We knew that this week would be quite busy, so I was pleased to see that Rhoda and the marvelous school director were waiting for me 10 minutes early this morning. Rhoda gave me a document that she had worked on seven years ago when they had set up a Montessori organization and needed to register it with the government. As I read through the document, I was quite pleased to see that nearly all of her outline fit with our mission. She said, “You can have this to do as you please.” A few minutes later, when Pastor Joe arrived, we discussed making the changes to the document. He said that he would work on it and should be able to have it completed by morning. God provided a way to shortcut the process by several weeks, which was a wonderful way to start the day. Twelve hours later, Joe came into my room with a completed document, ready for review. Now, we will be able to go to the government office tomorrow and register EchoAfrica as a known entity in Malawi. It happened so quickly, so I asked God if I should stay longer. Every day He exceeds my expectations.
Our next task for the day was to set up an account, or at least transfer funds into Rhoda’s and Tony’s profiles. We discussed having a joint account, knowing that it was highly unlikely for the bank to give us one without a registered entity. However, I really didn’t have a clue how hard it was going to be until we spent almost 4 hours at the bank! Unless someone is a Malawian citizen, has a work visa, and full-time job, they will not allow an account to be started. Rhoda, a strong woman, approached the supervisor and told him that God wanted to have a joint account set up for us today. I love the tenacity and spunk that she possesses. She has no problem telling a person what’s on her mind. Her energy is always governed by a servant’s heart for our Lord.
After I got a mugshot, was fingerprinted, and filled out several sheets of paperwork, Tony and I were finally granted a joint account. I think it would have almost been quicker and much less of a hassle to be arrested! The young man assigned to fill out all the paperwork was inquisitive about what we were doing. We told him that we wanted to distribute thousands of Bibles and be part of God’s will in Malawi. He was inspired and asked if he could volunteer on weekends to help. Then, he informed us that, in all the years that he had worked at the bank, they have never made an exception for a foreigner to open an account without working or living in the country. He was shocked it had actually happened, and said so several times, but gave glory to God for such a blessing.
By the time we left the bank, it was nearly 2 o’clock. Bonface, the driver of our little bus, had patiently waited outside the entire time, so we treated him to Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch. I believe that’s the only American food chain that I have seen in Malawi. The group acted as if it was a grand king’s feast. If the average American family of four skipped only one outing at KFC, four more Bibles could be put in the hands of the Malawian people.
For the past few days, Bonface has heard many conversations, and has seen the light of the Lord shining through the people we met. When I saw him in the morning, I asked him how he was doing. He looked at me with a playful grin and replied, “Praise Jesus,” in a quiet voice. Then, he quickly glanced around as if someone may have seen him. I asked him if he had a Bible, and he did not. I said, “If we give you one, will you read it?” His answer was “yes.” I told him that I wanted to see him in heaven someday, and he agreed.
In America, I face more flops than wins when it comes to talking to someone about Jesus. Either I get brushed off, mocked, or a number of other things. But here, almost everyone embraces us in the conversation. There is a hunger for knowing God here, more than I have ever experienced before. The people are appreciative that someone has taken interest in their eternal destination. For all those who want to be part of the great harvest, they need to join in God’s will.
My new friend Nazeer had given me a contact for buying Bibles, but little did I know, it was the director of the Malawi Bible Society. After much negotiation, he and I were able to agree upon a price. The first 800 Bibles that God has already provided cost us $10 apiece, but the next 5,000 Bibles, we will be able to purchase for $6.25 apiece. Praise Jesus, it’s a huge blessing. Now we’ll be able to give out many more Bibles for the same amount of money. The director also thanked God for making the provision possible.
One interesting thing that I’ve observed here is that the middle finger is used quite prominently for pointing, especially when reviewing documents. In America, someone might take offense to it, but in Malawi they are unaware of what it means. And I’m not telling. There’s a certain amount of innocence that still exists here, and I would say an even higher degree of innocence remains out in the villages. I believe that’s a major contributing factor to their pure form of worship. I believe childlike faith is a way of life for many here, and I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way whatsoever. That type of faith is what we all should be striving to obtain.
The next thing on the list was to locate a house. Nearly 12 hours after our day had begun, we went and examined a potential house. The complex was completely gated, with a large brick wall surrounding it, which definitely gave it a feeling of security. The size of the house was much larger than I anticipated, and the yard is full of shrubs and plants and a garden. The house includes four bedrooms, three baths, one and a half kitchens, two large meeting rooms, plus some storage and an attached two-car garage. It could be segregated to allow groups of youth on mission trips, maybe as many as 15 at a time, and still have plenty of room for recreation. Males and females could each have their own quarters and separate bathrooms. For a small fee we could also get a gardener and gatekeeper that could monitor the property at all times, all for less than $700 a month.
That may seem like a lot, but we are staying at one of the cheapest hotels with modern conveniences (running water, a toilet that flushes and a shower) for the discounted rate of $65 a night. So one month of two hotel rooms would equal over five months of rent for the house, which will easily house twice as many missionaries—or even more if it’s set up in bunk bed style. Plus, while we’re back in the states, EchoAfrica continues its mission spreading the word of God in a powerful way. This day has been blessed by the Almighty. There’s no other way to explain all these events. All I can say is, “Praise Jesus!”