By Gary Fallesen
Climbing For Christ
Monday, March 10
North American team members are back on U.S. soil after flying 15 hours from South Africa.
Saturday, March 8
Group photo of friends in front of Pastor Duncan’s home in Kambona: (top) Damson; (second row, left to right) Dayson, Evans, Junio, Catherine, Willi; (third row) Gift, Dorphy, Claver, Jacquiline, Elaine, Clement, Charles, Michele, Dafter, and (front) Dixon. Not photographed: Esnart, Lucy, Patrick, Loveness and Gary.
“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” – Deuteronomy 10:18 (ESV)
The people from another country who came to live and work for the week with friends in Malawi left this morning after sharing gifts with all of those connected to us at Searchlight Ministries. The orphans were loved on again, and the leaders (from Pastor Duncan on down) were encouraged. In addition to flip-flops, toys, socks, pencils and stickers in string backpacks, the older children who can read were given Bibles in their native Chichewa language and partnered with a younger child from the orphanage to share in God’s Word together. We prayed for the ministry here after one final planning meeting between Duncan, Damson and me. The next steps are many if they are the LORD’s will for C4C’s work in southern and East Africa.
We traveled “the long way” back to Lilongwe in the afternoon and evening to start flights back to America on Sunday. Pray for work and travel as we GO!
Friday, March 7
The church at Milatu, Mozambique.
Our hearts were ready to burst with joy when we went to visit the church at Milatu, Mozambique. This was the first church-build that Climbing For Christ was blessed to fund in Africa and it was completed late last year.
Pastor Duncan from Searchlight Ministries in southern Malawi came to the Milatu area for a two-day crusade in 2006. Many people accepted Christ and a church was planted. During our 2011 mission we met Pastor Felix Namame from the church at Milatu. He asked us to help them build a house of worship. We agreed to pray about this and God made it possible.
We shared with more than 50 men, women and children who greeted us about the way the church was built: from the knees up. I told them that God has put on my heart for C4C to build up the church (the body of Christ) and to build churches. Duncan and I encouraged them to glorify God in this place and shine His light into the darkness all around. In other words, “GO and make disciples!”
Mud pit stop en route to the Mozambique church.
We crossed the border at Muloza to enter Mozambique, driving about five hours on mostly unpaved roads going around the beautiful Mulanje Masif toward the country's eastern interior. Being the rainy season, the roads are muddy and deeply grooved. We paused for a time in one such groove, which was deeper than our vehicle. Locals pushed the car out.
It was worth all the effort, including the usual border-crossing fun, when we arrived to singing and warm embraces from our brothers and sisters. The smiling never stopped during our visit, which was short (we needed to return to Malawi before the border closed at 6 p.m.) but sweet.
“...and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Mathew 16:18 (ESV)
Thursday, March 6
We enjoyed our final day with the schoolchildren, teaching about Jesus feeding the 5,000 and handing out much-anticipated Swedish Fish candy and pieces of bread. We've been here before and shared this story in similar fashion.
We then recorded the children singing our song of the week: Michael W. Smith's new single “You Won't Let Go.“” The song includes the verse “nothing can separate“” taken from Romans 8:38-39.
The music and drama continued as the children presented “activities” in our honor. They re-did the Parable of the Lost Son, which we taught to them Wednesday. Other activities included memory verses and the reciting of poetry, including “The Mathematician” by 12-year-old orphan Claver (who is sponsored in our Project 1:27 by Pat and Joel Slesak of Rochester, NY, USA).
Elaine teaching the “10 Commandments for Parents”
at the Mothers and Babies Center.
From school, we returned to the Mothers and Babies Center, where Elaine taught about 40 moms the “10 Commandments of Parenting.” These included “Protect your children by fearing God” (from Proverbs 14:26), “Be like Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5) and “Practice what you preach.” The women expressed thanks in energetic clapping and singing as they were blessed by this teaching.
On Wednesday, the preschool teachers at the center had expressed a need for a new “netball,” holding up a much-patched basketball. As God would have it, Michele brought a basketball, which she presented to the mothers. They proceeded to put on a netball demonstration for us, and then entertained us with songs, dancing, and more drama.
There is never a shortage of drama in the foreign mission field, and we praise God for His guiding hand in all that we say and do. Truly, nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Wednesday, March 5
“That was really fantastic,” Damson said after Elaine taught about the Holy Spirit, students acted out the Parable of the Lost Son, children made pin-wheels, and everyone sang our song of the week. It was another blessed day with Elaine and Michele teaching 150 students (including our orphans) in the Searchlight school in Kambona.
Ephraim, playing the Lost Son, during a school dramatization of Luke 15:11-33.
Michele, Elaine and Damson leading pin-wheel-waving children in song.
After school, we visited the Mothers & Babies Center in nearby Msema, where Duncan's church is located. More than 50 women and scores of children greeted us with song and then told us more about their lives.
The Mothers center is an amazing hub of activity with women doing home-based care (outreach to the sick), including those who serve HIV/AIDS sufferers. The woman in charge of this program said they had helped about 50 people in five remote villages, but “many more need help.” When asked, “What is your dream?” she answered (through Damson's translation): “To reach the rest and help them. I want to give them food and other help and pray with them.”
The Mothers center also serves as a springboard to small businesses for each of the women. Using a micro-loan that U.S. member Charlotte Crain helped the women secure after our mission here in 2010, the Mothers center offers small, short-term loans to start ventures such as baking, sewing, and vegetable and fruit stands in the local market.
These women, living in US$1-a-day poverty, are shining examples of the body of Christ at work. It's a shame that many of us with more don't do as much.
“'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” – Matthew 25:40 (ESV)
Tuesday, March 4
Elaine and Michele began teaching the Trinity to the orphans and children at Searchlight Ministry's school in Migowi. There are more than 225 students in grades 1-7, which are taught by six teachers. Because there are no school fees for primary students at most schools in Malawi and funding is hard for Pastor Duncan to come by, there is a need for US$300 a month. Duncan would like to double the $50 salary of each primary teacher to put them on a par with teachers at the government-run (public) schools.
There also are 150 students and eight teachers in the secondary school, including our brother Damson.
After sharing the “3-in-1 Story” in which an apple (with its peel, flesh and core) representing the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the children were taught how to make Gospel bracelets. They then continued to learn a special song that they will sing for us at week's end.
Elaine, Michele and Damson teaching about the Trinity.
There are many other things going on behind the scenes (in the physical and spiritual realm) as we continue to seek God's will for the work to be done here. Prayer is always appreciated.
“But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'” – Matthew 19:14 (ESV)
Monday, March 3
A remote road in Malawi.
We spent the first day adjusting to the heat (70F degrees warmer), time (seven hours ahead), and culture (a world apart). Duncan took us to visit several projects he is working on. Damson brought his real parents to meet his “American parents” so they could give thanks for helping to send him to college. The orphans spent much of the day around us and we began teaching them (and about 40 of their closest friends) a special song.
It was Freedom Day in Malawi, the holiday marking the country's independence. The freedom we are most interested in is a gift from God – the love shared through His Son, Jesus Christ. On Tuesday, Elaine and Michele will begin in earnest teaching the orphans and schoolchildren three days of lessons about the Trinity.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Sunday, March 2
We arrived at Duncan's home in southern Malawi this evening after 1 1/2 days of travel. Elaine and I met up with Michele in New York City and flew for more than 24 hours through South Africa to Malawi. Duncan, Damson and one other teacher, Philip, greeted us in Lilongwe. Africa heat welcomed us; it was 26 degrees C – it wasn't even 26F when we three from the Northeastern USA left North America on Saturday. We then drove 6 hours to reach our destination for the busy week ahead. Thank You, Father, for providing safe travel.
Saturday, March 1
The North American contingent of the team united today at New York City's JFK International Airport. It'll take just under 15 hours to reach our connection in Johannesburg, South Africa, from which we will head to Malawi's capital city of Lilongwe tomorrow. Praise Him for all He has in store!
Friday, Feb. 28
We ask mission team members to share their special “God moment” on our biographical questionnaire. When Damson Samson of Malawi filled out his form, he wrote: “The special ‘God moment’ I am to share is about receiving Christ. Why this moment? Because it is the time at which somebody completely changes his or her destination.”
And all the people said amen.
Damson’s moment came when Pastor Duncan Nyozani and friends organized a night of prayer in 1999. “It is an unforgettable night to me,” Damson recalled. “The past history was cleansed in the blood and remembered no more. Thank You, Jesus.
“I went there (to the night of prayer) just to pass time. To the contrary, the message rained to the deepest part of my life until I came to confess my past and accept Him into my heart.”
Since that fateful night, Damson has served in ministry with Pastor Duncan, attended college in Lilongwe for four years on funding provided through Climbing For Christ, and is about to be sent out by C4C as a missionary to East and Southern Africa. Along the way, he has shared the love of Jesus with orphans cared for by Duncan’s Searchlight Ministry.
A short-term mission team – consisting of Michele Annibal of Philadelphia, PA, USA; Elaine Fallesen of Hilton, NY, USA, and me – is ready to GO to minister to children alongside Damson and Duncan, share with women in surrounding villages, and visit the first African church built with C4C funding nearby in Mozambique. Mission: Malawi 2014, beginning Saturday, March 1 and continuing until Monday, March 10, is our third trip to Malawi in five years.
The relationship in this place – known as “the warm heart of Africa” – has grown from helping an orphanage robbed of its food in 2009 to helping grow a ministry that will send out the Word of a Destination Changer named Christ.
- CLICK HERE for the Mission: Malawi 2014 Prayer Calendar.
Where in the world?
Malawi is a nation in Southern Africa that is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is bordered by Zambia to the west; Mozambique to the west, south and east, and Tanzania to the north.