Here We Go!

matt and lisa 2016

In a little over a week, Lisa and I will embark on yet another exciting, but terrifying, adventure. As my “cousin-in-law” Chris said, “every adventure is about 30% terror!” Easy for him to say. Truthfully, there is little risk without the unknown, and there is little faith without massive possibility of failure.

We might be scared sometimes or a lot of the time, and fear can seem overwhelming, but we are forced to be courageous. “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer,” according to General George Patton.

What we do at this point still takes courage, but it’s not what you think. What we do is dwell in the secret place of the Most High. He is our fortress and in Him do we trust. We abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91).

The Next Step

We had the amazing privilege of serving for two years in Malawi, Southern Africa, with Pastor Chris Arman and his family. We grew daily, and we ministered and were ministered to by the wonderful people of  Malawi.

By the grace of God we are looking forward to our next step in ministry. We will be serving in church planting and discipleship ministry with Pastor Manny Harrison and his wife, Molly, in Dumaguete, Philippines.

We need and appreciate your prayers and always welcome your support in any way possible.

Much Love,

Matt and Lisa Sliva

Zambia Conference 2016 in Photos

Zamcon-Banner-2016

 

At this years Zamcon we witnessed a great move of God. The conference theme was Fervent Prayer Availing Grace. Pastor Scibelli, along with Pastors from seven different countries shared from the word of God. The highlight being the Saturday night session which included a graduation and a message on Brokenness by Pastor Scibelli. The churches of Southern Africa also came together to recognize and honor Pastor Scibelli for serving in his 30th year in Africa. Hope to see you next year!

lifting hands in worship south african worship

South African Worship Team

young man praising God zambia conference - worship team

Zambian Worship Team

woman worshiping Zamcon Worship crowd praising God Pastor Martin Coti

Pastor Martin Koti

Pastor Scibelli addressing graduates Pastor Emil - Congo

Pastor Emil Conan

recognizing 30 years in africa - Pastor Scibelli Pastor Daniel and friends

Pastor Daniel Timofte & Zimbabwe Guys

crowd dancing

“Mama” Carol Arman

Zambian Pastors

Pastor Paul, Martin & Enoch

Pastor Nemo and wife

Pastor Nemo & Lebo – Mozambique

Kitwe Church

Kitwe, Zambia Church

Malawi Church

Malawi Church

Malawi Conference 2016 in Photos

malawi conference banner

MalawiCon 2016 was another significant event marking the continuation of God’s faithfulness to the work in Malawi. Pastor Scibelli, the Missions Director of Greater Grace Church, was the guest speaker for the conference and graduation. Fifty students graduated with either a two year certificate or three year diploma. Over three-hundred people were in attendance, filling the hall to maximum capacity. It was a great celebration as we watched God promote many young men and women in the faith.







malawi 2016 - Pastor Scibelli
























Find out more about Malawi at armanmissions.com and mattsliva.com

The Barriers to Loving and to Being Loved

two-little-malawian-boys-walking

The Boy

The other day I walked into town. It’s about a 20 minute walk. I like to walk into town because it’s a chance to be quiet. I can pray or take some time to hash things out in my mind that have been troubling me. A couple minutes into my walk, a little boy came up next to me and started asking me for money. He could not have been more than 4 or 5 years old. His little shirt and shorts were filled with holes, and he didn’t have shoes. If he had bathed in the last two months, there was absolutely no evidence of that event. 

two little boys

The Battle

We see this sight almost everyday, so it was not new to me, and it was quite easy to give him my usual canned answer. It goes like this, “I don’t have any money,” “no kwacha,” “sorry, maybe next time,” and, eventually, the straight up “no.” My answer fell on deaf ears, mostly likely because he didn’t understand English, and he continued to follow me for the next 15 minutes. His persistence became clear, and it became obvious to me that he wasn’t going away.

At first I was annoyed with him, but what use was that? Then I started to get upset with God. After all, this was my quiet time, and I actually had something on my mind I was looking forward to thinking through. However, in my frustration, I started to get the sense that the boy was not a distraction to take my mind from God, but a little life sent across my path by God. My quietness and my thoughts were not as important.

storm drain

The Barriers

Just up ahead I knew there was a pretty large storm drain we would have to cross, and I promised myself if he could make it over that drain, I would take him into the town market and buy him a few pieces of fruit. We came to the drain. I was a few steps ahead of him, and I hopped over and continued to walk.

I looked back to see what he would do. As he approached the drain his eyes got wide, he shuffled his feet as he contemplated the imminent peril ahead and took the leap. At this point the little man inside of me was rooting for him wholeheartedly. He made it! I celebrated on the inside, took his hand, and led him to the market. He didn’t say another word. I gave him his reward, and he was on his way and me on mine.

For me the storm drain was a barrier to keep me from loving this boy, and for the boy the storm drain was a barrier to keep him from being loved. The simple lesson here is we have to see the value in ourselves that Christ sees before we can see the value in others. What was keeping me from loving this boy had nothing to do with the boy, but everything to do with me not believing that I was valuable enough to be loved.

Chinsapo Bible Study Photos

Pastor-Chris-Praying-chinsapo-bible-study

Every Thursday we have a Bible Study in one of the poorest areas of Lilongwe. This was the first time Lisa and I went. We walked about a third of the way. On foot you can really get a picture of the lives people live here. The surprising thing is you still find people laughing and kids playing. Its hard to translate what we see into words but hopefully these pictures will give you a better idea what is like to be here.

Kids are always interested to see us. A little wave or a thumbs up will make their day.

Sometimes they trim a tree and it comes back, sometimes its doesn’t.

Walking home.

Written On Our Hearts

WritingOnHand

words written on a hand

It’s not everyday a note is worthy of being written on your hand. I realize some people do this all the time, but for me it has to be something really worth keeping. Pastor Renaldo’s recent visit to us here in Malawi was worthy. He brought encouragement, wisdom, rebuke, and faith. I imagine his words touched each person in a personal way as I know they did me. We needed his visit as a church, and I needed his visit as friend, I know that for sure. It was something special to see the Holy Spirit use this man to not only write words on our hands, but to have words written on our hearts.

pastor renaldo preaching preaching words written on our hearts

Pastor Renaldo teaching in the Bible College

man taking notes on paper pastor renaldo preaching taking notes on hand leaders meeting outside the church

Encouraging the leaders of the church

Richard from the Church in Zimbabwe

Richard from the Church in Zimbabwe

Cedric from the Church in Zimbabwe

Cedric from the Church in Zimbabwe

Merry Christmas

MattAndLisa2015v2

This Christmas we have so much to be thankful for. The halls of our little green apartment are festively decked, but mostly this season we have been awakening to the reality of Emmanuel, God with us. He has made Himself known in the littlest of things, and in the things that seem too big, even for Him. We have sensed Him with us in our messy life, caring about it, and pouring out His grace and faithfulness over and over again. Being a missionary isn’t anything glamorous or profound, but we are finding it to be a gift, sometimes wrapped in less than appealing packaging, that is enriching us in ways we never imagined.

Thank you so very much for your prayers, love, and support, and Merry Christmas!














How to Deal with What We See

pool-01

As we move about the city, whether walking or riding, we see so many things. On the way to the church there is a little pool on the side of the road. Water collects there, either by way of a broken water main or because it’s just a natural place for water to collect. It’s dirty water no matter how you look at it.

Every time we pass that place we see soapy kids, still half-clothed, splashing around and bathing. We see women washing clothes, cars parked to be cleaned, plastic water bottles being rinsed out to be used again, buckets, and even wheel barrows, being filled. Basically anything you can imagine doing with water is being done there.

It’s an unforgettable sight.

 

Man carrying water in a wheel barrel

 

Coming back to Malawi this year I was once again overwhelmed by the sights. I thought that this year would be easier. I thought I would be ok with the “what we see” part of Malawi, but I was wrong. The imagery is still just as powerful as ever. I can’t remember how I dealt with it last year, but maybe that’s all part of the plan.

A few days ago I was surprised by something curious. In the midst of one of these very sights, I stopped for a minute because I sensed a feeling I had felt before. I asked myself, how is it possible that I have joy? Of all the times and places, how is it here and now that I find my heart filled with joy? I think I’m learning that I don’t have to be happy with what I see in order to experience joy.

II Corinthians 6:10 says, “As sorrowful, yet always always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.”

Ministering to all aspects of peoples’ lives is the most humbling experience of my life. I certainly don’t have any strength to be here, but the joy of the Lord has become my strength. Everyday we see the poorest people we have ever seen, but joy lets us see these very poor people as possessing all things.

PHOTOS: Walking Lilongwe

Lisa

These are just a few images from the area that Lisa and I live. Keep in mind we live in a nice part of town. Click on any of the images to see the full size version.

This is Sir Glyn Jones Ave. in Lilongwe. 
There you see two mini-busses passing each other. It’s a miracle that they are not constantly smashing into each other. This road is usually much more busy. 

MainStreetLookingUpThis is same street
Looking up the street. People are always walking along this road, some riding, and others taking a break.

This is the same street again. 
A couple of people walking along the side of the road

Side Street

A Church Door 

This is the Church gate
It’s more welcoming than you might think. Here security is always welcome.

Small Church
Most little churches are not this quaint, I appreciate the traditional look every now and again.

Tree Roots
The only other place I’ve seen roots like this is the Amazon jungle in Ecuador.

Bike Rider

Lisa
Outside the new Tea Garden just before our Tuesday staff meeting/date.

Tea Garden
Creative way to use old glass bottles

Why I Missed Malawi

malawi travel

I had the chance to greet some people from the church and the Bible college today, and the one question I was asked over and over was, “how was your holiday?” Little do they know that home, the USA, is no holiday, but this, Malawi, is the holiday — if you like your holidays served with a side of running stomach.

One thing I’ve noticed is that people here assume we are escaping from this place when we go home, but that’s not the case at all. Both places have difficulties. The challenge in any place is what you do with the difficulties, but there is certainly no escape.

Other people loved greeting us with just one word, “missing.” That says it all. I find it hard to believe that anyone besides my mother would miss me, but she has to miss me, it’s her job. I think the missing is genuine though, so I’ll accept it and move on.

We missed Malawi, too. Of course, there is so much we didn’t miss. I won’t start my usual list at this point — ok, just one: mosquitos. As I sit here on my wicker couch, one just got me on the big toe. I hate those little things.

Now that I think of it, I didn’t actually miss anything about Malawi. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even want to come back here. I could go on and on about all the things I didn’t miss about this place, but, when I stop to think about it, I can’t think of one thing I did. Maybe real sugar Coke? But, you can get that in the States now.

I guess the interesting thing about the day we live in is that everything is about what I want or don’t want. Well, if that’s the case, I don’t want to live here. But, here I am, of free volition, back in Malawi, and so grateful I’m here in this place I don’t want to be.

A Franciscan Nun named Mary Kerr said this, “To understand the Bible’s use of the word ‘meek,’ we should picture a great stallion at full gallop. At his Master’s voice, he seizes up and comes to an immediate halt. He stands holding his great power in check, listening for the next order.”

I think of myself more like a donkey ready to carry some tourists on a walking tour down the Grand Canyon, but still standing, in check, listening for my next order.

I’m learning I don’t need my life to be about what I want to do, where I want to be, or who I want to become. I don’t need my life to be about doing something I don’t want to do, either. I just need to be in the place that God has for me to be. When I get my orders, then I’ll run as fast as I can knowing I’m doing what the Master has called me to do.

The great stallion is still listening for orders when he is at full gallop or when he is stopped. I would like to think that in both cases meekness is the picture.

Matt