Elly just finished reading the book, “Jungle Pilot”, the story of Nate Saint’s life. He dedicated his life to God and His mission. He was killed as he pursued bringing the Good News to the Waodani people. They killed him and his fellow missionaries as they tried to connect with them. Those five missionaries died a long time ago seeking to bring the Good News to these people in their jungle home in Ecuador, South America. A very worthwhile read and a very challenging read as it relates to our work in Malawi.
Since the start of DCI Malawi, as it is today, in 2012, we have always felt that it is only the Good News that is able to change the lives of the people our DCI team is trying to reach. John Singinie, the team leader set the direction early. He had witnessed how missionaries work in Malawi and, since he was already very much involved in Gospel work, also saw the lasting impact which their approach had on his fellow Malawians. He also saw that the “extras” these missionaries brought to the people of Malawi diverted the message and made it less effective. The material goods brought to these villages became the focus, not the Gospel.
So we began focussing on building a stronger church by training pastors and leaders and promoting unity amongst believers. We have seen amazing things happen. Pastors from different denominations discipling each other, Life Groups functioning and made up of believers from different churches effectively reaching their communities. The body of Christ is one! This does not mean compromising the doctrines of the Bible; Christ is the foundation we build on, the God-man who came to save us from our sins.
To get back to “Jungle Pilot” and Nate Saint’s story, he confirmed our approach to reaching the lost. It is always encouraging to read someone else sharing the same approach to missions. Here it is:
“The Waodani do need their own source of medicines and additional medical training. They need help to learn to protect their “inalienable rights.” They need to learn leadership skills and how to defends themselves politically. But what they need most is a functioning, vibrant, and independent church, committed to meeting the medical, economic, and social needs of their own people as a means of showing them God’s love and His desire to provide for their eternal need as well.” (emphasis added)
Our goal is helping the church in Malawi to become healthy and vibrant through discipleship and leadership training. Then they will become Biblically motivated to take care of each other as a way of expressing God’s love to those around them. We have noticed when people come to faith in Christ they begin to live differently. Their money is directed toward the well-being of the family and others. Love begins to live where love was not. Harmony comes to the village as more begin to trust Christ.
One-on-one discipling goes deep. It builds God-honouring lives that are a blessing to the family and their community.
One thing is needed from us, here in the West: Bibles. Without the Word of God, true life cannot develop. Together we can make a difference! Will you help?
We left for Nkhotakota Sunday after the church service. We left Mzuzu around 2 pm and got to Nkhotakota 7 pm. The lake shore road is very bad now, the road is getting too narrow with lots of potholes. Of course there’s good news that in the near future the government will rebuild the road, the funds are already available. They are planning to cover a distance of about 160 kilometres, this will ease up our travelling to and from Nkhotakota.
This time we started with S…., the first day we had a full day training with the first generation of leaders. We taught the Explosive Growth. We heard lots of testimonies of how God is changing lives through the one to one approach, especially in areas where there are radical Muslims. We even had a chance to meet people like Morris Kamanga, who was a radical Muslim but now he is a committed Christian. Morris was discipled after accepting Christ and trained through the leadership course (Using the Leaders Manual). Morris professed his faith in Christ openly without fear. His wife came to faith also and then his in-laws followed suit and people surrounding him. This group started a Life Group which grew into a church in the midst of radical Muslims. God is using Morris and his wife to bring more Muslims to Christ.
We had good time chatting with the leaders, hearing them talk about the different challenges they are facing in this area. One of the challenges was distance, for example, we discovered that some Life Groups are 50+ kilometres away from S….. We had the opportunity to see these Life Groups first hand. We saw for ourselves that the distance is just too much. Some of the Life Groups we visited were:
1). ……. To get to M…… we went through some mountains, and on our way, we saw a fox. This was the first time we ever saw one. The fox is a very beautiful animal with a large tail. We tried to take some photos, but we failed. From when we saw the fox the discussion as we travelled changed. We started talking about the Bible stories where the fox was mentioned. We were able to connect the dots after seeing it life in God’s beautiful creation.
We were welcomed by cheerful believers at M……. who were very happy to meet with us for the first time. We sang together and then introductions followed. When we mentioned that we came all the way from Mzuzu to see and meet with them, they were moved and touched with the love of God. Some said they had never been to Mzuzu but had heard that there is a city called Mzuzu. As part of our teaching, we asked them to demonstrate how they conduct their Life Groups. They did well except for a few areas, we took the time re-teach those areas and then George did the Explosive Growth teaching. After that we also had a group discussion on how one receives Christ, which was an awesome experience. We heard how some understand this topic: a few would say one is born again when they get immersed in water during baptism, some would say it happens when you stop bad things and start going to church. We explained how one is saved to them and one guy, whose name is B……, said right away, “I need to accept Christ in my life” when he understood what it really means to be born again. We used the story of Jesus and Nicodemus on John 3:16, also Romans 10:9-10 and other scriptures.
The area where these people live is very mountainous and they live far apart, away from interaction with the larger world. The Life Groups bring them together. Before Life Groups were introduced people did not study the Word of God or meet as a group to do Bible study. Now people are spending much of their time doing one to one discipling and meeting in Life Groups.
2). C….. VILLAGE We also went to visit the Life Group leaders at C….. village where we found 6 Life Groups. We were amazed to find Life Groups in this area. We meet with 11 Life Group leaders and we had a great time hearing how they conduct their meetings and what God is doing among them. They practice all the five W’s: Welcome, Worship, Word, Win and Work. We heard lots of testimonies of people who have been transformed by the Gospel through the one to one discipling. This area has both Muslim and Christian communities. We saw a CCAP (Presbyterian) church, a Roman Catholic Church, as well as traditional churches. People didn’t know about Christ until John Mwafulirwa, the coach for S…., introduced the DCI Teachings in this area. We were told that hundreds of people have come to Christ and many Life Groups have been established. People can share their faith with others.
LINGA After we were done in Sani, we met with Leaders (Pastors) at L…. where Daniel Banda is the head Coach. At Linga we did the Explosive Growth teaching and also heard how the work is going. We were so encouraged to learn that the people we heard about last time we were there and had turned to Christ from the Muslim religion are still going strong and growing in their new faith. More Muslims are still turning to Christ. We heard of a few new families that have become believers and are worshiping at night (Since their lives are in danger from the Muslim community at present). They are meeting at night learning the Word of God. Some have received a New Testament Bible, but don’t dare take it to their homes in fear of their husbands or relatives. One woman, who has just accepted Christ through pastor Daniel Banda, loves her Bible but can’t take it home because her husband is a radical Muslim. She says if he discovers she has become a Christian, he may kill her. She comes from a village where everyone is a Muslim and they hate Christians. We were told that when the villagers discover that she has become a believer in Christ, they may slaughter you like an animal. But if she is lucky they may just throw her out of the village and make her an outcast. That means she will lose everything, her children, her marriage and her relatives.
In the Muslim religion people are taught right from the time they are young that once you decide to leave the Muslim religion and join a different one you’re automatically considered an outcast and a cursed person. For these reasons we have begun to understand why, when one accepts Christ and becomes a Christian in N……., you do not come right away out publicly to let others know this. They still fear that they will be cursed by their leaders and become outcasts. So they go undercover as Christians, still dress as Muslims, still pray as Muslims in public and continue attending the mosque. But after they have been trained and matured a little in their new faith, they are no longer afraid of being an outcast. That is why we need to keep praying for our brothers and sisters in N…….. who have just become believers in Christ, that God should preserve them. It’s not easy to be a Christian amid a Muslim community. We are learning a lot through chatting with these believers each time we visit there. The good news is that the number of converts and disciples of Christ is increasing rapidly. Pastors testify that the New Testament Bibles we give them are a game changer in these Muslim strongholds. They told us that we are winning the battle, for many people are secret disciples. They told us, “One day the Imams and Muslims will wake up and discover that all the people they thought were Muslims are in reality Christians”.
We were exceedingly blessed during this trip and it is too bad that not all the things we heard and saw there can be expressed in words.