Debbie returned from a four week ministry trip to Malawi on August 7 (just in time for our 28th wedding anniversary on August 8). She wanted to share the following experiences with you from her trip.
Somebody Cares Staff Prayer in the Mornings
Each weekday morning at 7:30 am I could count on hearing the lovely sound of Chichewan worship on the grounds of the Somebody Cares (SC) offices. I am so impressed with the commitment of the SC staff. Leaving as early as 5:30 am, the staff walk, ride their bike, or take jam-packed shuttle vans so they can pray and worship together before working long, often emotionally draining days -- only to make the 1 or 2 hour trip home again in the evening.
As I slipped into the circle each morning, the staff greeted me with warm smiles, nudges, high hand slaps and Muli Bwanji (how are you?). I then hummed and did my best to fake singing the words to the songs and move to the beat - in hopes that somehow God would perform a miracle so that I could dance like them. I’m still waiting for that miracle.
I loved being part of that worship. Africans seem to get lost in praising God. I can still hear their wonderful harmonies when I’m alone and close my eyes. They are a part of my heart now. My heart is in two places. When I’m home, I miss my African family. When I’m in Malawi, I miss my American family.
They Sowed and I Got to Reap
A few days after I arrived in Malawi my short-term missions team joined me. One of our "jobs" was to interview literally hundreds of volunteers who work with Somebody Cares doing Home-Based Care (HBC).
One day, in Mgwangwa, a community about 30 minutes outside of Lilongwe, Georgia, one of my team members, came to me and asked, “Can you come pray with us?” Georgia and I were working together with Theresa Changalusa, our translator to interview scores of HBC volunteers about what it takes to be a volunteer, their needs and challenges, their hopes and dreams and their prayer needs.
While Georgia was interviewing, I was busy taking each volunteer's picture - using my limited knowledge of Chichewa, to entertain them by asking them to smile, showing them their picture, etc. That is always a hoot! They rarely see pictures of themselves - for some it is their first time. Every picture turns into a group event as I show the person their picture, and then show the picture to each group of people sitting on the floor. When they see the picture, they cover their mouths, laugh and point at the picture and pat the person who’s picture was taken, on the back. Quite the process! But what fun and a good time building friendships.
One of the questions we ask each volunteer is "Do you know Jesus"? That day two men said "no", but asked to pray so they could. So that’s when Georgia came and got me. Along with Theresa, we talked to the men individually about what it meant to follow Christ, and then led them in prayer. Two men began their walk with God that day!
This is a direct result of Somebody Cares "tilling the soil and the sowing the seed" through Home-Based Care. Many of the people now volunteering and serving the sick and dying, were at one time patients who were sick and near death. But a HBC volunteer came to be the hands and feet of Jesus -- and now they are well enough to serve others!
I count it a high privilege to come alongside SC for brief moments in time to assist them and be part of the harvest. They "sow" day in and day out, working, visiting and praying. We have the opportunity to come alongside them, encourage them and "lift their arms" in the battle.
A MIRACLE IN FLORIDA
While Debbie was in Malawi, Karl got an envelope in the mail with a card, a note and a check for $335.87. It was from the children's ministry of a church in the St Petersburg area called Warehouse 727. Their story was so encouraging, that I called Charlene Iskra, the pastors wife, and thanked her for the gift and asked her if I could share their story with you. She said yes, so here it is!
Warehouse 727 is a two year old church plant that ministers in a poorer neighborhood in the St. Petersburg area. This year they sponsored a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children in their community. Each night 25-30 children came -- many of them hungry -- so they fed them. Charlene, who led the VBS, wanted the kids to raise $100 towards the Visionledd God Rocks program in Zambia -- a program raising funds to expand a school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Kabwe. When she announced the goal of raising $100 -- many of the children and adults said -- "this can't be done -- we'll never reach $100". Afterall, many of the families in the church were unemployed, and some of the kids that came to the VBS came from families who didn't even have hot water in their homes. It was impossible.
BUT GOD! Two of the best words you can ever hear! By Wednesday evening, the children had raised $75! By Friday night, they had raised $335.87 for the children of Zambia! As Charlene told me -- "It was a great ending to a great week".
I am always amazed by how God works. Debbie and I are excited about continuing to partner with Warehouse 727 in the future. If you are in the St. Petersburg area, check out Warehouse 727. Visit their website by clicking HERE.
Okay, I know you are tempted to stop reading now, but we rarely say anything about money in these updates. The truth is that August has been a tough month for Visionledd both in Canada and the USA. We could really use your help as we move into the fall. If you would like to contribute to our ministry as we walk alongside our African friends in the battle against AIDS and for transformed communities, you can do that in the following tax-deductible ways.
1. You can write a check to "Visionledd" and mail it to:
PO Box 20158
Mesa, AZ 85277
2. You can give via credit card through our partner Network for Good. Just click HERE and follow the directions. 96% of your gift comes to us.
3. You can give through the "Bill Pay" program of your bank. Just email me if you need more information.
You can give via check or credit card by clicking HERE and following the directions.
Thank you so much for your prayer and support. We REALLY appreciate it.