It’s been a few years since I have been on a mission trip. I hadn’t had a specific word from God to go to Malawi, but believe that we are all called to go, in some manner or other. Acts 1:8 says that when we have received the Holy Spirit and His power, we will be His witnesses “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” So believing and trusting His Word, I prayed and asked that He would shut doors if this specific trip was not His will; and all the plans fell easily into place.
We left on a two-day bus trip, which before-hand had seemed daunting, but allowed for time to get to know the others, as well as the opportunity to focus on the time ahead. From Hillcrest, it was Natasja Foster and myself, and a young lady, Nicole, from St Agnes Church. In Joburg, we were joined by two men from Port Shepstone, Brett and Tanner. Once we reached Malawi, we stayed at the NCMI base in Blantyre which was established by Hennie Keyter. The next evening we were joined by a mainly young-adult team from Bryanston Church. We knew before leaving that our aim in going was to serve this team by preparing food for the week as they, in turn, helped at the local pastors training time and, after that, at the Malawi Equip time, the focus of which was the youth. So, while we were not able to interact too much with the local people, we did get to rub shoulders with the team who were serving solidly for six days. This was indeed a privilege; young people have much to offer!
We were able to slip into a few meetings and what perspective those times brought. Many of the people who attended the training and conference were perhaps financially poor but spiritually rich. It was quite cold there, but some of the people arrived after days of travelling, with sandals, no warm clothes, just what they had on, but with great hunger and expectation. At night they pushed the benches they had sat on during the meetings, to the edge of the giant hall, and there they slept. Young and old worshipped God with such awe and joy, but with a hunger for more. There was a specific prayer that in this generation God would make His name known again. Speaking from the book of Kings, Hennie encouraged everyone that we are a people of destiny and that God has a purpose for every single one of us.
At the end of the conference, we had the privilege of being part of the handover of 1000 Bibles to some of the local pastors. The money for these Bibles had been raised by Bibles Beyond Borders, through various initiatives, such as a Fun Run and runners who ran Comrades with the aim of collecting donations. CMP was also instrumental in making this handover possible. It is difficult to describe the tenderness of that moment, as the pastors sat on the ground, waiting to be handed a few Bibles, that they, in turn, would take back to their villages to share amongst their congregants. It was not easy to remain composed. The reverence and awe with which the Word is held was indeed humbling; I couldn’t help but think how at home I have a few Bibles, in different versions, just for me. I also couldn’t help feeling more than a little uneasy over the fact that there are many days I ‘can’t’ make time to read the Word, and here were represented entire villages where perhaps the pastor is the only one who has a Bible. What a great and urgent call there is for us to help others to have access to the Living Word, and through it, to Our Lord Jesus Christ. And, oh, what a privilege to be a little part of His plans. And His plans are big, and will not be thwarted, and it was amazing to see what He is doing in other nations.
If I’m totally honest a huge motivation for me in going was personal: from previous trips, I had experienced a greater intimacy and personal revelation of God when I had ‘gone’. I realised that in going, and in leaving your comfort zone behind, you give yourself space and time to hear God. Initially, I had thought, you give God room to speak, but on this particular trip, the realisation came that, actually He speaks all the time, but I’m not always positioned to hear and listen. And so in going, when everything is left behind, and perhaps you feel a little uncomfortable and maybe a little alone, you tend to quiet your soul a bit, and then you hear a little more clearly, the voice of God, that is ever-present, but perhaps a little drowned out.
So, we return, a little restless and, God-willing, eager to go again to serve, but more to learn and have our eyes opened to His majesty and wonders anew. My encouragement to others is to seize with a grateful and expectant heart any opportunity you may get to go.