Week 1,2,3-Chinzakazi Village, Ntcheu, Malawi
Maria Salow, Active Duty for the Lord Jesus
Hello, I am first and foremost a daughter and warrior of the Lord God, and I am also Chris’ daughter. You may remember some reports I wrote while I was serving God last summer in Honduras. Now, I am grateful for the opportunity to be back with my parents in Malawi, Africa. I also had attended the Open Heavens Prophetic Conference in Israel with my parents, which I believe was influential for our spiritual growth as well as preparing us for our time in Africa and beyond. I can say with confidence that God taught each of us in different and marvelous ways from our time in Israel.
Now, we have been able to take some of what God has taught us and apply it to our lives, and especially how the Lord is working here in Echo Malawi. For me in particular, I have been living and serving with two brothers in Christ in Chinzakazi village of Ntcheu, one of Malawi’s 20+ districts. I was really “in the dark” regarding expectations for village life and all that it would entail. To describe this experience in one sentence, I would say that it is the best, yet most difficult experience (so far) in my life. Living and ministering in the village is the best because I am fully present with God, and for the people in the area. As an 18-year old, it was a daunting move to decide not to have cellular connection in the village, but I knew the spiritual benefits and intimacy I would gain with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would be worth it all. This has most certainly been the case. Especially in my first week, I felt a bit distant from the people of the village as I had just met them, and the language barrier has been a factor. As a Linguistics student, I am intrigued and motivated to learn Chichewa with God’s help, and I am grateful for His mercy in this area.
Also, the Lord has been merciful to me in my relationship with my beloved warrior of God. I met him at college, and we both knew that this summer (just over three months) would be a true test of our relationship. Only through the Lord’s strength and presence within us, we stay together despite the distance and time apart. As I long deeply for him, God leads me into prayer the instant I think of him. The Lord has been abundant in His blessings for us during this season. At the start of the summer, I learned to embrace the Biblical role of a woman in a relationship, allowing my man to pursue me. God has grown my boyfriend’s passion for the Lord, and for me, so he is pursuing me in a Biblical way. He always stays in touch with me and we love reconnecting on the weekends when my data is working. Regardless of where I am, my prayer mode is always on, because that is the best connection God gives us with Himself and the beloved people He has given to us.
In my first week at the village, Isaiah 30:15 caught my attention. In my confused or desolate moments, the Lord reminded me that I can always come to the secret place of intimacy with Him through prayer. Even when God might feel far, He never is far from us. We are the ones who need to realize that He is close to us, and we just need to step into His presence through prayer and reading His Word, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. God has greatly increased my intimacy with Him during my time experiencing the village life and its challenges. I can recall a couple nights of waking up at odd hours throughout the night, and God has called me into communication with Him through prayer, to start sharing in some of His burden. Since I teach one hour long class each day except for Fridays, God has given me quite a bit of free time throughout the day. I use this time to free myself from the happenings of the world, and delight myself in the Lord’s presence as I pray for His will. Prayer can take on many more forms than we realize. First of all, we do not need to be physically alone. We can come into the quiet place with our Heavenly Father even when we are surrounded by people. God hears us, rather or not we pray aloud. This reminds me too in deep petition to the Heavenly Father, when the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that we cannot understand. God hears the desperation, the cry, and the desire within our hearts to please Him in everything. He can listen and respond to us anywhere, at any time.
I thank the Lord Jesus that I was able to teach this truth to the children that I lead in Kids Ministry. One question I asked completely stumped them; “Can I pray to God while I am walking? Playing? Dancing?” They did not think it was possible, but I shared that we most certainly can pray during activities like this because God is omnipresent, meaning we can pray to Him anywhere since He is everywhere. When I asked what is included in prayer, one wise student answered, “Repentance.” That most certainly is part of it. It is important to come before God with a repentant heart, because He loves us so much, and wants to restore us to Him if we are willing to change and obey Him. Prayer also includes gratitude for God’s faithfulness, a plea for salvation of His people, spiritual and physical restoration, pleading for God’s strength and presence in those we love, and much much more. A new aspect of prayer that God taught me in week two is a strategy that I had never before considered. Early one morning the Lord had called me to Him, He taught me to pray for various people groups in need of Him. Some groups that God showed me are Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists and followers of other Eastern religions, murderers and thieves, persecutors of Christians, and those who are bound in the chains of Satan’s worldly living. This prayer technique intrigued me because it is specific, yet broad at the same time. We focus on one specific group, how they identify themselves, and their spiritual needs, yet at the same time are praying for a HUGE number of people which constitute each group. I can only thank the Lord Jesus for teaching me to bear His burdens and love His people.
Loving the people in Malawi is quite a joy. Even though we may not be able to have full conversations with my broken Chichewa, God’s love speaks volumes. Really, this is what it looks like to serve the Lord. We come to Him surrendered, in obedience, with the gifts and abilities that He has given to us. He takes our victories, our skills, our brokenness, our sin, and our human weaknesses. He combines that with His glory and power, and uses it to touch the lives of people around us to benefit His kingdom. Faith ties in with this, because we must live dedicated to God even when we do not see results immediately coming from our faithful decisions, Galatians 6:9. For example, with the women’s Bible study, I still do not feel like we have completely connected with each other. I understand that I am a foreigner, and we cannot fully understand each other, but God can still move in situations like that. I believe in faith that our discussions in God’s Word, and prayers are drawing them closer to God, even if they are not directly telling me about their personal relationships with the Lord.
The Heavenly Father’s main purpose for me to be in the village could quite possibly be for the growth of my personal relationship with the Lord. In the third week, beginning on Monday, I randomly came across some notes in my Bible about marriage God’s way, and being the bride of Christ. The depth of this intimacy with God, and possibly with another human being, really hit me. Being one with another being is no matter to take lightly. I am at a point in my relationship with God where I never want to feel distant from His presence, and I can constantly turn to Him in prayer. I want Him to guide my every action, and interaction with those around me. My joy in communion with the Lord, and allowing my spirit to be one with His is incomparable to anything I could experience here on earth. Not long ago, I heard a profound quote from a well-known pastor: “If I do not have my alone time with God, I am not good for anybody.” I couldn't agree more with this wise truth. On the flip side, we must consider how our time with people in our lives are deeply enriched when it comes from spending quality time with the Lord and in His Word, hearing His heart. God is only a prayer away, and truly in Him is fullness of life, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.