On Friday, June 23rd 2017, our months and months of preparation physically, spiritually and emotionally became a reality as we boarded our plane to Malawi. Our team was made up of ten people from Presbyterian churches across Victoria and together we spent 24 days in Blantyre, Malawi.
Our days were jam packed with physically hard work, lots of gospel conversations, love and a whole lot of laughter. Over these days we spent time together quickly becoming like family, interacting with the locals, participating in various ministries and largely working at a local Presbyterian influenced primary school. Our goal was to do all to glorify God. It was so encouraging to see the grace of God working in the hearts of those we spent time with, particularly as we shared with the children at Orbus.
Weekdays were spent at Orbus C.C.A.P (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian) Primary School. We’d help out teaching in classrooms (or attempting to) and assisted with painting some buildings or working in the garden. 380 health checks were completed – along with multiple clinic and hospital visits. We enjoyed spending time with the children in the yard- teaching them the necessities like AFL and rugby. But our favourite time together with the students came after school. Each day we were able to share a gospel talk and songs with the students. Many of them were based on the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus. Through this time, we were able to spend time in God’s Word with the students. They wrote on their hands the words we were saying so they could go home and share with their siblings the good news of Jesus. It was a real joy and blessing to be able to share the gospel with them. Please pray that the Holy Spirit might use the gospel seeds planted to work in the students’ hearts so they might all come to have saving faith in Christ.
After long days at Orbus, we spent time with the Manners family, part time missionaries from Australia, who loved, encouraged and welcomed us so openly and excitedly to the Warm Heart of Africa. We give thanks to God for this precious family and the continual passion and dedication they devote to Orbus. We were also able to visit with Colin Mbawa and his family who are old friends of many in Victoria.
Weekends were a combination of hard work and rest. Saturdays we travelled to many absolutely amazing places surrounding Blantyre. A highlight for me was certainly Mt Mulanje, Southern Africa’s highest peak. This amazing scenery was certainly an amazing insight to God’s creative hand, so different to Australian nature! We also visited Majete Animal Park, local wood and clothes markets, Zomba Plateau and a sugar cane farm which owned a small animal reserve just to name a few.
We had four jam packed Sundays during our stay. We visited many C.C.A.P churches, all so very different. Our goal was to encourage the churches around Orbus in their gospel work, as well as hear some of the needs that the local churches face. It was exciting to experience what worshipping the Lord looks like in such a different culture. One Sunday we spent a total of 6 and a bit hours at two church services. We also spent time with some of the youth groups and youth group leaders of these churches. We were so blessed by the faith of these youth leaders, who are so eager to grow in the understanding of God’s word and desire to train up the young people of Malawi to be gospel focus people of real integrity. What a joy it was so spend time with them.
Every several days, Emily, one of our team leaders, would get us together to debrief on the events of the past few days. This was so beneficial for us to communicate how we were feeling, as often we were confronted by corruption and poverty that is rampant in Malawi. This also gave us a chance to sit together, sometimes cry, thank God, pray for what we had experienced and for the people of Malawi.
One of our team leaders, Rev. Dave Assender (Interim Moderator- Auburn Presbyterian Church, Scotch College Chaplain) also lead us in a three part Bible study of 1 Corinthians 12 and breakfast devotions. Not only did Dave and his amazing wife Tanya so wonderfully spiritually nurture us, but Dave preached multiple times every week, as well as teach catechism classes. We give thanks to God for Dave, Tanya and the Assender family and their commitment in the preparations for OS17.
We were also blessed to have Duan on our team who enthusiastically learned so much more Chichewa than the rest of us. He even was able to preach in Chichewa in some of the village churches we visited.
Through our blog we were continually amazed by the people from all across the world who were supporting us. We received messages from so many people reading our posts and who were praying alongside us. Not only was the blog a good barrel of laughs, we are so thankful for the way were able to share with you what we were experiencing.
We also are so thankful for our talented photographer, Abi Assender, who with Dave filmed many videos and took over 8000 photos.
Thank you to Presbyterian Youth Victoria, the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and the Australian Presbyterian World Mission for your dedicated partnership in prayer, financially and support. Such a trip isn’t possible without a passion for young people and mission, and both of these you all displayed with a love and dedication to our service. We thank God for you and your work within our state and country.
We’d also like to thank all the individuals who supported us in prayer while we were gone, but also financially leading up to our time away. We praise God for the hundreds of people across this state who invested in us.
A big thank you to the PWMU for their generosity towards the team. As well as Dean and Sandy, Doug and Diane, and Joy who helped us prepare in the months prior to our trip.
We hope this won’t be the last trip PYV makes to Malawi! Please continue to pray God will bless our relationship with the Presbyterian church in Malawi so that the spread of the gospel may continue, like Jesus said, to the very ends of the earth.