We trust you are doing well and experiencing much grace from above. What a joy to be writing after a glorious Easter weekend!
Been reading Ecclesiastes, amongst other books, for my daily devotions and was struck anew that the preacher concluded that “everything else is vanity,” and he also acknowledged that for one to enjoy his lot it is a gift of God. I have been feeling like that lately, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for His kindness to enable me to be a part of a growing, youthful church that is passionate about making much of Jesus Christ. Yet at the same time I have found myself discouraged with some aspects of leading the church plant. I recently read H. B. Charles’s book, On Pastoring in which he writes, “Things are not as good as they seem and things are not as bad as they seem.” The latter half is all that it took to encourage me and remind myself that ultimately what matters is, as the Preacher has said, “to fear God and keep His commandments.” After all, church planting can be a very unhappy business. Church planting, in my estimation, is one of the hardest enterprises. Discouragements abound and encouragements are short-lived. So for me to be reminded by Solomon that it is ultimately God that causes us to enjoy what we do is very satisfying.
It delights me to see the growth of my associates Kennedy Kachingwe and Emmanuel Mpeni.
Kennedy is attending Strengthening Ministries Training Institute (SMTI), a biblical counselling course with the world-renowned Dr. Wayne Mack in South Africa. He has already been passing on his training to the church. He has been teaching us from the book of James how to live practically our faith.
Emmanuel is equally laboring hard. He has been preaching from the Old Testament and it has brought a good balance to our teaching and preaching. I am going through the book of Philippians, and Kennedy is teaching us how to practice biblical counseling through the book of James, and Emmanuel has been preaching through the Old Testament.
The gospel communities are shaping up well. We had one consistent group that met in our home and now we can count four gospel communities that are starting soon. As a church, we are firm believers of meeting in small group settings to do koinonia properly. This has helped the church to really be a family that knows, or at least strives to know, each others’ pains, joys, weaknesses and strengths in depth so we can better do each other spiritual good. With this has arisen a greater need to train more people to lead the groups effectively. I wish I could say things have been all rosy at the church, but that will not be true. There have been difficulties dealing with sin in the lives of the members of the church, and one common trait has been that those who are detached from other members are the ones that we have found to struggle the most.
As Vanessa is taking less and less responsibilities, we have brought in a quality young, maturing, godly lady, Mercy Chikadza, to coordinate the ladies’ ministry as well as help us with admin-related responsibilities. She has responded passionately and we are hoping we will soon be able to function as a well-oiled machine. Coordination without an admin assistant / secretary has been a headache. We trust this will help us focus on praying and preaching (Acts 6:4) while our sister helps us with coordination of administration etc.
I had a rare privilege of visiting the Holy Land two weeks ago. I was invited by J-life Africa, to be part of their training on starting disciple-making movement in Malawi. J-life is committed to train pastors and church leaders to implement disciple-making models in the local churches. The training included visiting “holy cites,” which has made me to read my Bible in 3D. How can I read 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2Kings and the Gospels the same after visiting some of their actual settings? Another privilege was meeting new friends from South Africa and the USA on the trip. We had a great team spirit and was blessed by all of them in different ways.
We are thankful to let you know that Vanessa is responding well to her treatment. Your prayers and support have hugely encouraged us and eased our burdens in this difficult journey.
Praise and Prayer Items
Tomorrow, we will be conducting another membership class. About ten people have applied for membership. While I have been disheartened in some ways, the good Lord has brought huge doses of encouragements in our midst. Will you praise the Lord with us!
We have outgrown our small meeting place. This has been a good problem of course, but we would also want to be proactive and think ahead. One dream will be to purchase the building we are renting and convert it to a “real” church building. This seems impossible, but I am reminded the words of George Mueller that we “are to attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” My first thought is, I am not Mueller. But then I also know that Mueller was just a man like me. So, will you please expect great things with us here in Malawi?
We are thankful for you and your partnership in the glorious gospel.
Grace and peace,