Saturday, Jan. 30
Our team only came together as a group of four for the first time on Friday evening as God was using us in different places and different ways during this trip. Now He is again sending us in different directions as Charlotte heads off with Climbing For Christ guide and friend Tumaini, and Carl, Allan and I begin the long trip back to the States. We have an evening flight out of Kilimanjaro to Europe and then to the U.S. on Sunday.
We are in agreement that God exceeded all of our expectations during this whirlwind mission in Tanzania and Malawi. We have seen and learned many new things, and the Lord has given us much to consider. He has also led us to leave many things for others to ponder: from Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters to our Muslim friends we have walked with these past two weeks in Tanzania, and from orphans to pastors in Malawi.
Let the journey continue...
Friday, Jan. 29
Our physical time in Malawi has come to an end. Our prayers and the Lord's work for us here will continue no matter what country we are in.
Allan completed his descent of Kilimanjaro early this morning. Back in Moshi, our guide and friend Yusuf texted: “We are just back at the hotel safe. We heard that you gonna be here at 7 so can we plan to have dinner at my home tonight?” It would be a blessing to us. But first, Charlotte, Carl and I must fly from Lilongwe, Malawi to Lusaka, Zambia and then to Nairobi, Kenya before reaching Kilimanjaro airport in the evening. Just in time for dinner at Yusuf's home!
Thursday, Jan. 28 (2 p.m. local time)
While our brother Allan was returning from the summit of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, we went hiking on the Mulanje Massif in Malawi. It was a divine appointment. To climb Mulanje, a vast massif that rises dramatically out of the Phalombe Plain with 20 peaks above 7,500 feet (2,500 meters), you need a guide. A young man flagged us down before we reached the main road turn-off to the Likhubula Forestry Station.
Wells Mishon (sounds like “mission,” appropriately enough) is 19 and in Form 3, the Malawi equivalent to the third year of high school in the U.S. But he could not pay his school fee, which is about 7,500 kwacha (about US$50) per year. So he was working as one of the 24 guides allowed to take one trip per month on Mulanje for 1,500 kwacha (US$10). We enjoyed our time together on this spectacular massif and God led us to sponsor Wells so he can return to school on Monday. He also became our newest Climbing For Christ member.
Thursday, Jan. 28
Allan reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at 6 a.m. local time (9 p.m. Wednesday back in his home state of Minnesota). “He is doing OK,” his guide Yusuf said in a text message. We give thanks to the Lord for yet another blessing on this trip. Allan and Yusuf are beginning to descend Africa's tallest mountain. We are praying for both of our friends.
Wednesday, Jan. 27
There were more than 400 participants at the impromptu conference held by our host, Pastor Duncan, at the Searchlight Ministries compound in Kambona, Malawi. Pastor Carl taught three sessions on “The hidden Power that is in every believer” and “Hearing the voice of the Lord, and obeying” for pastors and church leaders from throughout the region. Charlotte did two Spirit-led breakout sessions on encouragement for high school-age girls and female church leaders.
The day-long conference was impromptu only for we three Americans, who learned about it just before leaving the States. This was all part of God's plan for this Evangelic Expedition from before time began. That became evident to us as we observed the hundreds who'd come by bicycle from as far away as Mozembique, who were hungry for teaching on the Word of God. We sensed the Holy Spirit's presence throughout the day.
“Today was good,” Pastor Duncan said when we had finished.
It was also bittersweet as we heard “The Goodbye Song” sung by the orphans. We aren't leaving them, however. They are a part of us. And, as the orphans' caregiver Damson Samson told the children, they have friends now in the United States. We left February support (US$500) to buy the childresn a month's worth of food. This will be the third month Climbing For Christ has provided funds so 15 orphans can eat, and we are praying about making this a monthly fixture in our budget.
There are many more opportunities under prayerful consideration, including the possibility of sending Damson to the African Bible College in Lilongwe for as little as US$900 per year for tuition. Damson has waited “patiently by faith” for seven years to go to university in a country where high school equivalency is rare. This 27-year-old shines the light of Jesus brightly.
We did not come to Malawi intending to find a possible future pastor to sponsor. But we didn't expect to be blessed with an opportunity to equip 400 saints serving in ministry in this physically taxed land. Nor to participate in a youth worship, like the one that broke out in the evening with children from the orphanage and the Searchlight secondary school singing and dancing and overflowing with joy. Carl encouraged them to pursue the dreams God has for them.
“God's great works very often start in hidden places,” Carl told his audience in a place few from outside of Africa have heard of and fewer still have visited. We are convicted that people will be hearing more about God's work in Malawi.
Tuesday, Jan. 26
We began our survey of the work here in southwestern Malawi, visiting Duncan's churches, the schools, and the orphanage. We shared “The Best Story of All” with 65 orphans, 15 of whom reside here in Kambona as part of Searchlight Ministries. Another 40 orphans had to be returned to grandparents when funding dried up like the drought-stricken corn that is withering in fields all around us.
Volunteer teacher Damson Samson with some of our orphans.
One reason to be happier is the working borehole at the orphanage. There is good water at their doorstep, not a long walk away. Unfortunately, the orphans do have to walk to school. The government closed the primary school because there was no water, too many students in a single classroom, not enough teachers, and not enough toilets. There is a secondary school with more than 200 students attending on the Searchlight campus. Each child must pay US$165 for one year of high school, which is a hardship in a country where the average annual income is US$260.
Duncan says those children are starving. It costs only US$15 a month to feed these children, who are amazingly happy and well behaved.
Life is difficult in the remote reaches of this poor, hot country. We are learning many things about the people and continuting to see how the Lord will move through us here.
On Kilimanjaro, the Lord is using and working through Allan, who reached Karanga Camp on the fourth day. Allan says he has had contact with many people and is enjoying his time with Yusuf. “Pray that God gives me the words,” Allan said. “I'm feeling good!”
Monday, Jan. 25 (7 a.m. local time)
Flying by Kilimanjaro on our way from Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya, en route to Malawi.
Monday, Jan. 25
Charlotte and I have both stood on top of that spectacular mountain, where Allan is in the third day of his seven-day climb.
“We are at Baranco Camp,” Allan said this afternoon. “Getting to know a lot of people from around the world.”
Yusuf, our old friend who is guiding Allan, said: “God is still helping us for health and good weather.”
We pray that continues. On Kilimanjaro and in Malawi, where Duncan Nyozani met Charlotte, Carl and me at the airport in Lilongwe. We then began the five-hour drive to the remote village of Kambona, where his Searchlight Ministries is based. Searchlight consists of four churches and one orphanage. We are here to visit the orphans and learn more about the ministry.
Sunday, Jan. 24
There were nearly as many people attending the afternoon deliverance service as worshiped in the two morning services combined as Charlotte, Carl and I spent much of the day at Pastor Mosha's church. In between the services, we had lunch at Pastor Mosha's house with he and his wife Eunice, who has recovered from a brutal beating by thieves in 2007.
On the mountain, Allan moved up to Camp 2 on the Machame Route. He reported that everything was fine. “God is blessing us,” he said in a text message.
God blessed the other three members of this mission team with an opportunity to worship with about 650 Tanzanians in a Swahili service and then the more traditional Chagga service. I spoke briefly in each service about Climbing For Christ; Charlotte shared what was on her heart (encouragement for the girls and women in both congregations), and Carl preached from John 14:18 (Jesus saying “I will not leave you as orphans”). There is a school and orphanage at Pastor Mosha's church, so many know what it means to be left as an orphan.
Pastor Carl delivering the Good News.
In between the two morning services, we added two more members to the Kilimanjaro Chapter. Both work in Kilimanjaro National Park. One, a member of the park's rescue service, recently converted from Islam and is attending Pastor Mosha's church.
There is also a deliverance ministry at this Lutheran church now. Pastor Mosha started it after a Kilimanjaro Chapter prayer walk following our visit in March 2008. The prayer walk ascended to a place on Kili where witchcraft is practiced. After that time of prayer, the deliverance ministry began on June 29, 2008. They claim hundreds of healings and people being freed from demon spirits.
As Carl was speaking during this service, he said many in the church in North America would not believe this. “But Scripture tells us that even demons tremble at the name of Jesus.”
There seemed to be a whole lot of trembling going on as people were prayed over and many fell to the floor, some writhing, others carried from the church screaming. Pastor Mosha has a team of 40 church members trained to pray with people after they are delivered from the bondage of Satan. Those church members were busy. More than 600 people attended this service, half from other churches.
Next stop: Malawi for Charlotte, Carl and me; Kilimanjaro Camp 3 for Allan. God is good!