Mission Malawi – Chapter Five


Publisher’s Note:

I was unable to download original pictures from the Malawi collection, for technical reasons and hope to have this sorted by the next issue. Thank you for bearing with us in this challenge.

13.03.94

Building is still in progress and conditions seem even worse. There is sand and mud in the house constantly. The areas that have been painted are being messed up with muddy children’s hand and foot prints.

 Erika became ill, we took her to Nkhoma Mission hospital. She was kept there overnight and tested positive with Malaria. She was released the next day and seems fine although a bit weak.

 The girls don’t seem to be coping. Conditions are very difficult for them. It is not possible to put the babies down because the place is so dirty. Hein and I have to hold the little ones while the girls do the washing and ironing. We are therefore restricted.

 David has gone away for a week on business. We are now down to R4000.00 and still need about another R1000.00 of building to make the place ‘livable’. Our living expenses are running at about K1500 – K2000 per month. At this rate we have a maximum of 4 months money. This does not give us any capital to work with. I will be faced with very serious decisions to make soon now. Should we send the girls and children back? If we do it will use up the remaining funds and whoever stays will have to battle it out. Should we spend the R1000.00 and get the place livable?

 Do we spend some money on seed and poultry to try and generate funds and food? The seed and poultry will only realize benefits in four or five months time, so this does not help our current situation.

 We are continuing to pray for our situation and need to wait on the Lord. Doors don’t seem to be opening up for ways of receiving or making finance to support ourselves. We need to renew our holiday permit within the next few days. We could be out the country in the next week if it’s God’s will.

 Very interesting that as we witness robberies taking place within our area, people tell us to go and look for the stolen goods in the City market!

 Meetings are continuing without problems. David gave his first teaching in Chichewa. It was a real blessing to hear and brought tears to my eyes. I’m led to have a meeting tonight and inform Kathy, Erika and Hein of my thoughts. I pray to hear you speaking through them Father….”

 Money that we had brought with us was used to build accommodation for our families at the house of our host. Times became very trying as we were ministering every night and during the day. It was difficult to look after the needs of our wives and children and minister at the same time. As our funds drained to a close, we prayed for the Lord to open the doors for a ‘tent making’ operation in order to support ourselves while we were here.

Due to the extreme harshness of the situation it was decided that Erika should return back to Johannesburg with little Joshua. Nobody could be blamed under these circumstances. Her husband, Hein wanted very much to stay and continue the work of the Lord. He soon realized that his first place of ministry was to his wife and children…

21.03.94

“….I have told him that, as much as he wants to stay and continue the Lords work here, his place is with his wife. I know he feels as though he has failed God but I’m trying to encourage him that this is not true. It may be that the Lord is changing his direction and a time of humbling would come so that he can spend time teaching Erika. He should have a peace and go with the flow of things, trusting God….”

I could not explain to anyone the effect of Hein and Erika leaving. All the hours we had spent praying and discussing this trip together seemed to suddenly fade away – this was a devastating blow. It literally seemed as though the bottom had dropped out of our world. Should we assume this season of time was over or do we carry on?

The pain was too hard and the thought of continuing the diary left a sad taste in my mouth.

“….The thought of continuing this diary leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In light of what is taking place, it seems so inconsequential. Hein has left for S.A. and we are now alone, facing terrible anger in David’s house from Zelifa.

 I will miss them both very much, particularly Hein who has shared many close hours with me at the Master’s feet – a friend closer than a brother…”

ABOUT 7 MONTHS LATER….

“….After sharing with various people over this period of time, I have heard from the Lord. He desires that I keep “writing down” our experiences. So, with a renewed heart and spirit, it’s my prayer that the Lord will bless mightily, all those who read these thoughts and words. I pray too, for Gods anointing as I write. May only His words be written on these pages, to the glory of His Majestic name – not for our glory. Amen”…..

We tried a few business ideas but none seemed to work out. One day we decided to try making some food at home and selling it in the city center. This began to work and God blessed us with customers as we prayed daily.

He sent us men and women who wanted to learn the word. Some were paid a small wage and others only had their needs met through the business as opposed to earning a monthly wage. Each day this little food business provided a wonderful platform for teachings. The Word could be taught and then practically outworked at the same time.

From this business, many refugees and Hobos were also fed, not only with physical food but with spiritual food. In the months of operation, the business never made a material profit, (spiritually of course, it was different), but our needs were somehow always met. Thank you Lord. Each day we had enough to buy the next day’s materials for business and the balance was enough to buy food and toiletries for us all.

It was very difficult to live this way, not knowing each day what would happen. We had to eat the staple foods because that’s all we were able to purchase. God provided. We grumbled, (just like the children in the desert!) because we had to get used to a different standard of living. We quickly came to realize the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘our wants’. God will always provide His children with what they need, but often we misunderstand this because of our sour and selfish hearts.

“….As I left the young men packing away the restaurant, I went to the local PTC Supermarket to buy our requirements for tomorrow’s restaurant. I only have enough money to buy exactly what we need for the restaurant – not enough to buy some toiletries Kathy has asked me to get. On my way I meet Mr. Banda outside the supermarket. We greeted and he told me he had been looking for me since we had ministered in his house three weeks ago.

 He said the Lord had told him to give my family K20.00 and proceeded to give me the K20.00 note! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Thank you Lord I can buy some toiletries for the family – just at the right time!….”

We had no electricity and had to cook everything on open fires. Our washing had to be done by hand, or feet when we were tired. Ironing was done with a coal iron.

Life was certainly different and hard, but Gods grace was greater than the situation and He poured out His love and strength on us.

We drew very close to God and began to understand how He was working. Hein and Erika’s parting had left a great gap in our lives and we had little fellowship with other people of our culture for some months. Much was being revealed to us.

“….The situation in David’s house began to deteriorate very rapidly. With so many of us living together, sharing everything, it was understandable. David had asked me to disciple him closely in the same way that he had seen us being discipled at Nottingham Road. When I discussed how difficult it was, he still insisted we go ahead. I felt that Zelifa was not ready for this method of discipline, but again he assured me she was willing. She was becoming angrier by the day. Communications broke between us which made things very difficult in the house.

 Many of the things which we had brought with us from S.A. had been stolen. Every time we went out of the house, we came back to find that our personal belongings had been gone through. Wayne and Theresa-Anne’s school bags went missing. We were getting very angry and upset. God was really showing us how our hearts were set on the importance of worldly things. It’s not that we should be careless with the things God entrusts to our stewardship, but our hearts should not be tied to those things. This was the Lords way of showing us where our hearts truly were. After all, if we really believed they were Gods things, why were we getting angry?

 The way the Lord had showed us to live was difficult, especially across the culture barrier. As agreed, I was to control all the finances with Kathy controlling household purchases. This angered Zelifa even more, because she had no money of her own. We tried to share that this was part of the discipling process and God wanted her to be reliant on Him, not on money. A man came to the house one day asking for K400.00 owed to him by Zelifa. David knew nothing about this. It was discovered that certain secret businesses were going on without David’s permission or knowledge. We now could see why Zelifa’s anger was so great – her deceitful ways were being exposed!

Our money was now finished, except for the emergency reserve, which my lack of faith caused me to hold on to. However, the Lord was working in our hearts and we were slowly learning to trust more. I had tried many kinds of ways to earn money, but without capital in this third world economy, we were not having much success. We began to prepare traditional food at the house and then take it into town to sell. Our first day we made K65.00 and so decided to follow that path.

Frank, the Pastor asked if he and his family could help. I explained that we could not pay a salary because profit margins were too fine but that we would all share food bought with the profits. It was agreed and the business slowly grew. We took the Combi and trailer into town and set up a ‘mobile restaurant’ on a daily basis. As Zelifa’s anger grew we had to prepare the food at Frank’s house and then proceed to town at about 11 o’clock each day. I would help ‘set up shop’ and then leave the brothers and sisters to do the business.

 Some weeks before, when Hein was still here, we had visited the ‘Chinese Gardens’ in central Lilongwe (a kind of park), where we found a group of Malawians apparently praying. It sounded as though they were praying in tongues but we couldn’t be sure.

 We decided to join them and were immediately blessed. After praying they looked up and said, “Where did you come from”? We explained and they were shocked. It turned out that that was their last day of prayer in a fast seeking the Lord for His will to be done in their group. They asked if we could come and teach them on a regular basis, so we began doing this daily after dropping the ‘restaurant’ off. Timing was always perfect as, when ministry was finished, I picked up the restaurant. I took the ‘takings’ and went to buy the next day’s requirements for the restaurant. There was just enough left over to buy some of our needs, such as soap, meal, bread and milk.

 ‘….time with the Master’

To be continued – a bi-monthly series.

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