We were eagerly anticipating the last day of the conference, not because we were tired, but just because we were filled with excitement. Duncan and Felix arrived on schedule and we departed. God has provided additional funds for 215 Bibles for Duncan’s congregation. He asked if we could drop off the first 48 Bibles at his church. Again, we were reminded that “good roads” in Africa meant horrible roads. The Bibles were taken inside and distributed. We were able to spend a few minutes with the people. They seemed to be very appreciative of receiving the word. I’m realizing that I’m forming an incredible empathy and care for the children, so I wondered where they were. Duncan took me to an adjacent building with a small dirty room literally packed like sardines in this 10 x 10 room were probably 50 kids—beautiful little spirits still finding the will to share a smile with me. It breaks my heart to know that this is their Sunday school class.
After a relatively short drive on horrible roads, we arrived at Felix’s church. We were greeted with the same warm smiles and another parade of children. We enjoyed several African worship songs and a very inspiring prayer time. The village chief was in attendance, along with four other pastors from surrounding churches. Then the Holy Spirit called Josh to duty. He was the most on fire that I have seen to date. It took extreme restraint for him not to go too fast for the interpreter and, on occasion, he actually couldn’t contain himself. You could tell the Holy Spirit was pushing him hard to deliver a very strong message. Later on I was comparing hand movements and body language that reminded me of his father. Of course, in true Josh fashion he had to make a smart remark. But then he quickly recanted and said something like ‘I take that as a compliment.’ All fathers should hope that their children will have such adoration for them.
Josh did a rendition of something his father introduced to me 25 years ago at the first Church of God in Jackson. I believe the original author was Dr. Lockridge. I always referred to it as My King was Born King. I’ve enjoyed it since the very first time I heard it, and it continues to stir my spirit to this day. Dr. Lockridge had a raspy voice and I often try to duplicate the original, so I was hoping I would get an opportunity to repeat it to the children; however, during the closing portion of the service, it began to pour down rain, to the point where the sound on the metal roof made it difficult to hear one another.
Prior to finishing the service, Josh gave a call for people to come forward—those who didn’t know Jesus, those who weren’t fully committed, those who were hiding secret sin, those who were carrying around unforgiveness, and a few others. Due to the power of the Holy Spirit, nearly half of the church came forward. I felt that Josh was extremely effective in conveying a message that led to a commitment for change. My thoughts and prayers are that these people will take their new Bibles and their new commitments and go forth to serve the King in a far more powerful way.
At the end of the service, the village chief thanked us for being a part of their church service, then one of the elders of the church gave a fairly long list of items that they need. The way that it was presented triggered some thoughts almost instantaneously in my mind. Many actions of good hearted people around the world have tried to assist the Malawians, but unfortunately there’s been some negative effects.
I believe the general practice at EchoAfrica should be to encourage training for new skills anytime possible, to enlist the skills of church members to assist in any project necessary, and to provide job opportunities such as road repair, bridge repair, and crossing-bridges for foot traffic. The amount of people that travel by foot in this country is considerable. Paying a fair wage, one could assemble a team of workers that could improve the infrastructure, particularly around the churches, the boreholes, and any medical clinics for easier access.
Also, EchoAfrica should provide access for high school missionary groups, adult missionary groups, and potential donors. Because if you are ever able to witness what I have with your own eyes, you will be permanently altered. These children can run, jump, play around, and interact with each other without any toys to play with. We did try offering them some soccer balls, frisbees, finger balls, and a few other items, but there were so many children in such a struggle to control the right to a new item that we vowed to never do that again. I saw a few homemade balls that were constructed of grass interwoven upon itself. The rolling action was greatly reduced by the stems sticking out, but even with such rudimentary elements they had fun. As Americans, we don’t want to Americanize them. The need for all kinds of gadgets and stuff hasn’t infiltrated their society much yet. However, it is quite surprising to see how many people here have cell phones. Apparently, they make calls using Whatsapp, which doesn’t incur any cost. Just as cell phones have taken over our society, I believe it will eventually do the same here. There is a very addictive quality to cell phone usage, so I must warn everyone to be aware.
There are many, many projects here that would be well-suited for missionary trips. For example, the group of friends in my house church have many of the skills needed here. In fact, I’ve thought many times of my friend Tommy who has been an excavator his whole life. Give him a dozer and a few days and he would have some of these roads in fine shape. There are many questions that yet need to be answered. Due diligence is a necessity, especially when we're representing the work of God. Our intentions for the last few days we’re here is to meet with Nazeer and his family and get a tour of his machine shop. We’re hoping that God will allow us to fix 7 more boreholes, which would make a total of 14. We count it all joy to be able to participate in God’s will of restoring water to many of these villagers.
We will be meeting with some attorneys hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s one thing for us to come down here having somewhat of a clandestine operation. However, many more steps are necessary to have an official presence as an organization. There are many more areas of discovery yet to be uncovered. I believe I’m understanding more clearly what God wants me to do down here. Please be praying for us, and especially for the people we are here to serve.