when WE were in control. It was hard to accept that there were still parts of our hearts which were very self-centered and filled with anger and bitterness of past situations in our lives. We were coming face to face with these things day by day as God worked to ‘clean out’ our hearts. We could sympathize with Isaiah when he said, “…because I am a man of unclean lips….for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” .
I remember two occasions in particular when my wife and I sat down together and wept like two of our own little children, wondering what on earth we had done. We felt trapped, in a small box with absolutely no way out. Going forward into the unknown without any calculated guesses, seemed sure disaster and going back into the world where we had just come from, would not mean that we would go to Hell, but what if this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we passed it up?
I said to my wife Kathy, “Where do we go for help? There is no doctor on this earth that can help us now; they will think we are crazy, although we know we are quite sane. There are very few Pastors/Reverends who have experienced a ‘forsaking all’ and following kind of a walk themselves, so it would be difficult to get advice from them.” As we wept on the lawn overlooking the picturesque Drakensburg mountains, a scripture came to mind, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
From that time, we felt Gods sovereign strength in each situation that came to us. Sometimes things seemed impossible, but we had the strength to ask God, “Lord, what are you teaching us in this situation?” It really helped us to go on. We saw change in our lives, by Gods grace.
One early morning, during communal prayer time, the Lord spoke to us through a precious brother and said we would soon be going out from the mission to begin to fulfill the great commission. The Lord never said at that time where we would be going or how, but that we should pray together with another young married couple who had also been with us at the mission.
We began our first step of obedience and prayed every day for one hour or so, together. Bits and pieces of information started coming in and all had to be carefully and prayerfully thought through as the ‘flesh’ (our will), played quite an important part in making it’s ‘opinions’ known.
I had kept contact with a brother from Malawi whom the Lord brought me together with at a conference in Kwa-Zulu Natal at a large mission station, and I wrote telling him how the Lord was sending us out but that we weren’t sure where we were going. Not long afterwards, I received a letter back from him asking us to please pray about coming to Malawi because he had received a word in 1989 saying that people would come from far to teach him. We were amazed. Our feelings were mixed. Excitement at the thought of now actually going out and doing for real all that which God had been teaching us through other brethren, and fear of the unknown.
We subsequently received other confirmations of going to Malawi through other people as we continued our daily prayers. Few knew the real truth of what was going on because we did not want to hinder God speaking through others to us. It was obviously very important that we knew that this was definitely God speaking to us.
An additional word followed saying that we should spend a short season of about three months in Johannesburg to fellowship and share with some wonderful brothers and sisters who came to know the Lord at the same time as us. So in October 1993, we left Nottingham Rd for Johannesburg. Another chapter in our spiritual walk had closed, and as sad as we were to leave the mission, we were very grateful to all the precious brothers and sisters whom God had used there to mould and shape us. There was little room to take anything because of limited space in the Combi and trailer. Four adults and five children didn’t leave a lot of room for much luggage. The Lord showed us to leave all our remaining household things apart from some bedding, an iron and kettle. We would be leaving and expecting not to return unless God specifically showed us to.
Our time in Johannesburg was a great blessing as we were able to share our testimony with others. We lived with a very precious family whom we were able to share much with and whom God used in return to bless us in so many ways.
Living together with other people can be very difficult, but with the help of the Lord, together with brethren that really desire to come closer to God, it can be a most wonderful and deep spiritual experience. Such was our season in Johannesburg, and we truly thank God for the opportunity.
Our financial resources were very limited, and three weeks before embarking for Malawi, we had no money for the trip! The Lord provided through two brothers and we received some money from the sale of one of the cars we had given to the mission. “…time with the Master”
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“Why is this happening to me; how does a loving God allow this to happen”?
As a Christian, how do I relate to those who employ me, those whom I employ and those with whom I do business?
Today more than ever there seems to be a widespread feeling that the Spirit of the Lord is showing us that our walk with Him needs to be more practical. Gone are the days where believers hear the word of God and are unable to practically see it outworking in their lives, as fruit of what they have heard. One of the reasons for this is….’My people perish for a lack of knowledge…”
In the world today communication is very important. In worldly terms – success is borne out of effective communication.
We learn communication from teaching institutions but primarily from our upbringing. This would not only be the spoken word but body language as well. We sometimes take these skills for granted – spare a thought for the visually and hearing impaired – how would our lives change if suddenly we could no longer see or hear?
Whenever there is success in a sports team, a business or a marriage, we will find effective communication.
If we communicate better, this results in improved relationships and improved relationships mean unity. Where there is unity there is strength.
Stop to look at ourselves for a moment – how are we communicating in our present circumstances? (In our work and personal relationships). Remember communication is not only the spoken word but body language as well!
We use communication for many different purposes. One such use is to find out information. In other words when we meet people for the first time we try to find out more about them – we ask questions. To those we already know, we ask deeper questions to find out more about them and we will also share some of our opinions with them – this, so they will know more about us and we them. In this way we form meaningful relationships. Lastly, where we have emotional feelings for someone we tell them as much (“I love you”) and we get to know them more intimately as we learn to trust them with our emotions.
Looking at the spiritual world, God wants us to work in a similar manner. (Psa 105:4; Pro 8:17; Psa 46:10 and Jer 24:7). He gives us the tool of prayer to effectively communicate with Him. This truly is a gift from Him. Just as salvation is a gift from Him (we did nothing to earn it!) so prayer is also a gift from him.
Prayer is really nothing more than speaking to God. It is a tool which we can use to strengthen our relationship with Him.
We need to spend time with God in order to know Him better. This means reading His word and also fellowshipping with other believers. In our private times with the Lord, and during our day-to-day living , we must feel free to ask God questions in order to find out more about Him. We should also tell God how we feel about things – intimately. Jesus said, “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He (the Holy Spirit) will take of mine and will announce it to you.
Some would say…. “Why would such an almighty God want to hear these things from me? He has many more important things to work on…..” Also the scripture says that God knows all our needs before we even pray them, so why ask Him? The answer is simple…. God loves to hear from us and loves to communicate with us. His love for us is so great that He wants to be in constant communion with us. We know from our own experience, when you love someone you want to be with them – all the time!
Find time to commune with God and ask Him about the things that perplex you. Tell Him how you feel about some of the current situations in your life and tell Him about the things in the deepest part of your heart. It’s good to tell Him you love Him.
All these things will draw us into a deeper place with God and help us to better communicate with Him. Be like the Psalmist David, when he said, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Better communication with God means we come to know Him better and therefore we are able to hear His Spirit within us. The more effectively we hear His Spirit, the more useful we can be in His service.
From: “time with the Master…”