Friday, April 17, 2009

Encountering God Once Again in Mgona

Once again I met God in Mgona. Mgona is the perhaps the poorest community in Malawi. 50,000 people call this area home. 25,000 of them are orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15. Mgona used to be a place without hope -- but times have changed.

Today Mgona has hope! Why? Because God has come to Mgona through His people who have become the hands and feet of Jesus to the sick, the dying, and the widow and the orphan. Through Home-Based care workers, the 110 members of the HIV/AIDS support group, the pastors of churches, the ministry of WOW (Women for Orphans and Widows) and the staff of Somebody Cares Jesus is bringing hope and healing. Where once people asked if God was in Mgona -- today there is no doubt. He is there and He is not silent -- He is speaking loud and clear!

Today a small group of us joined a group of Home-Based Care workers and an HIV/AIDS Support Group in worship. As our Malawian friends sang and danced and as we joined them, I was once again overcome by a sense of God's love for the people of this community and for me. I once again met God among the poorest of the poor -- it seems that often happens -- at least to me.

Tomorrow (April 18) we head out to Salima, about 2 hours from Lilongwe. Brent Stockwell and I will join Jim and Kathy Cantelon to spend time with the leadership of Lifeline Malawi to determine whether a partnership is something God would want us to do.

On Sunday (April 19) I will be speaking in the community of Matanda -- one that I have visited often. The church meets in an open-air feeding shelter used during the week to provide meals to 350 orphans and vulnerable children. Pray that God would speak through me.

On April 20 & 21 Brent and I will be meeting with Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares as well as Visionledd leaders -- planning for future ministry together. Brent and I will also be meeting with Stella Kasiyre, the African Director of Willowcreek Community Church and Dr. Perry Jansen of Partners in Malawi.

We will also be participating with 800 pastors, youth leaders and other Christian leaders in a pastors conference. Pray that God would move in the lives of these pastors as they are encouraged and challenged to be God's hands and feet in the battle against AIDS and for community transformation.

We leave for Zambia on April 22.

Pray for us over these next few days. We need wisdom, insight and direction.

Thank you for your prayer and support.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Riding the Crest of the Wave

In the fall of 2006 when Karl was in Malawi, God gave him a dream. In that dream He challenged Karl to begin "building containers" designed to hold His blessing (if that is possible) and to prepare for what is to come. Karl clearly understood that God wanted to pour out His blessing on what we were doing in Malawi and throughout Africa, but that He couldn't do that unless we had large enough containers to hold that blessing.

Since that time we have been focusing more and more on building containers -- containers of relationships, structure, and ministry. We have been trying to prepare for what God wants to do.

In recent months God has been speaking to us again. This time, not in a dream, but rather in a growing sense that a tsunami is coming -- not a tsunami that brings death -- but one that brings life!. We feel like we are standing on a beach looking out on the water. In the distance we see a small wave coming at us. As the wave comes closer, it gets bigger and bigger, and as we jump in the water, we know that what God is calling us to do is hang on with all our might and ride that wave - because that wave is a wave of hope and transformation for individuals
, families and communities who live in fear and despair all around the world.

God is up to something. In the words of the famous song from the 60's - somethings happening here, what it is, ain't exactly clear". We don't know what the future holds, but it is clear that God is up to something REALLY BIG. In the past few months God has led us to people from all walks of life who have the sense that now, as never before, He is going to change the world and reveal His glory through the widow, the orphan, the poor, the sick, the dying -- and through those committed to seeing His Kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

What does that tsunami look like? Let me give you some tsunami like numbers just from Malawi.
  • In 2006 about 120 pastors worked alongside Somebody Cares. Today, it is about 1,200 pastors.
  • In 2006 Somebody Cares had 75 Home-Based Care workers taking care of about 350 patients. Today, there are 218 Home-Based Care workers touching the lives of over 3,500 patients and their families.
  • In 2006 Somebody Cares was impacting the lives of 1,200 orphans and vulnerable children -- today that number is over 6,500.
Can you see the tsunami of impact? Can you see the need for containers to hold the blessings and challenges of ministry? AND, we've only just begun to see what God wants to do! What is happening now is only a small drop in the proverbial bucket. We ain't seen nothing yet!

So, we would ask you to pray for us. Over the next few weeks please pray for:
  • Karl's trip to Malawi and Zambia April 14-27. He has several key meetings with African leaders and potential ministry partners that could result in major impact. He needs wisdom, direction and guidance -- as well as physical and spiritual protection.
  • In May and June Karl has several meetings with pastors and Christian leaders who are committed to seeing the Church become the hands and feet of Jesus around the world. Pray that God would bless these meetings and that new partnerships would result that would make an impact.
  • Pray for the planning process of the first City AIDS Summit which will probably be held in Baltimore early in 2010. Pray for God's direction in the planning process. This is the first of what we believe will be over 50 Summits across North America.
  • Pray that God would continue to bring us into relationship with the right people and would continue to give us "divine appointments".
  • Pray for wisdom to understand which projects we are to move forward with. We have numerous opportunities -- we can't do them all -- we need to do what is best -- not just what is good.
  • Pray for the financial resources needed to get the job done.
Also, check out our website called Home-Based Care Africa. You'll find some great stories about how God is using ordinary Africans to make a difference on the frontlines of the battle against HIV/AIDS and for community transformation.

You will be able to keep track of Karl via Facebook and also through Flickr -- where you'll find lots of pictures.

Many of you have asked us if we need financial support. The answer is yes! If you would like to find out how you can support us, please send an email to Karl.

Thank you for your prayer and support. We REALLY appreciate it.

Finally, here is a picture of Debbie with Theresa Malila the Executive Director of Somebody Cares Malawi (they are much better looking than Karl, so we thought we should end with a picture you will appreciate!).

Karl and Debbie
Riding the Crest of the Wave