The Malawi Files – 2022
Hi all. The schedule is in reverse order, so that the most current updates will be nearest the top. We will be adding news and updates as the days go by. Please use this as a prayer guide. All dates and events are “if the Lord wills” (Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”).
October 11 (Tuesday) – Arrive home! Yay! Safely home, praise the Lord, exhausted but happy! I am typing this final update shortly after waking up a little before 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday (10/12) – my body thinks I slept in to 10:00 a.m. (Blantyre is +6 hours)! Not a bad first night of shifting the schedule back to our time!
October 10 (Monday) – Depart Blantyre. Laura and I are so thankful to God for how all the travel in both directions (to and from) happened without a single hitch that we can think of. What a radical difference from last year when the travel to Malawi was delayed and problematic at every step!
October 9 (Sunday) – I have the privilege of preaching at the new church plant in Zomba, Unity Baptist Church. In the afternoon is the Biblical Womanhood Conference in Zomba, hosted by Unity Baptist. Jason messages: (same as yesterday/Saturday).
Preaching at Unity Baptist was very sweet. I have personally prayed towards this for many years, and I know it has been the subject of our prayers together also. I preached on “The Regulative Principle of Worship,” such a foundational doctrine for a new church with many young people. I thank God that Maya is committed to building their church life on this principle.
The biblical womanhood conference was abbreviated compared to the one in Blantyre the day before, since we only had three afternoon hours vs. all day in Blantyre, but it was still a good day of teaching to maybe ten women in Zomba.
October 8 (Saturday) – The Biblical Womanhood Conference in Blantyre, hosted by Antioch Baptist. Jason messages: Fearless Womanhood; Keepers at Home. Laura message: Lies Women Believe.
Three women from Antioch Baptist shared the teaching equally with “Team North Carolina” and more than carried their share. The messages were all encouraging and radically counter-cultural.
For me, fifteen messages down, three to go! All three of those will be tomorrow, and two of them will be preaching the messages I preached today, only tomorrow it will be in Zomba.
October 7 (Friday) – Evening with the mothers of Antioch Baptist. Jason message: encouragement and exhortations to mothers.
It was nice to have a slow day, and the time with the wives and mothers was good. I wish the Sovereign Redeemer wives and mothers could have been there to encourage these sisters!
October 6 (Thursday) – Continuation of Pastors Preaching Seminar.
I didn’t teach today, so it was a pleasure just to sit and receive some really good instruction. The four sessions today: (1) Evangelism in preaching by Paul White. (2) The importance of prayer in preparation and preaching by Masa Elias (now full-time at Antioch Baptist!). (3) The role of the Holy Spirit in preaching, again by Masa. (4) Pulpit etiquette (conduct in the pulpit that helps – not hurts – the preaching) by Mala.
The quote you will appreciate the most was from Mala: “Finish the sermon before the people are finished.” You can email him your thanks directly.
Tonight we head to the Elias’ home for dinner with the Antioch Baptist singles
October 5 (Wednesday) – Pastors Preaching Seminar. Jason messages: Being Governed by a Text: The Importance of Expository Messages; Delivering a Message that Moves the Hearers: The Importance of Application in Preaching.
There were ~15 participants, many of whom I had met at events in previous years (several of them multiple times). I thought my part went “okay” and overall the subjects and teachings are very useful.
October 4 (Tuesday) – Afternoon with the fathers of Antioch Baptist. Jason message: encouragement and exhortations to fathers. Late afternoon Bible study at Polytechnic (the engineering school of the University of Malawi; Mala has an engineering degree from here). Jason message: The Nature of the Human Heart & the Gospel.
Meeting with the men of Antioch Baptist was great. There was a mix of about fifteen men, a few single, a few married with no children, and a few both husbands and fathers. Paul White and I alternated leading with comments about a topic related to being husbands and fathers, and then the other would follow up with comments to round out that subject, and at the end we interacted with many good questions from the men.
In the evening at Polytechnic (the engineering school of the University of Malawi), I preached the gospel to around a dozen students.
October 3 (Monday) – Returning from Zomba to Blantyre, but diverting to visit Lake Malawi in between! I am very excited about this. Lake Malawi is famously beautiful and Malawi’s big tourist destination, and I have never been there (this is my sixth trip). Mala is annoyed that the normal pattern for short-term missions in Malawi is spending one week doing work, followed by a week at Lake Malawi, so he only lets me go for 1/2 day every six trips… Ha!
Lake Malawi did not disappoint! It is very beautiful, with clear water and sandy beaches. It is sometimes called “Calendar Lake,” being 365 miles long, 52 miles wide at its widest point, and having 12 major rivers flowing into it. Mala grew up on an island in the lake.
It took about two and a half hours to get to the resort location, where we enjoyed a great lunch (fried Chombo – fish – filets for me), and spent the afternoon at the beach, sometimes accompanied by a troop of monkeys who were interested in our leftovers (don’t feed the monkeys!), a number of baboons (one REALLY big one, very intimidating), and a couple of bald eagles periodically making a ruckus in a tree behind us.
Gas (“petrol”) is scarce in Malawi at the moment, so there is something like a 1-in-3 or 1-in-4 chance that the station you stop at has gas to sell. The rule of thumb: If it doesn’t have a long line, it probably doesn’t have gas. If you find a station with gas that doesn’t have a long line, YOU FILL UP! The power is also out something like 8-10 hours per 24-hour day on average, so Mala’s generator, which can run the lights and the internet, is getting a workout. It was very different last December, when gas was readily available and the power outages were few. You never know here in Malawi.
Tourist time is over…
October 2 (Sunday) – Continuation of University Theology Bootcamp. Jason messages: Religious Worship & the Lord’s Day; Of the Law of God; Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead, and of the Last Judgment.
There was a breakout session on Saturday (four messages going at once), and another one on Sunday (five). The audio from all of these will be made available to the conference participants over WhatsApp (how they instant message). These breakout sessions were smaller and interactive to an extent, so they were fun. Students love to ask questions!
The day started promptly at 9:00 a.m. again, and I think we ended around 3:30 p.m. Mala solicited brief testimonies of what people thought were the most significant or impactful things they learned, and it was amazing to hear the responses – they were listening! All of us think it was remarkable how attentive these students remained over the course of so much teaching. I would have expected a certain amount of skipping sessions and restlessness within sessions. I didn’t observe any of that.
October 1 (Saturday) – Continuation of University Theology Bootcamp. Jason messages: Of God’s Decree; Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof; Of Christ the Mediator.
Saturday was better than Friday afternoon/evening was bad. All of the kinks had been worked out by morning, things went very smoothly, and preacher after preacher did a very good job of teaching chapters of the 1689 Confession. More than 150 students have committed two and a half days to this, staying onsite (the men don’t have electricity and some are staying in tents; the women are staying about a mile away in the nicer accommodations).
One of the amazing things we experienced has been Eric and Carol, members of Antioch Baptist, leading a small team from their catering business to feed us every meal, preparing everything onsite and cooking only over fires. The food was delicious and every meal was right on time.
The singing was led by Sam, a member of the church Newton and Emmanuel are pastoring in Lilongwe, and Maya, who is pastoring the new church plant in Zomba. They both play guitar and are excellent worship leaders.
We started promptly at 9:00 a.m., and the day ended after dark with a Q&A around a bonfire, then dinner, then to bed.
September 30 (Friday) – University Theology Bootcamp, Trout Farm, Zomba Mountain (beautiful venue). The purpose of the bootcamp is to introduce these university students to the 1689 Confession by teaching/preaching through a summary message on each of the 32 chapters (!!!). Jason messages: Forming Marriages by the Book (sound familiar?); Of Adoption.
Day 1 of the Theology Bootcamp was rough. Students were arriving very late (we had intended to start at 3:00 p.m.), and there were all sorts of kinks that had to be worked out with power, lights, sounds, etc, etc. We ended the day a session behind. I think Mala and I both went to bed to a little discouraged, if not panicked.
The 2,000 Kwacha registration fee amounts to about $1.50, and included six meals and housing. It was simply to have the participants contribute something in hopes of locking in the students who registered. Sovereign Redeemer, Hope Baptist, Covenant Bible Church (Paul White is an elder), HeartCry Missionary Society, Mt Zion (Jeff Pollard is an elder), and Antioch Baptist essentially paid for the expenses of this event. Thank you! It was money well spent.
September 29 (Thursday) – Travel to Zomba and get everything in place for the start of the University Theology Bootcamp, which starts Friday.
September 28 (Wednesday) – Objective: Arrive in Blantyre. Because our itinerary required an overnight in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines put us up in a nice nearby hotel. At midnight my body thought it was 5:00 p.m. (Ethiopia is +7 hours from our time zone). Then at 5:45 a.m. (time to get up), my body thought it was 10:45 p.m. Interesting. Addis Ababa to Ndola, Zambia (no deplaning), then onto Blantyre, Malawi. Praise the Lord, everything was essentially on schedule, and all the luggage made it (150 pounds of homeschool fuel – that rhymes and I’m coining it – and 80 pounds of 1689 Confessions, two languages included). No masks required at any point. 40 hours of travel is better without masks.
No power at Mala’s house. Power outages are worse than last year, so Mala and Rachel are telling us to expect it. I am on the internet because the generator is running for a bit… Mala is being invited periodically to preach on Wednesday nights at SCOM, a wildly charismatic campus group at the engineering school Mala graduated from years ago. Laura: welcome to the charismatic experience. The title of Mala’s sermon was “Yielding to the Yoke of Christ” and it was AWESOME. I don’t have the audio. Give me a break, I’m jetlagged.
September 27 (Tuesday) – In transit. Washington to Lome (pronounced loe-may), a city in the west African country of Togo, then onto Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, all without deplaning. Laura says we were on that plane for ~18 hours. The ocean is big. Africa is bigger.
September 26 (Monday) – Depart from home. Everything ran on time. The Covid results all came back quickly and negative, the flight from Raleigh to Washington D.C. was on time, and the flight out of Washington was only a little delayed. We thank God.