Day three in Malawi and after waking up a little late I proceeded to the bathroom to engage in my daily morning battle with the sink faucet. Unfortunately, my sink has not seen fit to make brushing my teeth easy. Nevertheless, a very happy surprise was waiting for me when I turned on the shower: a stream of water that eventually became hot! If you have every traveled in the majority world, you know what a luxury a hot shower can be. This had all the markings of a red letter day.
Having made my way to the restaurant for my morning coffee fix, we were able to sit outside on the veranda and enjoy the cool breeze and the warm sun as we gazed across the horizon at majestic Mount Mulanje drinking in its beauty and praising God in our hearts for His incredible handiwork.
One of my favorite parts of the day here in this part of Malawi is the drive from Mulanje to Chiringa. It is about 45-minute drive, and our route takes us around the mountain so that we can see it from virtually every angle. I have always been drawn to beauty. There is a sacredness in beauty that is unique and points us to the master designer. Often, I think that if in a corrupted world we see this kind of beauty, then what kind of beauty must await us in the new heavens and earth.
Our training site this week is located far out in the bush. In fact, we park our vehicle and then walk about a quarter of a mile down a trail. However, I don’t mind. It is a stunning walk as we are enveloped by African vegetation, and our vista includes some pretty amazing angles of Mount Mulanje towering above.
Today is the last day of our training here in Chiringa. It is hard to believe we are already wrapping up our second seminar here. In our sessions today, we focused on the third part of our process of training pastors to become equippers, examples, and expositors. I believe that the most important thing we can give to pastors is a love for God’s Word and to help them be able to rightly understand and teach it. While the concept of expository preaching is new to most pastors we train, there is great enthusiasm for it as they begin to learn more about it and how God can use it to grow them and their congregations. One of the ways you can tell you are making progress in a setting such as this is by the nature of questions being asked. The questions brought forward today indicated that our pastors were grasping what we were teaching and were excited about and committed to the process of becoming faithful expositors of God’s Word. For this we praise God!
I have been joined in teaching this week by a new friend Pastor Jayson Derowitsch from Eastern Oregon. This is Jayson’s first trip to train with ITEM and he has done an outstanding job. I am so encouraged to see God adding to our team of trainers with such quality men. I’m also joined by two great friends from Providence Baptist Church in Virginia: David Pickett and Patrick Lemon. They both have been a great support in doing some lay member training, encouraging the believers, and evangelism.
One of the things that makes the last day of our training so special is that is the day when all the pastors who attended are presented with a certificate of completion. Most of these pastors, especially in a very rural area such as we are in, have no education. They have never received any kind of formal recognition at all. To see them walk down the aisle when their name is called and receive their certificate of completion with a huge smile on their face is worth the drip, drip, drip of a thousand sink faucets.
In addition to the certificates, we had a special surprise in store for our pastors. Through the generosity of Providence Baptist Church and Crossway Publishers, we were able to provide each of our pastors with a study Bible and a necktie and reading glasses. Now the gift of a necktie might seem a little odd to you but believe me African pastors love them. It was a blast to watch them tying their ties and wearing them over their shirts as they left.
The work has begun in earnest in Malawi. Now begins the hard work of training the mentoring team and working with these pastors to implement the things they have been taught. We have the makings of a strong team here and I’m confident that great things are in store for ITEM’s ministry in Malawi.
One of the biggest surprises of the day was at dinner. There is a small restaurant located within the lodge. The staff is super sweet and helpful, and the menu offers hungry patrons many options. However, the food has not been great. Since we kept striking out with our choices the whole week, we decided to shake it up and try some pizza tonight figuring it can’t be any worse than our previous selections. Lo and behold, the pizza was delicious! Who would have known? Pizza in Malawi. God does work in mysterious ways.
Tomorrow, we have a brief meeting with the mentoring team in the morning and then it is on to Llilongwe where we will overnight at the African Bible College and then Saturday it is on to