Thank You For Reading Our Latest Prayer Letter
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Greetings Dear Fellow Servants
What a blessing it is to write to you again from a mission field which is still about as open as open gets in 2022. While lockdown measures and wars play a role against foreign mission efforts around the world, we are thankful that doors of ministry remain wide open to us here in Malawi.
Blessed Bible Institute Efforts in Chitipa:
As mentioned in a previous letter, the Lord has opened an incredible door of ministry opportunity to us in Chitipa, the northernmost tip of Malawi. Logistically, it has been a bit of a nightmare to be able to minister there due to the difficulties of travel, accommodations, food, and physical safety. Chitipa is a border area sandwiched between no man’s land Tanzania, no man’s land Zambia, and no man’s land Malawi. Due to the physical location, none of the mentioned countries are concerned to do much governing in the area. Roads are not maintained, there is no more than a vague semblance of a police “force” in the area, and there is no feasible way for the government to control or regulate all the trade, crime and trafficking of goods and persons that happen in the area. Business is done in these areas as though no such governments even exist.
Official borders, although they may seem “clear” to the casual observer on google maps, do not actually function on the ground in the capacity one may expect. In fact, these borders are being operated just as they did long before the British, French and Germans ever sat in the Belgian and drew circles on maps declaring their “right” to these areas. Borders here are based on languages. Wherever your language stops being spoken, that’s where your border ends. Once you reach the place you can’t hear what the people are saying… that is when you are in someone else’s territory. It’s as simple as that. Once you are in someone else’s territory, if you abide by the rules of that territory you are fine. If you don’t you need to go back to where you come from or be put to death. So as trade goes on through these fluid “borders” people inevitably rip each other off and as one would expect, revenge would be sought.
Surprisingly, shady business rip offs are not as “rampant” of a problem as you may expect. The reason for this may also come as a surprise. The hindrance against crime is specifically because people are aware that Chitipa and its neighbouring district of Karonga is the “headquarters”of witchcraft in this region of Africa.
That Malawi as a whole is in umpteen times worse condition than any of its neighbouring countries is common knowledge to everyone in this region of the world. If you talk to the average Tanzanian, or Zambian, from anywhere in the vicinity and ask them why Malawi is in so much worse condition than their country, they will always respond with two answers. 1) Too much Envy, (Proverbs 27:4 )and 2) “Too much witchcraft”(Deut 18:9-14). They are not wrong. People here do not forgo wrong doing of any kind because they fear any kind of justice system, nor do they forgo crime due to the fear of offending God. It is simple. If they do wrong, they will be killed or plagued through witchcraft.
Of course I realize that most of the “First World” audience of this prayer letter will arrogantly chuckle at the “silly” “superstitious beliefs” of the “ignorant heathen” who think witchcraft is real. I also know that there aren’t enough pages in this letter to convey the REASONS why God commanded witches, dealers in familiar spirits, and sorcerers to be put to death in the O.T. none of which were because, “only superstitious people believe in that stuff. My intention is most certainly NOT to glorify or draw attention to dark spiritual power. However, having worked in this context for many years, it is painfully obvious that it is a very real force to be reckoned with in ministry here.
In any case, Chitipa has very little governance, and absolutely no way to prevent revenge seekers or criminals from coming and going as they please. This absence of governance is certainly felt every time I am there. I have not been there even once without passing by a scene where something terrifically terrible happened in the area. On one of my journeys a man was disemboweled in the night less than 100 meters from where I was sleeping. Another morning on my way to teach I passed by the aftermath of a young boy had been “degroined” (fatal of course) for witchcraft ritual purposes.
One evening as I was about to doze off to sleep five thieves surrounded my “house” and tried to get in. I was startled awake from my dozing by the banging around. I wasn’t as spiritual as many of you, of whom I’m sure would have prayed calmly through the whole situation. Being as carnal as I am, I went into a complete adrenaline rush, and resorted to brandishing my machete through the window and communicating to them in their language, the negative results which would befall them should they successfully make it into the house. Let’s just say I didn’t exactly sleep well that night. The Lord helped me to teach the scripture for over eight hours the following day with no sleep at all. I have had at least one “pastor” leave the institute, and make it his ministry to tell everyone in Chitipa that I am “a Satanic” (whatever that means). Most recently I was sent a message by an unknown person in the area who swears I will not leave Chitipa alive. What a blessing.
As of right now we have twenty-eight pastors who are in the institute. Eight of them have requested me to instruct them on what they need to do in order to “become” Independent Baptist Pastors. I need prayer concerning how to handle these men since I have personally led to Christ, discipled, and trained for ministry all the men who are currently in ministry leadership in our churches.
I have never been involved in rebranding national in order to “grow the work faster” (a tactic which is unfortunately all too common in third world missions all around the world) Fake missions work, driven by the desire for large numbers, has never been my cup of tea. In this situation however, there is a genuine need to handle things in wisdom.
One of the challenges of missions work is that you are always involved in situations where there is no “playbook”. There is no automatic answer and there is no way that I can know what to do outside of God revealing His will in the situation through the scriptures as highlighted by the Holy Spirit.
While many of the student pastors are content to carry on within the conforms of a denomination headquarters, in spite of the truth they have heard, others have come to the conclusion that a radical change in their ministry is necessary.
Some of these pastors who are now waiting on instructions to join our work were the most heated during classroom battles as the doctrine of scriptures was being taught. I have little doubt as to the genuine work of the Lord bringing these men to the point of being willing to give up an established position in a structured denomination, in order to have the liberty to preach and teach the truth. One thing is for sure, if indeed these men are serious, there are some serious trials of their faith which lay ahead in order to depart from falsehood and preach the truth. I need prayer concerning how and when to handle this.
New Church Started
Aside from these men, there is also a man that trained in our institute years ago who has started the first ever Bible Believing Independent Baptist Church to ever be started in the Chitipa region. His name is Pastor Justin Kayange.
Please pray for him, as he faces many challenges to pastor this genuine work of faith. The other Bible Believing Malawian pastors and I are working carefully with him to provide support in every practical way possible. I am blessed to see this brand new church get started and I believe the Lord will bless it.
Light Baptist Church Building Delays
Malawi as a country has faced some serious weather challenges throughout the monsoon season of the early part of this year. Several years ago we built a building smack dab in the middle of the monsoon season. I figured we would be able to do it again, so we initiated the raising of funds, and paperwork with the officials in order to start building the new church building for Light Baptist Church. You all responded by giving over 75% of the needed funding within just a few weeks.
Unfortunately the weather has proven to be too much for us this time around. This is not a case of Prov 20:4/ Ecc 11:4 “he that observeth the wind…”. There has been mass flooding, washed out roads, washed out bridges, broken supply chains and a number of other weather related challenges that have prevented us from really cranking up the progress for this project. So far as we know, we have everything possible lined up in order to start and we expect to do so within the month of April. I can’t thank you enough for the finances which were directed towards this building and I look forward to sharing the progress once we are able to get underway.
Handfuls Of Purpose Everlasting
Some of you may remember the ministry which we started back in 2015 which is called “Handfuls Of Purpose Everlasting”. I don’t mention it alot in my letters because I could never organize it enough for it to solidify into a “real” organization. If the Lord ever gives me the finances and necessary personnel, I would love to see that come to pass. In the mean time while it is not a “big to do”, there are several kids who are in very difficult circumstances who all “eat of my table”. By the grace of God, I select them, sustain them, pay their school fees, uniforms costs, books, transportation, and many other things. I meet with them and their extended family as often as possible and mentor them from the scriptures. I have them memorize Bible verses pertaining to personal salvation, and many other subjects.
Mphatso Memoizing James 4:6
Pray For Him And His Family To Get Saved
Speaking of thankfulness, I am incredibly THANKFUL for the men and women in our Bible Believing Churches that simply act in faith, and put their hard earned money into the genuine needs of missionaries around the world. Such was the case with my transportation needs as of late. During the monsoon season, travel to the villages is extremely difficult. I cannot exactly leave my family without a vehicle when I go to the villages so I usually try to bum rides from one of the national pastors here. Usually this involves pushing a small Toyota hatchback through many Kilometers of knee deep mud, and hiring locals to help us “forge” the bad spots. (Sometimes out in the bush the same locals dig up the road in order to provide a job for themselves the next time a vehicle wants to get through)
By halfway through the Monsoon season there was only one guy who would still say “yes” when I asked him to take me to the villages. I have spent plenty of time worried about the logistics of how to get stuff done without a proper vehicle that I could rely on.
When a ride is not available I am left in a situation where the only way I could plan my efforts is to walk out of my house with whatever I could carry in my backpack as I use a glorified method of hitchhiking. Usually I can just pay small amounts to various vehicles who are passing by on the way I needed to go. I go as far as they can take me, get out on the side of the road, wait/ walk until another vehicle passed by and eventually get to where I needed to go.
This is obviously not ideal when it's raining, and of course it always puts my Bible and notes at risk of getting wet. Long story slightly shorter, after one particularly long day of traveling to a remote village in such a manner, I got on my knees and plainly asked the Lord if I could have a 4x4 Toyota Hilux. I mentioned to the Lord that He has already given me more than I deserve, and that, I know that He sees the difficulty that is involved with traveling this way. I asked a missionary friend of mine to pray with me on the subject. He really prayed about it with me, shortly after that he was contacted by an anonymous brother in Christ who expressed his desire to help a missionary need. I have no idea on the details of what was discussed or what all happened, all I know is that adequate money was sent within two weeks in order for me to purchase a reliable 4x4 Toyota Hilux! I have already put over 1500 miles on it in the short time I’ve had it! I praise, and thank the Lord, for the brother who did this. May the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills, the creator of heaven and earth, reward him many times over according to his faith. THANK YOU BROTHER!
Vehicle Put to Good Use
I drove that vehicle to a village church where I was invited to preach last week. I preached the gospel and afterwards the pastor called for an invitation to respond to the message. He did a fantastic job of allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work without clouding up the conviction with a bunch of humanistic emotional pressure. Four people came forward for salvation! It was a village church with no piano, no choir, and no coaxing. There was just a Holy Ghost of God sense of conviction and a deafening silence. In a day and age of EMOTIONALISM, I thought all odds were against anyone responding. I was led by the Lord to tell them each to pray in the best way they know how to receive the Lord by calling on him in faith. On their knees they did so one by one. My heart rejoiced and tears filled my eyes as I knew that a few more souls would not suffer the wrath of God and that these folks chose to submit to God's will for their salvation. What a blessing.
Thankfully we are all doing well. Our last born (Hope)recently got initiated into the Malaria club. It was her first time to get the deadly parasite.
Recently, a business man friend of mine here in town lost his fifteen year old daughter to the same strain. A six year old in our area succumbed to Malaria a few weeks ago as well. Both were otherwise perfectly healthy kids.
In our case, it was several days without sleep, lots of vomiting and all the usual stress of dealing with a potentially dying child which my poor wife has gone through so many times. It’s always worse the first time because each child reacts a bit differently. By now we know the signs for the rest of the family, so we can start administering the proper remedies early on. The Lord is merciful and she is fine now. As soon as there was a case in the house we implemented our normal anti-malarial precautions since it is a mosquito born sickness and there is a high likelihood of further issues.
Charity sleeps in the same room and, not surprisingly, took sick with it not long afterwards. We were able to handle it quickly and she responded well so she bounced back after only three days.
Otherwise most days around here have the kids busy with schoolwork, farm chores, poultry management classes, Taekwondo and boxing training from two hand to hand combat officers in the Malawi Defense Force.
Pray for Joseph to either GET saved or GET RIGHT. He says he is saved but he has no passion to serve the Lord. His Church background is nominal Roman Catholicism. His life is 100% devoted to martial arts. He is a VERY good young man and he is incredibly talented in the fighting arts. He has competed and won medals all over Africa and some in Korea. I need the Lord to open his heart.
Overall we are doing fine because of your prayers. Please don’t ever let go of your end of the rope.
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