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!)