“The Heart of Man Devises His Way…”

“…but Yahweh determines his step” (Prov 16:9). We all make plans. We need to for many things in our lives and especially the most important things. Yet, an inordinate degree of planning can be born out of pride and desire for control over our lives.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

So, Ashley and I have planned our way. We have computed, received counsel, and prayed, and we desire to take the next step after CAPA and Malawi in a direction to be useful for God’s kingdom and the delight of seeing God expand His glory through Christ over the whole globe. Yet, we await our Lord’s sovereign pleasure in the (re)direction of our plans. We want to share our plans with you so that you can be praying for us as we begin to make our transition from Malawi back to the United States. Let me give you an overview in timeline form.

  • May 17: Board a plane to leave Malawi.
  • May 18: Arrive in the morning at LAX (desperately in need of coffee no doubt).
  • May 18-21 or 22: California fun! Visiting family, friends and Grace Church (we’ll be at Doulos!), hopefully going to the beach and Ikea!
  • May 21 or 22: Packing up our earthly belongings stored in LA in a moving truck.
  • May 23: Leaving LA and driving to Sacramento. We will be having a group dinner with our Sacramento family and friends, if you’re in the area we’d really love to see you!
  • May 24: Travel from Sacramento to Boise. Getting a night to visit with Ashley’s Grandma, sister, and brother-in-law.
  • May 25: Leave Boise and arrive in Spokane.
  • May 25-31st: Spokane week
  • June 1-July 31st (ish): Back to Boise! Chris is doing an internship at a church in the Boise area (Heritage Bible Church) so we will be there for the summer!
  • August 1st (ish): Back to Spokane! Classes at TMS begin at the beginning of August so we will be back in Spokane for me to start classes again.

Many of you already know, but for those who don’t, we are planning on moving back to my hometown of Spokane and my home church of Faith Bible Church which hosts a Master’s Seminary extension campus. There are several reasons that Ashley and I believe that moving back to Spokane is a good fit, but let me give you the top three.

  1. Continued training and mentorship by pastors and elders at FBC. The Lord has really reminded us that the primary qualifications for an elder-pastor are character (1 Tim 3, Titus 1), and we need mature men and women in our lives investing in us as we seek to grow in those character qualities (2 Tim 2:2). God has providentially provided an opportunity in our home church to not only continue mentoring relationships we have from the past but also to be able to continue with top-notch academic training from TMS.
  2. Opportunity to serve our home church. It is our desire to be in a place where we can be useful for Christ’s kingdom. This last year that was in Malawi at CAPA (the Lord really redirected our steps for this one!). This next year, after talking with good friends and leaders at FBC, we believe that we can be useful to our home church even as I continue to train and aim for vocational ministry in the future.
  3. Opportunity to eventually be elder-affirmed from FBC. Since FBC is our home church, we would desire to be affirmed in character and direction for any future full-time ministry the Lord would have us do. Moving back to Spokane affords the opportunity to be under the elder’s scrutiny and shepherding that we desire as we await the direction the Lord was have for us for future ministry.

As we make this transition, there are several things that you can be praying for


  • Safe travel
  • Finding employment back in Spokane
  • Health insurance for Ashley for Rheumatoid arthritis and other health issues
  • Finding a good living situation back in Spokane
  • Wisdom for how to keep partnering with CAPA in the future


  • Continued focus on CAPA and ending well here
  • Being useful and blessings to the CAPA team here
  • Hearts that are not anxious for the future but trusting the Lord’s provision and rejoicing in how He provides
  • Grace to keep encouraging the CAPA team even after being back in the States
  • Serving no matter where we’re at desiring to see Christ’s glory and not our own

 As we near the close of our time serving with CAPA, we can say with a whole heart that CAPA is one of the most exciting ministries that we have witnessed. It is exciting to see how the Lord is using the school to train pastors academically and at the heart level, and we know that that training will trickle down throughout the whole country and quite possibly even farther. It is our constant prayer that God would use CAPA to strengthen the witness of the true gospel of Jesus in this country. On CAPA’s behalf we would like to strongly and prayerfully ask you to consider partnering with CAPA prayerfully and financially. Here are some ways you can be doing both right now.


  • For students. Visit capa.prayformalawi.com to see the student profiles. Also like Central African Preaching Academy’s page on Facebook and see some of the student profiles there. This should give you good prompts for prayer.
  • For recruitment for MDiv students for this coming academic year.
  • For personnel: Beginning Hebrew instructor and administrative assistant.

Financial Needs

  • After we vacate our apartment, CAPA would like to hold it for the next folks who will be coming in August and serving like we did. Giving financially toward this need would be a huge blessing for CAPA. (About a $2000 need).
  • A new campus is being built closer to town that will house International Bible Fellowship and CAPA. Giving toward the building of this facility will provide a great facility for CAPA and IBF, providing a launching pad for much ministry in Lilongwe and Malawi as a whole.

If you are interested in giving to CAPA follow this link, and scroll to the bottom to donate.

Thank you all for your support and prayer! We hope to see many of you soon!

An Adventure… In the Hospital

First of all, I’m ok now. 🙂 I’ve been taking the Kopp kids advice and getting well soon…

Saturday Chris and I hiked a nearby mountain with a group of friends.

Yesterday I stayed home from church with some tummy issues – not muscle issues as I would have expected from hiking! I couldn’t pinpoint anything I’d eaten but tummy bugs are fairly common here so I wasn’t too worried about it. Chris went to church without me (at my insistence) but within an hour or so I was in pretty extreme pain that was getting worse. Chris came home and took me almost immediately to a clinic recommended to us by a nurse from church because they have an American doctor there and the clinic is Seventh Day Adventist so they would be more open on a Sunday. 🙂

The doctor came to see me after getting blood drawn and an exam from a Malawian doctor there and it seemed certain that I had appendicitis.

Hospitals here are not like American hospitals (probably the understatement of the year) and usually expats who need any kind of invasive surgery require an emergency transport to South Africa. But the doctor suggested we do it here, right away. Also, he is a skilled surgeon, had a clean (and brand new) operating room and was able to do it immediately. Due to some of my other medications, I would have been more likely to have a rupture had we waited for transport to South Africa and that would have been bad news. We got to the clinic around 1:30 pm and I was in surgery before 3:30. The surgery took almost 2 hours but he was able to remove my inflamed and angry appendix and clean up the area. Some of the CAPA men and ladies came to be with Chris during the surgery and brought us food for that night and prayed with us – and they got to see my appendix (so lucky for them!). I slept well last night at the clinic… no beeping heart rate monitors to keep me awake or noisy roommates or loud nurses (nurses did check on me, don’t worry)… And I’m recovering well so far! It’s amazing how fast everything happened but we are so thankful to God for his provision for my care here.

Please pray for my continued recovery and that there wouldn’t be any complications or infections. Pray for CAPA as well as Chris will be mostly staying home a few days with me this week and it is the start of a new module. Jim, the president of CAPA, has been so kind and supportive with covering for Chris and making sure he is able to take care of me. And the whole CAPA team has been incredibly helpful with bringing us meals and praying for us and helping with other practical needs.

It certainly wasn’t an adventure that we would have chosen but we see God at work in it. The clinic we went to isn’t one that we would have even known to go to apart from a referral by a nurse at our church here, the doctor was compassionate and thorough, they had an operating room, and being here let our CAPA friends help us – we seriously feel so loved by everyone! We get to sleep in our own bed tonight. And, kinda funny to say it, but it was cheaper to get it done here and pay cash than it would have been to have it in the US with insurance. Plus, I get a permanent reminder of our time in Malawi every time I look at my belly in the future. 🙂 God is good to us!

Malawi Needs Highlight: Faithful Translations (Plus a Personal Timeline Update)

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with goodwill, every day examining the Scriptures if these things may be so. Acts 17:11

This verse compares the Jews in Berea with the Jews of Thessalonica, both of whom Paul spoke the message of the Messiah suffering, dying, and rising from the dead realized in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 17:1-3). The Bereans are commended by God through the inspired pen of Luke for their testing Paul’s message by the Scriptures.  Even Jesus’ special emissary to the nations, the Apostle Paul, was subject to the scrutiny of the Scriptures! How much more the preacher who stands in the pulpit to deliver his message!

At CAPA, this is a key theme that is hammered on again and again. The authority is in the text; the preacher is the faithful herald of what God has said in the Scriptures. Ideally, the situation for the preacher should be just the same as it was for Paul in Berea. The congregation should have the Scriptures in their hands, following and examining whether the points the preacher is making are coming from the text itself.  The preacher can be said to be delivering an authoritative message only if that message is indeed contained in the Scriptures. John Piper puts this well in his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

We are simply pulling rank on people when we tell them and don’t show them from the text. This does not honor the Word of God or the work of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to rely on the Holy Spirit by saturating your preaching with the Word that he inspired. (p.47)

A recent incident highlighted the need in Malawi for the work of faithful Bible translations so that the congregation has the opportunity to see the preacher’s message in the pages of Scripture.

Recently, I asked Maya (a 3rd year MDiv student at CAPA, an intern at International Bible Fellowship, and a dear friend) to translate Psalm 90 for me from Chichewa (the most common of the many mother tongues for the various tribes in Malawi) into English. The standard Chichewa Bible available was translated from an English translation around 100 years ago. Above is a picture of the Chichewa Bible….Can you guess what book it’s from? As he translated for me, he not only wrestled to translate into English, but he struggled to understand the Chichewa itself. This incident opened his eyes and mine. He explained to me that this is why many Malawian preachers avoid preaching from the Old Testament, because they cannot understand the Scriptures contained there in their own language because of the poor and old translation work. And if the preacher (often more educated than his congregation) cannot understand the Bible in his mother tongue, what chance does the average Malawian have sitting in the congregation? How can he see that what the preacher is saying is truly God’s Word?

We know that God is in favor of people having the Scriptures in a language that they can clearly understand since the Old Testament in Jesus’ day had been translated into the common language of the day (Greek from the Hebrew and Aramaic), and Jesus and the Apostles often quote that translation as authoritative Scripture, the word of God. The implication for Malawi then is the need for translations, not just in Chichewa, but in many of the other languages that people have as their mother tongue in this country. These translations should come from the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic into translations that are readable by the common person. Why not just go from the English? Think of a faithful translation like a photocopy. Some aspects of the original will be lost in the translation process to English even though the translation is a faithful one. If now I take that translation (the photocopy) and then translate that into a different language (photocopying the photocopy), I’ve lost more information yet.

This work is not currently in process. But our heart’s desire at CAPA is that some of the fruit of training the men in the biblical languages will be faithful men who will work on this massive project for the sake of their nation. It cannot be simply a work that is done by foreign missionaries either. Our Malawian Dean of Students at CAPA, Gideon, says, the churches of Malawi will have to see the need for such translation work in order for it to be supported and accepted by the church in Malawi at large.

This is just one of the needs that the church in Malawi is facing and that CAPA is either directly or indirectly addressing. Join us in praying for God to use CAPA to address the need for translations for the sake of the church in Malawi!



In other news, we have set our target return date to return to the US. We plan to leave after the end of the CAPA school year (graduation happens on April 20th) the third week of May. This is less than four months away and will result in us being here a little over eleven months total. Please pray for several things:

  1. That we would be “all here” with servant hearts and would be useful to CAPA and the long-term team here.
  2. Pray for my replacement(s) (unknown as yet) to handle administrative, IT, and teaching (Hebrew) work.
  3. Pray for the construction of CAPA’s new campus to go ahead quickly and smoothly. The goal is for it to be ready by the beginning of the new academic year!
  4. Pray for wisdom for the team in discerning what the next steps forward for CAPA as a school should be.
  5. Pray for us as we anticipate facing some reverse culture shock returning to the US.
  6. Pray for the Lord’s leading regarding our future ministry and whether we should seek to do overseas pastoral training center work like this in the long-term.

We greatly appreciate your prayers and hearing from you! Drop us a line or call us up on Skype! You can comment below if you’d like to schedule to Skype with us and we will email you to set that up.

Merry Christmas from Malawi

Merry Christmas from Malawi! It has felt like a very different Christmas this year. Last year, we celebrated Christmas away from family as we are this year, but this year it feels very different. We are into the rainy season/summer here in Malawi. The maize crops were planted a few weeks ago and with all the rain we’ve had they are sprouting up. Nowhere in Malawi does it snow (though a local dollar-store-like shop was selling snow shovels).  We have regular thunderstorms instead of regular snow storms.

Snow Shovel in Malawi Around Christmas Time

Photo Credit: Rachel Floreen

Buying Christmas gifts when you know you will be returning with a limited carrying capacity makes things interesting. And listening to Christmas music when it’s summer-like weather just doesn’t quite have the same effect.

But the most important thing is the same: The Son of God still became the 100% God and 100% Man to sprinkle us clean from our infinite guilt and debt.

Behold! My servant shall have success. He shall become exalted and shall become lifted up and shall become very high. As many were horrified on account of you (his appearance had so much disfigurement more than man and his form more than mankind) so he was sprinkling many nations. On account of him, kings shall shut their mouth because what has not been reported to them they see and what they have not heard, they show themselves to have understanding.

Who has put trust in the report to us and the arm of Yahweh with regard to whom has been exposed? He sprung up as the shoot before Him and like the root from ground of a dry country. No form belonged to him and no splendor so that we should consider him and no appearance so that we should desire him.  One despised and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and one acquainted with sickness and as one hiding face from us. One despised and we did not esteem him. Nevertheless, our sicknesses he himself carried and our pains, he bore them, but we esteemed him stricken, struck down of God, and humiliated. But he was being pierced because of our rebellion, being crushed because of our offences. The chastisement for our peace was against him and by his wound we were healed. Isaiah 52:13-53:6

I had my Hebrew Exegesis students at CAPA translate Isaiah 52:13-53:12 because I wanted them to see the glory of the Messiah’s propitiatory death predicted around 700 years before Jesus lay in the manger as the humble God-man-servant-Messiah-king. No majesty, no splendor as Isaiah predicted, but God in human flesh. What glory!

We have finished with the first semester at CAPA for this academic year. At semester’s end we had 18 third year MDiv students looking forward to graduation in April; 28 first year MDiv students looking forward to graduation in 2020; and 28 Diploma students looking to graduate this April as well. I had the privilege to teach all three classes in different subjects.

  • Hebrew Exegesis to Third Year MDiv
  • Introduction to Exegesis to 1st Year MDiv and Diploma (team-taught with Tony McCracken)
  • Academic Writing to Diploma (team-taught with Matt Floreen)
  • Beginning Greek 1 to 1st Year MDiv (covered for Jim Ayers for the last module)

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-06 at 1.40.55 PM

Photo credit: Maya Kuthyola

In addition, I had the opportunity to serve CAPA in administrative tasks and help with IT work. Ashley and I have also had a chance to serve International Bible Fellowship (the church connected with CAPA) with youth ministry. Through youth ministry, we have gotten a chance to spend more time with one of CAPA’s students, Maya Kuthyola. Maya is a wonderful man pursuing full time pastoral ministry and we have come to be good friends.

Kuthyola, Mayamiko

At IBF, I also got to teach an adult Sunday school on how to study the Bible, and Ashley has been able to help with the accounting at the church a bit in addition to helping with some development work for CAPA.

Suffice it to say, we’ve been busy, and have had many adventures! We’ve (re)learned many lessons as well. Here are a few:

  • God DOES give you more than you can handle (contrary to a popular notion) and asks us to do things that we can’t handle on our own to make us rely on Him and His power (2 Cor 12:9-10).
  • A performance mentality versus a gospel mentality will make ministry an idol and rob it of its joy and make you ineffective in ministry. For that matter, this holds true for the whole Christian life.
  • God’s qualifications for the leaders of his church are first and foremost about character and integrity, not skills, talents, or education (1 Tim 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Pet  5:1-4).
  • God uses pressure and trial to expose sin that you didn’t know you had in you. It is a painful display of His love and desire for the holiness of His children.
  • It is the local church’s responsibility (not primarily a seminary’s) to train men for ministry. A seminary can come aside the church to help, but it must be the church that owns the responsibility of training men (2 Tim 2:2).
  • The bond of salvation in Christ creates a family of faith that transcends nations, races, socio-economic status, distance, and denominations (Gal 3:27-29).
  • There are many things that you think you need in life but don’t.
  • Good friendships are forged through being in the trenches of ministry.
  • Missions is not just for the theologically trained. It’s for faithful men and women (who do know their Bibles and have godly character) who are skilled in IT, mechanics, carpentry, etc. There are key and needed ways these folks can serve on “the field.”

One last lesson. Here it is: There is injustice and inequity in this world that will not be solved until Jesus establishes His earthly kingdom. This is an elephant in the room, but it is something that has been on my mind. Malawi is a very poor country. Even the poorest American has opportunities in the US that a Malawian could only dream of. What is the solution? We could talk about political and economic reforms and education and international aid, and while these things are not bad and can be helpful, they do not address the fundamental problem.  From what we have heard, there are over 2000 aid agencies in Malawi. Some of these even compete with one another. And the country still has problems.

So, how can well-intentioned outsiders help? How can I help? My heart goes out to people I see in the streets, people I see in villages, and people I know personally. They don’t have the means that I do. They don’t have the opportunities that I have had. The reality is that as much as I want desperately to see that inequity erased, I cannot do it. Not if I gave away all the money I had 1,000 times over. Do not misunderstand me. There is a time and a place to give money. There are concrete ways to show compassion. There are good ways to pursue social justice that every Christian, including myself, should participate in. But I cannot erase the social injustice. Jesus didn’t do that during his first coming. He gave a taste of the healing and justice He would bring in His kingdom, but not the fulness. He dealt with the deeper problem of man’s broken relationship with God. He bought by His death the ability to escape from the corruption of sinful desire in ourselves that has ruined the world. There is great suffering here on this earth, yet it is finite. The suffering due to God’s wrath is eternal. Jesus dealt with the greater problem during His first coming. He will deal with the remaining problems during His second coming.

The church should show compassion in concrete ways to help alleviate suffering, but it cannot fully erase it. Yet it can faithfully preach the message of eternal comfort (its primary mission (Luke 24:45-47) )while not neglecting to show compassion in concrete, wise, and helpful ways. So, what Malawi needs is an army of preachers armed with the true good news of Jesus Christ to preach faithfully in local churches throughout Malawi. They need to offer the true hope that spans races, countries, and socio-economic statuses. The news that we all need to escape from God’s wrath and not the often repeated half-truths of prosperity gospel charlatanism that deceives Malawians and bilks them out of what meager means they have.

This is why I believe in what we do at CAPA as we seek to train faithful preachers of the gospel. It has been amazing to see how hungry the guys are for the truth and the means to preach it. There is nothing quite like being able to help someone to study and teach the Bible better, and to think of the impact that that can have under God’s blessing. Although we are already half way done with our time at CAPA in Malawi, it has increased my appetite to train men for ministry wherever God would have us in the future.

Please keep Malawi and CAPA in your prayers. If you are interested in giving to CAPA please follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Merry Christmas from Malawi,

Chris and Ashley Mullins

Trip to Green Pastures and Still Waters


Chris has had this hat since before we started dating (ask us sometime for some good stories about it when we first started dating) but this is probably the best use of the hat ever!

Chris’ birthday was a few weeks ago. I love buying gifts but without malls, Amazon and easy ways to take things home in a few months, a regular gift didn’t seem like the best idea. And after all, Chris isn’t really a “gift” guy and would prefer an experience to a new “thing” (unless, of course, that “thing” is a  Logos lexicon or commentary… he doesn’t seem to dislike those at all!). So I decided to plan for a vacation for his birthday (ok… and our Christmas presents to each other, it was a splurge trip!)! After planning and researching a different trip, another missionary wife let me know about a special offer available at a place called Chelinda Lodge in Nyika National Park and we decided to go!

The drive to Nyika is about 10 hours, 3-4 of them over poorly maintained dirt roads. We split the drive there into two days and stayed in Mzuzu (which, interestingly, is named after a white person’s mispronunciation of the Chichewa word for mosquito). It was still a long drive but, oh my, the drive was so worth it.

After entering the park (2-3 hours from the lodge), we saw an elephant from a distance! It was so cool! And then about 30 minute from the lodge, this herd was in the road.


Interspersed with the zebra were roan antelope which are almost cooler than the zebra, I think. We found one on a later drive… I love their black & white faces!


We stayed at Chelinda Lodge for three nights. We went on three game drives and saw more roan, bushbuck, eland, reedbuck, duiker (all different species of antelope – and so beautiful), zebra, warthog, hyena, an owl, other cool birds, wildflowers (like orchids, lupine, gladiolas and iris all growing in the wild) and such breathtaking scenery and sunsets! We went on a few walks as well but really enjoyed the amazing quite and solitude (we were the only ones staying at the lodge) and getting to rest and read by the fire in the evenings and spend time together.

We really needed that time. The semester (4 modules) finished on November 30 and we were both really tired, disconnected and distracted. We needed to see a beautiful side of Malawi and get away from the noise and interruptions of the city. We needed time to spend together and be refreshed.


This was our view when we arrived at the lodge for the first time. It reminded us of Psalm 23 (Chris’ translation):

A Psalm of David

Yahweh is my shepherd

I shall never become needful

In pastures of green grass, He causes me to lie down

Beside waters of resting places, He escorts me

My soul He restores.

He leads me in firm paths of correctness for the sake of His name

Even when I should walk in a valley of impenetrable gloom,

I shall never be fearing harm because You are with me

Your rod and Your staff, they are comforting me.

You set and order before me a table prominently before my attackers

You refresh with the oil my head, superabundance is my cup.

Surely good and steadfast love shall pursue me all the days of my life

And I shall return into the house of Yahweh for length of days.

God is so faithful to give us what we need and we are really grateful to have been allowed the resources to be able to take this trip. He used it to refresh us in so many ways, mostly in Him!

Here are a few more pictures from our trip!

Our chalet and the “donkey boiler” they use to heat water
Sunset on the first night


Shadows and the Land Cruiser we took out on our game drives
There is a pine tree forest behind the lodge. The British planted it for a paper mill before they realized the roads are impassable in rainy season!
The dam that is visible from the lodge (you can also see the lodge and a handsome man here)
Roan and sunshine and green grass and artsy lens flare
Bushbuck. They are smaller and have spots and stripes on the legs. Such cool animals!
The view from the Northern Loop! From here you can see into Zambia!
Another view from the Northern Loop
Roan and hills. Can you tell we’re a little obsessed?
If you don’t take a selfie on vacation, you probably didn’t go on vacation…

Last one, I promise! A normal sight in Malawi…

A busy village market on the roadside as we drove up to Mzuzu

Thank you for taking time to read about our trip and keep up with us!



Lake Adventure Day!

We (by “we” I mean Chris and all the professors at CAPA) are gearing up for Module 3 that starts next Tuesday. It’s been a very busy few months for everyone here and the Kopp’s decided to take a “day off” and go to the lake (Lake Malawi) to celebrate Malawian Mother’s Day that happened last Sunday. Since Chris and I have been talking about going to the lake for months, we thought it would be fun to join them. So early yesterday the Kopp family, Ayres family, Jana, Rachael (Jana & Rachael are here to assist the Kopp’s and Ayres with homeschooling this year) and Chris and I packed up in three cars and headed to the lake.

It was a fun day with a lot of unforeseen lessons.

Lesson 1:

Always say yes to the lake. If someone invites us, we’re going. Even if they don’t invite us, we may try to join them anyways… It’s beautiful there! Absolutely beautiful. Soft sand, waves, sun, tropical flowers, palm trees. It’s getting hot here (in the 90s – with some humidity and no AC in any of our homes) so it was amazing to escape the heat and get into the water.


Lesson 2:

Everything is negotiable. We’re learning this more and more about Malawi but it was fun to see it in action as Matt Kopp and Jim Ayres negotiated prices for our lunch at the resort (whose beach we were using). We ended up with a discount for adults by just having the main course buffet without soup and dessert.

Lesson 3:

Always rub in spray on sunscreen. (Poor Chris! But don’t worry too much, it was just his shoulders and it’s already fading)

Lesson 4:

Always travel with friends with a bigger car than yours.

And tow ropes.


And positive attitudes.

Matt practicing his water skiing moves

We’re so glad we didn’t go the lake by ourselves all those times we talked about going!

(Matt Kopp towed our car home, Jim Ayres drove behind and helped us when the rope broke three times and helped us merge into long crazy spots of traffic)

Lesson 5:

A group of mzungu (white people) with car trouble is real entertainment.


Lesson 6:

Nissan Tiida’s (our car, basically a Nissan Versa) has a special tow hook that you can screw into the front of the car. After unsuccessfully searching for a place to loop the tow rope, Chris found the hook in the trunk (or “boot” as they call it here). Phew!

Lesson 7:

God is good even in hard things! We made it home safely and before dark, we have a car we can borrow and there is a car mechanic that is coming to our house today to look at the car and help us get it fixed. Things could have been a lot worse!


Please continue to pray for us! Pray that our car trouble would be able to fixed simply and quickly. Pray that the upcoming module would go well – that the professors would teach well and that the students would learn well. Pray that we would be able to endure the heat well. Pray for our hearts and attitudes to remain focused on the gospel in all we do here! And pray that we would know Christ more and more.

Thank you for continuing to read our blog! We appreciate you all!



9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I know people quote these verses all the time. I have pointed people and myself to them many a time as well. To embrace and live out their truth though is…painful.

I am convinced that one of the things God wants us to learn from this trip to Malawi is just how weak we are. It feels as though God is determined to expose with the full blazing light of His holiness, our inadequacies. I say “our” but I am most painfully aware of my own inadequacies, and that is what I will share a bit about.

Here are the categories of inadequacies that God has been exposing:


In pride and self-righteousness, I didn’t think I was as bad as I am. A new environment with new stresses and responsibilities and new people to work with and all sorts of gross selfishness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, self-reliance, lack of love, and unbelief come out. This junk was already there, but the new circumstances merely exposed what was already there.

Only Christ’s grace through the gospel, trusting that he was crushed under the infinite weight of God’s just wrath for my sin and that His righteousness is my righteousness and that He is the Treasure that is worth slaying the sin which clings so closely, only Christ’s power can overcome this weakness.

Need for Rest

It would be very, very easy to work 80 hours a week here on all that needs to be done and still have more left to do. It is also very, very easy for me to find my meaning and identity in the tasks themselves rather than being driven out of love for Christ. But that is just idolatry/self-reliance coated with a veneer of ministry. I don’t have enough time or energy. That is a reminder of my weakness and finitude and the unneedy, infinitely energetic God. Rest is a time to humble myself and remember that God is God and I am not. The Sabbath, while not a mandate for Christians as it was for those under the Old Covenant, is still a pattern that is a gift to man.

Lack of Knowledge/Skill

I usually like to think that I’m adaptable and can tackle any problem that comes my way….But I’ve never had to be a Hebrew teacher, administrative assistant, IT technician, facilities personnel, etc. before. There’s just a lot of stuff that comes about in a given day that I’ve never done before and don’t know how to do. I’ll I can do is pray for God’s help and try my best, trusting the Lord for the results.

Communicating Complex Material…with a Language Barrier

Hebrew is hard but glorious. What’s the best way to teach it to those who have a different mother tongue and worldview from you? I don’t know. Each lesson is an experiment to try something that will hopefully help them grasp the concepts better. The big question on my mind is “Will they use Hebrew for the future? Will they use it for their sermons? Will they cut straight the Word of God? How can I help them do that?” I need God’s grace and power to give insight.

Working With Others

I’m an American, so I already have a disposition towards being independent and self-reliant. I was homeschooled, so I learned to work independently…a strength and a weakness. I’m more naturally introverted. I could spend all day at home translating Hebrew, not talking to anyone, and I would be happy. But I need others. I need the body of Christ and its members (1 Corinthians 12) to display Christ and seek to build up His global body. I need other people’s strengths and I need them to complement my weaknesses. I need to humble myself under my leaders that God has placed over me.

Because Christ’s power was made known through Paul’s weakness, he said he was well content with weakness and other hard things. WELL CONTENT. To be honest…I’m not there yet. I don’t like being weak. I like to feel strong and capable. But then Chris and not Christ is seen, and that is truly a disaster. It is far better to rejoice in seeing Christ work His power through our weakness.

At the end of Module 1 a couple weeks ago, I was teaching Introduction to Exegesis to our Diploma students. The module was exhausting and very discouraging at times. There was so much to do and it felt like so many things slipped through the cracks or didn’t go smoothly. But then a student came up to me at the end of the last session and told me that based on what he had learned that module, he wanted to go and change a sermon he was going to preach to an expository sermon. God keeps giving sweet glimpses like these to show that He is at work through our weakness for His glory and the spread of His Word through faithful preaching throughout the country of Malawi.

Current Prayer Requests

Hebrew Intensive Week & Life in Malawi

Thank you for praying for us this week! Chris worked long hours to prepare for class each day this week and finished well! I (Ashley) got to sit in on class for a few hours and was encouraged to hear the men say things like “The dust is shaking off!” (from their last Hebrew class about three months ago). Chris is an excellent teacher, able to laugh with the men, ask good questions and bring focus back. Hebrew is a notoriously difficult subject but Chris is teaching it with passion and vision that will, by God’s grace, continue to help the men here develop skills to be able to grasp the text and preach it well.


We have a two week break before classes officially begin again. Module One starts on August 29th. Not only are there going to be classes for the 18 MDiv men going into their last year at CAPA but CAPA will also be taking a new class of MDiv students and a Diploma class. We will have close to ninety students going into the new school year! We came for Chris to teach Hebrew Exegesis to the third year MDIv students but he will also be teaching others as well like Hermeneutics, Exegesis, Writing and some beginning Greek. He is also helping with some Admin and IT tasks as well. Of course, he’s not the only one who will be busy. Every professor at CAPA will be running at full steam ahead. Pray for them! It’s a very busy time for everyone!

Personally we are still adjusting to life here. Power cuts are becoming more frequent and most days it seems that we lose power for six to eight hours. Most expats here have Inverters that store power on batteries to power lights, the refrigerator, the wifi router, etc. We also have one but it is not working and needs new batteries. So when we lose power for a long time, we usually run a noisy generator (so thankful for that!) to cool the fridge and run the stove for a bit. Evenings without power involve candles, lanterns and an early bed time J! Last year there were also water shortages that we anticipate happening again this year. Living in a very poor third world country isn’t easy, especially with an American “just fix it” mindset. Malawians don’t think like that. Things get done through relationships and negotiation. It’s not bad, it’s just different. We’re learning how to manage our expectations!

Things I love about Malawi (in no particular order):

  • Grocery Shopping! Produce selection at the grocery store is inconsistent (actually, all of their selection is inconsistent, they don’t have the same things from week to week or sometimes day to day!) but so far they have always had something available and it’s almost always very cheap! Like giant avocados for about $.25! But you don’t just shop at the store… there are men everywhere (usually on the side of the road) selling bunches of bananas, papayas, watermelon, and more for reasonable prices. It’s so fun to buy from them and negotiate! (Side note: there are men on the streets selling EVERYTHING: mops & brooms, shoes, puppies, live chickens, mice on sticks, globes, doughnuts… it’s amazing!)
  • Cooking! All that cheap produce needs to be cooked! I love having the time to be able to prepare healthy meals for Chris and I and others, too, even if it means running the generator.
  • The CAPA team! We LOVE the other missionary families here we get to serve with. They are seasoned, wise and so helpful! I’m learning about living in Malawi, being a good wife, being hospitable, supporting a hardworking husband and balancing life and ministry. It’s such a valuable time for us both! God is good to allow us this year adventure to teach us these lessons in such a unique way!
  • Malawi! Malawi is called the “warm heart of Africa” we genuinely love it here. We appreciate how relational and interconnected the communities are here. We love how beautiful it is. We love being able to serve and help CAPA make an impact on the lives and congregations of pastors here!


Thank you for reading and staying connected to us! We are starting to miss home and family and friends (and tacos and Starbucks, too, if I’m being honest) but we feel so loved and supported by you all and are glad to be here.

Have a wonderful weekend! Enjoy some tacos and Starbucks (or if you’re REALLY lucky, Dutch Bros) for us!

Updated Prayer Requests!

Life in Malawi is very different from what we were used to and even, I think, what we expected. It’s hard, sweet, good and sometimes overwhelming. But we love it.

More than ever, we need prayer!

Please see our Prayer Requests page for how to pray for us specifically. I’ll give a few here that are immediate needs.

  • Chris starts teaching on Monday! He is teaching a Hebrew Readings Intensive – and it will be intense, 7:30-3:30 all week with the current MDiv students. Please pray for him and for the students!
  • Ashley is not feeling well, she probably has a cold or sinus infection. Pray for relief from headaches and healing.
  • Chris is helping with tasks for the start of the school year, pray that they would be completed well and that he would also have time to rest through the busyness.
  • Pray that Ashley would also be able to assist with tasks for CAPA to take work off of others who are overloaded.

Thank you for praying and for keeping up with us!

Flexibility and Weakness

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Malawi almost a month! We feel as though we’re basically settled though we are learning new things every day. That’s part of the challenge of being here. There’s always some new challenge to overcome. Always unexpected things that come up. Everything takes longer than you expect. You never know when you’re going to lose power or when the Internet will be on the fritz or if your car will break and will have to be jerry-rigged to keep going. 

Because that’s life in Malawi, you can’t be a specialist out here. Of course everyone has strengths in certain areas and you want to play to those strengths, but you must do things you’ve never done before. You must be creative and think outside the box and do stuff that you think is outside of your strengths. Most of all, you must be patient, you must work as a team, and you must be dependent on the God of all grace as He exposes your weakness and inability. 

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 I think this is the primary thing that God is teaching me right now. I came here to help teach Malawian pastors Hebrew so that they might better preach the Word of God from the Old Testament. But I also have the privilege of helping in other areas that I am not as comfortable with. Part of my job is to help with IT stuff connected with CAPA. I don’t have an IT background. So, I have to try new things, learn new things, be patient, repent when I get frustrated, and be dependent on God to help me navigate new situations and be useful. Yet, even though I am not strong in this area, I see how God in His all-knowing sovereignty has used so many little episodes in my life to enable me to even have a foothold in trying and exploring as I try to repair something. For example, I ended up having to replace a laptop screen for a student. I had never done that before. But one of my hobbies as a kid was taking computer stuff apart. I also loved building a variety of things that required a variety of tools. These things gave me some experience to help replace the screen and epoxy some broken hinges. God used my silly hobbies to help me know. It’s all His grace! 

I also have been able to help a bit with academic administration. I helped enter and process some of the new applicants for the next MDiv and next diploma classes entering this academic year. (CAPA will triple its student body, Lord-willing!) A lot of this process was data entry, hunting online for information regarding students’ schools, and discussions with the other members of the team on how to evaluate and process the applications effectively. There have also been discussions on how to structure courses, what course loads should be, etc., etc. These are not things I have exactly done before, and yet I see how God has even used my time teaching mathematics at Eastern Washington University to help prepare me for now.  

Even though God in His sovereignty has given past experience to help pave the way for being here now, I have been learning that I must renounce self-reliance, depend on God’s strength alone, and give thanks for what He allows us to accomplish. Being here shows me how weak I really am and how needy for God’s grace I am. I am learning that seeing God work through my weakness is the most joyful experience. Prideful self-reliance would rob me of this joy, so God is good to expose that self-reliance so that I might have a humble joy in watching Him work. 

Malawi desperately need’s God’s work through weak vessels! The spiritual landscape is scary as there are many in Malawi’s pulpits who preach false gospels. I was giving one of the CAPA students a ride home from the last class of the last intensive session, and he said that the main problem in the churches of Malawi is that they do not reverence God’s written Word, the Bible. Since being here, we have heard of cases of some Malawian pastors preaching twice a month on giving to the church/pastor but never on the church helping widows. Giving to the church is proclaimed as a way for you to fix all of your financial problems because God will bless your gift. The need in Malawi is for humble and holy pastors who will accurately preach God’s written Word to the people. Only through the accurate proclamation of God’s written Word will the Spirit transform people’s hearts. Only through the genuine humility, personal holiness, and love of shepherd-preachers will the charlatans in the pulpits be unmasked for what they truly are. This is why Ashley and I are serving at CAPA in our own weakness, desperately needy for God’s power to serve here effectively.  

(Please enjoy some photos that we have taken of Malawi the last few weeks below!)


Malawian field mice. A Malawian Treat! Thanks Jim Ayers for this welcoming gift!


Don’t worry…no one fed me here.


Coffin Road in Lilongwe. Coffin shops lie along this road (hence the name), although you can’t see any in this picture.
A variety of potatoes on a bike. This bike is very lightly loaded.
Mulanje Mountain about 6-7 hours south of Lilongwe
Matt Floreen about to run up Mulanje mountain and then back down for a 22km race. Vertical gain was 1.7km. He finished like a champ (I was there for moral support).
A tea estate in front of Mulanje mountain. We passed through the estate before coming to a trailhead to hike up into the mountain a bit.
More of the tea estate and Mulanje.
Our hike into the mountain. The tea estate has its own hydroelectric facility, hence the pipes.
Malawi maintenance at its finest.
Our drive back from Mulanje to Lilongwe.