Abiding in the Spirit
Until I opened my Bible to John 15, I was unsure what my sermon at Pastor Joe’s church would be about. I instantly knew this was the topic I was to talk about. After reading through it, I tied the passage to other verses that I had been studying. Josh had been such a skilled speaker, so I hoped not to be a letdown. This could only be done through the Holy Spirit. When we arrived at the church, there may have only been 20 people there, yet the joy and magnitude of their singing seemed to indicate greater numbers. There was an energy and presence that I have only experienced since arriving in Africa, and I marveled at the unbridled enthusiasm. They have far less useless clutter in their lives than what we are weighed down with in the states. Therefore, their ability to focus on the Lord becomes seamless and intentional.
Pastor Joe is a very soft-spoken and mild-mannered man, yet when he led worship, the transformation was instantaneous. He was praising the Lord, jumping around, and worshiping with his whole being. There was nothing fake or overly emphasized. His reverence and posture clearly indicated the joy of the Lord residing in his heart. The praise and worship time lasted over an hour, and between songs, we prayed for specific needs, from the congregation all the way up to the president of Malawi. Through this, I realized how weak and pathetic my prayer life is and the Holy Spirit reminded me that I’m lacking in continual intercessory prayer. My African brothers and sisters are teaching me so much, like being a stronger prayer warrior.
Eventually, the time arrived for me to deliver the message. Before I knew it, an hour had already passed, but it felt like only 15 minutes. I had never spoken with such intensity, which means that something beyond me was at play. The local bishop got up and spoke after I was done, so I scanned the audience and was immediately drawn to a couple of people. I felt as though I would be disobedient to the Holy Spirit if I did not call them forward. God was prompting me to pray for these men, so after the bishop stopped talking, when the singing resumed, I stood up and gestured to the first young man and motioned for him to come forward.
The Bishop joined me as interpreter. I told this young man he had some dark and troubling burdens, so I felt led to pray for him. The young man looked at me with shock and relief simultaneously. By his reaction, there was no question that the Holy Spirit’s prompting was spot on. After we had prayed for him, he returned to his seat, bowing his head and seeming to be in deep repentance for nearly 20 minutes. The weight he was carrying was blocking what God wanted to do in his life. My prayer for this man was that he could move closer to the presence of The Lord, and a few others joined us in prayer. It is amazing when God’s supernatural presence unites his children through prayer.
After a three-hour long church service, we continued with a leadership meeting. Several elders of the church, along with a few pastors and bishops gathered together. The bishop laid out a vision that he has moving forward, mentioning many needs that parallel the goals of EchoAfrica. I believe the potential to form alliances with thousands of churches in Africa could become a reality. It is a major task that only God can lead us through. The building that the church occupied was in desperate need of repair, so I asked them if they had the skills in their congregation to build a new church. The solution would not be simple, but I shared EchoAfrica’s willingness to help.
Next week I will be returning to deliver some Bibles. At that time, I asked if they would be able to give me a material list, so we could pray for God’s provision. I requested that the young men of the village could be taught construction techniques in order to utilize their skills in this project. It would be a double blessing! They all agreed, and praised God for an opportunity to improve their circumstances.
After I returned back to my room, Tony came to see me. For the next hour, he shared his thoughts and ideas. Evidently, the Holy Spirit is working in his heart and already planting seeds of a vision for Malawi. I marveled at the ideas and the weight they carried. Thankfulness cannot even begin to describe how I feel towards God for introducing us to Tony. What he shared with me was farther-reaching than I could imagine. I can hardly wait for my friend Rick, Josh’s father, to meet him. This man is outstanding and I could listen to him talk for hours as the light of Jesus shines through him.