Chinsapo Bible Study Photos

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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

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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

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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.

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

The Simple Life of a Missionary

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Who knew missionary life would be so easy and so difficult at the same time? It’s the personal challenge of living in a foreign place and dealing with very different people, but in that place and with those people we are doing something so easy, we are making friends.

Well, it was our last Sunday in Malawi, for 2015. Everyone thoughtfully greeted us and wished us safe travels. We have an amazing church. To think that just nine months ago we did not know a single Malawian person, and today we know so many; and greater than that, we now have so many Malawian friends.

 

Lisa with friends - missionary life

 

 

This is the secret to missions, and really why we can all be called missionaries. Missions is not figuring out what is wrong with people and then telling them about it. It’s just simply being like Christ in whatever place we are in. Christ made friends and made disciples and ultimately gave his life for them; can we not do the same?

I don’t have to change who I am to be a missionary. I don’t need to be more spiritual. In fact, I don’t need to be spiritual at all. My life is submitted to God each and every day, and I expect that anything that follows is all Him.

In missionary life, we show people Christ in our lives, without even knowing it.

What ends up happening is that we show people the Christ in our lives without even knowing it. We show people grace, and we give people truth. We live such a liberated life that people cling to us in hopes that some of us will rub off on them, and it does.

 

Evangelizing at the Post Office in Lilongwe

 

On several occasions over the past nine months, this blog has chronicled our personal sense of being unqualified to live the life of a missionary. We have come to realize that we were actually the most qualified people all along. To be receivers of the grace of God was the only qualification we ever needed.

Some of the greatest missionary names we can think of today went out without an understanding of grace. Many of them paid a dear price to learn it, but once they did, the world was truly never the same.

Mr. Damasek

 

The truth is that being a receiver of grace makes us givers of grace. It’s not I but Christ that lives within me. I can’t think of anything the world needs more now than the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. Missionary life is receiving so much of God’s love and grace that we have no option but to give out the same thing we have received.

Stories: Wyson Sinatra

Wyson Sinatra Portrait

 

Wyson Sinatra
“Owe no man anything.” I think this describes Wyson Sinatra very well. In a time when some Americans are dreaming of living off the grid, Wyson is living the dream.

He, his wife, and two children live in a tiny, two room house in dusty rural Area 24, Lilongwe, Malawi. His house doesn’t have power and water so with a little ingenuity and a lot of patience, he uses a small solar panel, along with a car battery and some other things that would remind you of scrap yard junk, to create enough electricity for a small light and a charging station for his radio and phone. Everyday he goes to a nearby well and pumps enough water for the day into a small, trash-can-looking bucket. “Done,” as he would say.

He is resourceful in other ways, too. As soon as the rainy season begins, he becomes a farmer, and he grows enough maize on his small plot of land to last the year. He also has a little garden for tomatoes, cucumbers, and some of the other small vegetables he and his family use in their modest daily meals. In addition to farming, he’s a landlord all year long, renting out part of his house for a little extra income. He is all set.

Wyson came to Greater Grace from the Catholic Church. If you talk to him, you will often find him shaking his head and marveling at the teaching he receives now. In the two years since Wyson met Pastor Chris and started coming to church, his life has been transformed and his confidence in salvation and knowing who he is in Christ is growing daily. He proudly rides his antique, American made, Hunter brand bicycle at least forty-five minutes one way to church twice a week and to Bible College three times a week. You just don’t do that unless something real is taking place in your life.

Wyson’s story is not about overcoming poverty but about the way he lives in spite of it. Poverty can hold us back, cripple our thought process, and make us one-dimensional thinkers. It can be a brick wall surrounding us, limiting our vision and understanding of God’s heart. But, for Wyson Sinatra the walls are coming down, and as they do, God’s love is there to meet him, giving him a new mind for life, a new heart for people, and a greater vision for where God could take him.